Developer(s) – Kisareth Studios
ESRB – T for Teen
Following on from and influenced by games of the same ilk, such as Theatrhythm: Final Fantasy and Theatrhythm Dragon Quest, Kisareth Studios this year developed their own take on the rhythm RPG in Chronicles of a Dark Lord: Rhapsody Clash; a musical take on the events of both Chronicles of a Dark Lord Episode I: Tides of Fate and Episode II: War of the Abyss. Although the idea had been explored prior to the release of this, this was my own personal introduction to it, and I was impressed to say the least.
Graphics – 8.5/10
The game presents players with the beautifully crafted hand-drawn style and conceptual design of the two main games in the series, taking place in several primary locations throughout the in-game world of Cora, all at pivotal moments throughout the game’s story, from the fields of battle setting the scene of the initial fight between Magus Lee and his father Exodes to the Abyssal plains where Magus and his party do battle with the Abyssal lord Anto Calias. Most relevant to the game, however, its soundtrack consists of a collection of the most catchy and memorable scores found throughout the series, and adds just as much to its general atmosphere.
Gameplay – 7.5/10
The object of the game is to overcome each stage by pressing corresponding buttons in time to each track, and thereby deplete the enemy’s HP before the player’s HP is depleted. It sounds easy in terms of concept, but in terms of challenge, it’s a very different story. The game has four difficulty modes, which can be played through and mastered; all of which offer challenge, but thankfully not to the point of it becoming completely inaccessible, much to my personal delight; just like the first two games, which get inexplicably harder as they progress, even compared to other turn-based RPGs, but aren’t as seemingly impossible as others.
Controls – 10/10
The original two CoaDL games have a very straightforward control scheme attached to them, which presents no problems to anyone playing, and this game has even less in the way of complication. To criticize a game like this for not taking any risks in terms of controls to me simply feels too much to me like splitting hairs, since there didn’t need to be any risks taken; especially if a game can provide as much entertainment and replay value as this one can.
Lifespan – 6.5/10
To complete one playthrough of the game can take less than an hour on the simplest difficulty settings, but as the player progresses, they will find that with each more advanced difficulty setting, not only does the level of challenge of course increase but also more courses are available for players to have to overcome, adding to a single campaign’s longevity. There is also replay value to be had in attempting to beat the player’s own high score, warranting much more than one playthrough. Though it isn’t overwhelming in terms of lifespan, it’s by no means too short. Many other games released in recent years have left me feeling much more disappointed by how short they are than this.
Storyline – 7.5/10
As I mentioned, Rhapsody Clash retells the stories of the first two games in the CoaDL series through several key events and battles against the more threatening and pivotal enemies found throughout. Though it is indeed the same great story, told in a fairly unique way, I would highly recommend that gamers play the two main games in the series first; they’re the best starting point for potential fans of the series, as well as a pair of marvelous games.
Originality – 8/10
Although the idea of mixing the rhythm and RPG genres has been explored before, Rhapsody Clash offers a very different take on the hybrid genre, and to me, shows that Kisareth Studios, an independent outfit operating out of Gardner, Massachusetts, weren’t afraid to take the series in a new direction. It was a pleasant surprise for me personally, since I’ve never been a fan of rhythm games, after having played and reviewed such titles as Parappa the Rapper, and it had convinced me that with the right amount of innovation, something exceptional can be made of it.
Overall, Chronicles of a Dark Lord: Rhapsody Clash, whilst not being the best starting point to the spin-off series, is nevertheless a game worth playing through at least twice. Ahead of Kisareth’s plans to bring the first two games to iOS and Android, as well as the upcoming third installment to the main series, Episode III: Rise of Nihility, It’s a very entertaining spin-off title, which I would thoroughly recommend