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Codex Review RPG Codex Review: Sengoku Rance

Discussion in 'RPG Codex News & Content Comments' started by Infinitron, Oct 19, 2019.

  1. Infinitron I post news Patron

    Infinitron
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    Tags: AliceSoft; Sengoku Rance

    Codexers don't usually like JRPGs, but when they do they're often games from the Rance series, the long-running line of satirical eroge RPGs by Japanese developer AliceSoft. Everybody knows the best game in the series is Sengoku Rance, the 2006 strategy RPG in which the titular character sets out to conquer a fictionalized version of Warring States-period Japan. After years of being played in the West exclusively using fan translations, Sengoku Rance was finally officially released in English last month. Which means it's time to finally publish this review of the game by Deuce Traveler that we've been saving up for over a year(!). Here's an excerpt:

    I'm going to take a moment to compare the strategic layer of Sengoku Rance to grand strategy mainstays such as Europa Universalis or the Romance of the Three Kingdoms series. During a given turn in a grand strategy game, you gauge the strength of your enemy and then build up the appropriate forces to take a territory you want. You are likely to be victorious on the field, but there are other factors which determine if the attack will have been worthwhile. For example, what resources were lost to ensure the victory? Were your best officers and units used up in the attack, leaving only scrubs and depleted troops available to defend what you won during that turn? What enemy resources were captured that would make the losses acceptable? How will the rulers of opposing factions react? Will your enemies seek an alliance, declare war, offer tribute in the hopes of staying neutral, or act in the shadows in an attempt to weaken your forces? There’s a lot of complexity in a typical grand strategy title, but Sengoku Rance is probably one of the most accessible and easy to learn of this genre.

    There are continuous choices and consequences to your actions as the game unfolds. For example, one industrious clan sells powerful weapons to its sole ally but also offers to sell rifle units to you. However, if you attack the ally of this arms dealing territory they will begin to sell their weapons to everyone in the hopes of slowing your conquests down without having to actively engage you. To avoid this you could make the allied clan your vassal instead of invading them, but then you miss out on having greater control of their territory.

    During the latter part of the game you find yourself having to fight on multiple fronts, but you have the option to shut a large gateway and trap one of your opponents behind it. Doing so protects your flank, but the gate cannot be opened again and you lose the opportunity to claim more territory and capture its powerful commanders. Most of the more well-known grand strategy games are sandboxes where events are essentially random. Sengoku Rance has a much more static world, but it compensates by having tons of scripted events, most of which are impossible to witness in a single playthrough. You will likely have to beat the game more than a half-dozen times to see the majority of its hidden lore.

    Sengoku Rance's characters are some of the most distinct and memorable in the history of video games. The leaders and subordinate officers of the game’s various factions each stand out in their own small way thanks to its well-drawn art and visual novel storytelling. One of the first factions you go to war with is led by the leader of a strong unit of archers who has one of the best special skills for ranged units, but he’s beaten down by life and constantly pushed into making poor military decisions by his beautiful and spoiled wife. Another faction is led by a giant creature called a raccoon dog and his army of smaller furry ninjas. They inherited their territory after capturing it from their human oppressors and hope to take advantage of Rance’s rise to weaken their neighbors. A third faction is led by a corrupt court, but their greatest officer is the game’s equivalent of a virtuous paladin who will lead her unit in support of factions Rance declares war against. Ironically, she and her best friend end up having more to fear from the machinations of those she serves. Later in the game, Rance will come into contact with a nation of undead soldiers led by a samurai eyeball and his harem of supportive, monstrous wives. Most of the officers and units of this particular faction are subpar, but they lead huge forces and battles with them become particularly difficult if one of the wives is part of the attacking army. I can think of no other game where there are so many factions with such distinctly drawn characters, each of which gets their own small moment to shine. Sengoku Rance is one of the few games out there where the visual novel style of storytelling feels well-integrated with the flow of gameplay.

