Retro RPG fans, perk up your ears: Laxius Force is your latest old-school fix. Inspired by classic 16-bit role playing games, Laxius Force boasts 17 playable characters, multiple storylines that gradually weave together an intriguing plot, and original artwork and music. All while battling countless foes, earning experience, and equipping your party with powerful weapons and armor.
Laxius Force is largely linear in nature, though like any RPG there are numerous side quests and optional adventures you can embark upon to earn extra items, experience, and gold. Or you can head out just for the fun of exploration! Battles are turn-based and take place from your party's point of view. Use the menu system to choose actions, then sit back and watch the fighting ensue. Random battles are mostly absent from Laxius Force, as you can usually see enemies before you engage them. There are some areas where your foes can hide, however, so don't be too surprised if you're forced into a fight here and there. Besides, what's an RPG without combat?!
Once you get a few characters together you'll need to do some party management to keep things flowing smoothly. Each character has his or her own set of skills on the field of battle, so forming a party requires a bit of thinking. Only active members gain experience from combat, so be sure to switch people out from time to time so no one falls too far behind.
Analysis: I'll have to admit it right from the start: part of the reason I enjoy Laxius Force is due to my love of Super Nintendo-era RPGs. The tiled graphics, the slightly cheesy plots, the menu-based combat and the raw challenge of felling massive foes are a part of my blood. That being said, Laxius Force does a great job of evoking that mid-90s feeling without bringing back the pitfalls that haunt me to this day (level grinding, cheap enemies, etc.). It's new age retro, if you will, and I really couldn't ask for more than that.
In terms of challenge, Laxius Force hits the middle of the mark. Cheap deaths aren't too much of a problem, though you'll have to do some light leveling and/or smart battling in order to survive early portions of the game. Bosses can be tricky and won't simply fall to your blind attacks, forcing you to watch, learn, and adapt your strategy with each one.
Laxius Force isn't without its flaws, however, and if your vision isn't clouded by those rose-tinted glasses of nostalgia, they may stand out more than you would like. A big part of any role playing game is the dialogue. You spend a lot of time talking to characters and reading text boxes, so naturally having a skilled pen behind the scenes is an important facet. While the story and characters are interesting in Laxius Force, the developer's native tongue isn't English, and this shows through in the occasional awkward paragraph or slightly confusing sentence structure. Nothing you can't overlook, of course, but it does detract from the experience a bit.
One curious exclusion from the game is the lack of a way to flee from combat. If you can't avoid an enemy outright, you're forced to fight, so you'd better be ready to win. If your party is defeated you'll restart from the last town or dungeon entrance at the price of 10% of your gold. Not too bad, considering how most role playing games simply reload your last save.
Fans of other indie RPGs such as the Aveyond series will feel right at home in Laxius Force. Keep in mind, however, that these games aren't aimed at a casual audience, per se, though their pick-up-and-play value is still quite strong.
A good looking, lengthy (30 or so hours of gameplay) and delightfully retro role playing game that will please just about any RPG buff out there. There are some minor quirks in the dialogue and battle system, but otherwise it's smooth adventuring.