Developed by Sting and published by Atlus, Hexyz Force is a new RPG that takes the traditional JRPG model and makes it more streamlined and enjoyable then similar releases. The game is not as unique and boundary pushing as other releases from Sting, but it is a fun game with some nice gameplay hooks.
Hexyz Force features two main characters that have their own motivation and concerns and in fact their two stories are completely separate campaigns that interact rarely. The stalwart night Levant is the more straightforward story. His is a fairly standard tale, revered hero is arrested and rescued by the enemy and reluctantly agrees to help as he unravels the mystery. He does have a harder, more Han Solo edge in some of the choices presented, but he is a fairly standard archetype. The other protagonist is Cecilia, a lazy cleric who really does not want the responsibilities she has. Her story is a little more interesting in the fact that she is not your typical hero and that added a nice dimension to the story.
The story is told through mainly in-game scenes with cutout portraits of the characters while dialogue plays out. Very rarely there are some animated cutscenes that are handily done and help to further the story. The presentation is very standard of RPG’s on the PSP (and PS2/PS1 era) and is serviceable for the job. The story itself is not incredibly innovative, bad darkness locked away and is breaking free, group of heroes rise called the Hexyz (hence the name) and bad darkness is challenged. Thankfully the art used is outstanding and the dialogue is quick, well written and more importantly well translated.
Graphics in-game are pretty much what you would expect from a current generation 3-D game on the PSP. The characters and environments look good and are identifiable with their animated counterparts. Effects are well done and not overplayed like some other games tend to prefer. Overall the game is pleasant to look at and gets the job done.
Gameplay wise Hexyz Force is a pleasant experience that has a few twists but generally plays it safe. Each character has a main weapon (called a Ragnafact) that has varied powers that use points which can be depleted until you level or find a force site to refresh them. These powers all have their place, some are single hit, and others hit groups or rows of enemies. On top of the Ragnafact you can equip a few other items/weapons that have limited charges but do not use your Ragna Points. The mix of your permanent weapons and the equipable extras lends a strategy element that manages to be very usable and practical.
There are also some tactics when attacking enemies, all attacks have one of three characteristics – Crimson, Pearl or Cerulean, when you string together the same characteristics your attacks do more damage. There are also special actions each character has access to called Hexyz Charge that is enabled when your Force Burst meter fills up. Every attack and action fills the meter so there will always be a chance to load up these attacks. The combat system is capable, fairly fun and most importantly fast-paced. You can even pull R1 and the whole engine speeds up and actions whir by on the screen.
The game also further streamlines the process of playing by making the crafting system the most painless one I have ever seen. When you defeat enemies they drop components which your furry companion Ulu can merge into items/weapons/armor. You don’t have to search for blueprints, trial and error or even guess at an item. If you can create something new it is unlocked, it also tracks what they do and if you have any already. This makes the system a joy to use and also encourages grinding so you can get more options.
Hexys Force is not a well known game but it is a great new RPG on the PSP from a talented developer. The gameplay hooks (especially speed and ease of use), well done graphics and cutscenes as well as two distinct storylines make this a worthwhile investment for any RPG fan.
Hexyz Force is rated T (Teen) by the ESRB for Mild Fantasy Violence, Mild Language, Suggestive Themes.