I'm always in the mood for some SRPG action and Relayer offers quite a unique experience so let's take off and see what it's all about.
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Relayer stars a diverse cast of characters that personify various celestial bodies so you know that you're in for an unconventional narrative right off the bat. It's your mission to simply defend Earth from an alien invasion that are collectively known as Relayer. So, you command a party of soldiers who pilot Stellar Gear mechs in order to do so. Although it's a simple plot at its core, there are many twists and turns along the way and with such a large variety of characters, you know that you'll be in for some surprises. v1d30chumz 3-235-186-94
Thankfully, the character art is very well done as you watch the cast interact and the mechs all look great, too, especially when the camera cinematically moves as you watch your attack devastate your targeted enemy. With that in mind, the aspect of presentation that went far beyond my expectations is the audio. Specifically, the orchestral music, gratifying sounds of combat, and expressive voice acting from talented actors really elevates the story and battles to new heights. I wish more games sounded this great!
When it comes to gameplay, Relayer mostly keeps things simple. The combat itself merely involves strategically positioning your party members while trying to maximize damage to your opponents and minimize taking any yourself. Although many similar games have lots of layers to combat via elemental weaknesses, terrain, and such; Relayer doesn't have many tricks up its sleeve. The 2 most interesting parts of combat are the abilities to back-stab opponents by positioning allies on either side of them and to unleash a devastating Big Bang attack after it charges. It may be simplistic but it's still enjoyable and I had a lot of fun mastering every battle.
To make things more interesting, you can customize your characters and mechs in some clever ways. The coolest aspect is the Star Cube system which is like a mini iteration of the Sphere Grid from Final Fantasy X which allows you to unlock stat boosts as well as further jobs for each character. You can also equip passive skills for more of a boost, change jobs, and assign weapons, shields, armours, and custom chips to each mech. Plus, you can spend earned currency to upgrade weapons in order to make them even more powerful.
Even though all of this is great stuff, I must reiterate that Relayer is an undeniably basic game. One of the most limiting elements in this regard is the battle maps which are simply grid-based rectangles with no terrain or third axis. Mostly due to its simplicity, Relayer is also a very easy game, especially for genre veterans such as myself. In fact, I don't think I even had a close call; never mind lose. Lastly, the AI is incredibly easy to manipulate and I even devised a tactic where I lure enemies one by one into a formation where I proceed to back-attack them without even giving them a chance to do much damage at all. Can't the AI learn its lesson after a while? 😅
If you're looking for a hardcore SRPG then you'll likely be disappointed by Relayer but it's still a satisfying spacefaring adventure that features enjoyable cinematic combat, incredible audio, and a memorable cast of characters.
- + Superb audio production and English voices with excellent artwork and mech designs
- + Simple yet enjoyable SRPG combat
- + Lots of rewarding customization elements
- - Battle maps are flat and uninteresting
- - Mostly unchallenging throughout
- - AI can be easily manipulated