Stella Deus: The Gate of Eternity Review

Developer: Pinegrow Publisher: Atlus
Release Date: April 26, 2005 Also On: None

Strategy RPG fans can find several PlayStation 2 oddities that are sure to impress, including all three of Nippon Ichi’s obscure games (La Pucelle, Disgaea, and Phantom Brave) and older titles like Front Mission 4 and the Kessen series. With so many titles to choose from, I personally think it’s a little difficult to throw some creativity into the matter – and while Pinegrow’s Stella Deus doesn’t really add anything to the genre, it is ultimately a solid release.

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Stella Deus tells the same story as almost every other RPG you’ve ever played. Spero, a young and hopeful swordsman, is being trained by an alchemist named Viser. The world these characters live in is being consumed by a mist called “Miasma,� and Viser tells Spero that the only way to save the world is to kill the harmless spirits and use their alchemic power to drive the Miasma away. A few events happen, and Spero finds himself in a touchy conflict of interests, filled with drama.

While the story is pretty good, it’s the battles I fell in love with. I found that Stella Deus feels a lot like Square’s Final Fantasy Tactics Advance on the Game Boy Advance. Now, PS2 owners – don’t turn your nose up, because FFTA, in my opinion, is one of the best and most accessible strategy games ever made. Stella Deus uses an “Action Pointâ€? (AP) system that allows you to make a limited number of moves per turn. The same rules apply to enemies. Using attacks, special attacks, magic, items, and simply moving around costs a certain number of your pre-set 100 AP. The more AP you use, the farther down the turn list you go until you are allowed to make another move. This system takes some practice, but once I got used to it, I found that a lot of strategy could and should be used. While the battles aren’t suffocated with depth, they’re a lot of fun and serve as a great way for gamers to get into the genre.

The soundtrack, composed by Hitoshi Sakimoto (who also did Final Fantasy Tactics), is unquestionably the best technical aspect of the game. Each encounter with certain characters will bring upon a specific track that blends perfectly with the story and what is currently going on. Also, voiced dialogue is used in almost all scenarios, so Pinegrow didn’t go stiff on the sound quality. However, the graphics could pass as a Super Nintendo or Game Boy Advance game without anyone knowing the difference. The animations are very reminiscent of the 16-bit era, and if it wasn’t for some of the beautiful anime-style cut-scenes, Stella Deus wouldn’t have anything to mention graphic-wise. Even for sprites, Stella Deus’ aren’t very interesting.

Overall, I wouldn’t consider Stella Deus: The Gate of Eternity as the best strategy-RPG ever created, but it certainly has a place in the genre. Fans of this type of game would be foolish to miss out on it. Like I said before, it doesn’t add much to the genre but it is a solid all-around purchase.

Graphics: 5
Sound: 9
Gameplay: 8.5
Creativity: 5
Replay Value/Game Length: 9
Final: 7.5
Written by Cliff Review Guide

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