Review: Natural Doctrine (PlayStation Vita)
- Release Date (NA): September 30, 2014
- Release Date (EU): October 3, 2014
- Release Date (JP): April 3, 2014
- Publisher: NIS America
- Developer: Kadokawa Games
- Genres: Tactical role-playing game
- ESRB Rating: Mature
- Also For: PlayStation 4
Single playerLocal MultiplayerOnline MultiplayerCo-operative
Natural Doctrine is yet another new IP published by Nis America. It is fantasy SRPG based on the concept of natural selection.
Natural Doctrine is a strategy role playing based on the concept of natural selection. Set in a world with all sort of monsters on the loose and humanity on the verge of extinction, humans must grab their swords, leave their fortress city Feste, to clear out the threat. Using the power of Pluton, a rare mineral, humans gain the power to wield magical energy to aid them in their quest. Players take the role as Geoff, a soldier tasked with the mission of clearing out goblin-mines and acquiring the precious resources found inside of them. Alongside his crew, the group manages to get into much more than they have bargained for.
The combat in the game takes place on a gridded map and allows players to move their characters freely within the given range. To gain more range, players must take control of the initiative. In order to do that, players must kill the enemy in control of the tile that grants them more range. This is where things get more complicated. Position of characters and line of sight become much more important. Depending on where characters are lined up, they can come together and attack a group of enemies, this is called the 'linking' system.
The objective is to kill enemies and gain a turn via order of turns, the system that indicates the order of turns, the unit with the most priority gains this to be able to move faster than the opponent. Players can also use the linking system to their advantage and attack even more enemies on a single turn to gain the initiative. Got that? It sounds very easy, attack enemies, gain priority to move again, gain range from defeated enemies, repeat. However, it's much more difficult than it sounds.
Wanna know what will stop you at every turn? The computer. The tutorials will teach players everything they need to know, but even then the mechanics are still hard to master. This could be due to the rushed explaining of the tutorials. It also doesn't help that the computer understands everything far better than what the player will understand. The AI will send out an entire enemy force on one player thanks to the linking system giving the enemy an upper hand. Always. Oh, and what happens when a single player dies? Game over. It doesn't matter who dies, the game will end. Not completely over, however. Players can restart from a checkpoint that they made earlier, somewhere. Honestly, it can be really annoying having to sit through the game's slow pace just to get back to the point that the player was at before dying. That means, watching the enemies go through a thinking animation, watching them move, watching them perform an attack, and having to confirm all of that before it even happens. Ugh.
Death can happen swiftly because, again, the computer understands the rules better. The rules are explained poorly through the tutorials forcing players to go through trial and error to try to gain victory. But honestly, the game forces players into situations such as a narrow hallway that doesn't really leave much room for thinking. Who would want to do that? This leaves players resorting to shield bearers and long range magic and gun battles. However, just doing that will result in an even longer and frustrating experience. Doing that will extend the game's slow pace even more!
Not everything is all doom and gloom however. The game introduces the skill system which allows players to use their character's skill points to level up certain aspects. Skill points are obtained when a character is leveled up. While the linking system does favor the enemy at times, it's also still a great tool that the players themselves can use to their advantage. That's about it. Not even the graphics can save this one. Everything about this game looks so washed out and dreary. It wouldn't hurt to have some color here! Oh, and the story and characters aren't really anything special either so the game doesn't even have that to fall back on.
If you enjoy a shallow experience with a heightened difficulty, tons of useless information, and trial and error, this game is for you. The linking system is a nice system, but is at times very skewed in favor of the enemy. Still, there might be players out there that enjoy these type of experiences. Someone that enjoys the mindless hours of grinding to get to a higher level for some of the missions. There are much better SRPGs out there to not even bother with this. (Especially when the Vita has a ton of great ones thanks to its PSP and Vita library and the PS4 getting Disgaea 5 next year).
+ Unique skill system
+ A few fun gameplay mechanics
- Graphics aren't really that good across all three platforms
- Story isn't really anything to write home about
- The difficulty spikes
- The computer loves to cheat
- Game over if a single ally dies
- Slow moving pace
The graphics presented in the game looks dated across all three platforms. I know the Vita can push out much better looking games than this one and both PS3 and PS4 are out of the question. Remote Play works, some text are a bit compressed though for some reason. Still readable however.
The game introduces many gameplay mechanics and teaches you step by step on what works the best and what players should do in certain situations. Unfortunately, the tutorials are all poorly explained and it doesn't help that the computer is much better at the game than you are. Seriously, the game puts you in unfair situations where there isn't a lot you can do.
There's not much to going on for this game. Players may stick around for the story but even that isn't good enough to really hold the game together. There is a multiplayer option where players take the role of some of the enemies in the game.
out of 10
(not an average)
The game introduces many concepts that seem like good ideas but are all poorly executed. The story could have been much more, the characters are all very unlikable, the game crams tons of tutorials down your throat and expect you to remember it all come battle. The game could have been so much more but ended up like this.