There are plenty of trends that become common in video games to varying degrees. Every few years there is one that becomes more popular than it should for no particular reason. During the Super Nintendo Era, that trend was paladins. Between being popular in Dungeons and Dragons and a central focus of Final Fantasy IV, they became a semi-popular trend. At least popular enough for a localized RPG called Lennus to be renamed Paladin’s Quest, despite having nothing to with paladins whatsoever. That is the least of this game’s problems.
The Role You Play
You play as Chezni. Chezni is a spiritualist studying at an unnamed magic school in the town of Naskuot. He can fight with different weapons, such as swords, knives and bows. He can also battle with different magic by combining different spirits he learns throughout his journey.
Along the way, he teams up with another spiritualist named Midia. They can also be joined by different mercenaries. These mercenaries have their own preset skills and equipment that cannot be customized, although they can gain experience and level up with the rest of the party.
Some games don’t start with a lot of backstory and just throw you right into the action, and a lot of times that’s a good thing. Paladin’s Quest is the exception. The game begins with the main character Chezni being goaded into entering the forbidden Tower of Gabnid to look for a ‘supposed’ treasure by his classmate at his magic school. In the process of looking for this treasure, he ends up unleashing a sealed monster named Dal Gren that wipes out the entire school. This leaves Chezni as the sole survivor and leaves him with the duty to go on the quest to defeat the monster that he unleashed.
The main component of the gameplay is the combat. When you engage with enemies, they are divided into groups. You can target each group with different weapons or spells. Depending on the spell or weapon, it will target a single enemy, a group, or all of the enemies on the screen.
Paladin’s Quest puts a heavy focus on the characters’ ability to use magic. However, there is no magic point system. Instead, characters are expected to draw magic from their health. Each character has their own different skill set and spells progress in strength the more they are used. They also have a slot for medicine that can restore their health with a limited number of uses.
Paladin’s Quest is very formulaic in terms of how you proceed through the games. You will usually travel to a town and have to assist with a disaster or the aftermath of the destruction from Dal Gren. Once you assist with whatever you are doing, you move on to the next town and do something similar all over again. There is little in terms of sidequests or extra missions. There is some encouragement to grind now and then to build up extra XP or money, but it’s not totally required. Overall it takes about 20 hours to finish.
The soundtrack does a decent job of painting a dystopian picture of the world of Paladin’s Quest. It has the kind of tracks you would expect from a turn-based RPG, and some decent ones to boot. The battle music and boss themes are good and there are a couple of different town themes and cave themes to match the game’s unique setting.
The problem arises when it becomes evident that the tracks become recycled a bit too often. The same tracks used to describe the group flying or a city in danger are reused multiple times throughout the game. After so long, they lose their emotional weight and begin to sound dull and uninteresting.
One thing you will quickly notice about Paladin’s Quest is that all of the text is abbreviated. Every weapon, piece of equipment, spell and item is shortened to six characters or less. This makes figuring out what everything does require a lot of trial and error. What’s worse is that there are no detailed descriptions of what anything does, so that makes it even more challenging to figure out. You can’t actually know what anything does until you use it, and even then you can never be completely sure.
The Talking Parts
As far as the actual dialogue goes, it is bare bones, to say the least. It does little more than progress the story. It does little in terms of building up the world or creating any character development for any of the protagonists.
This is especially bad since a lot of the quests are plot-driven. You have to talk to people within the towns and ask them for information on what to do in order to progress. However, they give you the least amount of information possible, and then you’re moving on to the next part of a quest. This is especially bad if you leave the game and come back to it after a long period of time.
Z…We’ve Reached the End. Anything Else?
Paladin’s Quest has an art style and aesthetic unlike anything I have seen in other games. It could be described as neo-futuristic with a lot of rounded architecture and blue flora. It is definitely trying to set itself apart from other games of the era and it succeeds. If nothing else, it is at least distinct in its unique design.
There are some worthwhile things to see in Paladin’s Quest. there are some sections where you get to travel back in time, a maze where you get to unlock super powerful magic, and some other really odd stuff, but it all happens late in the game and all of the frustrations you have to put up with to get to that point don’t really make the game worth it. Your time is better spent on something else, and there is so much more to choose from.
Final Score: 4/10
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