Turns out I wasn’t too far away from the end in Play Report (1). In fact I was only about two playthroughs from the end, since the amount of repetition this game has actually makes the true ending very easy to get. It also helps that Vivi happened to be just there in the first dungeon I entered on my true ending playthrough and I managed to recruit her, never having time problems ever again.
Vivi is the best character because she is the only one who has the skill that lets you warp anywhere, not just the first 3 towns. Since the main “challenge” of the game comes from wasting time traveling, getting rid of that means the game will be nearly trivial in difficulty. The true ending prompt unlocks when you finish the requests of all the heroines, and you have to collect 7 rare items for the princess. These “rare” items are the items that I had to repeatedly collect in my last 5 playthroughs, and even if the quests stop giving you the elemental orbs, they can be bought from Vivi’s shop. Since she was in my party, I had access to her shop at all times.
The true ending involves two consecutive boss fights that bring the Hero back to max stats, and while they’re stronger than previous bosses, they’re not exactly difficult. The only time the game can get difficult is when the Hero’s stats have decreased to the point where he can barely damage enemies and he doesn’t have a party that can actually damage bosses, which is a pretty easily avoidable situation. Since the final battle brings the Hero back to max stats, they end up being rather straightforward.
It’s hard to categorize Yuusha Shisu as an RPG, maybe something that implies an anti-RPG would be more fitting. Unlike the usual gaming structure of starting weak and training your character to grow stronger, it starts out with the Hero at max stats and has him gradually become weaker. The actual battles range from trivial on the first day to impossible on the last day if you waltz into the “final dungeon” without recruiting or leveling your party members. The concept of the “hero” is rather hilarious in this game, as it is a title and responsibility forced upon someone by god when there is a Maou that needs to be defeated. In the game you see a young girl getting crushed under the pressure of being the next hero and a princess who summoned the Maou to make a low-ranking knight the hero so that she can pursue him without having to overcome issues with social status. Bearing the title of the chosen hero is a curse, and the system of the Hero vs. Maou narrative works to keep a kingdom’s people united.
I like this kind of take on the Hero vs. Maou narrative, showing the way the world goes on after the Final Battle and how the extravagant title is actually a curse. Unfortunately the true ending flies by fast and the game isn’t great at explaining things. There’s some stuff that only clears up in the artbook interview and the game and its scenes are too short to thoroughly explain things despite some good lines of dialogue here and there. I wanted it to explore its worldview more and have more events, rather than just a quick true ending that resolves everything, but I guess that’s my preference for long RPG stories and lengthy scenes of dialogue speaking. Sukasuka explores the role of a Chosen Hero more and the way this game critiques JRPG concepts is kind of old and not really all that interesting when you consider the fact that it (the Vita version) came out in 2016 when Tales of Berseria would be out 6 months later with the best Maou. It’s a pretty cool concept though, having a weakening hero play the would-be epilogue to his grand journey.
It was kind of an interesting game to play but difficult to recommend in hindsight since it doesn’t really reach cool territories that I can comfortably recommend to other people. I think all my favorite scenes were with Yona, and what stood out the most to me was how she prevents you from making peace with the Maou’s daughter and refugee war orphans thanks to operating on preconceived notions of what a hero should do. Some of the other heroines are also pretty cute but should have gotten more scenes if the intention was to make a pseudo galge.
(Mostly unrelated, but–)
I’m not sure where I’m going with this but I haven’t played a satisfying full-fledged fantasy RPG that actually goes for a hero party vs. Maou kind of story but with thorough characterization and fun scenes in a long time, and it seems difficult to sincerely make something like that in the current era. In return you have a bunch of weird takes from various media on widely accepted templates that ends up not really doing anything in the end, or games that try to recreate older JRPG nostalgia but end up feeling really off. I end up wondering if the kind of 古き良きRPG I’m looking for really exists, or just an image I created in my head based on what people say they liked about JRPGs since I started playing them in an age that was already past the “golden era.” I should play some 2D Tales of and more PS2 games in the near future. There are games I’ve been interested in since starting this blog and still haven’t played.