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    Review – Caravan Stories – The Mobile JRPG that came to PS4.

    Developed By: Aiming Inc

    Published By: Aiming Inc

    Platforms: PS4 / Windows / Mobile

    Reviewed On: PS4 PRO

     

    Tadaaa! A Mobile JRPG game is now on the PS4.

    Lo and behold, the highly popular Mobile JRPG game, Caravan Stories, has just entered the PS4 market – Now available on the Japanese PS Store and Region 3 (R3) registered online stores. Amazingly, it also comes with an English language pack! Caravan Stories is a free-to-play game and features in-game microtransactions.

     

    Will a Mobile RPG game work on the PS4?

    I’ve always imagined that for a Mobile RPG game to work on the PS4 or the console market as a whole, the game would need to undergo a serious overhaul just to meet the expectations of the console crowd. And I’m just talking about the conceptual designs here, not the game mechanics, graphics, etc, in-depth yet.

    A mobile game developer generally focuses on ‘User Convenience’ as one of the main factors while designing the game, and this is widely understandable considering the smaller screen on the mobile phone and the limited time one can afford to spend on-screen playing a game.

    As such, most, if not all, of the mobile RPG games feature background or offline running, this ensures certain activities remain in progress even when the user is away. Mobile games rely heavily on this to keep their players from tiring themselves out, and to create a psychological lure in the form of a ‘sense of progression’ to encourage the players to come back.

    There’s also the Autoplay function that plays the game for the player, just to save them from “wasting their time” and lets them focus on the result alone. Such is the mobile scene today, where the gameplay experience is just a simulation and is designed around Results and Loots. Not so much on actually playing the game.

    On the PS4 however, will this work? I have always leaned towards the side that it won’t. The PS4 and other mainstream platform crowd are in my opinion, people who want more active participation and control over their gameplay. This is something that a Mobile RPG game cannot offer at the moment, not yet at least to the level that meets our expectations.

     

     

    So I started Caravan Stories on my PS4.

    Despite my reservation on the port-over, I was looking forward to this game because I’ve not played the mobile version before and this move seems like a monumental shift in inter-platform gaming. When the character creation screen came, one could choose as an Orc, Human, Dwarves, Elves, Gessy, and Lizardmen. After choosing my hairstyle, hair colour, type of face, and putting in the name for my female dwarf, the game starts.

    After a brief scene, the combat tutorial was next and I paid special attention here because combat tutorials are important right? As it turns out, the combat tutorial is only to tell us that combat in this game is automated and that we have very limited control over it.

    What the hell…’ I thought to myself. But know what? Fine. Dragon Quest XI had auto battles too and I thoroughly enjoyed the game nonetheless.

    When the game started me with a quest, I noticed something peculiar that I’ve never experienced before in a PlayStation 4 game. Apparently, quests can be.. automated too. You can literally click on the Auto button and your character will auto-run it.

    A mobile RPG game with Auto functions is usually accompanied by another nightmare feature I hate the most. The Action Point / Stamina feature – This feature limits the number of activities you can participate in a day before it recharges slowly over time or recharges immediately by using an in-game currency that you can buy with real cash. To my horror, I was right. The game does feature the AP/Stamina system.

    It became crystal clear to me at this point that Caravan Stories is just a Mobile Game ported over to the PS4 in its entirety. Players who venture into this game are expected to fully embrace a totally different gaming environment that is the mobile gaming culture.

     

    Graphics and Visuals.

    I’ve seen worse looking RPG titles on the PS4 than Caravan Stories, but it’s still obvious that the game could look much better if the game was originally designed for the PS4. As a mobile port-over however, I guess this is as far as they can push it. The game still looks decent by the way, furthermore, the anime-ish nature of the graphics make it easy to look past the visual flaws.

     

     

    For a game with automated battles, I was hoping to be treated with some nice visual effects at least but it was not to be. Fights are already messy, to begin with, and the lack of eye-catching visuals really make the entire scene look dull when there’s nothing that stands out. In short, skill animations and visual effects during combat in this game are just sad and uninteresting to look at.

    Choppy framerates are a norm in this game, especially when navigating the menu. I am aware that the game is still in its beta stage, but since this is an open-beta right before the launch, I am not sure if they can address this issue by then, or if they intend to.

