Soul Nomad Hands-On Preview

Ah, NIS. Since the first Disgaea game was released, they’ve grown to be one of my favorite game companies out there; that’s why when I first got into game journalism (on the games side of things, not just news and politics) I made sure they were one of my first contacts. Haven’t regretted it once.

Recently, we were sent a preview copy of their upcoming PS2 game, Soul Nomad. Like just about every other title they’ve put out, this one is a tactical RPG; unlike most of the others, it’s a lot more serious in nature, and less goofballish.

The story begins with a recap of events happening long ago. Lord Median the Conqueror unified the continent of Prodesto, bringing peace to all. Unfortunately, he died, and everything went to hell. A dark figure rose up controlling these three things known as World Eaters, and until the warrior queen Layna sacrificed herself to banish the evil one and silenced them, the world was in constant turmoil.

Soul Nomad picks up at that point. You control a young man (I don’t think they even give him a name…) living in a village, and you’re sparring with a Sepp (think cow-like person) girl named Danette. You’re summoned to appear before Layna (surprise! She’s not dead!) and she declares you’re ready to protect the world, so off you go – but not before she gives you a sword.



In this sword is Gig, the evil one Layna had trapped. Right away, this sword/Gig adds a very entertaining element to the game; unlike many villains, he’s a huge smartass, constantly making fun of people, calling people names, and pulling out lines you wish you’d thought of. (Such as "I’m going to shock you so much your butt will pucker!")

The game revolves a lot around choices. From the moment you get Gig to hours in the game, you can choose between staying on the straight and narrow, or succumbing to Gig and allowing his power to control you. (He has some sort of deal where he lives in you, but he doesn’t control you unless you allow him.) When you select most of the choices involving Gig giving you power, it ends the game; a little skull symbol near the choice signifies it’s an ending choice, while a green dot signifies it leads on to more story. You’re able to save before the choices and see a ton of endings, although if you forget to save recently, you can get pretty POed if you have to pass up another story element.

When I said the game wasn’t funny, I meant in the traditional NIS way, with satire and parody. This game is funny, though, like a Denis Leary act. Gig is EXTREMELY foul mouthed, and everyone he meets gets a taste of him. There’s also a few hilarious characters you’re able to pick up along the way, although none match the level of awesomeness that Gordon achieved years ago.

Not only does the story and content differ from past NIS titles, but the combat is slightly different, as well. Unlike most tactic RPGs where you control each character, the combat is rather refreshing. Gig is able to create "rooms" in the universe, where you can place people you’ve "dominated." What this means is people you dominate (or purchase) can be placed in a room, which is essentially a unit. You can place people at the front, middle or rear, and depending on their position, they use a different skill. When attacking, your room attacks the enemy’s room, and all members in it will perform their duties (and the defenders will then counter). This takes away the whole "I need to watch my mana!" worry, and lets you play around with different positions, as each room attacks, moves and performs based on collective stamina, rather than individual.



If the room’s leader perishes, the room is dispatched from battle. To bring them into battle you have to pay in Gig points (like money, but not really) to summon them; so make sure your leader can stand up to some attacks, or you’ll use most of your points summoning FAST.

The game is still a good ways away from release, and it still shows. There are a lot of unfinished pieces of business (and numerous freezing bugs, which NIS was wonderful to detail explicitly so we could avoid them) but so far, it’s easily my favorite NIS title since the first Disgaea game. Stay tuned to GN for more on Soul Nomad as it nears release, and if you’re a fan of RPGs or NIS in general, make sure you add this one to your pre-order list.


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Author: Brendon Lindsey View all posts by

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