A young man set out on adventure to hone his skills of the sword. A woman with no memory of her past. A vast and mysterious world theirs for the taking. Sound a little familiar? If so, enter one of the PSP's latest and not-so-greatest RPGs, Blade Dancer. With the former handheld severely lacking in role-playing games, NIS America took it upon their part to localize this rather interesting title from Hit Maker. So was it worth it?
The truth is it's hard to say as there isn't anything terribly wrong with Blade Dancer, but it's not all that fun either. The story, as mentioned earlier, is undeniably one of the most conventional and cookie-cutter lines in RPG history. Because of this, the game becomes very predictable and more drawn out, leading the player to either break his PSP in half or substitute the game for a novella that would probably be more interesting than trekking through a dungeon. Thankfully, the plotline does pick up roughly three quarters of the way in, but that is three quarters of the way in, after you probably would have guessed what would happen anyway.
Speaking of visual expectations, while it isn't the next groundbreaking visual triumph, for a PSP title, Blade Dancer looks pretty darn good. The entire game is generated in 3D and looks and feels moderately smooth. Character animations as well as environments all flow at a decent framerate and rarely disappoint. The problem with this is that while the game is technically sound and responsive, the art direction is pretty generic and downright ugly. Even if the areas look better and better, a generic stone castle is still a generic stone castle, no matter how many polygons you throw its way.
And what was meant for the eyes really isn't as plausible as what you'd expect for the ears. Lineage of Light has pretty ho-hum and dull voice acting. Thankfully, NIS America still keeps the option to switch to Japanese voices in all of their games and while this is very welcome, it feels like a sign that they knew the voice work wouldn't really cut it.
The Lunar system, revolving around the gradual acquirement of "Lunar AP" to execute Single, Duo, Trio and Team attacks is actually very addictive, as well as the crafting system which will lead to a huge amount of micromanagement. There's also a mission system in Lineage of Light, though, it's not as fun or inviting as the former gimmick systems.
Whichever way you look at it, Blade Dancer comes off as another typical experience and while that doesn't make it abysmal, it's not all that fun, either. Gushing with mediocrity despite it being a solid game, it remains completely lifeless character-wise and there already being better RPGs available for the PSP. Lineage of Light is a lantern a little too dim for its own good.