Summon Night 6: Lost Borders is a lot like any other turn-based, grid-filled, tactical game you will play. When a fight begins, you choose which eight Summon Night characters are deployed. (Ones that are not summoned stay in reserve.) Each has its own sort of standard damage, special attacks, class, and skills. The top of the screen shows a turn order, height can influence damage, other environmental effects can tamper with accuracy, characters can team up for special attacks when placed near each other, there are classes you can eventually unlock and switch to in order to make people better, and you can craft weapons; all of these are elements we have seen from strategic-RPGs before. It is once you get past these basics that things start getting a little more unique.
One of the ways in which Summon Night 6: Lost Borders is different is how you move. It wants to be like Phantom Brave, where you have a general area in which a character can move, but it ends up being more frustrating since you are still confined to a grid. So while characters can move around rather freely, they are adhering to spaces. It just looks a little nicer while they are getting from point A to point B. While this should be mostly harmless and generally stylish, it becomes a real problem when navigating different elevations. It is difficult to sometimes find the ledge that will send a character up a stairway, cliff, or environmental object. It is then that a more standard movement approach becomes more attractive.
While movement takes a step back when it comes to accessibility and ease of use, leveling is a Summon Night 6: Lost Borders hallmark people who like building diverse teams will appreciate. In such games, it can sometimes be difficult to get ranged or supporting characters leveled due to maps that do not give them a chance to see much use. Fortunately, experience here is doled out by the player. Once a battle has been won, you get a well of points to dole out to people as you see fit. You can even hold it over to another battle to spend on future characters.
Instead, it is skill points that can be increased via actual encounters with enemy characters. Which is just as important for building up folks, since you need to invest in those necessary skills to make these folks valid. Amer isn’t going to be able to go around the map, healing everyone unless you make her participate a little so she can actually learn Fertility Boon and Protection Prayer. Different classes may hold exclusive active or passive skills, so it is important to really work with the people you like. Something that, admittedly, can get difficult as large groups of characters suddenly join your party due to events or the combining of the two leads’ parties.
The whole summoning element is another positive. I mean, Summon Night 6: Lost Borders has “summon” in its name. The concept of Summon Arts allows you to collect different creatures from every installment in the series and pull them into a battle with you. These can influence the fight in different ways. You might be able to pull some of these characters in as additional party members. Others can perform a special ability to attack an opponent or help an ally. You might even use one to boost a character’s own skills. I wish that the game put a little more focus on the collection of Summons. You can find them in various battles as you play through some fights and by grabbing golden treasure chests in Endless Domain.
Speaking of Endless Domain, it is one of three extra features that also helps set Summon Night 6: Lost Borders apart from similar strategy games and gives players more to do. Basically, after the various parties merge, you get three new options. One is Redo Battles. This allows you to replay completed story battles to complete Brave Order objectives you may have missed or just revisit earlier moments. There is the Endless Domain, which allows you to traverse floors of a dungeon, going deeper and deeper as you successfully face fight after fight. The last mode, Dispatch Quest, may be a hit or miss for some. It is largely an automated battle system where you pick certain characters to send into a battle, watch as they fight automatically through waves of enemies, and only occasionally press a button to make them perform a special skill when you have accrued enough battle points.
In a lot of ways, Summon Night 6: Lost Borders is a very typical strategic-RPG. Many of the same systems and concepts are in place here as in other games. But there are a number of elements that set it apart and make it compelling. Getting to collect and use Summon Arts in battles is one of them. Knowing you have plenty of opportunities to perfect characters to your liking, leveling them up at your leisure, ensuring they get the classes and skills they need, is quite a comfort. And, once you have reached the point where all the storylines meld into one, you get additional options to experience more fights. It can end up being quite the large adventure with a number of memorable features.
Summon Night 6: Lost Borders is available for the PlayStation 4 and PlayStation Vita.