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Due to the popularity of indie developers making pixel-based RPGs that attempt to capture the same emotional experience as something like Final Fantasy VI or Chrono Trigger, two of the Super Nintendo’s best games, these types of games have sadly started to mix together and become, more or less, the same kind of experience, with an inconsistent amount of quality. You get good games, bad games, and games that are just okay. Indie developers have to start tackling these types of games with either different inspirational references, like another retro but beloved RPG, or a different graphical presentation altogether. So, where does Celestian Tales: Old North for the PC stand? This is one of the more recent RPGs to hit the indie scene, and honestly, despite some flaws due to being part of a planned trilogy, it’s pretty good! Let’s begin!
The game takes place in the fantasy world where you take control of six individual characters from different backgrounds. You learn about them throughout the game, or by choosing to play as one of them at the beginning of the game. Each character goes under squire training to become knights for their own understandable reasons. As they hone their skills and develop chemistry amongst each other, you then have to unfortunately deal with other kingdoms, bandits, and a barbaric race of humanoid beings known as World Enders. Can you save the kingdom and become a knight? Well, you will have to hopefully play the game and wait for the other two games to come. This is only part one of the story, and it’s mostly used to help get you into the world. The story itself might not be interesting overall, but I think they will be putting in the more stimulating bits and pieces into the next game. I was at least connected enough to the characters to get through the story.
Celestian Tales: Old North is a turn-based RPG that you have probably played hundreds of, and for the most part, it doesn’t have too much differentiating it from a lot of the other JRPG-style games out there. You have a band of playable characters, and go into battle three at a time, and gain experience points to learn new movies. So, what does this game do to stand out? Well, each character starts out with a stamina meter. You can use normal attacks to add more stamina to be able to pull off stronger attacks. There is a bit of strategy to maybe wait it out to take care of enemies in one fell swoop, but sometimes, it’s good enough to simply spam your normal attacks and just take the damage, since you gain your health back quite easily with inns or a small array of healing items. There are luckily no random battles in this game, but enemies will be visible in the overworld, and will chase you down if you get spotted. Throughout the game, you will be making decisions that will apparently change what happens in the overarching story. The game is pretty short at about six hours. You can replay the game six times to get little tidbits of information that is unique to each character.
Graphically, I think it looks good. The backgrounds are beautifully detailed, and while I would probably fix a few elements, like the 2D animation could look more polished, and have the townsfolk more active, the overall presentation is pretty solid. I enjoyed the music as well. It was a pretty typical JRPG affair, in terms of what you can usually find in a RPG soundtrack, with ambient scores and songs that bring in themes of dread and war. It was all very well composed, and is easily the best part of the games’ presentation, besides the 2D character portraits.
So, what is bad about the game? While I love the idea of playing multiple characters with different perspectives on the story, it’s not as fleshed out as it could have been. It reminds me more of how Tales of Xillia handled this idea where you might get an exclusive scene here and there, but nothing is really all that different between the six playable characters. Some important tidbits are hidden behind certain characters, and I want to know what’s important. They should have had all the endings at once or be viewable. Replaying through the game six different times is not worth it, since the overall story is not fully interesting. I also, like many others, found that the game needed a better level layout. Due to the art style, it makes traversing towns a chore, since everything just blends in with one another. I got stuck most of the time not because of the puzzles, but because I couldn’t find my way around and know what I could walk on and what I couldn’t. The victory music could also have been better. I mean, I won a fight, it should feel satisfying, but the victory music didn’t do much for me. Another major concern is that this is supposed to be a three-part game. I think this game will do well, but the major changes in this game don’t feel substantial, since we now need to wait for the next two parts. Hopefully, they do come or else we will have a game that feels incomplete.
In the end, I do like this game. I think it’s a solid RPG with a feeling of what the Game of Thrones RPG released a few years back should have been. I think if they fix some of the issues, like expanding the universe a little, and the whole interaction with the background, they will have a great trilogy of RPGs on their hands. It’s on Steam right now, and if you want to wait for a sale, I perfectly understand. If you love RPGs, then I recommend you check this game out!
This game gets a 7 out of 10