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Well Written

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Played 1000+ games

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Favorite Games

Hard West
Hard West
Shin Megami Tensei: Persona
Shin Megami Tensei: Persona
Half-Minute Hero: The Second Coming
Half-Minute Hero: The Second Coming
Final Fantasy IV
Final Fantasy IV


Total Games Played


Played in 2023


Games Backloggd

Recently Played See More

Ihatovo Monogatari
Ihatovo Monogatari

Mar 14

Get sword, kill dragon, save princess
Get sword, kill dragon, save princess

Sep 06

Ignis Universia: Eternal Sisters Saga DX
Ignis Universia: Eternal Sisters Saga DX

Aug 27

Monster Sanctuary
Monster Sanctuary

Aug 27

My Haunted Doll
My Haunted Doll

Aug 20

Recently Reviewed See More

I can mostly say that I had no idea what I was getting into when I chose to play this game. I had just a long list of games to play through and was scrolling at random, and my 2 year old daughter said, "Daddy, play Clue!" while pointing at 'Ihatovo Monogatari.'
Immediately I was captivated by the charming spritework and the music just lulled me in like I was returning home after being away for a long time. The game is absolute pure comfy in an adventure game wrapping, and it was nothing short of a delight to play, to see the people in the town changing and adjusting with each season, each adventure and learning about their lives.
My daughter even started to recognize several of the NPCs with their portraits and kept wanting me to go and talk to the 'Stove Cat' and the 'Big Frog' as I was playing (which admittedly impeded progress sometimes as I had to backtrack to find those NPCs). But it became something of a routine ritual to play this for about 15-20 minutes after dinner before we started to get her ready for bed.
It's a wildly charming, enthralling game that has many direct ties to an early 20th Century Japanese poet and author who's works I'll certainly be looking into in the coming months. You can feel the love and care put into the game, and you almost feel as if you're part of the little town of Ihatovo by the end of it all.
I won't spoil the ending but it takes a wildly ethereal and spiritual turn toward its end and finishing it is like waking from a dream.

