What I'm Playing: Last Cloudia

This is quite a nice surprise! It's a gacha game, sure, but the characters aren't rated, they're all useful. Instead the "Arks", which are like FFVII Materia, are rated R, SR, SSR, and provide a list of buffs, skills, and spells; but a character must attune to them by building up experience with that Ark equipped.

The starting quest characters are the usual fairly dim swordsman Kyle (fricking Kyle?!), giant monster companion (Rei, which is normally a feminine name?), former enemy cyborg sniper girl (Lilebette), and an NPC magical girl (Theria). Happily after my first pull I got Prince Gorm, who is a strong melee fighter and has a group heal ultimate which is incredibly valuable, so he's replaced Kyle.

You level up characters with a sphere grid right out of FFX, with a lot of choices of which direction to develop, unlike Another Eden, where the advancement path was mostly linear. At certain level breaks, you also get to unlock a story page; I can see Rei's is going to be a misunderstood monster line, Gorm is an implausibly altruistic industrialist prince, Lilebette's is cuter than you'd expect from a murder machine.

The main story quest, and the two little sidequests I've found so far, are not bad at storytelling; a little slow, but then there's a giant infodump story session with the Imperial council.

Fighting looks great, but it really resolves down to waiting for timers and hitting skills when near targets. The characters move and auto-attack on their own, and the ones you're not controlling will use some of their own skills, but not all; for efficiency you need to cycle thru characters and use up their saved skills and magic.

The graphical design is interesting, very detailed 3D rendered backgrounds, and cute 2D pixel art characters and monsters. I like this, pixel art's much more expressive than 3D shit, but it can be jarring. The music's nice chiptunes, very Final Fantasy-like.

★★★★☆

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