Following the success of Recettear: An Item Shop’s Tale, Carpe Fulgur has delivered another game from EasyGameStation, Chantelise – A Tale of Two Sisters.
The game opens with a short intro: two sisters, Chante and Elise one day left their house during a red moon despite being warned against doing so. During this, a witch cursed Chante and turned her into a fairy. Now the two are attempting to find the witch and have Chante turned back into a human. After this, you get a short tutorial teaching you all the basics, it only takes a couple of minutes to get acquainted with the game, you control Elise and Chante helps you by casting magic. Carpe Fulgur has done a great job with Chantelise, rather than just translating the game, they’ve given us a very well done localisation filled with plenty of humour better suited for a western audience. Most of the dialogue is well written and the story is pretty solid.
As for gameplay, this is definitely one for the controller, you can play it on a keyboard but it is quite hard. Unless you remap the controls in the config menu you’ll often find yourself doing the wrong thing, as I did many times (for the first few hours, I didn’t have access to a controller).
It is pretty simple; in each chapter you travel through a dungeon, in combat there are four things you can do, attack, magic, jump and lock on. The combat is fairly straight forward and not hard to pick up at all, very much a hack and slash type game. As for magic, you don’t have MP or a list of spells. When you kill creatures, they drop stones which are used to cast magic; the colour of them determines what they do and you can combine multiple stones to cast better spells, as you progress, you’ll unlock the ability to use more in a single spell. It’s a fairly unique system and adds an element of strategy since you’ll need to decide which stones are worth taking and which you should leave behind. The locking-on is a bit hit and miss, sometimes it’ll lock onto the enemy you want, other times it’ll target a completely different monster. You can change targets with the camera controls but, again, they’re a bit hit and miss; they’ll constantly switch between different enemies in a seemingly random order.
You also need to upgrade by buying equipment from Aira in town or from a man in the Familiar Forest. Defeating certain bosses will allow you to equip more items simultaneously. The equipment doesn’t really work like in most games, you get a few slots and you can equip whatever you want in them, even several of the same thing, there’s no preset slots for arm, legs, etc. If you don’t fancy spending all your time in the dungeon, collecting money to buy equipment, you can always take up fishing as, about halfway through the game, you can visit a fisherman who’ll give you a fishing rod. If you catch enough fish, you can exchange them for items, some of which are pretty powerful. Overall, this side-game is pretty simple and a nice alternate way of getting equipment; finding where all the fish are is a good challenge too.
The visuals are very much like Recettear, it’s no surprise to learn that a lot of the assets from Chantelise were reused when making Recettear. Despite being the second of EGS’ games to be released in the west, it was made before Recettear and it shows a little bit. Everything’s not quite as polished as in Recettear but overall, the game still looks pretty nice. There is one problem though, a lot of very noticable screen tearing occurs mainly when in fullscreen mode. Playing in windowed mode can solve this but even then, you may still get some screen tearing.
The music is fairly good, there’s a nice variety of music used throughout the game and it adds to the atmosphere very well. There is one issue though, when you run low on health, you hear a beep much like in the Legend of Zelda series only more high pitched. It’s not really that big of a deal and it can be turned down in the options menu but it has put me off before when fighting a boss.
There are a few more significant problems with the game. There are difficulty spikes at several points, for example, the second boss is quite a bit more powerful than any enemy you face previously and there’s a specific way of defeating it yet you’re not even given a hint. Dying in a dungeon means you are taken back to the Town, the only penalty for this is when starting the dungeon again, the monsters respawn. You won’t have to defeat them again to progress but running through the dungeon again, especially several times, can become tiring.
Chantelise is well worth a purchase if you like challenging games with a good dose of humour and a fair bit of longevity.
Developer: EasyGameStation\Carpe Fulgur
Time: Quite a range in this depending on how good you are, I’d say 7-12 hours for the main story. There’s a couple of extra dungeons and time attack challenges that add a few hours to the game.
Gripes: A few parts can be pretty frustrating and it’s easy to lose interest when you die and have to run through a dungeon again and again.
Get it for the: Challenging Action-RPG Fun.
Full Disclosure: Review code was supplied by the publisher.