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White Knight Chronicles: AKA Baby’s First RPG

February 16, 2010

While this article is mostly an excuse to post the utterly cute picture you see above for My Baby: First Steps, it’s also a long-overdue chance for me to write about a game I’ve been playing and haven’t finished yet. That game is White Knight Chronicles for the PS3.

I believe that there are no unplayable games, only people who dislike playing those games because it’s not a good fit with their personality. To that end, I’ve been racking my brain trying to figure out how to best come up with an impressions article for WKC that explains the concept well without sacrificing the idea that all games are just looking for the right audience. I guess we should start with the ending idea, if only to make this clear: White Knight Chronicles isn’t a game for babies. It’s a game that is, perhaps, best suited for people who have never played an RPG before.

The story isn’t WKC’s strongest suit. At it’s core (at least, for the majority of the time I’ve played it) it lends itself out to the Mario Bros. genre of Saving the Princess, failing, then trying to save her again, getting stronger and more skillful as you go through trials. While this type of story may leave long-time RPG players somewhat jaded, it seems like the perfect entry point for someone who’s never played an RPG.

Under normal circumstances, strong gameplay mechanics and assorted other accoutrements would help to make an RPG playable for most everyone. Unfortunately for most veterans, WKC doesn’t serve up the same kind of experience. The main game itself is less of a strategic endeavor as it is the forcible use of a single cheap attack to store up Action Chips to summon your White Knight to speed up the process of killing stuff. While you could kill most everything as a human, it just takes way too much time to do that with the larger enemies, and mastering the art of healing and attacking is basically all you need to survive White Knight Chronicles.

The Georama system for this game, which is basically a town creation simulation and online RPG combined, adds value to the game, but doesn’t do much to enhance the experience. At its best, the game currently only has 50 online quests, forcing you to rerun kill quests if you want to get a higher guild rank and do more quests of the same type. The town creation system is nice, but you need quite a bit of coin to really make it work, which I haven’t been able to do at my current level.

One of the other minor annoyances I’ve found for this game is that you get to create a character for Georama use at the start of the game, but he not only doesn’t speak, he also doesn’t get credit for any of the heroic things he’s done in the Georama questing system. Even if he finds a rare item that could benefit the party in the main game, there’s no mention of him being thanked for it at all.

Does that make the game bad? To me, perhaps it’s a bit disappointing, but if I were to introduce this to my younger cousin, who’s never played an RPG before, he’d probably be in love. The game is a perfect wish fulfillment for being the knight in shining armor out to rescue the princess, and the game’s various systems are easily accessible to just about anyone. Best of all, if you’re new to the genre, and liked what you played, you’ll love the fact that the game doesn’t end here.

The knowledge that this game’s ending is gearing up for a sequel (White Knight Chronicles: The Awakening of Light and Darkness) also makes it clear that this is an entry into a world, rather than a definitive RPG experience. It’s probably not meant for long-time RPG fans, but as an entry-level RPG, it’d probably make for a wonderful first foray into Japanese role-playing.

Speaking of which, did I get to mention that you become a giant armored knight robot thingy?!

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