Stella Deus: The Gate of Eternity
is the first strategy RPG released by Altus since the surprise hit
Disgaea: Hour of Darkness, and although it lacks all
Disgaeaís charm, innovation, and depth, it isÖ available. If
youíre a fan of the genre, but canít get your hands on one of Nippon
Ichiís masterpieces, Iím sure this will satisfy youÖ for a while.
is a wholly unremarkable entrance into the world of turn-based
strategy RPGs. Visually, itís practically indistinguishable from its
kin. Admittedly, the hand-drawn backgrounds are beautiful (think of
what a high-quality SaGa Frontier II would look like), but
the 2D character models only hold up at a distance Ė as soon as the
camera zooms in, during a Team Attack sequence for example, they
pixilate like a PSone game. Itís not very attractive, not when they
Guilty Gear X2-level visuals. Also, objects in the
environment, trees, cliffs, buildings, have an annoying habit of
blocking the camera. Typically, obstructions go transparent, but
these donít, so youíll have to constantly shift the camera to get a
good viewing angle.
Sound effects also seem lifted from the 32-bit generation. This
could be charming, but they are low-quality enough to just seem
cheap. Itís not like the game is bursting at the seams with
production value Ė a little more effort wouldnít have killed them.
Luckily, the soundtrack is impressive Ė a beautiful orchestral score
akin to the
Final Fantasy Tactics soundtrack only presented
in Dolby Pro Logic II format. Iíd buy the OST if I saw it for sale.
The voice-acting, on the other hand, is merely passable, fitting
with the equally mediocre story and character archetypes. It is
Japanese, though, so itís probably the best they could hope for.
Gameplay and controls are as standard as youíd expect. There are
some minor advances to the traditional formula Ė you can initiate
multi-member Team Attacks, you can make as many actions per turn as
you have AP points, and you can affect character order in battle by
spending spare AP, but thatís about it. Thereís a good 50 hours of
gameplay here, particularly if you take time to linger over the
side-quests and item fusing options, but frankly, if you are a fan
of the genre, youíve already played this game two-dozen times. If
you arenít a fan of the genre, Stella Deus wonít leave any
lasting impressions, so why bother? If Disgaea couldnít sway
you, Stella Deus sure as heck wonít.
If you are an RPG collector, what are you even reading this for? You
know youíre just going to get everything Atlus releases regardless.
If youíre one of those people, youíre going to enjoy Stella Deus.
It wonít rock your world, but itíll keep you happy for a few long
nights. The ďold-schoolĒ presentation wonít bother you, as Iím sure
youíre numb to it by now, and the gameplay will feel comforting and
familiar. If youíve moved beyond the simple pleasures of your
text-book console strategy RPG, this game will only keep you
satisfied if itís the only thing in the house.
Nice hand-drawn backgrounds.
Plenty of solid, dependable strategy gameplay.
Pixilated character models show off the weaknesses of 32-bit style
ďVintageĒ sound effects are disappointing.
Adds nothing to the genre.
While Stella Deus simply goes through the motions of what
people expect from strategy RPGs, itís not a bad game by any means.
Itís just not all that interesting either.