Soul Nomad & the World Eaters Review

Slightly off-key humor, lovable characters, a plot with twists and turns reminiscent of Chutes and Ladders — yup, it’s another Nippon Ichi RPG! NIS’s latest outing, Soul Nomad for the PS2, is one fans of all the other NIS franchises will enjoy. The humor is there (but a little more mature this time around), the characters are memorable, and the combat/perfecting-every-strategy is just as involving as ever. For the first time since Disgaea, though, I believe this game is something gamers not familiar with everyone’s favorite under-the-radar RPG developer will enjoy.

Of course, as with many NIS games what makes Soul Nomad so unique and inviting is the wonderful attention paid to the characters, dialogue and overall environment. The story revolves around a wizard (or sorcerer, or shadow, depending who you ask) named Gig, who, more or less, tried to destroy the world. How, you may ask? By creating and using three… things… called World Breakers. Of course, the people united, a heroine rose up, he was contained, yada yada yada.

The actual game picks up in a town where the heroine/wizard lady (Layna) who helped contain Gig resides (unbeknownst to most of the world). Like all RPGs, the hero of this game is a young lad (or lass depending on your initial selection) from the village, who has no idea what he’s in for. His friend/training partner Danette (a Sepu, aka Cow Person) is always one-upping him, and is convinced she’ll be the one to defend the village and save the world for all of man- and cowkind. Flash forward about 2 minutes, and Layna is telling the kids they’re to embark on a quest to save the world, and gives Danette a couple of daggers, then bestows upon the protagonist a large black sword. This sword contains the essence of the badass that is Gig.

It’s from that moment that it’s clear Soul Nomad isn’t like your normal RPG. While he’s technically the villain, Gig is a great character you’ll instantly fall in love with. He’s foul mouthed, insults everyone left and right, and constantly jokes and pokes fun at the typical conventions in these fantastical hero tales. The protagonist struggles against Gig for a large portion of the game, and a lot of the dynamic between them revolves around whether or not you want to submit to Gig and act as he would, giving you immense power and (in most situations) ending the game early, or maintain some sense of virtue and work your way up the power ladder.

As we’ve all learned in the past, though, a decent story and great characters doesn’t make an RPG a must-own — what does that is the aforementioned in combination with the gameplay. Soul Nomad takes the conventional SRPG formula and mixes it up a little bit, creating something unlike most other games on the market. Rather than have each character out on the field independently, they’re all tied to "rooms." (Of course, everything in the game is explained in some form or another as being controlled by Gig — this is Soul Nomad for Dummies.)

Each room has a formation of characters available in short, mid and long positions, and depending on where you place your characters, they’ll perform different attacks or spells. Once a room is full (or once you consider it ready) you can summon it in the field of battle, and when attacking (or being attacked) everyone in the room will take their turn. Basically, it’s a team-based SRPG.

Unlike a lot of past NIS games, this one doesn’t involve nearly as much back tracking and customization which is something the diehard NIS faithful will dislike, but the non-initiated (or busy) will appreciate. You can also tie levels to your main character, meaning you don’t have to go and grind over and over and over in most situations.

With great characters, a wonderful relationship between Gig and the rest of the heroes, and a lot of choices (such as being able to destroy the world and end the game less than an hour in), Soul Nomad is a game that will appeal to many crowds. Obviously the NIS fans will love it, especially if they loved Disgaea or Phantom Brave. For the non-NIS faithful, this is the best NIS title since the original Disgaea to introduce you to the developers.


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Author: Brendon Lindsey View all posts by

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