Kayarath’s Adventures in Shin Kicking

Posted on Feb 09 2012

As an avid enjoyer of Receattear: An Item Shop’s Tale, I was naturally intrigued by Carpe Fulgur’s next project, Chantlise: A Tale Of Two Sisters. Naturally, I purchased, played, and am now reviewing it. Does it set a new record of I am just fishing up trash? To tell the truth, it’s somewhere in between. There are lots of charming aspects but there’s an equal share of annoyance and frustration that goes along with it. Whether you’ll enjoy the game or not depends on how well you can deal with the pains and how much weight you put into its strengths.

If you consider “being an action RPG” a strength, then Chantlise has you covered. It definitely favors the action over the RPG though. You move and fight monsters in real time with a three hit combo, a dash, and a jump to help get you through. On occasion, some platforming is needed to advance. You can customize your equipment with items that enhance your physical attack, magical attack, physical defense, magical defense, or grants special abilities (if you can find them). Items are the chief form of powering up you have so pay attention to them! Figuring out what to equip when is part of the game’s challenge since equipping the right items can change a fight from impossible to cake. To use magic, you gather magical gems from whacking monsters. What types of gems you gather in what order determines what spells you can cast. There are plenty of combinations to try, each with an unique effect. This leads to thinking about which magic gems to pick up or avoid. It’s hack and slash but some thinking is required.

Action RPGs are still RPGs and that means story. In that regard, Chantlise won’t disappoint you. Once again Carpe Fulgur comes through with a great translation. What starts as a simple quest to restore the form of an older sister leads to a daring plot to end a painful cycle and defeat a great evil (Doesn’t the summary make the plot sound like Full Metal Alchemist?). I found the story touching, a little heart breaking, and even funny sometimes thanks to Chant delivering good one liners.

She says stuff like this all the time.

If you consider “difficulty” a strength, then Chantlise has you covered on that end too! This is a game that is not afraid to kill you in new and inventive ways. When you encounter a new enemy type or boss, you’ll sometimes think, “how did they expect people to defeat this ridiculous thing?” as it kills you. When your health gets low, a very annoying warning beeping plays to notify you of it. You’re gonna have to put up with that since healing is very limited. You can’t take any healing items with you, limiting you to random food drops from enemies (which are fairly rare). Healing magic kicks in during the third dungeon, but magic comes from gems, which are random and limited. When you die, you do keep all your items and progress that you made, but you’ll have to restart from the beginning and run all the way back to the place that killed you. That gets old fairly quickly.

Nothing cheers me up more after a bitter defeat than going to the item shop. Aira the shop keeper is always there to lend some kind words, support, and “unique food”. She also sells various equipment and HP boosting ferromins. Whenever you buy something, the price of it doubles, making buying harder. Whenever you sell something, the value of it is reduced by three percent, meaning selling the same item repeatedly gives diminishing returns. After unloading my treasures and getting new items, I’m ready to take on the game again!

Listen to my advice or you'll regret it!

While the game does have difficulties, it also presents you with tools to combat said difficulties. I suspect some players will never find these tools and will find have a very hard time going through. Luckily, I’m gonna tell you about them so you’ll be able to die less and enjoy the game more. Simply by experimenting with tactics, your equipment loadout, and magic use, enemies that were a pain to deal with before become cake. Even those very tough bosses can be beat once you figure out the trick to access their vulnerable states. It’s a great feeling to triumph over the bosses in this game. You can attempt any reached area repeatably in practice mode (instead of picking story mode, select the single area under it to go to) to get the hang of it. Getting the best items possible is vital for victory. You can grind out the pix to buy them but the best stuff comes from the dungeons themselves.

Every single area of the game has a secret bonus chest that appears once you fulfill some type of requirement. It can be anything from destroying a hidden enemy/object to precise jumping to access a hard to reach area. Those who like to explore and experiment in general should find their efforts rewarded with chests appearing. The items found in these chests are usually better than what you can buy in the shops (with a few exceptions, of course). Getting them will make the game much more bearable and greatly reduce the need to grind. Sometimes they’ll give you cool powers like more movement speed or a jump dash (the jump dash is practically required to get other secret chests). Focus your pix on buying as much ferromin as you can, since that is what increases your max HP. If you’re having trouble figuring out how to find these chest, the local priest will provide hints at the cost of max HP. Max HP is hard to come by so don’t do it! Well, don’t save when you do it. Pay the HP, get the hints, write them down, and then reset without saving. Better yet, just read an FAQ to learn how to get them all. It’ll make it all a lot easier.

The easiest thing you can do to make the game more enjoyable is to play it with a gamepad! Chantlise was designed with the intention that you would play it with a gamepad and it shows. The game’s camera can be quite vexing at times (especially in enclosed areas), but I imagine it would a lot less so if you used a gamepad. You can get away with using the keyboard to play though. I, in fact, did beat the game using just the keyboard but it was by no means optimal. To repeat myself, use a gamepad!

That's my Fish!

Armed with this knowledge, you should be able to minimize the dying and focus on the fun stuff, like fishing. Yes, you can fish in Chantlise (once you defeat the third dungeon)! Most other reviews of this game haven’t really mentioned the fishing part at all and that’s a crime! Fishing itself is a simple timing mini game that’s serves as a perfect break from dungeon running. Many areas of the game have places swimming with fish eager to be caught by you! There are over forty types of fish to hunt which can even be traded in for powerful items.

If you look at the item themselves, you may notice that you’ve seen them before in Recettear: An Item Shop’s Tale. The natural response is to think, “I can’t believe these art aspects were ripped from Recettear!” In reality it’s the other way around. Chantlise was developed before Recettear. It’s an interesting exercise for a budding game designer to compare the two and note how Recettear greatly improved the concepts and game engine first developed by Chantlise.

She's such a kind person!

I really can’t blame Easy Game Station for reusing art assets though. Japanese Doujin video game developers don’t have the resources the big companies do. You wouldn’t think an indie studio made it though. Look at all the pictures I posted with this review. The game even comes with voice acting, a complete musical score, and an ending theme song! If you’re curious, Carpe Fulgur decided not to dub over the voices and just subbed it instead. Although some people consider that a flaw, I imagine that many of you would consider that a strength! I can’t wait to see what games Carpe Fulgur can dig out from the Japanese Doujin scene and bring over to America next! Fortune Summoners by Lizsoft Game Studios has recently been released, and I’m hoping that Easy Game Station’s RPG/Turn based strategy game is brought over as well.

Right now, however, you can play Chantlise: A Tale of Two Sisters. The question is, should you? If you have a gamepad for your PC, don’t mind some difficulty, and got ten dollars to spare, go for it! You’ll get five to twenty five hours of JRPG fun, depending on how elite your skills are and how exhaustive your search for secrets is. I enjoyed the story, got pwned by the game, and pwned it in return! However, I did wait until the Steam winter sale to buy it. That’s not a bash on the game though! I merely utilized what I learned playing Recettear: An Item Shop’s Tale! Capitalism, Ho!

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  • Kanashimi February 10, 2012 at 7:41 PM

    I was very iffy with trying this. I loooooved Recettear, but I loved it because of micromanagement and mostly brushed off the dungeon elements unless I absolutely had to.

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