I’m an anime fan but even I’m not fully versed in the Vocaloid lore that spawned off into the action spin-off, Black-Rock Shooter. Chances are if you’re looking up this game, then you are a member of that same niche market and which case you’ll know already if you plan on purchasing the game. Still, for the rest of you I’ll be more than happy to explain the unique action styling of Black Rock Shooter: The Game.
If you’ve played any of Imageepoch’s other RPGs then you’ll know that they tend to mix up the battle systems (I’m personally a big fan of Fate/Extra‘s rock-paper-scissors battle mechanic). Black Rock Shooter: The Game employs a semi real-time system that involves you taking control of the eponymous heroine. Using the right stick to aim the large cannon attached to her arm, the game systems are somewhat restricted throughout combat with the basic options being point-and-shoot while dodging left to right in fixed positions. By having control of the reticule for shooting and directional controls to dodge enemy fire, it inhabits the territory between free-roaming and on-rails. The combat for the most part is serviceable, never moving into territory I would call exhilarating, but special moves are thrown in to certainly make it look explosive.
The game is divided up into open-world portions and combat, much like any JRPG. In the open world, you have full control of Black Rock Shooter as she explores an apocalyptic cityscape. She is a property of some armed forces unit that sends her off on missions too dangerous for the hardened military men, which I find ridiculous. C’mon, that one colonel something has a badass scar! He’s still not tough enough to go off on his own? Joking aside the narrative becomes more interesting as the game moves beyond search-and-explore missions but they certainly did seem intent on hitting all the big clichés involving the mysterious human weapon (you) and American(?) troops.
The environments are still pretty grand and for what it’s worth (which is quite a bit); they look great for a PSP title. The real subject of attractiveness of the game comes in when discussing the gorgeous animated cut scenes. These cutscenes from the anime studio Ufotable (Fate/Zero) look extremely beautiful and are always a treat.
I don’t know what I’m supposed to expect in terms of music from a series which itself is a spinoff from a music program, but the soundtrack is the sort of J-Rock industrial tunes I’ve come to understand is part of the aesthetic charm of the Black-Rock series. This would be Nine Inch Nails Territory if Trent Reznor was an anime fan I suppose. Then again, I just automatically link all industrial music with Reznor-senpai. It’s all right and fits with the game but it’s not really my thing.
As I’ve mentioned before this is a game which the target audience already knows, and probably purchased beforehand. For the rest of you however, this is a serviceable game for anime junkies and JRPG nuts. It doesn’t really do much beyond fan service for series fans so as a game it basically decided to live middle of the road in all accounts of gameplay and story. For fans of Black Rock Shooter add another point to the score but for the rest of you, it’s not a must-have RPG title, though it does look good on a Vita.