    Like most mobile games, most of the activities and contents are found and triggered via the Menu, so imagine having 50% of your gaming experience negatively affected by choppy, bad, framerates. What really bothered me is that this issue should be immediately obvious when the developer conducted their in-house testing and that it requires urgent remedy in order to provide a smooth menu navigating experience. For the more quality demanding console crowd this issue is definitely high on their hit list should they want to nitpick.

     

    Audio and Voice Overs.

    The fantasy-themed music that constantly surrounds the game is relaxing but otherwise, offered nothing great during my gameplay. The sound effects are just so-so, and seeing that the Mobile RPG genre typically relies on impactful visuals and audio aesthetics to glue the crowd to their title, I was surprised to see the game’s underwhelming performance in these areas.

    The voice-overs in this game are not done in full but I still appreciate the partially voiced dialogues of my characters. Having a voice gives them personality, and this is especially important for a Role-Playing Game, you need personalities to Role-Play.

     

    Characters and Deck System.

    Caravan Stories is a hero collecting game. Every player strives their best to collect as many heroes as they can to strengthen their deck and so far I’ve not seen a limit to how many heroes you can own. An educated guess would be unlimited.

    There are 5 main races at the moment (Human, Orc, Elf, Dwarf, and Gessy), with one more coming soon (Lizardmen). You pick one to start your game with and I should remind you to choose carefully because unlike any other RPG games, you cannot change your starting character after but this would not matter. Due to the nature of the game, your ‘main character’ only serves as a storyteller since the campaign revolves around your main character. Once you unlock other heroes, you can actually ignore your main character entirely and just use your stronger heroes for combat. There are only several campaign specific missions where you must use your main character and his/her companion but such missions are usually easy.

    Some of the heroes you can unlock.

    Reincarnation is a mode you’ll unlock as you progress, it allows you to select a different race to play as and experience a different, race-specific story. Everything you have collected and unlocked up to this point will be carried forward, so you’d still own everything. As you journey in the game, you’ll come across other heroes that you can unlock upon completing their main questline. Doing so will boost your lineup and options tremendously should you look forward to be playing this game for a long time.

    You can bring up to 6 heroes into combat at once. Unless it’s specifically mentioned, you can bring whichever 6 heroes you prefer and the game allows a pre-fixed party and formation of up to several decks for different needs and purposes. Personally, I’d have a full DPS lineup when running timed dungeons and a traditional party of Tanker, DPS, Healer, Mage, for Boss Fights.

     

    The Stamina (Action Point) System.

    The Action Point/Stamina system kicks in after you progress to a certain stage in the game. Each of your characters has 100 stamina points and each combat would deduct 1 point as an activation fee. It takes 2 minutes for every point to regenerate.

    Going into combat with a character whose stamina has reached 0 will affect your exp and loot collection. There are some in-game items that can be earned by questing that would replenish your stamina or alternately, you can also purchase (with real money) some gems that would instantly replenish your stamina too.

    Here’s the good news. A mobile game typically applies the stamina system on the player themselves rather than on the game characters, meaning the 100 stamina points would apply universally across all characters as a whole and is deductible per the player’s action. In Caravan Stories, however, the stamina applies individually on your heroes and is only deductible by the character’s action. If you exhausted 100 points on all 6 characters on your deck, you can simply replace them with other heroes and keep on farming for loots. This is why I said unlocking more heroes is important in this game.

     

    Combat

    Battles are conducted right before your eyes but in a simulated manner. You are given very little control over your heroes but it won’t make any big difference to the outcome. Players can only move their heroes around the battlefield for strategic positioning and do some manual skill casting but this would only benefit veteran players who know what they are doing. For beginners, it would be meaningless as it makes no difference.

    You don’t have any meaningful control over your heroes.

    As a hardened console player for so many years, I can never get used to the idea of a fully simulated battle with little to no contribution needed from my input. Once the thrill of engagement is taken away, the only thing left is a complete waste of time watching the AI fighting each other.

     

    Crafting, Building, and Upgrading.

    If you are someone who enjoys building facilities, upgrading them, or crafting your weapons and such, then this game may appeal to you. Except, there’s a live timer for almost everything you do in this regard. Want to build something? Wait for 5, 10, 15, 25, 30, 60 minutes. Want to upgrade something? Wait for it just the same.

