Generation of Chaos: Pandora’s Reflection is the sixth installment of the Generation of Chaos series, and the third to be localized. Developed by Sting and Idea Factory, and localized by NIS America, Pandora’s Reflection is a strategy RPG available for the PSP, and compatible with the Vita, as a digital download.
Dark clouds blanket the withered skies and block out the sun; cracked earth and choking fog rule the land. This colorless world, showing no signs of life, is known as Hades. The barren land is blasted by chilling winds that cut to the bone… This is where we meet our heroes-Yuri, a young girl cursed with a disease draining her life away; and Claude, her protective older brother who will stop at nothing to save her. As they travel in search of a cure, they find themselves embroiled in a conflict that will determine the fate of the world and, just maybe, the fate of the siblings. They’ll lose old friends, meet new friends, and travel on a path that will lead them to the very doorstep of destiny…
I thought the story had some potential, but was executed poorly. The story is entirely told through dialogue between the characters, which could have worked, but the dialogue feels rather flat, and the characters really don’t get much development. The only characters that actually get names are either those in your party or major enemies. Everyone else who shows up in the dialogue, generally just to say one or two lines, is titled with a phrase like “Angry Peasant” or “Sniveling Noble”. Even some of the members of your party don’t get much attention, to the point of you battling with them once, them joining your party, and occasionally saying one or two lines before a battle. The game showed all of the character’s personalities, but they seemed exaggerated, to the point of feeling fake.
In some battles, there were “Event Points”, landing on one would spark a monologue that had little to no importance to the story, and occasionally give you an item. Because most Event Points were in out of the way locations, many seemed like a waste of valuable time, better spent capturing other points.
Near the end of the story there is one decision point, that slightly changes the ending. Other than that, the story is completely linear.
The game itself felt rather drawn out, especially with most of the battles being against the same few bosses, who somehow always managed to escape and come back with even more health, over and over again. Maybe if the story and world were more developed, and there were more characters, but as it is, Pandora’s Reflection does not have a redeeming story.
As far as aesthetics go, everything was good. The game had nice graphics, good voice acting that fit the characters well, and awesome music. I especially liked the opening soundtrack.
Ah, the gameplay. How should I start? First off, Pandora’s Reflection does not play like any of the other Generation of Chaos games. By taking control of and destroying your opponents map points, you may increase the amount of units you can control or limit the amount your opponent can control. The maximum amount of units you can ever control at once is five, which can make battles rather simple.
Combat itself is somewhat akin to a rhythm game, where you press X at certain times in your attack to boost your damage. This also allows you to continue with Chaos Attacks, attacks by other units that deal extra damage at no cost of health. In this way, you can do up to five times the damage for the price of one enemy attack, something that comes in handy against bosses. Damage itself is judged based on a sort of rock-paper-scissors system, where you choose a weapon type that is good against the enemy’s weapon type.
By dealing damage you collect crystals, which you can use to cast summons, one-time use spells that do everything from healing your party to dealing damage and stunning enemies.
The gameplay is fun at first, but after a while it starts to get repetitive, as the only thing that changes is the boss’s health and the placement of strategy points. I found myself doing the same things over and over, basically taking control of all of the points, eliminating the enemies, and then slowly defeating the boss. A few battles did mix it up a bit, like having two bosses or invincible enemies, but they were few and far between, and the gameplay got repetitive. At some times it was hard, but not fun hard, it simply meant I would have to grind a little.
Between battles you can equip weapons and armor, which you occasionally get from battles, and use alchemy points. These points can heal fallen party members, level your party, or upgrade weapons. However, there are few weapons in the game, each type of attack (slash, shoot, thrust, cast, and slice) has two (slice only has one) different kinds of weapons, and you can upgrade these to change their name, appearance, and damage.
Also, aside from the campaign, there really isn’t anything else to do. There are “free battles”, but they’re even more repetitive than the campaign, and are unnecessary, unless you’re stuck in campaign and need to level your characters.
As far as replay value goes, I’d say there really isn’t any. The only reasons for it would be to check out the other ending, or to replay it in hard mode, which you unlock after beating the game once on normal.
Generation of Chaos: Pandora’s Reflection was rather disappointing. I thought the game had a lot of potential, in both its gameplay and story, but it seemed rushed. I think if it had been in development longer it could have been a very good game. Despite being one of the later games in the PSP’s lifetime, I don’t feel it represents one of its best. At most, Generation of Chaos: Pandora’s Reflection is a game you pick up and play through once, and never come back to again.