Whenever someone mentions the word Free-to-play, or F2P for short, it usually sends a cold shiver down my spine. The F2P market is filled with atrocious pay-to-win and wait-to-play models that honestly make me wonder how these abominations thrive in the gaming eco system. While conceptually sound, most companies use this model to bleed gamers dry by tapping into that part of the brain that convinces us to buy ‘just one more’ premium item.
We’re forced to wait a certain amount of time for our lives to regenerate if we failed to complete a level. If we want simple items in a game, we have to dish out real money to buy them. Hell, I’ve even played RPGs where the most basic of healing items cost a dollar or 10 rand (The price of a loaf of bread in South Africa). So when I go into a F2P game, you will have to forgive me if I’m a bit apprehensive. Destiny of Spirits is Sony’s first expedition on the Vita into the world of F2P. Does this adventure into the social F2P jungle leave us with nothing but bug bites and rashes or does it hold some ancient treasure that’s just waiting to be discovered? Let’s find out.
You take on the role of a Spirit Master, one who has the power to controls spirits. There exists a dimension parallel to ours where these spirits reside. As always us destructive humans are unknowingly causing disruption and chaos. You see, all our negativity, jealousy and just generally all our bad habits and emotions are being channelled into this dimension which are corrupting the once pure resident spirits. So next time you decide to get angry at a waiter for bringing your café mocha latte five minutes late, just remember that you’re destroying the homes of innocent spirits. It is then up to you, with the help of pure spirits to bring order back to their world. There is nothing deep about the story really; it serves as nothing more than a gateway into the game’s mechanics.
This is a creature collection type of game in the wake of something more akin to Shin Megami Tensei than Pokémon. You summon spirits to fight for you in battle with each spirit belonging to a particular element. Each element has strengths and weakness with regards to the next. For example, if a spirit that belongs to the element of water attacks another belonging to the element of fire, the attacking spirit will do more damage in battle. So it then becomes important to have a very well balanced party consisting of the different elemental types. Spirits can also then be fused together to level up and become stronger.
You can take up to 6 spirits into battle but only three will be present on the battlefield with the others are in reserve in the event that a spirit is defeated. Being a social game you can also rent spirits from other players from across the globe to aid you in battle. Battles are turn-based with an ATB bar of sorts present. For those that don’t know what an ATB bar is, it was a mechanic introduced in Final fantasy 4 (The actual bar was first seen in Final Fantasy 5) wherein a character can only attack once a bar is filled up. There is no real input from the player as your spirits attack on their own, you can, however, choose who they attack. The only time there is any real input is when you want to activate a skill.
Each spirit has 2 types of skills. One is passive skills that are only activated if that spirit is chosen as the party leader, and it usually adds some sort of buff to your team such as increased speed or attack power. The other type of skills is used in battle. There is a another bar that is constantly filling up, and when it reaches a certain point you may activate one of your party member’s skills, ranging from attack to support. Battles are fun, if not a bit monotonous after long sessions.
There are three main types of currency in this game. Spirit Points which are gained primarily after battle and is used to rent spirits or when you fuse them together. Summoning Stones which are also gained through battle are used when you summon new spirits to your party. The summoning process is a bit unique though. There are three different versions of this game depending on where you reside in the world. It’s split up into Asia, Europe and America with each region having its own set of unique spirits. You can summon these spirits if you travel to that region (in real life), but that is obviously not plausible, have you ever heard anyone saying they’re just going to take a late afternoon stroll to Asia? This is where the game tries to be social by allowing you to rent spirits from other players or by gifting each other. It’s a neat lil mechanic that gives reason to be social with gamers from all over the world.
The last form of currency is obviously the game’s premium item which is called Destiny Orbs and they’re used to summon advanced spirits, instantly heal dead spirits etc. These items can be purchased on PSN and I’ve seen packages costing as much as R200 if you wish to retrieve a hefty amount of Orbs. So you can play the entirety of the game without ever being forced to use real money if you have a little bit of patience. These items are also given on some days as you receive login bonuses for checking in each day.
While I can’t criticize the game for having mechanics that will give you the urge to buy these items as it is an F2P game after all, but I have to commend them for not pushing it too far. I’ve played games before where if you die in the later stages of the game, your wait-gate which started out as 5 minutes per death ended up being 8 hours before the next live is given. While these inherent inner-workings of F2P games are annoying, Destiny of Spirits never felt obnoxious, and I could still enjoy the game without spending a single dime.
There are a few features which I didn’t cover too comprehensively such as how you get into battle, different types of battles and some of the social features, but needless to say, this game is worthy of your time, in short bursts.
Last Updated: April 10, 2014