     

    Look at the timer *facepalm*
    source : memecenter

    There are ways to make the process go faster. By using a scarcely available item that would reduce the time by minutes, or you guessed it, earn or buy gems with real money to instantly complete it.

    Feeling tired of waiting? Players can also buy the in-game loot boxes with real money to stand a chance of getting some really higher tier weapons and gears. Typical aye?

    Try your luck with the Gacha?

    Sizeable Open-World.

    Depending on which world you visit, you’d see buildings with architectural designs corresponding to the particular racial culture the world is associated with. A Dwarven world, for example, boasts a steampunk theme everywhere you look, Elven world is typically gracious in style, and Orc’s world is brutish in nature.

    The game also boasts a huge open-world that is littered with mobs and collectibles. This is where the auto-run really shines because you need to be running between maps a lot and being able to auto-run to your destination allows you to pull out your menu and handle your crafting, building, upgrading, leveling-up, etc, giving you the freedom to multitask without wasting time.

     

    The Guild System.

    Here’s a special shoutout to my guildies in the Mistral Guild! (Yes, we have a website!). And I’ve been told by my guild master that I must mention ‘My Guild Master, Minas, is kawaiii’

    The Guild system features its own guild chat channel that allows player-to-player communication via text communication but no voice channels. Among the things guildmates can do together is dueling each other, helping each other out by requesting/sending materials one needs, guild specific missions, and a guild leaderboard. Helping guildmates would earn you a guild token, which can then be used to purchase something from the guild shops.

    As I’ve said, there are many Japanese players in the game and they mostly write in Japanese. I was lucky to get into a guild where its Guild Master speaks English. As for the rest of my mates, we understand each other by using the built-in text translator. The translation is primitive but understandable.

    Press Triangle to translate the Japanese Text to English

     

    Controls.

    This is my biggest beef with the game. The controls are junk and are frustratingly bad. I was later advised by my guildmates that it was because I was playing it with my DualShock 4 controllers and that playing it with a Keyboard and Mouse would be better. They were right, everything suddenly changed for the better after I made the switch. No more super slow camera turning, no more awkward menu navigation by having to tap so many times just to get to one place, no more getting stuck in-between navigation and lagging myself to death.

    Here’s the ironic question I found myself asking. ‘Why am I playing a Mobile Game on my PS4, using a Keyboard and Mouse?’

     

    To sum it up. This is what I really liked about this game.

    • It’s a fresh experience although not the best. A Mobile Game ported over to the PS4 with everything good on the mobile platform brought over. Although it didn’t result in the most positive outcome, I still welcome the attempt.
    • I really want to hate the Stamina system but I can see the reason for having it here. The stamina system serves as an active encouragement for the players to use and explore other heroes.
    • Translation System is built-in and is really useful!
    • Tonnes of stories to be heard and lotsa heroes waiting to be unlocked.

     

    What I really disliked.

    • The developer really shouldn’t have implemented such a heavily microtransactions reliant module for a game that is on the PS4.
    • Main quests are fine but the side quests are just placeholder qualities.
    • Lack of memorable visuals, sound effects during combat makes the supposedly most interesting part of the game looks dull.
    • Auto-combat is boring to look at and offers no genuine chance for players to participate.
    • CONTROLS OH MY GOD THE STUPID CLUMSY CONTROLS!
    • Overall technical quality of the game is bad. Laggy, Choppy, Crashy, Primitive.

     

    Verdict.

    Yes this is a mobile game, but it came over to the PS4, therefore, I judged it based on a PS4 player’s perspective. From this perspective alone, the game failed to demonstrate itself as a game worthy of attention. This is not to say the game itself is bad, rather it is just the technical aspect that really puts me off. I can understand the microtransactions reliant business module but I don’t agree for it to be implemented at such a scale that it affects our gameplay. If you want to make a game available for free, then make it sincerely so. There are other games out there that offer microtransactions in a way that doesn’t hamper our game time. This game is going towards a Pay-to-Win module and I’m not sure if that is a culture we want normalised on the PS4 platform.

     

    Final Score – 3.5/10

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    Zozi
    Zozihttps://bunnygaming.com
    The Editor-Mischief, or if according to the signature in his email, 'in-chief', of BunnyGaming.com. Loves complaining about FIFA games but still buys them every year nonetheless. Prefer subs over dubs. Got his ass kicked in Bloodborne and swore never to play it again.

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