Hexyz Force’s Keys to Success: Polish and Presentation

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Last Friday I got a chance to sit in on a live web demo of Atlus USA’s upcoming PSP title Hexyz Force, a two-in-one RPG from Sting Entertainment, the same team behind other recent Atlus classics like Knights in the Nightmare, Yggdra Union and Riviera. That pedigree alone should be enough to grab the attention of any PSP-owning RPG fan, but so should the quality of the game itself.

Hexyz Force stars two playable characters, each with unique 25-hour-plus storylines that interconnect, change slightly based on play order and dialogue choices, and culminate with the two heroes coming together for the finale. During the demo we were told that choices do affect the outcome of the story in different ways, with three main endings (and a couple other possible variations) waiting to reward you for multiple playthroughs.

From what was shown of the game, it is clearly more of a traditional JRPG than Sting’s previous works, which is actually cool to see. Turn-based combat, chain attacks, item fusion, anime cutscenes, cute, super-deformed characters — Hexyz Force covers all the basics, and also promises to tell a compelling story of political intrigue and racial conflict.

We’ll dig into more specifics about the gameplay and story once we’re able to play and review the game, but for now I’d mainly like to focus on the game’s presentational elements. Throughout the demonstration, Atlus PR man Aram Jabbari repeatedly stressed two things: polish and presentation. It was clear that he was proud of the game’s graphics and technical performance, and for good reason.

Even through the somewhat choppy web feed, Hexyz Force‘s 3D graphics were very impressive. The characters and environments showed a lot of intricate detail, the technical performance seemed extremely smooth, and the anime character portraits and cutscenes were absolutely stunning.

Beyond the graphical flourishes, polish and optimization were obviously of great importance to Sting in developing Hexyz Force as well, which is refreshing seeing how many PSP games tend to lack one or the other (or both). Load times are lightning-quick once the data has been installed (the install process is roughly 5 minutes), and the game’s 83MB install size won’t hog up much of your precious Memory Stick space.

Other portable play features include an AI quick-battle option and the ability to fast forward through all dialogue sequences for when you’re in a hurry to put the game on hold. If you miss something important, though, the game offers a neat Log system that records dialogue. Pressing the Square button brings up a log of the previous conversation, and from the main menu you can access the full game log. So if you stop playing for a few days and forget where you left off, you’ll be able to get back up to speed much quicker. About the only thing that was missing was a save anywhere feature, which Atlus did confirm will not be included. However, we were told that there will be plenty of save points to offset this, and you can always pause and put your PSP in sleep mode anyway.

The other good news is that Hexyz Force will actually be available at retail on UMD and digitally distributed via the PSN store. That shouldn’t be such a big deal, but it happens so infrequently that it is cause for celebration when it actually does. The only thing I haven’t been able to get confirmation on (and I’ve been asking since Friday) is whether or not the UMD and PSN versions will release simultaneously, but I’m going to cautiously assume that they will (though in my gut I’m starting to feel like they won’t).

Hexyz Force ships May 25th and will retail for $29.99. Keep on scrolling for two trailers and a buttload of screenshots.

About the Author

Matt Litten is the full-time editor and owner of VGBlogger.com. He is responsible for maintaining the day to day operation of the site, editing all staff content before it is published, and contributing regular news, reviews, previews and other articles. Matt landed his first gig in the video game review business writing for the now-defunct website BonusStage.com. After the sad and untimely close of BonusStage, the former staff went on to found VGBlogger.com. After a short stint as US Site Manager for AceGamez, Matt assumed full ownership over VGBlogger, and to this day he is dedicated to making it one of the top video game blogs in all the blogosphere. Matt is a fair-minded reviewer and lover of games of all platforms and types, big or small, hyped or niche, big-budget or indie. But that doesn't mean he will let poor games slide without a good thrashing when necessary!