A.W. Phoenix Festa is a fairly large game. There are multiple heroines to pursue with not only the default hero from the Asterisk War series, Ayato, but also with an original character you create. There are characters to unlock in battle mode, with extra skills and nicknames to earn. It’s substantial. Fortunately, it works in such a way that you feel like it’s easy to go through multiple times to earn everything.
To start, A.W. Phoenix Festa is honestly rather short. At least, if you play as Ayato it is. You can finish one of his storylines in ten hours or less. Honestly, I found subsequent playthroughs went much more quickly, once I knew quiz answers and found a fighting groove. (Listen for the audio trigger with two beeps to determine if you’ve picked the correct response, for the former!) You get an idea of what schedule works, which makes the process more streamlined.
It also has skills, which carry over from one A.W. Phoenix Festa playthrough to the next. Once you’ve completed a run in which you earn an ability that can boost your experience in training or rewards from job, you have it forever. It’s going to show up for that character each time. For example, I’ve been going through the Ayato routes to unlock everything for him first. Because I kept doing jobs with him, since his skills are high enough to ensure he’ll win most battles without much trouble, I ended up getting Superstar Employee. It boosts the rewards I earn from each job and has reached level two due to the number of times I’ve forced Ayato to work. I did quite a bit of shopping in the gift shop, so Lester gave me a skill that offers me a permanent discount. Again, this makes each replay proceed much more swiftly.
The only downside to A.W. Phoenix Festa’s replayability is its randomness. You never know if or when certain events will happen, and some skills are tied to these random events. Take the skills that improve your friendship with a heroine. I’ve only unlocked Kirin’s, which doesn’t help much since she was the easiest character to win over in my playthroughs. You only maybe get this skill after finishing a job they ask you to do. This means you aren’t guaranteed traits that will make your current and future playthroughs easier and better.
But then, even this randomness helps. Every A.W. Phoenix Festa run is going to be different. You may not see the same events or encounter the same sorts of duels. It helps keep things fresh, even if you are on your fourth or fifth run through the game. This can result in some frustrations, especially when you’re trying to fill up the gallery with images. But on the whole, it’s easy to see why it was handled the way that it was. The goal is to make things more unexpected, to prevent the game from being stale. You want to see new things.
Which can mean going through the same route more than once. When playing as Ayato, your first choice in A.W. Phoenix Festa basically chooses your partner. If you come back to that decision point after earning some skills and gaining some experience, you can take that opportunity to try and go for another character while on a certain partner’s route. This leads to new images, which can result in 100% gallery completion.
But really, you’ll definitely want to play A.W. Phoenix Festa at least five times. There’s a hidden character lurking within the game, and the only way to meet and work with her is by first teaming up with Julis, Claudia, Saya, and Kirin. You can get a glimpse of her in the Battle mode, as she’s immediately unlocked there. But the only way to learn absolutely everything there is to know about Sylvia is to first befriend every other option available.
Efficient is a good word for A.W. Phoenix Festa. It’s set up in such a way that people will have to play multiple times to accomplish everything, but the game works to make each playthrough shorter than the last. If you’re doing your best and investigating each area, taking on jobs from partners and properly training, there’s a good chance you’ll stumble upon the right requirements to unlock skills that will allow you to level up more quickly, befriend partners with less effort, and get better deals on items and equipment improvements. There is a random element to everything, but it can be overcome with enough patience.
A.W. Phoenix Festa is immediately available for the PlayStation Vita.