Getting into The Last Story

I can’t seem to get lost in The Last Story.

Aside from Callista, who is kind of the cookie-cutter JRPG female lead so far, all of the characters have interesting personalities and quirks, and I’m eager to learn more about each of them.

The story has just started to flesh itself out; I can tell that things are about to get epic.

The combat is addictive and surprisingly tactical.

But the equipment system and summon circles have started to leave a bad taste in my mouth.

The prospect of leveling-up equipment is exciting. Upgrading the weapons and armor you find unlock new potential and abilities such as “Crit Chance +20%” and “x3 Slash Damage”. Eventually, items require components to upgrade them further, and there’s nothing wrong with that!

The problem I have is that dungeons, such as the ship I just fought my way through, have a limited number of enemies. If you want to grind for exp and items, you can use the summoning circle found in each locale to spawn a group of baddies.

But it’s the same group spawning in the same locations. Occasionally, you’ll summon a batch with higher HP who deal more damage, but it’s still very much the same fight.

In that same ship, Zael could kill the summoned skeletons with a single hit thanks to a weapon that inflicts additional damage on the undead.

Summon. Attack x6. Collect items. Summon. Attack x6. Collect items. Summon. Attack x6….

Unabashed grinding. It’s optional, sure, but what happens when the few groups of enemies scattered throughout the dungeons aren’t giving you enough experience to match the power of the bosses at the end? You’re going to have to do some grinding.

The environments have been almost completely linear so far. Why not throw in additional groups of enemies that you can only reach by exploring the intricacies of a dungeon?

The necessary items in equipment upgrades are clearly a way to prevent you from grinding these circles and breaking the game. You’ll quickly get to the point where the experience from summoned enemies does very little in advancing you to the next level; eventually it won’t be worth the time. So if a particular circle only brings you up to level 15 from, say, level 10, and the equipment you want to upgrade comes to a halt because you haven’t obtained the necessary items yet, why offer a way to grind if you’re going to bottleneck progress, anyway? Why not just run the numbers so that the battles you fight up to that particular point already put you at level 15?

It just seems a little lazy and unnecessary, but at such an early stage in the game, maybe I’m just missing something.

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