Baroque (Wii)

A Disappointing Excuse For an Atlus Game

by Sarah

Game Baroque

Platform Wii

Genre(s) Role-Playing

Game: Baroque
Genre: Action/RPG
Platform: Wii, PS2 (Reviewed on Nintendo Wii)

I really don’t even know how to start, other than saying I have never been so severely disappointed in a game I was looking forward to reviewing in my entire time at Gamervision. Oh, I’ve played some stinkers, that’s for sure, but Baroque? An Atlus RPG for the Wii? This game should have been everything I wanted. Instead, it was a whole lot of garbage.

In Baroque, you take the role of The Protagonist, a nameless, speechless, amnesiac guy. Aside from that totally original characterization, there is almost nothing known about Protagonist. He apparently committed some kind of sin that he can’t remember, yet still feels guilt. The point of his quest is to journey into the Neuro Tower and atone for his sin, while saving the meta-beings.

Does that make any sense to you? Me either. Atlus is known for some pretty weird stuff (teenagers shooting themselves in the head repeatedly, some rather unflattering portrayals of religious figures), but this game is a mess from the very start. Maybe it’s the complete absence of story that caused me to lose interest almost instantly. Unless you’ve been following this game through development (which I did, sadly), you’ll be even more clueless about what’s going on than I was.

While you start out in some kind of outer world with no instructions on where to go or how to defend yourself, you’ll soon wander directly into the Neuro Tower, which is where you’re eventually supposed to end up. The problem is, there’s actually a training dungeon available that you should probably head to first. Too bad the Neuro Tower is directly in front of you when you start playing, while the training facilities are off to the side somewhere. Brace yourselves, because Baroque only gets more nonsensical as the game goes on.

For example, when you do actually find the training dungeon after meeting a quick and painful death in the Neuro Tower, you’ll find Coffin, who guards the training area. He also likes to use the word “goddammit” in literally every sentence, some of which are not translated too well from their original Japanese. Also in the outer world, you’ll find Archangel, who hands you a pitiful excuse for a weapon and tells you to go into the Neuro Tower. Why? Who knows?

The Neuro Tower is, essentially, a many-storied dungeon that gets darker and harder as you journey downward. You’ll encounter enemies like floating fish, weird shell creatures, annoying little bugs of some sort, and what look like baby sumo wrestlers, among others. A variety of crappy weapons are scattered about the Neuro Tower to use against foes (the weapon given to you by Archangel runs out of ammo in about five minutes), so you’ll usually end up beating these creatures with a stick until they die or, if you have no weapon, punching and kicking them.

There are some intriguing moments in Baroque, which usually occur when you encounter another character in the tower. It’s rarely enough to make you feel like the story is progressing, though. The time between these moments is filled with complete and utter mediocrity, which you’ll spend picking up random items off the ground and hoping that one of them will help you when you get triple-teamed by poisonous shell monsters.

The Neuro Tower wouldn’t be nearly as unpleasant if the combat was enjoyable, since that is how the majority of gameplay is spent. However, the fighting is just terrible. Attacks are mapped to the Wii remote, so you can either shake the remote or push a button to attack. A targeting system makes the combat a little easier, but it’s not at all deep: target, attack until dead, repeat. Also, if you happen to get killed, you wind up back outside the Neuro Tower, stripped of any levels or items you may have gotten, which is ridiculously frustrating.

It’s easy to see that Baroque was going for a distinct and unique art style, but unfortunately it has none of the graphical appeal that some previous Atlus games had. The weird, grainy look makes it seem more like something is wrong with your TV than an artistic vision. There’s just nothing stellar about the way this game looks. Dungeon floors are mostly bare and empty, devoid of serious details, and the characters themselves are not memorable in any way.

Baroque was such a personal disappointment because I am constantly singing the praises of Atlus and their games. I’m obviously not a blind fangirl, but I’ve had such good experiences with their games in the past, it’s hard to imagine how they could go so terribly wrong. Perhaps the fact that they only produced this game, not developed it, had something to do with it. However, Baroque was so not fun that I’m now doubting all of the upcoming Atlus games I was previously looking forward to.