    [...] Your ultimate goal is to take over this world's version of Japan during an alternate Warring States period, in which the historical figures have been replaced by political parodies. Combat is a simple affair. Place your melee fighters on the front row to protect support units that operate in the back. During battles, you can place up to six commanders and their units onto the battlefield to slog it out. You start off the game running the Oda Clan with a few basic types of units, such as warriors like Rance who have high offensive attributes and skills that allow them to perform special offensive maneuvers. Complementing them are commanders of foot soldiers, whose attacks aren’t as powerful, but have high defensive attributes and specialized skills for protecting allied units. You are also given a commander of archers, whose attacks are not as powerful as warriors either, but can attack from the back row and strike any enemy unit regardless of location. Archers are quite useful for disrupting spell casters who are preparing their more powerful spells from the enemy’s back row. Finally, you are given a tactician commander, whose skills can be used to enhance the fighting abilities of allied units or diminish those of the enemy.

    Sengoku Rance starts you out with these basic units and gradually adds more diverse character classes as you proceed through the game. The ninja behaves in a similar way to the archer, but can quickly learn the assassinate skill which allows it to instantly wipe out enemy units. Monks are decent front row melee fighters who also have an assortment of skills, such as the ability to heal themselves or make foot soldiers drop their guard. Diviner commanders can throw up barriers to guard their allies, or spend some time chanting in order to cast a spell that strikes at each of the opposing enemy units. Musketeers are the most deadly units on the battlefield, but they can't take much damage and can only attack once or twice before exhausting all of their actions for the entire battle. Cavalry units are the ones I fear the most, since they can attack multiple times, have great offensive attributes, and can strike any unit regardless of whether they’re in the front or back rows. I still haven't touched upon some of the more unique commanders and their abilities, nor have I talked about the non-human units. In short, there's a lot of variation in the opponents you will face.

    The handful of officers you start out with are a dubious group of misfits that you are forced to rely upon to survive (although Rance himself is the backbone of your offense at this stage). One of the game’s more charming aspects is how even the minor officers on both sides of the battlefield have their own personalities and quirks. By improving your relationship with your officers, upgrading their ability scores with books, and equipping them with items, you will have a chance to turn some of the more mediocre recruits into a respectable fighting force. Every officer has several attributes which determine how fast they can act, how hard they attack, how well they defend, how well they search, and how effective they are at diplomacy. Some officers also have unlockable special abilities, such as the ability to fire a volley of arrows that peppers an entire enemy force instead of just one opposing unit. You can only have thirty officers in your roster and by mid-game you'll find yourself having to make hard choices about who will make the cut.​

    Read the full article: RPG Codex Review: Sengoku Rance
     
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  2. Maggot Prophet Patron

    Maggot
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    I found the combat in this game seriously overrated. I didn't spend enough time in the strategic layer but for a game that gets hyped up so much I expected more than a basic blobber with limited options.
     
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  3. Deuce Traveler Prestigious Gentleman 2012 Newfag Patron

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    What game were you playing? Rance VI was the blobber.
     
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  4. Maggot Prophet Patron

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    Codex 2016 - The Age of Grimoire
    Based on what I vaguely remember from playing it a few years back all you can do is set your commander's formations before a battle and can't reshuffle your troops or swap places with troops. What I mean by blobber is something like Disciples 2 which I found extremely boring. Feel free to correct me if I'm wrong or just didn't play the game enough to unlock some real tactical options.
     
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  5. abnaxus Arcane Patron

    abnaxus
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    It should've been possible to finish the game as female Rance. Just create gurl-on-gurl rape scenes like in the Raidy games.
     
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  6. Jason Liang Arcane

    Jason Liang
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    Interesting review! I've been curious what you want to say about this game. Some I agree with and extremely well-put:
    ^ seems to be the AliceSoft specialty

    Also insightful since I've long-forgotten the joyful experience of playing this game blind:
    I disagree about the Alternate Routes adding that much to playability or content though. Isoroku's route is the most fleshed out yet it is not very different from True Route; Kenshin's is super truncated and basically just a mini-game; while Ran's route technically adds a faction (Shamizu), it is basically a thin frame draped over KTM/ vanilla.
     
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  7. Jason Liang Arcane

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    The combat is done at a more abstract level and doesn't need movement to be strategic or dramatic. Later on, the game has plenty of tough battles where you will be challenged to find a way to win, probably down to the last action.
     
