For years, the alliance between the Kingdom of Carnava and the witches of the Rev Magic Association has made the world a peaceful place to live, but all that changed with the arrival of the vicious Beast Fiends. Now, Fatima the Shadow Frost Witch has betrayed her compatriots to advance some dark goal; can young knight Roland unite the remaining elemental witches and put a stop to Fatima’s nefarious plans?The indirect sequel to Luminous Arc, Luminous Arc 2 may be set in a brand new world with brand new witches, but essentially it’s more of the same – a mix of SRPG and visual novel with an average story and some nice looking witches. As before, the game is divided into chapters, each consisting of a series of battles framed by cut scenes, all leading up to one of two possible endings.
The Kingdom of Carnava
The basic layout and battle system of Luminous Arc 2 differs very little from the first game, or indeed SRPGs in general, with only a few differences worth noting. The most welcome change is that the stylus and D-pad can now be used simultaneously, which makes moving around the field and selecting a target far easier than it was in the original. In exchange for this, characters are no longer completely healed when they level up, which certainly makes this game a bit trickier than the first one.
How much does that really matter, though, given how easy the first game was? Well, the answer is that the difficulty of Luminous Arc 2 all depends on how you approach the game. Alongside the main storyline, the game also offers a number of optional quests, which vary from chapter to chapter (basically, miss an early quest, and it’s not coming back). If you keep up with the quests as the game progresses, then your characters will always be about the right level to beat the main storyline without too much difficulty, but if you neglect them, then things will become much harder at around the halfway mark. You’ll suddenly find that enemy characters are six or seven levels ahead of you, and that you can barely make a dent on them before they pulverise your party. At this point, your only choice for grinding is to endlessly repeat the 3-4 quests available to you at any one stage in the game until you finally have enough EXP to proceed. At this point, you’ll probably lose the will to play the game, so be warned and avoid this outcome by tackling all optional quests that come your way.
There are a few more hidden optional missions which are also worth going for if only for the sake of variety. The longest and most tedious of these is an extended sequence of hot springs battles against Luminous Arc 1’s Vanessa and her endless army of Kopins – small elemental creatures who can be surprisingly tough to kill. The hot springs quest has the advantage of offering plenty of EXP and the chance to see the girls in swimsuits, but other than that, it seems needlessly long and drawn out.
As far as combat itself goes, the tweaks to the battle system itself are largely minor. The overpowered Flash Drive attacks remain (and are your best bet for taking down bosses), but combo Synergy attacks have been removed. In their place, Roland has the ability to Engage with any witch on the field and gain their abilities and elemental affinities for a few turns. By the end of the game, this ability will make Roland a one-man wrecking ball.
Roland: Since he’s the main character, you’ll be seeing a lot of Roland. Fortunately, not only is he the typical sword-wielding all-rounder, but he can also ‘Engage’ with the witches to gain elemental magic and powerful attacks. A worthy front-liner, despite his increasingly annoying arrogance as the game proceeds.
Rasche: Roland’s brother, Rasche is a spear wielder who makes for a good tank character early in the game, but becomes less useful later on.
Rina: As an archer, Rina’s ranged attacks are valuable in the early stages when you have many close-ranged warriors and few mages. She’ll probably be relegated to the back benches by the final chapters, but she’s definitely a good choice to have along up until then.
Althea: The fire elemental witch, Althea can learn plenty of powerful attack magic, but will quickly begin to lag behind if you don’t use her all the time. Probably my second most powerful mage for sheer attack power.
Dia: My most overpowered mage, Dia’s light magic can put paid to most enemies, whilst her Flash Drive is ridiculously strong. A definite must-have in any party.
Luna: The water witch, Luna’s main reason for being in the party at all times is that she is the best healer, with powerful HP-restoring and revival spells that will be invaluable in tough boss battles. Of course, she does have her weaknesses – her movement range is very low, and her physical defence is similarly limited.
Pop: Pop is the master of Earth/Nature attacks, and like Mavi from the first game, her magic is mostly close-ranged and no better than her physical attack. Given the limitations on party size throughout the game, I rarely rely on her.
Sadie: As a Winged One, Sadie’s high movement stat and ability to fly means that she can sneak past enemy lines, but her relatively low HP and defence means that it’s not wise to put her at risk. Her basic weapon attack has an unconventional range and low hit rate, making her a reasonable “B-lister” but not a first choice for the party.
Kaph: A perverted photographer who writes a witch fanzine, Kaph is one of the more unnecessary characters of the game. He wields a ranged “guitar bowgun”, but there’s no real reason to use him instead of Rina.
Fatima: Whip user and mistress of dark magic, Fatima does not join until late in the game since she spends most of it being an antagonist. She’s a decent all-rounder who makes a good choice for the party line-up.
Josie: Fatima’s feline familiar, Josie is a solid but not outstanding character who joins too late for it to be worth swapping one of your established favourites out for him.
Karen: A gun-wielding thief, Karen is another completely unnecessary character; if I didn’t like her design so much, I would say that she doesn’t really need to be in the game at all.
Ayano: Yet another unnecessary character, Ayano is a relatively strong ninja, but I never felt the need to rely on her.
Richter: A handsome knight who joins late in the game, Richter is yet another character who appears too late to be worth investing in.
Gaston: Another knight, Gaston, like Richter, joins so late in the game that he’ll probably end up just staying on the bench.
Alice: An optional character and apprentice witch from Luminous Arc 1, Alice has a mixture of elemental arts. Using her is a novelty, but not a necessity.
Therese: The other optional apprentice witch from the first game, Therese has a range of physical attack skills. Again, a novelty character.
Although the story of the original game wasn’t anything to write home about, Luminous Arc 2 offers up something even more lacklustre. From an average start, the plot only goes downhill, shoehorning in far too many “dramatic” life-altering revelations, and then resolving them in a few lines. Mass murderers are forgiven for having good intentions, deep emotional angst disappears within moments, and overall, there’s no real incentive to care about what’s going on. The witches are mildly interesting characters, but Roland evolves from generic to irritatingly arrogant, whilst there are numerous other characters whose existence seems entirely pointless.
Like its predecessor, Luminous Arc 2’s strength lies in its visuals, with plenty of eye candy to cover up for its other flaws. The musical score is very visual novel-esque, with some bland elevator music tracks balanced by a few more dramatic themes.
Despite being let down by its lacklustre story, Luminous Arc 2 is still a good looking, fun little game. Although a bit more challenging than its predecessor, it won’t pose any real problems for the SRPG aficionado, but should still provide some hours of enjoyment.