Video Game Review: Azur Lane

Details: Spent a couple days playing through the game. Official site is https://azurlane.yo-star.com

Score: 6/10

Azur Lane is one of the most popular mobile gacha games on the market. Accordingly, I decided to give it a try and see what all the fuss was about. What I found was a mostly derivative auto-battler that exceled in one main area: anime boobies.

Azur Lane takes place in a fictionalized world where famous warships have been anthropomorphized into cute, sexy, anime waifu’s. Like, literal battle ships from like World War 2 and beyond. It’s a weird concept that has taken nerds and weebs by storm. You play a commander of a fleet of these anime girl-warships and do battle with other fleets of anime girl-warships.

The biggest flaw in this game is the boring gameplay. While the presentation of battles is a little different from that of other auto-battler gacha games, it’s still pretty much the same. Teams of characters battle other characters. You don’t really have any control over your characters except that you can sluggishly move them around the screen in hopes of dodging projectiles. It’s not a very well implemented system and you will most likely just hit the convenient auto-play button and automate the whole process.

Other than the generic, automated battles, leveling and progressing your characters is also mostly the same as any other gacha auto-battler. You complete missions/battles, you get items and resources which you spend to make your fleet more powerful. There is a constant trickle of in game resource that you need to spend in order to participate in any activity. Spend your daily allotted resource and you can’t do anything else in the game. It’s all very uninspired.

The only thing that stands out in this game and which is also likely the reason why this game is so popular is the waifu’s. In other words, it’s the sexily or cutely drawn anime girls. When it comes to games where you collect characters, art is everything and the art in this game is very good. By very good, I mean very lewd.

To take things to the next level, Azur Lane has implemented Live2D for many of their characters. This is basically interactive 3D models of the anime girls that players can poke at. It’s not artificial intelligence, but it is a step up from the static images or slightly moving static images in all the other waifu collector games out there. Players that are desperate for female interaction and lack the ability to interact with real women in real life would probably appreciate this feature.

The gacha mechanics in this game are slightly different that in other gacha games. You don’t roll on a banner, but you build ships with an in-game resource. Those ships have a probability of being really powerful ships or less powerful ships. It’s a different skin for the same animal. In the end, it’s just a random gamble for an in-game character you may or may not want, not unlike any other gacha game.

Overall, this game is generic and boring in terms of gameplay, but exquisite in terms of collecting sexy anime girls and interacting with them and their Live2D models. If you are a desperate, lonely, weeaboo/nerd who gets their jollies from fake, cartoon girls, this game will probably make you really happy. Otherwise, it’s just another average, generic, auto-battling gacha game that offers nothing new in terms of gameplay.

Video Game Review: Disgaea RPG

Details: Played for a couple of days since launch. More information can be found at https://disgaearpg.boltrend.com/en/home

Score: 6/10

Disgaea RPG is new, auto-battling gacha game based on the Disgaea video game franchise. Unfortunately, this game was just too generic for me and offered little to nothing to keep me interested. I already play a few similar gacha games and there’s no reason to play yet another one when it offers nothing new.

From what I can tell, Disgaea RPG takes place in a fantasy world where demon and other villainous creatures aspire to be the greatest villain. In the pursuit of that idea, they get into a lot of comedic adventures. Disgaea RPG is mostly a comedy and doesn’t take itself that seriously.

Gameplay is about as generic as a gacha game can be. This is a turn based role playing game where you get into an instanced battle, then take turns hitting each other, casting spells, etc. While you can directly control your characters, most of your time will probably be spent using the auto battle function where you just hit a button and your characters do all the battling for you.

I think one of the reasons why the commonplace gameplay features in this game didn’t grab me while other gacha games have is because of the lack of innovation, the lack of multiplayer, its not that special visually, and I didn’t care much for the story. Disgaea RPG does almost nothing new. While the Disgaea series is known for allowing players to level up to astronomic heights and deal immense numbers of damage, that still distills down to the basic gacha gameplay formula of leveling a character, promoting a character, then doing it again and again and again. Disgaea RPG gives this a slightly different label, but it’s the same basic function.

The lack of multiplayer is also not helping my lack of interest because the main reason players care about how powerful their characters is to compete with other players. Without that urgency, any need to progress is far less meaningful.

