While I own this entire series, some entries twice, the only ones I’ve played are this game and Agarest Zero. I’d previously tried collecting my thoughts on the Agarest Zero elsewhere, and I ended up thinking that the game had interesting ideas, but had very dull and long-winded cutscenes and even longer combat. I understood the appeal but didn’t like how you couldn’t avoid grinding unless you opted to use the overpowered DLC weapons. I didn’t like it very much.
Which is why I was very cautious when I first got this game years ago for PS3. If you’re just reading this wondering if this game is anything like Agarest Zero, the short answer is “No”. As such, I see very little reason to make comparisons.
This game’s name varies based on what region, and even what platform you are referring to. Agarest Senki 2 on PS3s in Japan, Record of Agarest War 2 on PS3s in North America, and Agarest: Generations of War 2 on PS3s in Europe and in general on PC, since the European publisher Ghostlight is responsible for the port. For this reason, I will simply refer to it as Agarest 2.
Before I proceed any further, I would like to note that, even while those who play it may not realize, Agarest 2 is actually a very complex game. I’ll be omitting a lot of systems in their entirety from this write-up or it would be about three times its current length.
Agarest 2 is the third game in the Agarest series. As per usual in the series, this game features multiple generations of characters whose stories are played through in a row. This entry features 3 generations of characters to play through in its plot.
To sum up the basic plot: You open as a man named Weiss who kills a god, after which he loses his memory. Weiss is made to pay for his deicide by becoming the god’s new vessel, as the concept of death does not truly apply to this case. To act as the vessel, he needs to find three “pillars” and a “key”. You will be unsurprised to hear that these end up being 4 girls. Weiss must slay demons and then pick one of the “pillars” to bear his child, who will be the protagonist for the next generation. Repeat.
Every character has affection values towards Weiss that are affected by several different things. Choices made during events will have a large effect, using a character in battle will have a very negligible positive effect, and the unlockable Public Bath minigame will have a positive effect that has varying magnitude based on how well you do. You need to get everyone’s values high by the end of each generation if you want to get the true ending of the game.
You also have limited time, but not in the sense that you have a timer breathing down your neck. No, this is arguably worse. You start the game with 0 LP. Now, this isn’t Yu-Gi-Oh!, where this means you lose. Rather, there is a cap of 9999 LP per generation, and every event cutscene you view and quest you complete will add some. If you hit 9999 or otherwise don’t have enough space left between 0 and 9999 to fit the amount spent for an event, events will not appear.
There are ways to decrease the amount of spent LP, but overall this means you will need a guide open at all times if you want to get the true ending of this game. In fact, the most complete guide for this game is quite literally a set of step by step, hand-holding instructions that required a lengthy spreadsheet to write effectively.
As for the combat system, it’s much faster-paced than other entries in the series. Everyone starts off in a formation based on whoever you chose as the leader in party setup. You can access various different types of skills, but most of your attacks will be done by pressing the face buttons to activate equipped skills. Each attack takes AP, and running out ends your turn. If your characters haven’t broken out of formation, you can have multiple characters pool together their AP, in which case you can alternate between all of them during the turn for your attacks.
How long each character has to wait for their next turn is determined chiefly by how much they attacked during their turn, so you want to use multiple characters if AP is pooled together, not just one. Also, when you finish your move, you may be offered to do an additional attack with everyone who spent AP this turn. Upon selecting to do so, you’re given about 2 seconds to spam buttons as quickly as possible for extra damage. It’s effectively an optional QTE.
The resulting combat is blazing fast. You can get through most unimportant fights in a minute or two. While the sheer speed may lead one to believe that there’s no thinking involved here, I disagree. There is, but it’s presented in such a way that you don’t sit around thinking out every last move for ages. One easy parallel is competitive Pokémon, where most of the strategizing takes place before the match even starts.
Now, to close things off, I believe an explanation regarding the censorship in the PC version of the game is in order. It’s the EU version of the game, meaning that the child character Fiona cannot be used in any of the bathhouse minigames until the third generation (where she’s an adult), due to how most of them are presented. Also, two pieces of event artwork involving her have been removed, though the scenes stayed otherwise intact.
This is understandable given that she’s an 11-year-old initially, but recall that I noted one of the bathhouse minigames as affecting character affection. Specifically, the Public Bath minigame. You outright need to use this minigame to get some characters’ affection levels high enough unless you feel like grinding a long time, and the guide I mentioned earlier calls for using it on Fiona at a point where she can’t use it. Luckily, Ghostlight thought ahead, raising Fiona’s affection gain in exchange. As such, my Google-fu reveals that those who tried the guide on the EU version of the game had Fiona overshoot the required affection without needing the minigame.
This makes me almost prefer things this way. Why, you ask? Because the Public Bath minigame is a pain. You have limited tries, but every single guide for Agarest 2 needs you to play it a few times and get the maximum score with each try. The problem is how this minigame is controlled. You either use an analog stick or whatever keys you selected on the PC version and have to alternate between a set of directions in very rapid succession without mistakes. If you make even the slightest error, your score goes down and you lose time. I was only ever able to even finish these thanks to the PS3’s support for the PlayStation Move for this minigame, and it both tired out my arm and made me break a fairly heavy sweat. I was hoping there would be mouse support in the same vein here, but no.
Agarest 2 has quite a lot of systems running within, but in the end, one is likely to just ignore any optional parts of the systems for the sake of just getting on with things. Still, it is an enjoyable game. Just know that those who like the other games in this series and those who like this game are not necessarily the same people.
Food For Thought:
1. You may be wondering where to find the guide I referred to a few times, since using Google gets you several different ones. Look for MasterLL’s guide. You’re welcome.
2. This game has quite a lot of different types of points. EXP, TP, LP, AP, CP, PP, it goes on and on. Though it makes sense, since this game has a lot of systems to go with those. Many of which I didn’t go into.
3. I love how this game actually chooses to bring up the subject of guns in a fantasy setting. Though I laughed a bit for various reasons when the blacksmith said guns made for terrible weapons.
4. The character creation system isn’t very clear, but it lets you pick everything from Weiss’ class to his stat growths to his weapon options and even affecting his child. If you’re lazy, the best Battlemage build is accessible by picking: Battlemage, Greatsword, Gun, Knuckles, Sword and Staff, Sword and Staff, then any of: Spear/Scythe/Staff/Greatsword/Gun.
5. If this game is running worse than Agarest Zero for you, try turning off full screen. Despite the identical system requirements, my laptop runs Agarest Zero well at full screen 900p, but has to run this windowed at 576p. Changing it to full screen without altering any other settings makes things far slower for some unknown reason and vice-versa.