Originally written on 4/5/2011
The Best Game Never Played
Introducing the Genre
Action RPGs come in all shapes and sizes. The top down dungeon running variety have quite a view, Diablo, Torchnight, Titan Quest, Space Siege. A fully 3D world, where you can actually move the camera evolved after the likes of those, Beyond Good & Evil, Hellgate: London, Zelda: Ocarina of Time and it’s future console sequels. Some of my favorites came from Enix. Square made good RPGs mostly, but they had a few like Secret of Mana and Secret of Evermore. Their main rival, Enix liked to put a little more action into their games like E. V. O. The Search for Eden, Soul Blazer, and Illusion of Gaia. I imagine this game to be a spiritual successor to those top down action rpgs with real time combat in the Square Enix cagalog.
Introducing the Game
I was looking for more games to review and I decided to scan my iTunes library. A good chunk of my iPod is filled with 1980s, Celtic, and then video game music. I found this and I wanted to share this game. I don’t see it on many top ten lists, for either the genre or on the platform, and I wonder why not. It’s a nice staple of the genre, Sudeki.
I first played this game when a roommate said he was going home for the holidays. He said I was welcome to try anything on his XBOX to pass the time. He specifically recommended Sudeki for me. Alright, so I gave it a shot.
I imagine that the best way to describe this is to say it is the spiritual successor in gameplay to the real time combat action RPGs of Square and Enix. What would Secret of Mana or Illusion of Gaia look like if they had come out today rather than in the SNES age?(Come to think of it, a complete remake of those games would be phenomenal!)
You start off controlling a warrior named Tal. Like most warriors, he comes with his own sword. You have two attack buttons, light and heavy. Chaining together those attacks creates a special flourish of an attack. Memorizing those combos will be important. There are a good amount of them, but not as much as say God of War or Bloodrayne 1 & 2. Anything was a combo in those games. No, this game, you had to think about which out of 7 or 8 combos you would do. And there’ll be lots of time to practice them. It’s closer to resembling Marvel: Ultimate Alliance’s combat or X-Men Legends. In those games, one combo was for tripping, or launching upward, or block breaking, etc.
What sets this apart from those top down Action RPGs is that, well, it’s not top down. The camera is very close to the action from over the shoulder.
Later, you get more people in your party. That’s part of why it reminds me of Secret of Mana. Those characters can be ranged or melee. When you control the ranged characters, you go into an FPS mode and fire magic from a staff, or shoot from a gun. The other melee character has the same combos as Tal, is a bit faster, but a bit weaker.
If you have a longing for action RPGs, this’ll fit the bill. It’s not a dungeon crawler or runner where you pick up every piece of trash to sell to someone. There’s more focus on the action than on treasure.
The opening video is a great shadow play describing the mythology behind the creation of the world. It shows the world of Sudeki and the gods that created it. The creator split himself in half so he would not be alone. But that person became an evil twin that split the world in half. Sudeki is the story of two worlds.
There is the bright and shining world in which you live that is being constantly invaded by these people from that other world. At one point through the game you will actually travel there and meet doubles of yourself.
Now, to me, I always love that angle. I always love seeing alternate versions and parallel worlds. I loved Sliders. I loved Chrono Cross and it’s reality shifting “what if this person had died” story. I’ve always loved It’s A Wonderful Life and how the people in George Baily’s life turned out without his influence. So this story of alternate worlds was particularly entertaining to me.
The graphics were great, I had no complaints. It came out on the original XBOX so it might look a little dated. Everything looked smooth to me, but I’ve never been a graphics whore. The world of Sudeki, at least the first world, looks like a fantasy/tropical paradise. There are bright greens, blue oceans, palm trees, everything looks clean, shiny, and new. That other world, it’s a little less picturesque, but it matches the same art style. Like I said, no complaints. Nothing was ever hard to see or looked ugly.
Sudeki was one of the few games that I went and sought out the soundtrack for. Yeah, I enjoyed it that much. The cheerful and happy “town” music of New Brightwater and Shadani-Mo will stick with you. Those two tracks wouldn’t sound out of place at a picnic. The rest of the music, battles and dramatic scenes, aren’t really picnic worthy, but excellent nonetheless.
All the sound work is excellent. The voice acting is great. I didn’t recognize any of the voice actors, though. Sometimes that’s a good thing. I don’t remember anything particular standing out about the sound, but that’s the sign it’s been done right.
I never owned an XBOX, and rarely ever touched a controller. I’d had my hands on the original controller when I demoed a unit at a Best Buy, thankfully I played on the smaller one. But this was my first real experience on a controller for any length of time after my SNES. A friend had loaned me a PS1 and N64 for the sake of Chrono Cross and Zelda Ocarina of Time. But those didn’t help prepare me in the slightest, they all feel so different.
I probably started off rockier than most trying to learn the controls of the controller at the same time as the game. “Which one was B again?*look down*” happened more than once. This same pattern repeated itself when I had another roommate with a PS3.
Tangents aside, I managed to learn the controls quickly, even with such a handicap. Any XBOX owner should pick up on it with no problem.
Sadly, no. Even though I call it a spiritual successor to Secret of Mana(in gameplay, not in story), it was one player only.
Like most of the action RPGs, one playthrough ought to be much the same as the last. Although there is a character development and character advancement system that lets you tailor each character a bit. There are the occasional weapons found that have certain properties like damage over speed, and the player has to decide what to use and when.
I really wouldn’t mind playing it again right now. I don’t have an XBOX or that old roommate nearby, sadly. It has as much replay value as any of the other “spiritual” versions of it. They’re all long journeys, not to be relived rapidly, like a good book.
Even though I managed to learn the controls, I still wish I had a keyboard and mouse. I’m always much better at those.
I can’t get that music out of my head.
Boiling it Down
Solid action RPG in the style of Secret of Mana or Illusion of Gaia, evolved with modern technology. If that appeals to you, so will Sudeki.