The Battle System in Ray Gigant Forces You to Think

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I’m only a few hours into anime RPG Ray Gigant but there’s already one thing about it I enjoy immensely: the battle system.

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Like many JRPGs over the past 30 years, Ray Gigant uses a turn-based battle system—however, it’s the little things about this permutation that make it so enjoyable.

At its most basic, it’s reminiscent of the battle system in Xenogears with the overall design style of Etrian Odyssey.

In Xenogears, each party member has an amount of AP to use each turn—with each attack using up a different amount of AP. In Ray Gigant, however, your entire party shares from a communal amount that maxes out at 100 AP. And, unlike in Xenogears, you don’t get your AP fully restored after each round. Instead you only receive a token 5 AP back.

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There are two main ways to gain AP: Have one of your three characters spend an entire turn resting (to receive 10 AP) or win the battle quickly. Winning a battle in one turn grants you 25 AP (and 5 less AP on each subsequent turn). Of course, if it takes you more than 25 AP to kill all enemies, you’ll experience a net loss and be even worse off for your next battle.

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Moreover, in each dungeon there are monsters of different difficulties roaming about. However, these monsters don’t have stronger or weaker stats depending on the difficulty. Rather, “easy” monsters take half the normal AP to attack while “hard” monsters make your attacks cost double the normal AP.

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Because of all the above, AP management is the key to battle in Ray Gigant. Instead of just mashing the attack button mindlessly to get through each battle, you are constantly thinking of the most cost efficient way to move through the dungeons. You are always paying attention to everything from how many hits it takes to kill a specific type of enemy to each enemy’s strength so you know if it is safe to rest a turn and take damage or not.

Of course, if you ever get bored of doing the math in your head, you can always activate your special power and turn the battle system into a music game.

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Seriously.

Ray Gigant was released in Japan for the PlayStation Vita on July 30, 2015. There is currently no word on a Western release.

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DISCUSSION

By
Cryptid

It’s probably too much to ask for this game to have a non-portable western release. The battle system sounds like it carries a greater sense of risk and reward than the battle system in Xenogears, where you could enjoy stacking the attacks just right but the resource-to-kill ratio only felt strategic during the nastiest mech battles.

It’s great to see turn-based innovation on the rise again after the wealth of RPGs in the late 90s tapered off. This sounds great, and I liked the timing system from Child of Light. Xenogears is a fine model, but I wish Square (or someone) would take a second look at the magic system from Chrono Cross. It takes away the tedium of managing MP because you get to use each spell once per battle, but then it adds the strategic layer of balancing your active spells, positioning them on the character’s power grid, and rationing them through the big fights. Mainly, though, I like that the game does not encourage you to be stingy with magic in minor encounters.

Active battle systems might be better for the popularity of the genre. The demo for FFXV hints that it might end up rivaling the great combat mechanics in Last Story. But there is nothing like the sense of scarcity in turn-based games, where you have to make each choice count.