Aegis Of Earth: Protonovus Assault Review
Publisher: Aksys Games
Release Date: March 15, 2016
System: PS3, PS4, PS Vita
Thank you Aksys Games for providing a review copy.
Earth is recovering from a Silent Apocalypse and it’s all thanks to the precious resource, Altenite. Context is never really given on why it’s called a Silent Apocalypse. However, creatures that are called the Protonovus are also after Altenite. Thus creating a war between humanity and monsters for survival. Humanity is preparing for a supposed second silent apocalypse. So they are using Altenite to develop weapons to defend their last remaining cities. Kimberley, the first city the player (a silent protagonist) goes to, needs your help. When you arrive in the city, you are introduced to the cast.
The introduction of the game has a very dark atmosphere. However, as soon as the crew members start talking, the game throws that atmosphere out the window. This is done with many jokes, including ones about the character named Towa, and how she can’t find a husband. This becomes a re-occurring joke of the game. At many points during the game I forgot we were in the aftermath of an apocalypse due to all the light hearted humor, sexual undertones and lack of serious atmosphere. While this shows that humanity is still willing to be optimistic about survival, it detracts from the overall premise this game laid out.
Over the course of the story you will get more crew members to help you out, each with their own personalities. Unfortunately, there are only a handful that stand out. Towa, while being the center of attention for a re-occurring joke, genuinely cares about creating a better future for humanity and wants to be part of that process by helping as much as she can. This makes her very endearing and I wound up focusing on her growth the most. While Dr. Chandler doesn’t grow that much, her personality is very enjoyable. She is in charge of the research and development process of weapons and defense mechanisms of any city you take charge of in the game. If she’s not working, she’s going to be very moody. If you have her develop something new, she gets super excited about it. That alone makes her a very entertaining character. The character Chicca handled Medina city’s defense all by herself and it has made her worn down and isolated. This doesn’t last too long as she grows accustomed to being around your crew and opens up more, creating a much welcomed character development. Most of the other characters just come off as under developed clichés.
Overall, the story can be entertaining at times. However, the game’s interesting premise is easily forgotten because of the tone of the writing, (how the game relies on beaten down jokes, innuendos and how the cast of characters are not that memorable as a whole). This can make the story fall flat most of the time.
The presentation is the weakest aspect of the game. The character designs are pretty interesting and cute but some of the portraits for some of the characters are very over exaggerated to a jarring level. This can be charming with characters, such as Towa and Quiyo, but with others it just looks out of place. The main issue with why it’s hard to remember some of the characters is because the game does not display their names with text boxes. So it’s a lot harder to remember the names of each character because of this. The enemy variety also isn’t there and the designs seem pretty unimaginative. There is no sense of threat when a moving blob is coming to the city. An issue that can vary depending on the platform you play it on is the size of the screen. It was found that some weapons are displayed too small on the PS Vita, so it’s easy to lose track of where things are in the heat of battle unless you memorize it. This issue could potentially be non-existent on consoles due to a much bigger screen. It’s pretty ironic that a mission based structured game might potentially play better on a non-handheld device.
In the Vita version the game hangs on menu screens for at least two seconds every time you switch between menus. The game has even crashed while it was loading the next menu. The initial loading screen to start the game is also fairly long. So these issues make the game feel unpolished which is quite unfortunate.
The sound direction is the best part of the presentation. The voice work is pretty good. Everyone sounds convincing and portrays the personalities very well. Though not every line is voiced, it seems about half of the game is fully voiced. The sound mixing can be an issue until you have the ability to turn down the music volume because it over powers the voices despite everything defaulting to maximum volume. On the topic of music, it makes for great background noise. It’s not particularly remarkable but it’s very nice on the ears. The pronunciation of the horns and drums really convince the player that this is war.
The game truly shines in its frantic gameplay. While strategy is involved when preparing for battle, it is less than strategic but more about being able to keep up a fast pace to make sure your city and weapons stay undamaged. If your command center goes down, it is game over and humanity has lost. The game gives you options to deal with this. Cannons are the all-around good weapons no special properties but are still very reliable. Missiles are your harder hitting, less accurate weapons with longer delays between firing weapons. The accuracy may put off some, however, they are still essential to taking down enemies with a lot of health. Gatling turrets have weaker shots but fire more frequently and have more shots per round. These are the least reliable form of weaponry because others just do a better job. Lasers are the most reliable since they track down enemies in the vicinity of its reach and does a ton of damage. It also goes through enemies being able to take them down quickly. Later in the game if you align same weapon types, front and back, they will do more damage via combination. Weapons aren’t the only things at your disposal, as you can build shields to keep enemies from entering the city. If an enemy enters the city, you can build missile towers that only fire when they do. This will stop major damage from happening to buildings and weaponry. This will also make sure not too many people want to leave your city.
Battle isn’t the only important aspect of this game. As stated before, you do all your strategy before battle. Placing your weapons in 4 different rings around your command center. During battle you rotate these rings clock-wise, or counter clock-wise to have them fight different sides of the on-going assault. However, weapons are not the only thing you place. This is a city with people, people need places to live as they come. So you have to make space for buildings. You can fortify all structures on your map to have more power, or durability. With buildings, they get a capacity increase. The more people in your city, the more money you make off taxes. The happier your city is and the less damage your city takes during battle, the more people think you’re reliable and start to migrate to your city. This is why being attentive will always matter.
Later in the game you will have access to more than one city to manage with a single budget so grinding will be necessary a lot of the time. Especially since some of the missions are centered around grinding. This can ruin the pace of the game due to not being able to continue without certain funds, or crystals. Crystals are obtained by defeating enemies and can go to the research and development of new weapons. It’ll be worth it in the end due to the game being a decent challenge on normal, but it’s hard to justify forced grinding because the money payout is low.
The PS VITA’s analog sticks are necessary for camera movement. The camera doesn’t move freely, it moves digitally. So it turns ninety degrees, stops and then does it again. With analog sticks this can get tedious to do. You can also use them to switch between Zones of the city to activate or turn weapons into the right position. This is way too sensitive so it’s better to use the directional pad. L and R can also turn the Zones like the d-pad but it would have been much better to map the camera to the L and R buttons for convenience. Unfortunately, there is no option to customize your controls. Getting past the control issues will be a hurdle but if the player does, they will see that there is enjoyment to be had in the gameplay department.
Team members must be managed as well since they all level up like standard RPG characters. After battle, the six squad members gain exp. The player can choose who put in the most effort to get bonus exp. and their health restored by twenty. After battle no matter what your team’s HP goes down so if you want certain party members to stay on you should focus on that character. There is more than one unit per class, so swapping them out will allow them to regenerate HP over time. Characters have special skills like quick reloading that could give advantages in battle. So choose who suits you best.
Bosses will appear after your altenite counter reaches eight-hundred. This is built over time as you defeat enemies. So while you’re grinding it is possible that you may encounter a boss or two. They have much more dynamic movement patterns than regular enemies, however, with the right weaponry they will be as easy as regular enemies. On harder difficulties they might be overwhelming, so using items that boost your exp or other benefits might prepare for what they have in store for you.
Overall, this was a satisfying experience despite some rough patches. While the story and presentation are a mixed bag, the gameplay was very entertaining. It’s frantic and seeing your city grow will give you a feeling of accomplishment. Be aware the game is unpolished so the game may crash once or twice on you, at least with the VITA version.
+ Good voice work
+ Fast paced gameplay
– Unpolished presentation
– Inconsistent pacing