Breath of Death VII

Resurrect the classic era of RPGs with the retro parody RPG, Breath of Death VII: The Beginning. Join Dem the Skeleton Knight and his allies as they explore an undead world in search of the secrets of the past. 4-6 hour quest with multiple game modes & difficulty levels! Fast battles! Frequent LV-Ups! Branching character customization! Multi-character unite techniques! Laugh! Cry! Laugh some more!

Despite having played a fair number of RPGs, I do not consider myself a huge fan of the genre and yet I loved Breath of Death VII: The Beginning enough so as to type out a massive missive praising the game over at Kotaku. As noted in the linked text, the big appeal of Breath of Death VII is how streamlined it is with smooth and speedy combat, a brief plot with lots of humor, and limited random battles. The Dragon Warrior 2 look of the game is misleading as the game both presents a unique scenario not yet used in any RPG and the aforementioned gameplay innovations which make the game a joy to play. Given its high, warranted ranking on the most popular and rated tabs in the Xbox Indies section of the dashboard, I would think it's safe to assume anyone visiting this site will already own the game. However, for those who are new to Breath of Death VII, allow me to explain why it deserves attention.

The primary reason which makes Breath of Death VII a worthy purchase is its humor and entertainment value -- it is billed as a "Retro Parody Role Playing Game," after all. The game riffs on several RPGs and beyond, brimming with references which should entertain most video game fans. There are gags based on Earthbound, Symphony of the Night, Pokemon, Legend of Zelda and several others. Sometimes the reference is simply reflected in the name of a town or special move; other times the humor is found in dialogue or scenes more or less lifted from other games. I love how Dem, the somewhat typically mute JRPG hero of old, gets frustrated by his inability to speak at times. While I would not call any of it laugh out loud funny, it's more than enough to keep a smile on the player's face as he or she journeys onward.

The adventure unfolds at a fast clip thanks in large part to rapid level advancement and limited random battles. It doesn't take much to level-up in Breath of Death VII, and after a handful of battles the player will be granted the option to raise a character's stats and add new abilities via a choice of two somewhat random options. There are active abilities which will grant new attacks and passive ones which will add bonuses and whatnot throughout a battle. It's a happy mix of being able to tailor one's character while still not dragging things out with point distribution tables and helps diminish the grind of these sort of games. The limited random battles are a godsend as well, and I love being able to see the number of battles left before I can roam about at my pleasure. Yes, a handful of other games attempted to place limitations on random battles but none with the blunt fervor of Breath of Death VII, letting the player know at all times exactly how many fights remain (but also including the ability to instigate a battle at any time as well).

Likewise, the battles are a good bit more complex and interesting than the Dragon Warrior graphics would lead one to believe. Since Dem and friends are all dead (something revealed immediately in the game), death itself isn't a big deal. It's only when the whole party is knocked out where the player loses; after a battle, any battle, the "dead" are revived, and everyone's health is fully restored. This would seem to make the game a cakewalk, but enemies can easily gang up on members, making battles against larger and/or stronger mobs dangerous. Players can't just mindlessly mash Fight and expect to get through the game without a scratch, particularly later in the game. There are also bonus combo damage and unite team-based attacks to consider, making it a good bit more advanced than it would seem.

Breath of Death VII surprised me with its quality. It was more fun than I expected going in and is a bonafide, satisfying RPG with enough modern flourishes to keep it from feeling as old as Erdrick himself. It won't win RPG of the Year at any year end awards show, but Breath of Death VII managed to do something no other 2010 release could which is to keep me entertained and glued to my seat throughout the journey. It may not have the graphics of Mass Effect 2, the hype of Final Fantasy XIII, or the innovations of Resonance of Fate, but, unlike those games, it was a complete pleasure playing from start to finish and highly recommended as a result.

July 11, 2010
April 22, 2010 | 80 points
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