Last year, a little game by the name of Recettear: An Item Shop's Tale took me completely by surprise. Recettear was light-hearted, yet challenging in terms of its expectations for the player. Recette's world became one where phrases like "Yayifications" and "Yepperonis" made it into my daily vocabulary. When Carpe Fulgur announced Chantelise, I was immediately thrilled at the thought of getting more EasyGameStation titles. Although Chantelise has a few kinks to sort out, there's something entertaining about the relationship between the two sisters, Chante and Elise.
" Don't be fooled by Chantelise's charming look, this game is no cakewalk. "
When I booted up Chantelise, I was greeted to a nice tutorial about the game's mechanics. At its core, Chantelise is a frantic hack-and-slash RPG, but relies on switching back and forth between Elise's physical prowess and Chante's magic abilities. As Elise attacks enemies, they drop magic crystals each with a one-of-a-kind elemental attribute. Depending on the direction Elise is facing, Chante can launch magic at enemies that can freeze, burn, shock and even hammer. Figuring out when to use one sister over the other is what makes this game a bit more strategic than other action RPGs, and accepting that you will in fact have to redo dungeons repeatedly until you're buffed enough is a fate all players will come to accept.
Chantelise is a game that requires patience and repetition. This is not a bad thing, as the game wants you to pace yourself, defeat enemies, and sell items to get potions that boost your HP, until you're at a stage in which you feel confident at taking on the dungeon's boss. Let me tell you, that first boss? He's certainly no push-over. Since the gameplay moves at such a rapid pace, making sure you have enough magic crystals is critical to success. Players are going to have to make use of the game's dash and jump skills to evade oncoming foes. While the gameplay is fairly solid, Chantelise sports one black mark against it that will make or break it for players: an awkward camera. This camera makes it impossible at times to see everything that surrounds you, and it's even worse off when trying to deal with some of the platforming bits. It's difficult to gauge where one is going to land because the camera is often trying to work against the player, allowing free hits for mobs of enemies.
One different aspect of this dungeon crawler is that in order to move to the next half of the stage, players must defeat all enemies within the room. Once all the enemies have been cleared, Elise can move to the next area. If Elise dies, it's Game Over, but the game doesn't penalize you in any way. All loot collected before death is still with Elise and can be sold to upgrade her equipment and health. Once an area has been cleared, it doesn't need to be re-cleared if the player has to start the dungeon over.
If players can get past the level of repetition and the camera, there's certainly a rough gem to be had in Chantelise. The localization done by Carpe Fulgur is top-notch, and continues the tradition of hysterical dialog and cheeky female heroines. Chante is a complete riot, and it's hard not to love the insanity that she brings to the table, while Elise is far more methodical and soft-spoken. Everything players loved about Recettear's localization is clearly here in Chantelise and it definitely doesn't disappoint.
Those who are looking to get their hands on Chantelise can do so on July 29, 2011 on Steam and Gamersgate. Carpe Fulgur has a demo on the Chantelise website which gives you a great first look at the game's mechanics. Don't be fooled by Chantelise's charming look, this game is no cakewalk, and a gamepad may be a good option for those who can only handle so much of the serviceable yet stiff keyboard control. Check back with RPGamer for our full review soon.