Gust, Japanese developer responsible for the Ar Tonelico series, put out a gameplay video on January 20th detailing some battle, exploration, and story tidbits for its upcoming RPG Ar no Surge.
While entirely in Japanese, us English-speaking plebes can glean some very important bits of info from this reveal, and most of these bits are very, very good.
Where the Ar Tonelico series is concerned, combat evolved from game to game. The first title featured semi-traditional turn-based fighting with the inclusion of Reyvateil singing as an ongoing magic that powered up while the fight happened. This has largely stayed unaffected, but in Ar Tonelico 2 a second caster was added; furthermore, the frontline fighting got frenetic as the player had to actively initiate attacks and combos on their turn while blocking enemy attacks on the defensive, with bonuses granted for good timing.
Everything went to hell with the third title, which opted for a horrendously-implemented real-time combat system that was simultaneously easy, boring, and repetitive. With Ar no Surge, Ar Tonelico’s</em successor in just about every way, the combat looks to be taking a turn for the better by returning to those PS2 days of turn-based quick-time combat.
It doesn't stop there. The game also appears to be incorporating something which every RPG needs: random party conversations while adventuring. Tales does it, Bioware does it, and Gust’s latest seems to be getting on board.
Things fans of Ar Tonelico might have noticed: installing is apparently back, and nowhere nearly as painful a process as before. In Ar Tonelico spellcasters or “Reyvateils” could be enhanced by inserting crystals with various powers into their bodies, a process which is now quite… erm… enjoyable.
With music being provided once again being provided by Akiko Shikata and others from the previous games, one can only hope that Ar no Surge will follow in its predecessors’ footsteps and make its way to an English localization. Ar no Surge will be released in Japan on March 6 2014 for the PS3.