When I picked up La Pucelle, I was drawn to the game by the word Tactics. It was also listed as a French RPG, so I really wanted to give it a go. I loved Final Fantasy Tactics, and was itching to play a game just like it. Upon checkout at Gamestop, the cashier laughed at my choice and wished me luck, pointing out it was a Mastiff game. Dismissing his sarcasm, I went home with my new game and popped it in to play, hoping for a new kind of Tactics adventure.
In the game, you are introduced to a cast of characters, whom are nuns at the La Pucelle Church of the Maiden of Light. The two main characters, Prier and Culotte, are orphans whose parents died long ago. They are guided by Alouette, a mentor of sorts to the young siblings. Culotte, Prier’s younger brother, narrates the opening sequence of the story, and much of the story from then on. These harmless little nuns have a big secret, however. They are demon hunters! Though they preach the Gospel of the Maiden of Light, they fight demons to keep the world at peace behind the scenes. Through unraveling the story, the team finds out that their rival church, The Church of the Holy Mother, has their own dark secrets...
I have to commend this game for the story; it is very deep and involved. Throughout the chapters, it is possible to get different endings. Miss out on an element, and you can get the bad ending. If you happen to do some deep investigating, you may wind up with the good ending and rewards, plus that warm, fuzzy feeling for doing the right thing. It is also nice to see how well the characters develop over the course of the storyline. Much of their past is revealed, and the team has to overcome their own differences to work together and trust one another.
The characters are super quirky. Prier is a hot head, and aspires to be the next Maiden of Light. Although she is a nun, she often says some quite vulgar things while on the battlefield. Her cries range from “See you in Hell!” to “You suck!” and much more. One of her signature attacks, named “Coup De Grace” is a powerful kick between the enemies’ legs! Culotte is the exact opposite of his outspoken sister; he is quiet and rather shy. Unlike her, he thinks things through and tries to reason with his sister’s rash decisions. He also appears to quite obviously have a crush on Alouette. The mentor of the group, Alouette, is also quiet and tries to guide the youngsters down the right path. She can often be found scolding Prier, and sometimes even giving the girl good whack with her holy book about the head. I love watching the character’s exchanges, Prier and Alouette’s relationship is particularly funny. A whole chapter is devoted to the two’s relationship alone!
The graphics in the game are much like Final Fantasy Tactics: Advance. The characters appear as little sprites, and the world around them, as well as the battlefield is quite detailed. All of the monsters and demons you fight in the game are rather cute, many of them appearing to look similar to stuffed animals. Some of the types of monsters are just hilarious, such as the feared “Shroom Dragon”. My favorite part about the monsters is their names. Sometimes they are just silly, or appear as puns.
This game, like any other Tactics game, functions on a series of battles across many map layouts. You first place your characters, moving them to any blue square you want. You may then have them attack, use a special ability, item, or perform a command called “Purify”. This command has many uses. It may be used to purify and expel the dark energy portals (the diamond shapes that appear in various colors on the field) or perform it on a monster to attempt to convert them to your side. The more you purify the monster, the more likely it will be to join your team once it is defeated. These monsters can then be used by you to fight, just as the other units are. If you get tired of a monster, you may “Train” them harshly from the world map menu (sometimes harsh training causes them to run away) or trade them over in the Rosenqueen shop in Pot Au Feu City (All of the locations are named after food, namely, French foods.) to work for the dark side. The thing I like about the combat system in the game is that you can do actions in any order you want, you can move all the units and then make them attack together, or attack individually and use a combination of special attacks to finish an enemy off. If you line up characters beside one another, they can fight an enemy together! Alouette and Culotte explain the ins and outs battle system in a very detailed tutorial at the start of the game.
I love the music of the game. It suits it very well, and mostly gives you the feeling of the setting. In creepy forests, the music is a bit dark and foreboding. In the cities and other bright locations, the music is very uplifting and energetic. The characters and monsters also have voice overs that suit the character very well. The only complaint about this is that I truly thought Culotte was a girl until the first chapter was over. His voice and appearance made him look very girly to me.
La Pucelle Tactics is definitely a game worth your time. If you enjoy RPGs with long, involved stories and funny characters, this is definitely a game for you. It has a lovely French element, and it’s made me smile, cry, and laugh. Although it is shows a striking resemblance to Disagea, it is a game all its own, and the storyline blew me away by the effort put into making a good one. I fully enjoyed my time with it; it had just the right amount of challenge right where it should be. I am confident that any tactical RPG fan will love it to bits as well.