Machina of the Planet Tree: Planet Ruler (PC) Review

By Athanasios 27.07.2015

Review for Machina of the Planet Tree: Planet Ruler on PC

Sekai Project is a company well known for the translation and distribution of Japanese visual novels, like Sakura Spirit, its sequel Sakura Angels, and the World End Economica series, amongst others. The American publisher chose to break away from that tradition and give a traditional RPG to the West side of the gaming universe. Strangely enough, there seems to be a lack of information for non-Japanese people, with the only - comprehensible - words that managed to leave the birthplace of manga and anime describing Machina of the Planet Tree: Planet Ruler as a science-fiction epic adventure, straight from the minds of the doujin circle of Denneko Yugi. Those thirsty for more, though, can keep on reading and see Cubed3's take on the subject.

Research in Cram Lanvelouche's futuristic world is no desk job. As an S-Class field researcher, his duty is to excavate "Attributes," artefacts from the ruins of a long-dead civilisation called the Old World, but doing so includes fighting with the nasties that reside in the various nooks and crannies of this mysterious place; nasties like small rats, blobs, bugs, and even intelligent machinery, age-old ancient monsters, and god-like entities - and all this with the help of a curvy, cat hoodie-wearing tomboy, a coy, turquoise-haired witch, and this young man's weapon, a stupendously large glove where a semi-serious, semi-wise-guy AI resides in. Yup, Machina of the Planet Tree: Planet Ruler is a piece of otaku material all right. The characters have a purposely over the top and colourful design, with some looking cool, some looking sexy, some looking cute, and some… just plain ridiculous - but in a good way!

Screenshot for Machina of the Planet Tree: Planet Ruler on PC

Clearly, this is a heavily anime-inspired JRPG, however, what kind of anime does it share a similarity with? Does it blend film noir, westerns, and comedy like Cowboy Bebop, cool mecha fights, funny slice-of-life situations and romance like Full Metal Panic, or deep existential questions with fantastic science-fiction like Ghost in the Shell? Unfortunately, this is more like the millions of generic anime and manga out there, something that, while not necessarily a bad thing, is not great either. Conversations between the main quartet (ginormous glove included) are rarely interesting plot-wise and never serious or dramatic enough to make the player really care about them. Hyperactive girl does something annoying, guy gets angry, cute youngster has crush on guy, guy feels awkward, soft-spoken girl is very serious, bad guy threatens in a way that actual evildoers never do so, and the list of stereotypes goes on.

The Hyperdimension Neptunia series is exactly like that, yet there is a very important difference: no one really cares about its plot, since it was just an exercise in genre satire, unlike here, where there actually is a storyline worth paying attention to, although it feels as if the developer has just sewn some sci-fi clichés together. Even worse, the plot is squashed between large amounts of boring random encounters - however, the battle system turns out to be quite good. Characters can use "Arts," which are techniques of various characteristics, pros and cons. The interesting part is that these can be chain-linked and raise damage output, as long as a move isn't repeated twice in a row, and since these cost… "Cost" points, a little bit of planning is required in order raise the multiplier as high as possible, before unleashing the most powerful - and costly - Art. Furthermore, the party can use items (which also need usefulness-depended Cost points), and - mostly supportive - magic spells called "Assist," which instead of Cost need TP, which is another kind of points that's very important.

Screenshot for Machina of the Planet Tree: Planet Ruler on PC

Pressing a certain key while selecting an Art makes it an Over-Art move, which is far more lethal, but drains 30 TP from a pool locked at 100 points max. Additionally, while these don't have a repetition penalty, once the TP drops below 10, the Irritation state is triggered and practically makes the character useless for one-to-two rounds. The most important mechanism, though, is Over-Tension, which can be activated when at full TP power and enables a higher combo count, which translates to a crazy amount of damage at the cost of becoming Irritated afterwards. These are all very important because enemies tend to have immense amounts of health points, which, quite honestly, feel like breadcrumbs compared to the vitality of bosses.

The encounter rate is way too high, and since enemies are not exactly that hard to beat, it all becomes a tedious chore. Bosses feel like a nice break from the monotonous gameplay because they require a far more strategic style to defeat them, mainly because of their extremely high amount of health, but, unfortunately, they aren't that great either. The main reason is that as the game goes on their constantly increasing HP doesn't make confrontations harder, just way longer, and, therefore, it all feels more like a test of endurance rather than skill. The thing is, fighting is pretty much all there is to do here, not to mention that apart from the initial "introductory" level, the structure is pretty simplistic.

Screenshot for Machina of the Planet Tree: Planet Ruler on PC

There is a hub-like area, where gamers must enter a handful of stages in order to fight a couple of bosses and unlock the "door" that leads to the final boss. Apart from fighting, which is really like 99% of this game, the only alternative being to search for excavation tiles where it's possible to extract various useful things that range from items that can be used in battles, to material for crafting better weaponry - and since these tiles refill when the party spends the night at the Inn, finding most items is not exactly hard, just tedious. Generally, Machina of the Planet Tree: Planet Ruler had a lot of potential that was thrown out of the window way too soon. The plot and characters look promising, but they end up being forgettable, the visuals are one part anime-awesomeness, one part extremely low quality (even for a title locked at a 640 x 480 resolution), and, finally, while the battles system is extremely well-done, the battles themselves are tedious to the point of lethargy.

Screenshot for Machina of the Planet Tree: Planet Ruler on PC

Cubed3 Rating

5/10
Rated 5 out of 10

Average

Machina of the Planet Tree: Planet Ruler's level of inconsistency is unparalleled. The anime look and sound is awesome but gets destroyed due to the mundane level design, the lack of variety, and a quality that would be great for a handheld such as GBA, but is downright ugly on a PC monitor. The almost Final Fantasy-esque plot is quite interesting at first, as is the main character quartet, yet soon it all becomes way too predictable, forgettable, generic, and anything but immersive. Last but not least, the extremely well-implemented battle system, which makes strategic play possible (something a tad rare in the genre), can't avoid getting crushed under the weight of the unforgivably monotonous, frequent, and long battles that must be endured.

Developer

Sekai Project

Publisher

Sekai Project

Genre

Turn Based RPG

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  5/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

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