The other reason players feel compelled to play gacha games like this is to collect characters. Usually, playing a game provides resources with which to gamble on new characters through its gacha mechanics. However, the characters in this game so far were mostly unappealing to me. No character was visually impressive nor was there an overpowered character that could easily get me through the current content. There was simply no reason for me to roll for new characters and without that justification, I felt no reason to play the game.

While the game isn’t the best looking game, it certainly isn’t bad looking. It’s a stylized, cartoony look that anyone familiar with the franchise would recognize. It just also isn’t very exciting.

Which also doesn’t help with the story since it is told in that overused, visual novel style that I hate. I simply don’t care about your story if you use a static image, visual novel style and don’t fully voice the scenes.

The music was pretty good and what voice acting was there was also nice.

Overall, this is a gacha game I simply felt no compulsion to play. It offers nothing new nor does it do any of the old things better than the other existing, competing mobile games. I gave it a couple days of my time, but I just ended up uninstalling it. I will say, I did enjoy the bits of humor I found throughout the game. Unfortunately, that was not enough to keep me playing.

Video Game Review: Exos Heroes

Details: Been playing the game for the last few months. Official site is https://global.exosheroes.com/

Score: 7.2/10

Exos Heroes is another turn based, auto-battler mobile game like Epic Seven. It has a distinctive art style which I really like. I also think it’s slightly better than Epic Seven simply because they have a sweep function and Epic Seven does not, which makes Epic Seven a far more disrespectful game to players’ time.

Exos Heroes takes place in a fantasy world of monsters and magic. I can’t tell you anything specific about the story because I mostly ignored it. It’s not very good. It’s told mostly through text and static images like a visual novel and that just turned me off. It did have a lot of very cool cut scenes that were full voiced and very well choreographed and animated. However, it’s mostly ignorable.

Gameplay is mostly identical to all other auto battlers like Epic Seven or RAID: Shadow Legends. There are some nuances like Signature Force, but this is mainly just another grindy auto battler. In other words, this is a turn based role playing game, except that there is a button in the top right that you can press that does all the fighting for you. What ends up happening is that you watch more of the game than actually play it because of this auto battle function.

One thing that I like about Exos Heroes is that it has a sweep system, something that many other gacha games do not have. What that means is that if your party of characters reaches a certain power level, you can just skip the battle and obtain the rewards. Most other gacha games require you to sit through an automated play through of the battle, which is just a waste of time. I appreciate that Exos Heroes recognizes that you are capable of smashing these enemies and simply lets you collect the rewards and save time.

Edit: Something I forgot to mention is how unique the stamina system is from other gacha games. The stamina in this game is used mostly for resource gathering only. Which means that unlike other gacha games, you can go through the entire story portion of the game without having to wait or pay real money. Most gacha games artificially restrict the amount of time and progress you can make in the game through an in-game resource that recharges over time. That usually means that you can only play a limited amount of the game each day. Exos Heroes just lets you play to your hearts content. There is still gameplay walls in the game that have extreme jumps in difficulty that require stronger characters. However, by not using a stamina system, Exos Heroes is undoubtedly superior to most gacha games, at least in this regard. For this reason alone, I raised the score up two tenths of a point. As a side note, Genshin Impact also does the same thing with its story portion. However, there is a decisive lack of story content in Genshin Impact at the moment and the amount of in game resource they give players is tiny compared to other gacha games. In other words, Exos Heroes does in-game stamina better.

What truly makes this game distinct from the other games is the art style. In role playing games, presentation is everything and this is one of the best looking games of this genre I’ve ever played. That alone has kept me playing the game.

In regards to the gacha mechanics, Exos Heroes is generally pretty generous. I have a bunch of top tier characters. I’m trying to level them and it’s obviously taking time and resources as it often does in gacha games. Even still, I’d say Exos Heroes is mostly more generous than most gacha games I’ve played. I’ve recently played Genshin Impact and Epic Seven and this game is definitely more generous with resources than those games.

Overall, this is a generic auto battler, but a great looking game and that’s enough. The presentation alone makes this game as good if not better than all of the other popular games in this genre.