It's been a long time since Final Fantasy VII, Grandia, and XenoGears. It's been even longer since Final Fantasy III (or VI), Chrono Trigger, and Secret of Mana. What I am trying to say is that Japanese RPGs have had their golden ages, but these are the dark times; the barren times; the who the hell are we times.
That rich vein of form that developers such as Square hit in the mid 90s is a long and distant memory, and Agarest Generations of War is almost endemic of this fact. This particular adventure feels like the result of too many nights staying up too late to play Ys, watching too many 'exotic' movies, and falling in love with your own pornographic drawings.
The best kind of goddess is a sexy goddess
Because in reality, AGoW is basically a dating sim with added goblins. It has JRPG generic plot 1 (nation hates nation: FIGHT!) but oddly, and perhaps in an attempt to be different, developers Compile Heart have decided to throw in an odd side distraction - namely mating and producing offspring with your female companions. Think of this as less of a jaunty Eastern odyssey and more of a quest to copulate through the ages preserving your blood line with the zesty enthusiasm of a horny monarch.
Which, eventually, makes the whole endeavour feel mildly offensive and entirely juvenile. Each generation of male hero is introduced to save the world and 'bang' the ladies. And these foppy haired, seemingly, lovable sex pests almost exclusively hold the company of, what looks like, prepubescent girls that own too few clothes and enjoy striking suggestive poses even in casual situations.
The upshot of all this is a piece of software that makes anyone with a modicum of maturity feel slightly ashamed to play. Try explaining to somebody vaguely sensible why you are trying to, literally, tease a baby out of what appears to be a woodland elf with a cleavage bigger than her entire face, whilst in a hot tub. It just feels a bit wrong, really.
Emo looks and floppy fringes are ALWAYS cool
And the conceit of this underlying goal for sexual congress just makes it all feel a little too near the knuckle. After the first generation of amicable sex offender, it becomes quite clear that everything that shuffles and has a vagina is destined to become part of the ongoing game of Call the Midwife. It all becomes quite disturbing. They call it a dating sim -but marauding the land looking for "mother" would be deemed outlandish at the least.
Dodgy sexual politics aside, it doesn't help that AGoW is actually a fairly bland stab at, what is increasingly becoming, a tired genre. The presentation of the adventure resembles the 2.5D art of Grandia, conjuring a certain amount of charm, but this is interspersed with anime-inspired exposition sequences, alongside the aforementioned hentai-infused tone that follows the game along like a teenage boy sporting an erection.
Furthermore, the battle system plays out like something created in the mid 90s. Both movement and actions are given their own individual stages, but it's the former that really starts to grate, becoming something that each turn you have to click through, even if you do not need to move. And when it comes to stabbing things, everything is so much of a muchness you might as well go and play Final Fantasy. Ultimately there is nothing new to see, and nothing really to endear this rather generic JRPG above the rest.
Oddly, to add to the intense boredom, are a few 'free roaming' stages, that diverge from an over world view of the world. These "I Can't Believe it's not 3D" locales are infuriatingly difficult to navigate, with added elements of platforming just to make it all a little bit more annoying and to showcase just how lost the game seemingly is.
Who likes PSone era graphics?
All in all, Agarest Generations of War is pretty bland, generic, and average. Factoring in pure gameplay, there are plenty of better JRPG to sample, and, hopefully, a brighter future for the genre above and beyond what this PC port would illuminate.
AGAREST: GENERATIONS OF WAR VERDICT
But what really kills this average adventure is its crass attempt at a dating sim, ham fistedly crammed into the code presumably to pass of a few more suspect pictures. There is a real juvenile spirit, and any game which hinges its narrative on procreating with swathes of all-too-willing females just goes down all funny. Try explaining to your partner, parents, or simply say out loud what the “breeding” mechanic of this game is, and see if you blush with embarrassment.
TOP GAME MOMENT
You can choose not to play it when the game over credit roles.