Over the years, I’ve developed a serious soft spot for Japanese developerÂ Gust. Though its games’ themes are usually a little outside my interests, the consistently creative battle mechanics and ability to tack even the lightest bits of item creation into an impressive number of JRPGs every year often lifts the games out of mediocrity and can actually make for seriously addictive play sessions.
WithÂ Mana Khemia 2: Fall of Alechemy, though, item creation is front and center, guiding everything from character growth (your party doesn’t really have “levels” per se and doesn’t earn experience in the classic sense from battles) to new equipment, to providing crucial story items. You’re always going to have something to make for a variety of reasons, which puts a heavy burden on the crafting system’s mechanics. Thankfully, this is Gust’s forte, and it’s accomplished with aplomb, offering plenty of depth that really only becomes apparent after you’ve poured double-digit numbers of hours into making everything from raw materials to beefy suits of armor.
CreatingÂ anything is a good thing, as it will often unlock an entry in each of your party members’ Grow Books, a sort of encyclopedia of semi-related weapons, armor, restoratives and random materials. By spending Action Points earned in battles, you can upgrade specific abilities that are locked inside every item — things like boosting attack power, defense, or even learning entirely new skills in battle. It’s a heady combination of constantly-discovered new items, their ingredient requirements and stocking the necessary AP to keep upgrading your characters, and it creates a near-constant treadmill of gathering, creation and upgrades that gives you an appreciable boost to each of your party members’ skills.
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