I’ve played this game for around 3 hours, and I think it’s time to call it quits. My $6 could have been better spent, and I would never pay double-digit price for this game. Hack-and-slash fans probably have a higher tolerance when it comes to bad games in that genre just like how I can stick with bad turn-based RPGs for hours, so if you really like these sort of games you might last longer than me. I usually try to find some merit in a game despite shortcomings, but Warriors of the Lost Empire was just layers of boredom. I have no intention of going back and finishing it, because I don’t even have that “it might turn out to be awesome the further I play!” optimism for this game.
Warriors of the Lost Empire is an action RPG that plays like a hack ‘n slash, where you get to choose one of four classes to play as. You’ve got your stats and level, and you get to allocate ability points into your stats. The problem with this becomes apparent quickly–you get to allocate one point per level, and you’ll realize that once you hit level 2 in a stat, you’ll need 2 points to upgrade it to the next level. The required points to level up a stat will increase the higher that stat is, but you’ll only get one point each time you level up. Doesn’t seem like very smooth design to me.
The actual gameplay is repetitive as hell. You enter a dungeon, fight the mobs of enemies there, reach the boss, fight boss, warp back to town. Sounds pretty standard for a dungeon crawler, right? Problem is, the enemies all feel the same. There isn’t any variety to fighting them. It was fun for about 2 hours, but gets tiring fast. The enemy and boss designs just aren’t very fun. You fight everything the exact same way, with little variation in strategy. If a game gets repetitive and unexciting 3 hours in, something is wrong. Maybe there will be some variety later on, but I went through six or seven dungeons and they all felt the same. I usually wouldn’t be this intolerant of a repetitive game since I’ve trudged through some pretty boring ones, but the controls here are awkward and uncomfortable. Can we please stick to X for normal attacks and O for jumping from now on, unless you’re going to let us configure the buttons ourselves? Using items are also annoying, since instead of opening an inventory menu that pauses the game and lets you browse through stuff, you have to scroll through usable items in real time. Character movement is done via the analogue stick and item selection via the up and down buttons on the d-pad, which isn’t very comfortable when you are on the verge of death and need to scroll down to a stronger potion.
There’s also other minor annoyances that add to my dislike for this game. Who on Earth thought it was a good idea to make the “talk/examine” button the same as “cancel” in a menu (O button) and leave X as confirm? It doesn’t make the game unplayable or anything, but it is very annoying. Thankfully, there are about three people that you can actually talk to in this game: item shop, weapon upgrade shop, and your commander who gives you free potions if you have none. The guards that stand around think they’re too cool for you, and prefer to give you the extreme silent treatment. In order to manage your items, change skills, or allocate stats, you have to GO BACK TO TOWN. Find a new sword that may be potentially useful? You have to warp home to check its stats, let alone equip it. Grinded in the dungeon and think a stat upgrade or two would help? Back to town you go. You’ll just have to start back at floor one next time, hope you don’t mind (that itself isn’t that terrible, the dungeons are short and the floor layouts are small and simple).
As for the story, it might be slightly interesting depending on your tastes, but will dull down fast because outside of the opening prologue and a few other scenes, it is told through paper you find in the dungeons. I did not care for it whatsoever. As for characters…see above. You are a silent protagonist, and you have 3 other people to talk to, all of whom will give you some generic reaction when you clear a dungeon. There isn’t anything worthy in terms of plot and characters, but I wasn’t expecting anything there in the first place so that’s okay.
Sound-wise, Warriors of the Lost Empire is wholly unimpressive. Graphically, it’s decent in terms of the rendering of the character models, but terrible in design aesthetics because all the dungeons look very similar. At this point in the life of the PSP, these graphics aren’t worth any extra points. The lack of color variety is terrible. I don’t mind realistic styles even if I like anime and 2D sprites, but at least put effort into making backgrounds and dungeons more vibrant and interesting! Who actually wants to crawl through a bunch of brown brick walls? Pas moi.
Repetitive dungeons, awkward controls, unimpressive characters/story, and mediocre everything else. This game doesn’t have a lot going for it. At this point in the PSP’s life, there are much, much better action RPGs to play, and that probably goes for hack-n-slash style ones too. There isn’t any reason to pick up Warriors of the Lost Empire, unless you’ve exhausted yourself on the rest of the PSP action RPG library and desperately want another one. By desperate, I mean “you will go berserk unless you have an action RPG in hand” because if you’ve played everything else the console has to offer, this game won’t impress.
As a side note, the game manual explains jack shit and the in-game explanations will still leave you confused with no idea what some abbreviations/stats do.
(Oh, about the name? Doesn’t “Warriors of the Lost Empire” sound as generic as possible? It’s not the most inappropriate name, but it certainly sounds like a rip-off or a cliche-ridden tale. Doesn’t scream exciting in my ear.)