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  8. Fred Learned

    Fred
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    Nice review. I was the guy on youtube with the 317 points playthrough (youtube has terminated my channel because I was playing Eroge on it, even if I censored it, so all that content is gone forever), so I played my fait share of Rance and I often go back to it to explore new characters. It's literally hundred hours of content.
     
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  9. Morkar illiterate

    Morkar
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    Finally! This is an informative review!
    Game is bought and will probably play this weekend.
     
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  10. oldmanpaco Master of Siestas

    oldmanpaco
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    I'm introducing my son to strategic RPG gaming. Is this a good place to start?
     
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  11. MurkyShadow Glittering gem of hatred Patron

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    Codex 2012 Codex 2013 Codex 2014 PC RPG Website of the Year, 2015 Make the Codex Great Again! Grab the Codex by the pussy Serpent in the Staglands Dead State Torment: Tides of Numenera Wasteland 2 Shadorwun: Hong Kong BattleTech
    Today I learned Sengoku Rance beat the original Wasteland and Expeditions: Viking in the '19 RPG Codex's Top 101 PC RPGs.

    It'll be more than just an introduction to strategic RPG gaming. It will be an introduction to the reality of our present age.
    Your son will be prepared for the trials that will present itself to him in the future, giving him the tools to persist.
     
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  12. Gwendo Augur

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    Definitely not. Unless he's over 18 years old.
     
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  13. Darth Roxor Prestigious Gentleman Wielder of the Huegpenis

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    "problems"
     
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  14. ERYFKRAD Barbarian Patron

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    Looks like a buy.
     
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  15. Arthandas Savant

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  16. Jedi Master Radek Arcane

    Jedi Master Radek
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    Finally! Adventures of the most prestigious hero are reviewed, so now noone have any excuses to not play it.

    You are doing a gods work Deuce Traveler
     
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  17. Deuce Traveler Prestigious Gentleman 2012 Newfag Patron

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    Only if he's mastered tactical-level RPGs. How well does he play Kamidori Alchemy Meister?
     
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  18. TheEntitledOne Arcane

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    If he is going to be the warlord that unifies the post-ITZ world, definitely.
     
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  19. Jaedar Arcane Patron

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    It's interesting you say this, because imo Isorokus route is the worst, you basically just press end turn for some 30 turns and then win for free. As memory serves, Kenshin's is the most unique in terms of gameplay, and Ran deviates the most in terms of story.
    It is kind of a shame that the game will be doomed to minor obscurity for being an eroge.
     
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  20. Bohrain Savant Patron

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    "This deity is opposed by the openly malevolent Devil King who wishes to remake the world such that mankind would be even worse off."

    Ackshully it is not established whether humans would be any worse off if devil king Rathown took over.
     
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  21. thesecret1 Scholar

    thesecret1
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    What is the meaning of this? A review completely omitting one of the main points of the game? Where's the erotica review? This is an eroge game - how is one supposed to make an informed decision about whether or not he'll play the game, if he's provided no information about half the content?
     
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  22. Morkar illiterate

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    Played a bit of the game. The game machanics aren't that deep but it fits well with the more graphical novel approach and it's motivating. It actually reminds me a bit of Star Traders Frontiers with the dialogue stuff going on.
    The sex scenes I skip most of the dialogue there and read only 1/3 of it to still know what's going on (sometimes it's plot related). Oh and look at the pics ofc. So far the story is entertaining and I had to force myseld to quit gaming. A good sign.
     
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  23. TigerKnee Prophet

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    My review is that Rance's uncensored Hyper Weapon is pretty horrifying
     
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  24. Unorus Janco Lurker

    Unorus Janco
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    I have never played this so I'm probably talking out of my ass, but didn't this game become popular back when we were all starving for any kind of turn-based RPG? Perhaps what's considered unremarkable gameplay today was a huge revelation ten years ago.
     
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  25. HanoverF Arcane Patron

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    MCA Divinity: Original Sin Project: Eternity Torment: Tides of Numenera Wasteland 2 Codex USB, 2014 Divinity: Original Sin 2
    But is the combat *tasteful*?
     
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