Ray Gigant review for PS Vita

Platform: PS Vita
Publisher: Acttil
Developer: Bandai Namco
Medium: Digital
Players: 1
Online: No

Maybe I’m reading too much into it, but I feel like Ray Gigant presents an interesting thought experiment: what if Japanese monster movies had developed following the 2011 Japanese earthquakes, rather than in the wake of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki?

Obviously there are some problems with the idea, not least of which is the fact that this game, with all its giant monsters, owes some degree of debt to the legacy of Godzilla and all his gigantic pals. Still, with all the early talk the game gives to characters talking about where they were when the first waves of destruction hit, it’s not hard to draw the same kind of connections between the earthquake and Ray Gigant that people were able to draw between the atomic bombs and nuclear panic movies that originated in the ’50s.

Ray Gigant 1

Unfortunately, while Ray Gigant may be interesting as a thought experiment, I’m not so sure it’s as interesting as a game. This is primarily due to the fact that, like far too many Japanese games, it thinks that obnoxious teenage whining is the most fascinating thing in the world.

Obviously, the fact that so many Japanese developers continue to make high school teens the focus of their games suggests there’s a thriving market for that particular setting. But that doesn’t make it any more interesting or enjoyable, as far as I’m concerned — not least because the alternative, in this particular case, would’ve been a game about giant freaking monsters. But no, Acttil and Bandai Namco decided that it’d be more interesting to watch a bunch of generic tropes — sorry, generic “teens” obsess over sex, food, and all the other usual themes that these games touch on.

Ray Gigant 2

This might be easy to overlook if the gameplay itself was a little more interesting, but for the most part, it relies on pretty well-worn clichés there, too. You and your party are traversing a giant dungeon, killing monsters in turn-based battles and trying to ramp up your stats as quickly as possible so that you don’t get insta-killed by the boss (sorry, the “gigant”) waiting for you at the end of the level. Admittedly, once you reach said boss, the game does some interesting things, like a rhythm-based minigame that ups the strength of your attacks and a multi-level showdown that requires thinking about how you want to distribute your attacks amongst your team members, but a couple of minutes of innovation don’t make up for how generic the rest of the battle system is.

Oh, and word to the wise: you may hear talk of how Ray Gigant represents a streamlined approach to the DRPG, and that it’s far easier than Acttil’s usual games. Don’t believe this — or, at the very least, don’t expect that to mean it’s a particularly easy game. No matter how simplified Ray Gigant may seem to veterans of the scene, it’s still pretty difficult unless you want to put in the time and build up all your characters.

Ray Gigant 3

Of course, this leads back to the game’s main problem, which is that building up your characters inherently means letting them live to see another dialogue sequence or cutscene — and the more you see of them in those sequences and cutscenes, the less you’ll want to let them live. It’s a dilemma with no real solution…apart from the obvious one, of not playing Ray Gigant unless you have a strong appetite for generic characters and you don’t mind if their combat isn’t that interesting, either.

Grade: C+