If a dungeon-crawler with mediocre graphics, terrible combat, annoying characters, and no story sounds appealing to you, then you should definitely run right out and buy this game. However, in all seriousness, I can’t even recommend this at the “budget” $40 retail price. There’s nothing to draw you into this game, even if you’re a crazy Atlus fan, and no reason to play it unless you’re being forced to. I honestly wish I could say more positive things about this game after all of the raving about Atlus that I do, but I really can’t. Just stay away.



Related Articles:

Atlus Dungeon-Crawler Coming to PS2 and Wii

Atlus Coming to 360

Confirmed: Persona 3 FES Coming to the U.S.

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  • Coop

    I'm sorry this was so bad, goddammit. Guess you have to hate Atlas now.




  • Sarah

    GODDAMMIT! Persona 3 and Odin Sphere were still 2 of the best games of '07, too bad 2008 isn't shaping up to be nearly as good for Atlus.

  • Sean

    I watched about twenty minutes of this game. All I saw was the protagonist fight giant fish after giant fish. I didn't get it. I didn't like it.

  • loltim

    I hope the forgotten sin that you're atoning for wasn't giant-fish mutilation.

    Cause this massacre is a step in the wrong direction, I think.

  • Zantagor

    You know what this sounds to me.

    That the author has absolutely NO grasps on what a Roguelike is supposed to be. There is actually a storyline in the game, which is gradually filled by talking to the characters and completing the tower.

    Also, the weapon the Archangel gives you is one of the most powerful weapon in the game, and have a key role in the actual tower, but using it is entirely up to you :P

    Seriously, I sometime wish the reviewers would give the amount of time they took in playing the game before reviewing it before spouting nonsense about it.

    Also, death taking you back to level 1 and stripped out of equipment isn't new in roguelikes either, but the game is actually pretty lenient on that part because you can save between each floors, and you have the possibility to transfers objects back it the "real world" through the use of "Consciousness Orbs" (another hint, that the author barely played the game at all)

  • Mikey Hamz
    Mikey Hamz

    So a roguelike is supposed to be a shitty game?

    This just sounds like hours of frustration to me.

  • RigorMortis

    Honestly, this review is terrible. First, factual inaccuracies. Second, bitching about design elements that are STANDARD for the ROGUELIKE GENRE. SHOCKER.

    A proper review would have spend time scoring and describing the game while taking the conventions of its genre into consideration, whether the reviewer hated it or not.

  • Phoenix

    I don't know what to think about this game. I mean, it's obvious you hated it, but... it's still Atlus, and even though Ghostlight may not be involved this time it could still be great. I mean, Persona 3 is a wonderful game indeed, but you really need to get into it before you start liking it. Perhaps that's the case with this game too.

    ... The main problem I have here is that even used copies of Wii games are incredibly expensive. So I will probably give this a miss in any case.

  • Sarah

    I guess none of the reviewers who played this game "got it" then, because the scores top out at 40 out of 100 on metacritic (hey, that sounds about what I gave it!)

    But hey, at the end of the day, reviews are just opinions. Contrary to what is said, I did play the game for more than a few minutes, and I kept hoping that if I played more and more, I would eventually like it. I really WANTED to like it. It just did not have enough redeeming qualities to make it worth playing.

    If that's your thing, then go for it.

  • Nikkita

    what i find most interesting about this review is that sarah has been the biggest atlus advocate i know. if she couldn't even pretend to like the game, then there's a chance it's pretty unsatisfactory. as far as everything i watched from it, there's no way i'll be wasting any time on baroque. sorrrrrry atlus.

  • ObsidianTK

    It's really a pity, in my opinion, to see this game bashed liked this. My real issue with your review, Sarah, is your treatment of the characters and story.

    It is perhaps a symptom of being an English major, but what you see as a lack of story/characters, I see as a fascinating experiment in non-linear storytelling within a contained linear time-loop. You're meant to lack understanding of the world and the story, the game's mode of storytelling is an attempt to break the standard stereotype on how a game's story should be told. As you play through practically the same events over and over, both the future and the past of the loop becomes clearer. Rather than beginning at the start, and proceeding to the end in a linear fashion as most games do, this game begins somewhere in the middle, and the story unfolds both forward and backward in time as the game progresses.

