One of the hallmarks of a Summon Night game is the ability to form bonds with the other characters. The game has always been part strategic-RPG, part visual novel, and part dating sim. As you go about your way, you’ll be able to spend your nights talking with different characters. This can lead to increased relationship values and endings. Summon Night 6: Lost Borders is no different. As you go from one chapter to the next, you’ll have chances to talk it out with people. But, there are ways in which it feels a little different and, in some ways, less fulfilling.
The good news is, people don’t need to go out of their way to get to these personal interludes. At the end of a chapter, you will automatically head up on the roof and have one of the other iconic Summon Night heroes or heroines join Raj or Amu. Now, you won’t always have everyone there. Different people may or may not show up as an option. And each one usually has about five hearts to fill and gets about four events. Though, there are some characters who only have two late night chats due to when they join the party. It is possible to save just before these special moments, so you can see different outcomes and change your mind about bonding with certain people. There is an animation after choosing responses, so you can tell what they thought.
The events are typical visual novel fare. The characters tell you something about themselves, you have an opportunity to response, and you can learn more about them. The issue here is, these segments really feel geared toward people who are familiar with previous Summon Night games. As I mentioned before, Summon Night 6: Lost Borders can generalize a bit. There isn’t the same character development here as in previous games, because of the number of people thrown together. The visual novel segments attempt to focus on a few important elements of personalities, but we do not see the same sort of growth as we do in other entries. While you do connect with these people, it is not like a regular dating sim where people really come together and bond. Especially for some characters who only have a few conversations. It can feel very superficial.
This is also the place where Summon Night 6: Lost Border’s localization and voice acting issues come up. Here is the thing about the game. I feel like the quality is on par with games like Tales of Phantasia or Thousand Arms. It can come across as cheesy and goofy. Considering some talks can get a bit serious, it keeps them from leaving an impact or being memorable for the right reasons. Combine that with voice acting where the delivery is monotone or doesn’t capture the emotion at that moment, and it can almost be painful to sit through such segments.
The superficiality extends to the depth of the relationships you form. In normal Summon Night games, you can have some pairings that get really meaningful. Folks can become best friends or lovers. That does not happen here. There just isn’t the time and some folks are already in established relationships, like Magna and Amer. What happens is, if you have seen all of the conversations with a character, then on the last night you can see a final conversation with that person. When you beat the game, you see the ending with that character. This isn’t to say there is no romance. (A relationship is hinted at between the protagonist you choose and one other character.) But you do not actually see any confession and instead only get an implied future.
It is nice that there is the option to have these relationships with folks in Summon Night 6: Lost Borders. You do get to know a little more about people, see some funny asides, and bond a bit. It just does not feel as meaningful as the segments that arose in, say, Summon Night 5. Because of the large cast and rushed nature of the game, there isn’t the same development as a more dedicated installment that doesn’t mash tons of characters together and hope people have an awareness of their identities. It is just a shame that some issues like the localization, voice acting, and lack of deeper development keep it from having a real impact.
Summon Night 6: Lost Borders is available for the PlayStation 4 and PlayStation Vita.