This review contains spoilers

Minor spoilers only-
I’m not entirely sure where to begin with this review because the more I reflect upon this game, the more my viewpoints and thoughts continue to change and evolve. I had meant to write this immediately after finishing it, but decided to sit on it a bit and let it ruminate a bit. I wanted to see what would come from my thoughts on the matter as I had a chance to view the game as a whole, rather than in individual parts, which I will outline below. I will do my best to avoid spoilers, but there are several pieces that might come a little close, but that’s just because they are very important to the overall response that I have for this story.
This first part may have a few more spoilers than most, but that’s mostly just because this is all touched on fairly early on in the plot. The game opens with you coming to check out this highly popular video game ‘7th Encounter’ but you need a pass to get in. You don’t have one, but this random girl who shows up does, and since she doesn’t want to go in alone, you get the honor of joining her inside. As a note, she seems very ill, but earnest.
You get to create and name your own character, similar to an Etrian Odyssey game (which this series bears many similarities to) with several different designs for your character, as well as their own voice actor. Your main character doesn’t speak (although you get choices for responses and such) and so the voice actor chosen is mostly just for yelling during battle and victory blurbs. All of the audio is in Japanese, so mostly choose voices you think fit your headcanon or just whatever sounds the most pleasing.
Your initial choices are a Godhand (Kind of a Monk/Healer), Samurai (DPS with some tanking), Agent (Guns and ‘hacking’ skills), and Duelist (card-based caster). You make two more allies (in the same way as your main character) for a party of three, and then dive into 7th Encounter. Supposedly this game is incredibly realistic but very difficult and no one has cleared it.
So of course, you do on your first try and find out that this was all a front for finding people who are skilled enough to kill dragons for real, as the world has been under attack by dragons and there are several who are being killed by them or the ‘Dragon Sickness’ which causes a lot of severe cold-like respiratory symptoms. This is caused by a ‘Dragon Bloom’ which is a bunch of red flowers that are everywhere, and are basically constantly releasing this death into the air.
But as soon as you get all of this revealed, a real dragon shows up to basically shut you down immediately, but the military forces move in to wound it and scare it off.
This is basically the opening and sets the tone for the game. The characters in the game are generally all quite optimistic and cheerful, but it’s painted against an exceedingly bleak backdrop. Dragons are effectively steadily killing everyone on the planet, and people slowly consolidate toward this ‘7th Encounter’ game as it’s the only escape from the terrible reality they’re in. There are many vibes similar to Majora’s Mask, where there’s a hellscape out there and people are doing their best to make it through, day-by-day.
The plot goes on from here, introducing the idea of being able to move through time, and from my understanding, you’re working back in the previous game’s setting, to an extent. I haven’t played them, but I wish I had, as it seems like there are many callbacks to the previous games. Your task in moving through time is to hunt down the True Dragons, as putting data from all 7 of them together will allow humanity to have a way to fight back against the dragon onslaught as a whole. You have 3 at the start, and go to the past to get another. But at this point the game really starts, and so I’m going to get into combat here briefly, mostly because of how it changes throughout the game.
Combat is a fairly straight-forward Dragon Quest style. Enemies appear before you, your stat blocks are listed below, and you can choose to attack, use skills, or defend. The real interesting bit is as you fight, you get SP which are used to unlock skills. Each class has various skills that can be used, and so you can functionally build your whole team up as you like. The Godhand has tremendous single-target damage, or it can use healing skills. MP doesn’t replenish from walking around, but it does when you level up, and these games are heavy on the dungeon-crawling, so managing your resources is important. With that said, random encounters are (generally) a footnote. A few rounds of mostly basic attacks will win most fights.
The real challenge are the dragons. As mentioned, Dragons are rampaging about, destroying the world, killing people and so forth. They appear on the map and can be fought or avoided, but they are basically a boss fight on their own, requiring careful use of skills, items and even defending to ensure you can clear one. And there isn’t just one per area, but dozens, which can stretch your resources to the limit. But when defeated, Dragons drop DP (Dragon Points (clever, I know)) which can be used to upgrade parts of your main base, including better weapons and armor, so the game has a very incremental feel to its gameplay loop that feels rewarding as you get more comfortable with clearing the dragons.
I won’t get into the specifics of the plot of what happens in the first real arc, but you start by trying to help out the nobles who more-or-less ignore you, and so you move to the common people, who you save some and agree to help them in return, and this is where the game starts to get more interesting. You make a deal with the military who has a super soldier named Yuma, and he is immensely powerful- yet always seems to have an issue when you need to fight. His commentary provides a lot of foreshadowing into the plot but he stays consistently your ‘rival’ throughout, wanting to always best you in combat.
You also meet Aigur here, who is basically the Guard-Captain of the common folk. Aigur is hot-blooded but earnest and wants to save his people. In this agreement with them, you unlock the Rune Knight and Fortuner Class. Rune Knight is a paladin-like class with tanking and healing abilities, whereas the Fortuner is a weird status-focused class with a lot of healing over time for both HP and MP and a bunch of other odd bits. You also get to create a second team of three at this point, and so the combat that had been fairly straight-forward now gets a few extra pieces in being able to use your secondary team for back-up attacks and such, which adds a new layer of strategy.
