Today, we have another tester’s corner for Rance 5D + Rance VI!
Hello everyone! I am glad to be brought back as a beta tester by the always lovely people at MangaGamer. This time I was allowed to test what is probably the most high profile game to date I’ve worked on. That is to say Alicesoft’s masterpiece: “Rance VI: The Fall of Zeth”. I have to say I was super stoked to be able to beta test this game as I LOVE dungeon crawling games, the Wizardry games on DOS and the Super Famicom are some of my favorite rpgs of all time. And to be able to play another game in that style is just marvelous. As I mentioned in a previous Tester’s Corner for Rance 5D I was rather new to the Rance series but after 5D I was extremely excited to jump into this beta test. I’d heard a lot of really great things about this game in the past and boy does it ever deliver. This is without a doubt the best gameplay focused eroge I’ve seen.
Firstly. Let’s talk about the soundtrack. Whereas 5D has a more retro style soundtrack in my opinion, VI is more like PS1 game. DragonAttack’s work on Rance VI has an extremely varied mix of electronic tracks, orchestral tinges and “epic” feeling tracks where the guitar just goes HAM just like in everyone’s favorite JRPGs of old. It really does fit the more involved gameplay of Rance VI and is actually my preferred soundtrack of the two despite both of them being fantastic. Of course my personal favorite tracks in the game are actually not in the gameplay sections but rather the menu music since almost every menu in the game has its own unique themes (Shoutouts to my boy Pluepet). It’s all very nice 90s styled electronic music that hits just the right spots for me as I am a huge fan of that era of video game music and doujin music as well.
Next let’s talk about the gameplay, which is the meatiest aspect of the game by far. It’s a first person dungeon crawler like what you’d see in a Wizardry game or more recently Etrian Odyssey, the difference here being that instead of being restricted by D&D rules your characters have stamina points which deplete one by one after each random battle. I personally think this is a pretty good system because it makes you think how you’re gonna tackle each dungeon and makes you step out of your comfort zone and use every character to their fullest since everyone has different stamina values. Early on it can feel rather harsh but I think it’s rather rewarding when you end up beating a dungeon with just that one last stamina point, you just feel like a million bucks because you planned your attack strategy for that dungeon properly and the game rewards you for it.
As for the random battles themselves they’re rather traditionally styles battles there’s a set turn order and you pick what character attacks what enemy. There’s also a front and back row system like what you’d see in suikoden. Melee characters can only attack the front row until it’s cleared and ranged characters can attack either. It’s simple but works great. It’s also really fast paced and the game even allows you to make it go even faster in the battle options menu.
The story in Rance VI is actually so grand in scale that I could spend thousands of words talking about it and still not even be close to done. It’s actually funny because the scale of the game is rather deceptive. It starts out rather minimal, sort of like Rance5D but it grows into something so much more grand and bombastic that is a joy to experience, there’s so many twists and turns that work so well throughout the game. And the ensemble cast that forms Rance VI’s cast makes it a joy to read through. Sometimes the gameplay segments even feel like a chore because you just REALLY want to know what’s gonna happen next. It’s such a gripping game story that I think everyone who buys the game is gonna disappear for like a month or two to just play through the entire game and experience the amazing story it has to offer.
That’s not to say the game can’t be hilarious when it wants to be, it’s chock full of pop culture references, inside jokes amongst other amusing tidbits that make such a grand story not feel overwhelming.
I mentioned the ensemble cast just before this. Characters from all throughout Rance’s history make appearances in this game and I have to say I expected to be indifferent to such a huge cast given that so many characters I didn’t know showed up in this game. But I was completely wrong. Everyone in this game has great characterization, even characters that seem like one note jokes like Rocky are very likeable. And characters that show up from previous games like Maria and Shizuka feel right at home in this, like you always knew who they were. It speaks to lengths to how good the cast is in this game that you can drop a 40+ character cast onto someone and they still remember everyone by name because they’re all so memorable. I love all the character interactions in this game because they feel legitimately real, like everyone’s known each other for years. Heck even a majority of the villains are rather amusing and likeable.
Quite honestly the only negative aspect I can think of in the game, is the fact that to trigger events you need to grind for event orbs via the “adventure achievement” system in dungeons. It’s not that bad since it also helps you out with leveling your characters. But it feels like it kills your momentum in some of the more exciting moments of Rance’s adventure. But it’s really just a minor complaint in such a fantastic game that I almost felt it wasn’t worth mentioning. If Rance VI is a 10 out of 10 then this minor nitpick doesn’t really change my opinion of the game, it’s still a 10 out of 10.
To be honest I’m not sure if any other gameplay driven VNs can really compare to Rance VI, it’s definitely one of the most fun JRPGs I’ve played in general. It has such a high level of polish that I am actually kinda… scared of playing other Rance game because I don’t know if they’ll hold up in comparison. That said I still look forward to the future of this series in English because Rance has proven itself to me as the pinnacle of gameplay focused eroge and I’m sure it’ll keep delivering in the future.
Thank you to everyone at MangaGamer for letting me test this game, the localization staff for Rance for their hard work, and everyone else involved in making this release possible.
PS: Chizuko is best girl don’t @ me