Accelated learning curve
Acceleration (or in Blazing Soul’s case: Accelation) is a term used to describe change. In physics, it is the rate of change of velocity- which in itself defines the change of an object’s position. For a subtitle that implies such change, Blazing Souls Accelate does surprising little to capture the tactical RPG gamer’s imagination. Blazing Souls Accelate contains a host of tweaks and options that amount to little when stacked up against the fundamental same-ness of its grid based gameplay.
Blazing Souls is a title in the tradition of Tactics Ogre and more recently, Final Fantasy Tactics. Like a virtual chess board, players move units around a grid. Unlike chess, each warrior has a list of statistical strengths and weaknesses tied to their ‘level’, weapons, and the ability to change their elevation on the battlefield. The immense popularity of Final Fantasy Tactics spawned a litany of imitators, and Blazing Souls Accelate is one such game. The graphical style of Blazing Souls looks to be inspired by both FFT and games released by developer ‘Sting.’ The comparisons aren’t just skin deep, though, because Blazing Souls plays as if someone tried to add layers of obfuscation to the already intricate system of FFT.
For the general player, I can say with certainty that this isn’t the best entrance into tactical RPGs. The gameplay is mired in options, combos, and special chain attacks. Normally this level of depth is welcome, but the game’s tutorial is inadequate, and the user interface proves to be a subpar experience. This hampered my desire to delve deeper into the game’s systems, as they just aren’t accessible. The controls were directly ported from the original PSP release without a thought towards touch screen optimizations. On screen graphics frequently clash with the d-pad, and it just doesn’t make sense for me to have seven other digital buttons to contend with. Blazing Souls also doesn’t properly hold one’s place in the game while minimized, meaning that if you need to put the game during a lengthy battle you are likely screwed. The game’s presentation is lackluster, and the voice acting direction doesn’t enhance the anime-style story.
I imagine that the prime audience for this game is veteran players who have exhausted all other options for tactical RPGs. While there are plenty of fiddly bits for RPG pros to futz with, and plenty of “grinding” to be done, it didn’t feel like the calibre of game I would be willing to sink Final Fantasy Tactics levels of time into. Eventually you will make sense of the systems, you will level your team, you may even enjoy yourself, but the resistance to the player will be insurmountable for some.
Perhaps ‘friction’ would have been a better physics-oriented subtitle for Blazing Souls’ sequel. The game is an arguably worsened port of the ill-received PSP title of the same name, and it puts plenty of obstacles in the player’s way.
Blazing Souls Accelate is available as a Universal App for $17.99