* Prices may differ from that shown
This review is for the PSP game "Key of Heaven". I'll mention right at the beginning that other reviewers on other sites appear to really like this game, but I personally found it quite shallow.
The basic plot is that you control the character Shinbu, and he has to go round the game-map in this 3D role-playing game. He meets lots of other characters who he has to inter-act with to find out more information about where to go next.
The plot is developed by screens of animated graphics with voice-overs, which after a while actually become quite frustrating. They can't always be skipped, a feature I always like to see rather than waiting for a scene to finish before you can start playing again.
Playing wise the game is quite simple, you just move from place to place which is made easier by the built-in map at the bottom right of the PSP screen. It is very hard, well - impossible actually, to move outside of the paths which the game has set, so the game does feel a little limited compared to some other 3D adventures.
I did enjoy for a while the moving from place to place, but after a time it just seemed to be a bit predictable. You move a little way, you slash at a few enemy attackers who come at you with your swords, you slash your sword back, and then they die. You move on a bit again, and then the same happens again.
You can inter-act with other characters, although usually the inter-action is pointless, and sometimes you have to chase about the screens to try and find out who you're meant to talk to at what particular point. I think that's when I first tired of this game, as instead of it being a joy to explore the area, it all became quite frustrating and monotonous.
I did die rather randomly, not against enemy attack, but in what appear to be almost a sub-game when training another character. Although you can save the game when you want and don't have to wait for save points, I found that element of the game a little frustrating.
I've noticed that some other reviewers of the game have said that it is almost state of the art in its style. It doesn't however feel like that to me, the whole role-playing genre in my view was done better by Tombraider on the Playstation, which is now ten years old. Maybe I'm missing something, but although the game was tidy and neat graphics wise, it didn't seem revolutionary to me.
Again, I may be missing something, but the game packaging promises 150 different skills, in which you could develop a large array of different fight moves. They all seemed quite similar to me, you ran at the opponent and slashed him with your sword, he died, then it repeats again.
I will confess that I gave up before completing the entire game, but more because it seemed too easy and repetitive than because I found the gameplay too difficult or challenging (which is normally why I give up). Having said that, whilst I was playing, it was certainly passable entertainment, and maybe someone who is more commited to the genre would have found a lot more enjoyment from the game.
To its advantage, I would say that I haven't seen this sort of game too often on the PSP, and it's a nice break from the more action games which sometimes seem to dominate the console. It would have been nice if this game had a bit more of a puzzle element, to make it more of a mental challenge, rather than a challenge of seeing how long you can play for without getting bored of the game entirely.
So overall, not necessarily a bad game, just one that lacked in depth and could have put up more of a challenge to the player to keep them interested.
At the moment, the price on Amazon is 34.98 pounds, saving a massive one pence of the manufacturer's recommended price! Other sites probably have this cheaper.