I had neglected to mention as well that while here in the past with Aigur, they are also under attack by Dragons, which shows that this is just ongoing throughout history. Also, as you venture through the dungeons, you are rescuing this people as well, saving them as you go, and go at-odds with others in your heroic attempts to save everyone as everyone else is focused to kill the dragons, but your role feels greater in that you are trying to save as many lives as possible.
More tonal sets, more lore building upon the fact that entire civilizations had been wiped out by the Dragons in the past, and that you are basically the only thing that plans to stand against them. The plot beats are less-important than the framing of everything- everyone else sees people as expendable to get to the goal of defeating all of the dragons, but you are this icon of heroism that will save the world, past present and future and everyone in it and the game sets you up for that.
You and Aigur become friends. You save as many people of their kingdom as you can and meet with their Queen Ulania, and befriend her as well, having her step up and develop as a character. Your support team at your main base all have names, they all have personalities, and as you meet and talk with them (and there’s a quest system as well, which isn’t super important but it’s a footnote here) and do quests for them, you get to see how all of them grow as people.
You finish what you need to do, and head to the future to track down the next True Dragon, which is a huge callback to the very first 7th Dragon game, interestingly enough, and here you meet a larger cast of characters. You assist them with helping to defeat the dragons, and you help each of them start to grow in their own ways. All of them are there to assist you in helping fight the dragons, providing the support in the way they can with new classes, new teams, and the situation repeats. Also, now you can go and rescue cats as well as people!
The problem is, at this point, while you get to see all of this great development and character growth amongst the NPCs (who you can also go on dates with, which is a whole new way to see their characters grow), the gameplay and plot kind of hits this weird stagnant state. While you have new classes to play with and new characters, the stakes are fundamentally the same. They do try to add some spice into it with an NPC who is so absorbed in her hate for dragons that she takes off on her own and you see some asides with her, but unless you’ve played the previous 3 games (she’s a mainstay) it falls a little flat here, and was definitely the low point.
A slight twist occurs here with the NPC and it helps somewhat but doesn’t really save it. I had taken more breaks here than any other part. But then the real twist occurs. I won’t get into exactly what happens, but the dark tone the game has had in the background suddenly comes to the front. Many of the lives that you tried to save over the course of the game are lost, and things just keep getting worse. Every scene is more grim than the last until you grasp at the silver strand of hope and pull everything out from despair.
The battle system’s requirement to handle resource management and optimize dealing with the Dragons, and the way that basically every single choice that gets made to further the development of the characters and the world comes back around to have an important impact in its finale. Its overall presentation is a little cartoony given that it’s a 3DS title and with a starker, more serious art direction, this would’ve seriously landed a home run.
But at the end of the day it’s a dungeon crawler with tight battle mechanics, a story that starts strong, dips in the middle just enough so that what comes next is unexpected and holds strong all the way through to the finale. It was recommended to me on a whim and it gripped me in a way I wasn’t expecting. It makes you as the main character important- it takes all of your actions and uses them against the grim and gritty backdrop of this shitty world. You FEEL like a hero and seeing everything come to fruition was a journey that I’ll likely not forget in a long time.
There’s so much I could gush about in this game but that gets into heavy spoiler territory and similarly, it’s not something I can properly convey in just words- it’s not a long game and one I would recommend people experience. But you need to delve in and experience it all. Talk to the NPCs, live in the world and watch it all grow and crumble around you as the Dragons loom ever-closer.
It changed the way I look at storytelling as a whole, and while its story isn’t necessarily riveting (“Go kill Dragons” “ok I do it”) the -way- the story is told is what really speaks to me. The game itself is well-balanced and fun, and the characters are great, with a lot of development time given to flesh them out so that you feel for when things happen to them. It’s a solid game and I haven’t had many experiences like it.

Not a whole lot to say but will at least go into the basics.
FE: Shadow Dragon is a very clear first step into the Fire Emblem franchise. The gameplay is simple but tight, and there is little-to-no fat involved with it. You will get short, to-the-point cutscenes at the start of each map, and occasionally some in between while Marth and his crew lay waste to anyone that thinks to challenge them.
Marth is unfortunately fairly middling compared to some of the other characters, mostly because he doesn't get the option to class change, as nearly all the rest of them do. He's quite strong early on but against the final boss, I actually ended up killing it with another unit, which given that the special weapon does double damage against the boss, is pretty telling.
Keeping everyone alive all the way through requires some careful planning, but only a few resets were needed. I enjoyed the fact that it didn't waste my time with pointless extraneous systems (Looking at you 3H) and if the story had been tighter and the gameplay a bit more diverse would've edged out another half-star, but it's still a great remake with much-needed QoL for the first game in the series.