Also, these impressions are from after completing the True/Good ending/route, so my comments on the story are also towards that route.
More spoiler-based comments in a different post.
|No, it's not an eroge|
I didn't have a problem with the previous game's story, so I can't say if it got better or not, but in general, it was a considerably satisfying story. There weren't really anything specific that stood out bad to me.
A great thing is that compared to the previous game, the Good End is completely sweet. No bittersweet-ness. Everything is settled. Not only with the current game's party, but IV's protagonist also gets more closure with Jonathan and Walter, which is great.
As always, the story itself is around humans against the gods and demons. Lots of that philosophical and religious beliefs and the humans' powers involving that. Quite enjoyed it.
Favorite female character is Toki, Favorite male character is Dagda, BTW.
One complaint some had from the previous game was that while you had partners, it didn't really feel like it. And at times, they would be idiotic and make the enemy smirk, pretty much resulting in your demise.
The partner system has been greatly improved. For one thing, you have many more choices for partners and they can do much more now. You can also switch at any time (of course, not in battle), depending on what you need.
On a character-development side, the game focuses a lot more on your bonds with your party. You have partner topics, where characters send messages to you in different parts of the game, and they talk during various situations.
I chose the hardest route (obviously, right?), so I will be referring to the balance with this difficulty. Although I somewhat felt "meh" that just a bit of mess up could cause your party to require some major healing in just normal encounters, it was a really good balance. The bosses were really hard in general, some even requiring me to create new demons JUST to fight them.
But at the same time, if you plan your strategy well, you can still win. It never took me more than 3 tries for any boss, except one early-on boss that will teach you all about how scary bosses can be...
It's a challenging, but also perfectly doable difficulty. Really good. Like for the last boss, I barely barely won on my 2nd try. My protagonist had died, meaning I could no longer revive him, and my remaining three demons had to deal the final blow. I used my last Great Chakra (heals MP of entire party) on the boss too. Such a close, but exciting fight.
Skills-wise, there has also been a lot of changes.
Light and Dark elements are no longer just OHKO moves. Broken skills like Antichthon now require smirking in order for its' extra effect to activate. Several skills now require smirking for additional effects.
Monster-wise, there is more variety now. This is especially thanks to the fact all monsters have affinities to different elements now. So telling your snowman to use Fire attacks now will result in weaker damage, because of his negative affinity with Fire element. And such.
There are also several skills that are specific to certain monster, unable to be moved to a different one during fusion.
Several of the new demons from the previous game come back, redrawn. Some that didn't look that bad in the previous game are fine either way, but you definitely see improvements in other demons, such as Medusa. Overall, the touch of the art has been more centralized, so there aren't so many "Wow, this definitely was drawn by someone else" moments.
Alice doesn't have a "Die for me" special line anymore! WHYYYYYY!
If you liked the previous game, you will definitely like this one. There have been many improvements with little or no downgrades. The official site (blog) itself even had a post on the many improvements it made from the previous game, which shows that they do have improvement as one of their focuses on this game.
The dark atmosphere, good balance, good story, good characters... If you want an RPG, I would definitely suggest this game.