La Pucelle: Ragnarok Remaster:
I am absolutely loving La Pucelle: Ragnarok Remaster so far. I haven’t gotten far, but I’m already having a blast. This game actually mixes serious and comedic moments so well that I’m genuinely surprised. It feels as if all the intriguing story ideas that Nipponichi ever had was put into this game. I am currently playing the Nintendo Switch version and my impressions just seem to grow more positive the more that I play. But first, I’ll go into the negatives before I sound like a gushing fanboy.
As with all PS2 Remasters, this game’s controls feel a bit clunky and the well-made 2D graphics and sprites likely won’t impress most people. Two negative points regarding the story of this game is that the narrative relies too much on the perspective of Prier’s younger brother, Culotte during each chapter segments. I suspect this was due to the general attitude by video game companies and book publishers to focus on a male perspective so as not to discourage or “disappoint” young male watchers or readers. I recall reading a news article as a young kid how J.K. Rowling had the middle name “Kathleen” added by her publisher to make the initials “J.K.” because her publisher doubted that young boys, knowing the author was female, would be as willing to pick-up and read her books. As such, instead of the much more interesting Prier or Alouette, we get Culotte’s perspective for early chapter portions. However, this fortunately doesn’t diminish or detract from learning more about Prier as we see her various interactions with Alouette, criminals she’s assigned to bring to justice, and her repeated hopes and dreams of becoming the Maiden of Light, the prophesized savior of the world. The other detracting point is that this game relies too heavily on amnesia as a plot point, because two of the main cast have amnesia. That is perhaps the weakest portion of this story so far and I’ve yet to see how it will unfold.
However, the positives far outweigh the negatives. Prier is her own person, she has her own personal goal of trying to be the prophesized savior, she isn’t stupid enough to fall for obvious traps like her brother being deceived by a criminal, and her commitment to being strong for the sake of her parents who died seven years ago and so that she can force herself to move forward because she needs to take care of her brother; all of that combined give players compelling reasons to root for her. Even more to my surprise, the worldbuilding in this game is solid. It isn’t like Disgaea where zany lampshading is used to ignore potential plot holes. The plotting seems more carefully constructed and unlike Disgaea, where it can sometimes go too far with comedy when a moment is supposed to be serious, La Pucelle: Ragnarok balances comedy and serious moments extremely well. So far, it is better than most Disgaea games at this. The jokes are mostly hilarious and give the most positive attributes of your standard Disgaea fare. This has probably been the best part of the game to me. I’ll most likely be replaying this game for the New Game Plus content because of how much I am genuinely enjoying this game’s story.
The reason I keep comparing this game to Disgaea is because this game quite honestly feels like Disgaea’s precursor. The purification system which cleanses entire panels and causes status ailments for enemies if you cleanse a multi-colored panel that has enemies on it is almost certainly the precursor to geoblocks in Disgaea. The leveling up character attributes based on weapons giving attribute enhancements feels like the precursor to character skill upgrades and item world innocents. The Dark World is almost certainly the precursor of Item World. All of this feels more limited, less carefully designed, and it seems to emphasize randomization of levels. The need to kill your allies repeatedly by replaying old levels to open a Dark World portal can be repetitive and it will likely grow tedious for me, but I can appreciate the ambition behind the idea because I’ve fully experienced its more corrective effects. The only other gameplay quirk that is annoying is that I have to return characters to the character portal on the map before re-assigning their movements, if I’ve changed my mind on how I want them to be moved for the turn. Nevertheless, the pros outweigh the cons. The combo system in this game is fantastic, the ability to level up skills based off weapons attributes is so much fun for a variety of reasons, and having the option to enhance a weapon based on its level and the previous weapons being sacrificed make a lot of sense. I enjoy the demon recruitment via purification a lot more and it makes more sense from a story perspective than some of Disgaea’s option content modes to enhance your party’s skills and damage output.
Overall, I definitely feel this game is an underrated gem and worth a try for anyone on the fence about it. I’m having far more fun with this game than I ever did with Disgaea 6 and I currently like it better than Makai Kingdom. This feels like Disgaea 0 and like far more of a Disgaea game than Disgaea 6 could ever be. I am so happy that I bought the Switch collector’s edition of this game.