I’m of the opinion that strategy RPGs tend to require careful preparation and consideration in order to love and play them, and I can safely say that while I am not the greatest at them, I completely love them. Natural Doctrine, on the flip side, has the makings of an excellent strategy title, however a dearth of explanation and overly extreme difficulty make it feel like the worst job ever.
Getting into the Natural Doctrine Review
While there certainly is a narrative in the game, it is actually there only to reveal to the player what to do next, and takes a back seat the majority of the time that you’re playing. Many times I was roaming around, not being aware of what to do to activate the following storyline mission. Sure, this enabled my party to locate some new gear and to level up, but when I spend more than an hour without unlocking the next section of the narrative while I’m doing the exact same assignments, it becomes a chore rather quickly.
Link up or die,ya hear?
The game is a turn-based strategy RPG, which many of you likely already know. For the combat the characters move around a grid map, select which activities they would like to do, and then they do them. Determined by the initiative of the characters, the move sequence can change. In addition to that, there’s a link system that enables characters to do things like assault and move without it being their real turn. Linking is vital for survival in Natural Doctrine. The thing of it is, though, linking is something both you and the enemies in the game can do, and it seems like they know a lot more about how to use the system. This really is partly because of the quite basic tutorial that actually just showed me the fundamentals of the game, and nothing more.
When you’re mucking about inside dungeons you can discover treasure chests which will include new items and weapons to equip, in addition to pluton, which is where you get the mana in the game. Pluton powers all magic-based strikes in Natural Doctrine. Some of the characters can swap out their weapons mid-combat, so some close range characters can swap out for a gun at long ranges, for example. Using the environment and discovering the higher ground is another significant part the battles that take place. If you end up leaving a character in a bad spot it could spell disaster for you and cause you to have to start over. The issue is this is quite simple to do, unfortunately.
Very frequently during the game I was on the defense, and then a single character would get exposed and then slaughtered by the enemy. Specific things like using a lever or opening a door can actually set a party member in a vulnerable situation, and they’d be dead before its possible to readjust. It looked like every one of the enemies I encountered would only take a single turn to obliterate my party, and I constantly needed to remain two steps ahead of them to stay alive. The juggling act of attempting to damage enemies while attempting to remain alive proved to be a battle, and an unenjoyable one at that.
A.I. up, now you die.
The AI was painfully difficult, to say the least. Seemed like every fight I found myself in was stacked against me. I enjoyed the Souls series, and they were challenging, for sure, but they were FAIR. Natural Doctrine, on the other hand, not so much. I actually got killed during the initial tutorial mission.
The game is really dull in terms of graphics. The voice acting is alright, but continued lines of dialog popped up over and over again.
The game includes a multiplayer mode too, where players can go and mess with their buddies. Using a haphazard card system, a party is created by players from cards that could range between common to ultra rare. By taking better cards into a conflict, players will be offered party members with better stats. All these are used in the coop style as well as the versus mode. Coop is a good solution to see two players gang up to stick it to the AI, except you’ll usually just be miserable together.
You will be frustrated a lot playing this game. It’s going to thump you into the earth after which it’ll smack you around some more because you went down too quickly. The hardcore strategy players will find a challenge and more here, and being able to be patient is essential in case you plan to play Natural Doctrine. Sadly, when you do manage to complete an assignment, it doesn’t feel like any sort of achievement.
It actually feels like I managed to escape another beat down, and then got back in line to try again. I don’t want you to get the impression that this is a bad game, because it really isn’t. However, it does have multiple issues that make it much too hard to play. There are a number of things that strategy fans will love about it, although it’s most definitely not something I’d keep playing if I had to. Simply bear in mind that in the event you do opt to pick up Natural Doctrine, you are in for a battle that is very difficult, and occasionally not all that fair.
Release Date: September 30, 2014
Developer: Kadokawa Games
Game Website: http://nisamerica.com/games/natural_doctrine/home.html
Where to Buy: Amazon