    I think that perhaps the reason you found the story so distasteful is that you went into it expecting a something "normal," and got something crazy and experimental. It's sort of like going into a movie theatre showing The Fountain or Momento expecting to see Lord of the Rings. I don't mean any slight to you, it's just something a little more artistically directed than you may have been expecting.

    Speaking of gameplay flaws, however, I do agree with you on many of those points. The camera controls are hideous, and combat definitely feels clunky. Part of your complaints, however, I again believe may be due to a misunderstanding concerning the nature of the game -- Baroque is not an RPG, it's a rogue-like dungeon crawler. This doesn't alleviate its obvious guilt on the camera angle and combat issues, but it is a different sort of game. Compared to other rogue-likes, Baroque's penalty for death is actually rather mild; you can save practically any time, and unlike meaner rogue-likes, the game doesn't autosave when you die, so you can just reload.

    As far as losing everything, this happens when you win as well. Furthermore, there are orbs around the tower which allow you to transfer items to your next "life." I read it once compared to an RTS: "every map, you start again from square one with a small force, build it up, win and start over again, and yet the story continues progressing."

    I guess I'm one of those crazy "games as an art form" hippies, so I'm willing to overlook some of the graphics and gameplay flaws to appreciate the unique and novel approach to character and story developement the game takes.

    Lastly, on a side note, this game isn't actually by Atlus at all: it's by Sting, and is simply localized by Atlus USA. The American side of Atlus is actually involved in localizing a ton of different niche Japanese games that their Japanese counterparts were not involved in the developement of at all -- Odin Sphere is a great example, it's actually by Vanilla Ware, Atlus is just the localization team.

  • Sean

    @Obsidian: I feel like any game that keeps the player from understanding the world and/or the story is flawed, whether the game's creator meant for that to happen or not. This seems to be an apologetic excuse for poor game design, instead of something that was created to enhance the experience.

    I'm not averse to the idea of a game taking chances or attempting something experimental. However, if that is going to be the case, then the new paradigm needs to be explained or taught at some point early in the game. Otherwise, you end up with something like Baroque: the players' expectations are not met, and therefore, the game cannot be enjoyed.

  • 00.19

    Baroque ba-lows.

    seriously though, if this game was made by Sting, where were the rest of the Police during the making of this game, and how could they let him make this weak sauce? I'm sending out an SOS... for a better game! ka pow!

  • Coop

    @00.19: And I thought every little thing they did was magic...

  • Coop

    @00.19: And I thought every little thing they did was magic...

    @everyoneelse: You must be grasping at straws when your only argument in favor of a title is shouting its genre over and over again. An unfun game is an unfun game, no matter what genre it is. Saying that the "faults" can be pegged on the fact that it is a "roguelike" you can give any game a free pass due to its genre.

    This is Gamervision, not Roguelikevision, we review videogames, and base scores off of what we think of them as a videogame. If you are a fan of that type a game you are bound to enjoy it or, as Sarah said, "If a dungeon-crawler with mediocre graphics, terrible combat, annoying characters, and no story sounds appealing to you, then you should definitely run right out and buy this game."

  • Zantagor

    Well, to be frank the game is a love/hate one.
    More reviews are coming out, and the go between extremes, the lower end being 30/40%, the higher being between 70 and 80%.

    It's just funny, Gamespot gave it an aware for amazing storyline and music score, but also gave it the "Bad 1st impression" award.

    RPGamer and RPGFan also rated it rather positively.

    In the end, people who love Roguelikes will most likely love this one, for the others, they should rent it. The big problem is that the story really start to shine after the 4th or 5th complete tower runs. (the tower isn't only 16 floor deep, it'll grow bigger and deeper as you unlock events)

    But this is in the end a game that should require 2 scores, 1 for the usual crowd, and 1 for the fans of the genre. ;)

  • Mojo

    I like bunnies!

  • Zantagor

    Hehe, I haven't touched this game for a while (about a year), and restarted a new game yesterday.

    I already did 4 runs of the dungeon without dying..... (which is better than my last try, where I died quite a lot)

    now that I'm back into it though, the storyline is actually pretty interesting, but yes, it's can be hard to get into, especially since some bits of the storyline is only revealed if you die outside of the tower, something not a lot of people would do on purpose.

    I'm actually broadcasting the game this week ;)


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