Ray Gigant takes place on a post apocalyptic earth, devastated by gigantic monsters, Gigants, which showed up out of the blue. It’s divided into chapters following the exploits of three organizations out to stop them. The three main characters of these branches are Ichiya Amakaze, Kyle Griffin, and Nil Phineus. They are fated to stop the Gigants as Yorigami: heroes possessing the power of ancient beings.
The narrative has the tone of an anime like Neon Genesis Evangelion. There’s mystery surrounding both the monsters as well as the organizations pulling the strings. While it starts off slow, each chapter builds this puzzle more, accompanied by a great cast of characters. It’s anime as hell and the visual novel style may not translate to everyone, but it’s good and done surprisingly well for the most part.
Gameplay itself is divided into two parts. First, there’s the dungeon crawling. Second, giant boss fights on the level of Shadow of the Colossus. Now as a dungeon crawler, it works relatively the same as most although there are quite a few key changes. One, there are no random encounters. Monsters are represented as red, yellow, and blue skulls. Two, players do not earn experience. Instead characters level through a process of three different types of crystals.
Yellow crystals, Seed, traditionally level up heroes. Blue crystals, Force, are used to gain both offensive and passive skills. And red crystals, Materia, are used to acquire gear and healing items. Monsters mainly drop Materia and sometimes Force crystals. Force mainly appears inside treasure points along with Seed crystals. They are also gained through defeating bosses.
Let’s rewind back to battles for a second. Moves, like attacking, cost AP. This can be regained by waiting a turn in battle, or through defeating enemies. The longer fights carry on, the more tired the team becomes, leading them into a state of Parasitism. Instead of using AP, HP is now the cost of using actions. Using SBM points, which can also be used for special attacks, can cure this otherwise it’ll dissipate after that battle.
Okay. Admittedly this seems like a lot to take in for a dungeon crawler. It may seem daunting, but each system is explained well and paced throughout the beginning of the game that it becomes second nature quickly. Ray Gigant itself isn’t actually a hard game either, but that’s not to say it’s a breeze. Spending points and flailing at enemies willy-nilly will result in Game Over screens quickly. It’s turn-based, yes, but there’s definitely a tactical edge to it especially when it comes to the large-scale boss fights.
Visually this writer has mixed feelings about Ray Gigant’s art design. The characters and monsters all look great, but there’s an odd juxtaposition between the monsters and heroes during battle. The party is rendered in stunning, beautifully hand-drawn models as opposed to the enemies, which are basically animated portraits. This actually would have been fine if not for the boss fights sharing this same aesthetic. It makes everything look cheap by comparison. The only other game to have done this, to this writer’s knowledge, was Time and Eternity for the PS3. It wasn’t a good game by any means, but the art went all in at the very least. Again, it’s not bad so much as it is distracting.
Ray Gigant is a great dungeon crawler that introduces enough new ideas to the genre to make it feel fresh. The gameplay and story hooks are more than enough to satisfy players’ additive tendencies. It takes a bit getting used to and the art may have others feeling like this writer, but those are small bumps in an otherwise smooth journey. Don’t overlook this RPG.
Score: 4/5 Stars
Special Notes: The publisher provided a review copy. This article was originally published on April 29, 2016 via my Examiner account before the website shut down.