NIS America has been bringing quite a bit of games to the states this year. Mugen Souls is presumably their last retail game released this year. Following Legasista, Mugen Souls is a dungeon crawling JRPG with a lot of customization entailed. Developed by Compile Heart and Idea Factory, the game was sure to have a lot of content with a quirky story and a strange cast of characters. The gameplay itself is a mix of new and old, like the way it should be. Available only on the PS3, Mugen Souls is a must have for JRPG fans.
Chou-Chou, the Undisputed God of the Universe has taken it upon herself to conquer the universe through the seven worlds that inhabit it. What makes her think she can do this? Chou-Chou has the ability to turn anything animate or inanimate into her loyal peons. Chou-Chou and her companions must make the most powerful inhabitants of the seven worlds her peons to conquer all that is living and non-living. There is more than meets the eyes with Chou-Chou, she has the ability to transform into different forms to ensure her ability to appeal to everyone.
Chou-Chou’s ability to take on different forms is heavily brought out in the gameplay. It is a core mechanic that must be mastered and understood to be successful in the game. Chou-Chou has the ability to “charm” her enemies into becoming her peons, she can also frenzy them into a powerful state, even turn them into items. Mugen means infinite and the idea behind Mugen souls is that that are an infinite number of combinations to what Chou-Chou can do.
The combat is initiated when Chou-Chou comes into contact with an enemy on the field. You can gain the upper-hand when fighting if you hit the enemy with the weapon equipped. The combat system feels a lot like Hyperdimension Neptunia mk2. There is a new combo system that involves regular attacks linked with the party. In some cases, these are more powerful than the skills. Every character has skill sets and proficiencies that can be upgraded and learned. The skills alone are plentiful and too much for me to go into detail in this review. Take my word for it, there is a lot to learn and upgrade.
The more you defeat enemies or turn them into peons; the Peon Ball will grow in size. When thrown, it will cause a large explosion and deal damage relative to the size. Be careful, use this too much it will go into critical mass and backfire, KO’ing your entire team and causing a game over. To turn enemies into peons you must use the Moe Kill command. This is where the form Chou-Chou is in comes into play. Every enemy has one of eight preferences when it comes to forms Chou-Chou can change into, Hyper, Ego, Sadist, Masochist, Bipolar, Ditzy, Graceful, and Terse. Some enemies will be “attracted” to ome and hate another. Then using a combination of actions like Hit, Abuse, and Smile you will be able to start converting enemies into peons. The options become bigger and better as you raise the Charm Percentage.
That is just some of the mechanics, there is even more in this game I have not begun to talk about. In the Disgaea games you had the item world to explore, train, and develop. There is a similar mechanic in Mugen Souls called the Mugen Field. This is where you will go to train your characters, get Mugen Points, Money, and upgrade abilities. Mugen Points are used to make peons, upgrade abilities, and increase skills. You must bet Mugen Points before entering the Mugen Field and it will determine how your time will play out. The more points, the tougher the fights, the better the rewards this is where you will spend a lot of time in late game.
I mentioned the ability to make peons with Mugen Points and it is something that is best left to be started late game as you will not have access to higher classes until you unlock them in the Mugen Field with Mugen Points. You will also be able to create items and make additions to them to increase the strengths and minimize the weaknesses in your party. The constant theme in this game is leveling up and it takes a lot of resources to do so. Clothing itself is five figures in the beginning and that is quite a bit of money early game.
There is a lot to offer in this game, maybe too much for its own good. I never thought a game could rival Disgaea in terms of stuff to do but I was proven wrong. Just when you think something can’t be leveled up, something will be unlocked at your home base. Things I neglected to mention in this review are Spaceship battles and Peon Continents. They are interesting additions and break up some of the monotony.
My biggest and only gripe about Mugen Souls is the pacing. You cannot make every continent your peon from the start and you will be changing planets often. You will have the ability to upgrade anything early on but with no resources to do so. This is a game that is very slow until you hit that second or third playthough. Just like any JRPG you must be a patient player. The strategy involved with the customization is still very well done, but the game can come to a roaring halt if you haven’t been accessing the Mugen Field often enough.
I give Mugen Souls an 8.75/10 for interesting mechanics, quirky story, and sadly bad pacing. The game is still good, but definitely not for everyone. If you are a NISA/Compile Heart/Idea Factory fan then you will enjoy this game like I did.