I’m only a few hours into this PS4 game, but it’s really good. It’s sort of a visual novel, point and click adventure game, except laid out like a 2D brawler, with super-duper-high quality 2D hand-drawn character models and backgrounds (maybe they’re not actually 2D hand-drawn, but they have that look) and butter-smooth animations.
BUT it’s also a mecha tactical RPG. But even then, not quite like any other I’ve played before. First of all, it has this really unique art style, where it’s like you’re watching from a tactical monitor, like a radar or something, so it’s almost more like a hi-fi space invaders (and I think this is intentional). It’s really evocative, and it’s a clever way to cheat around not having to develop super detailed assets for both game modes. I was worried it would get confusing, and sometimes it’s hard to see certain things, but for the most part, it seems to work. I think that’s in part because, kind of like into the breach, the goal is different than in a standard tactical RPG, and so it’s almost more like a puzzle, and the visuals mostly facilitate this successfully. In this case, you’re trying to defend a base from waves of aliens, most of which go down pretty easily, so it’s really about area control and energy management (so you can use your maneuverability or range moves, or your area of effect moves). I’m not describing it well, but it’s unique and fun.
Also, despite what the name may lead you to think, it’s really nothing like Pacific Rim, or only in the loosest sense. Or, at least so far, anyway. I assume the name was intentionally evocative of Pacific Rim though, but maybe not.
It also has (at least so far) a really interesting story. In some ways, it seems like your traditional teen mecha anime, but it’s got some cool timey-wimey stuff, a non-linear narrative to go along with it, and it feels a little bit more in the vein of something like Evangelion, Gurren Lagann, or Darling in the Franxx, where it seems to me like there’s some subtext here, but I’m not far enough into the game to know what that is yet, or in any case it’s got some cool high concept ideas.
Also, while the prologue organizes things in a tight loop between VN sections and tactical sections, once the game actually opens up, it becomes much more non-linear. Because you follow different characters, you can play the different characters’ VN stories somewhat freely (some things get locked until you’ve completed other stories), and it seems that even within any given chapter, there are potential branching paths, and the narrative also seems to support the idea that these branching paths and non-linear story developments are co-occurring. But also, while there are incentives to intersperse story and tactical, it actually separates out those modes, which I thought was a really cool idea. So if you’re not in the right headspace for tactical gameplay, you can push through the story, and if you’re not in the right headspace for a narrative and just want to fuck up some aliens, you can push throw the tactical gameplay. It actually feels like it should have been a handheld game; I usually play my switch docked anyway, but if it did come to switch, I’d probably recommend buying it on switch just to have the option to play it handheld. Both the tactical sections and VN sections, at least as far into the game as I’ve gotten, are fairly bite-sized, it feels like it was designed with this in mind, like maybe a few years earlier it would have been a Vita game (RIP Vita).
I was saying, I think it was on an RPG discord, how I think it’s interesting that mecha anime has fallen out of favor in recent years, with a few high profile exceptions, so this was a pleasant surprise. I still don’t have any deep insights about that… maybe one day.
I don’t off-hand have anything tabletop specific to say about this either, besides that, I’m enjoying the game on multiple levels and am finding it creatively inspiring. Perhaps the way it integrates the non-linear story with player choice, separates the modes, and uses visuals to unique effects, could be analogized to tabletop… I dunno, if I think of anything I’ll follow up.
Check this game out.