We at Hardcore Droid have reviewed a fair number of Kemco RPG’s, with opinions ranging from “ok” to “kill me now.” They’ve been criticized in the past for underwhelming combat mechanics and recycled graphics, as well as for being generally mediocre. With 40+ titles to their credit (and a new one always on the horizon) one would think they would adapt or at least learn something with each successive release. After playing their latest title, it’s clear that Kemco still favors quantity over quality.
Grace of Letoile follows the adventures of two scrappy orphans, Vedley and Moniya, on a quest to harness the power of time travel in order to save their parents. They make a pact with a letoile, a sort of fighting doll robot. By stealing a life force from all of the other letoiles in existence, their wish can be granted. The catch is that all of the other letoiles also have masters, eager to satisfy wishes of their own.
After a long, boring tutorial, I was expecting combat to be robust and complicated. There was extensive talk of power gems, clock wheels, a power gauge that unlocks a special move, even ways to individually adjust a character’s tactics. But for most battles, those are totally unnecessary. Take the AXL meter, for example. It’s supposed to be a balance between movement frequency and damage taken during battles. I didn’t touch it for several levels, and then maxed it out for all of my characters, but couldn’t spot a difference in combat either way.
Every foe with the exception of bosses can be taken out with regular attack moves. It was exciting at first to level up, but it’s difficult to stay engaged just pushing the attack button and tediously killing demons in each random encounter. Even the monsters themselves repeat after a few levels or show up in another spooky abandoned ruin with a different color filter. Sick of killing brown trees? Kill some pink trees.
Despite the interesting premise of doll robots and time travel, the plot falls flat as well. There were just a few too many hidden ambushes and villain monologues. There were also far too many tedious boss fights that end with the villains getting away. Almost every dilemma is solved by introducing a new character who comes to the rescue just in the nick of time. And if you try to wander away from your current objective to explore the map, your companions condescendingly harp on you for going the wrong way.
Even if the direction of the story didn’t scream half-baked first draft, the dialogue would still be mind-numbing. Every word, thought and exclamation is verbalized, forcing the player to read through conversations littered with “Aargh!” “Hmmm…” or occasionally just “…” and tap through dialogue boxes individually—twice. A frightened “…” loses all meaning after around a dozen uses.
There is also a dearth of made up words and hokey fantasy names. Granted, some are necessary for world building, but when characters also use our colloquial “yeah” and “Oh my god!” the nonsense words begin to feel like they were spat out of a computer generator and filled in mad-lib style to satisfy a whimsy quota. To Grace’s credit, at least the music is pretty catchy. It’s repetitive, just like the scenery, towns, npcs, enemies, and battles. But it’s catchy.
While Kemko claims to be focused on producing “high-quality Japanese-style RPGs (JRPGs), which blend tradition and innovation,” they also somehow manage to churn out a new game every month. I’m not a game designer, but that doesn’t sound like enough time for quality or innovation to germinate. The premise of this game was interesting, and I wanted to like it. Perhaps with a little more time and attention, it could have been something special. This formulaic approach to RPGs must be working for Kemco, but Grace of Letoile didn’t work for me.
The premise is interesting but the plot and combat are uninspired.