Review – Cladun: This is an RPG
Publisher: Nippon Ichi Software
Developer: System Prisma
Platform(s): Sony PlayStation Portable
Genre: Dungeon RPG
Rating: E 10+
Players: 1, 2-4 (Ad Hoc)
Purchase from: Amazon, PlayStation Store
The Scoop: 8-Bit graphics and music meets modern dungeon crawling for the casual crowd in NIS’s downloadable title for the Sony PlayStation Portable.
The Setup: Cladun: This is an RPG is the story of Arcanus Cella, a faraway land that few find and even fewer want to leave. The main story follows childhood friends Pudding and Souma, who find themselves in Arcanus Cella. While Pudding is all about diving into the world and finding adventure, Souma is less enthused. But he ends up following after Pudding in an attempt to convince her to return to their normal lives. As the game progresses, more people will end up in the world of Arcanus Cella out of sheer randomness and join up with Pudding and Souma, including characters that you can create. Nearly every single one of them is a playable character.
Cladun is a dungeon crawler RPG in which you will take your character, equip it with the best gear and weapons you can find or buy, and set out into dungeons attacking monsters, gathering treasures, and defeating the boss at the end of each dungeon. There also seems to be no overall goal as the player can decide when they want to leave the world at any time, thus ending the game. But for the “best ending,” it’s up to the player to progress through each dungeon and watch the events of the world unfold.
What’s Hot: Cladun is easy to pick up and play; as it is designed for short moments of free time, making Cladun an unexpectedly expansive game. The dungeons are well designed and the controls are easy to master. Each dungeon consists of the usual traps, treasures, environmental hazards, and monsters. The uniqueness to Cladun is that each floor can be completed in about a minute; you could complete a whole dungeon in less than five minutes, depending on how many floors the dungeon may consist of, unlike other dungeons that can take anywhere up to a half hour to an hour.
Unlike most dungeon crawler RPGs in which you enter a dungeon and go through all the floors to the end boss, in Cladun you will take each floor as its own separate stage. Once you finish that floor, you’re teleported back to the main village and now have access to the floor below. With this setup, you can progress through this game in small increments if you only have a few minutes of free time on your hands
As playing through a single character can seem kind of lonely, Cladun introduces a party system not seen in most dungeon crawler RPGs. Instead of having the characters with you in a dungeon, the game includes what’s called a “Magic Circle.” Into the circle you can put other characters into designated slots that can boost your attack, health, or other stats while giving them experience once you finish a floor. Characters in the Magic Circle will also act as shields for your main character should you get attacked by a monster. However if you take too much damage, they will “faint” and soon you may find yourself the one being attacked directly.
What’s Not: Cladun advertises that it contains randomly generated dungeons, but the dungeons I had played through weren’t always randomized when I went back to them. Once I unlocked the ability to create my own character, I went back to some of the first zones to level him up. But upon doing so, I realized that the level layout, traps, and monsters were identical every time I replayed the maps. It was disappointing to not have a new challenge every time I went back, especially once my brain kicked into auto-pilot and I found myself just easily running through the levels.
And while the easy minute to two minute stages make the game feel nice and quick, they can also somewhat of a downer to some. With other dungeon crawler RPGs such as Etrian Odyssey or even Pokémon Mystery Dungeon in which you explore a dungeon from the first floor, to as many floors as it takes in one sitting feels like a cop out. Again, the challenge of the levels seems non-existent when at the end of a floor you can go back to town to stock up the newest equipment or artifact modifiers and automatically restore yourself to full health.
The other downside of Cladun is the general style of the game. It seems that ever since Nintendo and Capcom went on the whole retro craze with New Super Mario Bros. and Mega Man 9, retro seems to be the new ‘in thing’. Although retro games can be appealing for a title that made its claim to fame in that era, new series that try to catch that zeal just don’t seem to hold up as well. I would have rather liked to see the game in more of a modern graphical setting such as the Disgaea series. You do have the option to turn the music from retro 8-bit to “real” orchestrated tracks, but even setting the music to the “real” mode just seems out of place when the rest of the game is done in 8-bit.
Final Verdict: To damage a game just solely based on a graphical style is like saying, “I don’t like books because they use an ugly font.” But graphics aside, Cladun is a hit or miss title for dungeon crawler RPG fans. There is some unique innovation in there, such as the Magic Circle party system. However the main draw is the easy one or two minute floors; as it can be a plus to those people who don’t have a lot of time to play RPGs, but it can deter fans who like more challenging dungeon crawler RPGs.Review - Cladun: This is an RPG,