Ar Tonelico makes its way to the Playstation 3 in its third instalment named 'Qoga: Knell of Ar Ciel.'

Just by reading the title 'Ar Tonelico Qoga: Knell of Ar Ciel' you should be able to tell that a North American localization did its part providing a little fan series for the import deprived. Ported one year after it was released in Japan, "Qoga" isn't going to be for the casual gamers, although casual onlookers can still jump into the Rayvateil drama of war and dark secrets, it won't be as appreciated unless you have played at least one of the preceding "Tonelico" games. In a first glance you'll likely be happy to hear that 'Ar Tonelico' can now be booted up on the Playstation 3 console, but sadly as expected, the production lags. Although production values aren't everything, but the insufficiency of hardware upgrade certainly makes it harder to get into.

For the tale, the player endures the fate of Aoto, the typical hero that is thrown into playing the role as the saviour. After saving a girl from an attack outside his house, Aoto is daunted with task of protecting this young girl, Saki, who is also a powerful Reyvateil (basically a schizophrenic mage who isn't a big fan of clothing) Running from the angry (Clustanian) army who wants to capture Saki, a ragtag group of allies are formed as Aoto plays psychologist along with strong willed hero.

The narrative bounces around from serious and creepy tones with a little added humour to keep things light. In its own conceptual ideas, it works, if you accept the localization and cheesy, yet predictable bad voice-work. Also it should be noted there is certain level of sexual innuendos and near-naked options for clothing, which is nothing new to fans of the series. I had to struggle to get through some of the slower parts of the tale, but just as, Ar tonelico: Melody of Elemia, the end payout usually works. Again, this is J-RPG and advised for only fans of that styled storytelling. I'd presume most RPG fans would know what they are getting into, but for all others, this one is for the more hardcore (J) crowd.

Additionally, there are multiple endings that require you to hit certain spots that you might not be aware of. This means you will miss out on certain aspects of the story, or even the true ending if you're not always on your toes. Even though I'm not a fan of playing with a FAQ, you might want to read over how to achieve the different endings before you start. This is bad game making, but something that we oddly have been accustomed too. To balance this out a bit, you can re-play certain spots after the game has been completed so you will be able to eventuality unlock all the endings.

Returning to much fanfare is the ability to dive into each girls "cosmopheres." This basically means jumping into each girls subconscious to deal with their internal issues. Activated at dive points, you will start to play favourites as you choose which Rayvateil to pursue. Of course this is tallied with the endings along with being an important component to crafting new items and moves. The cosmophere component might be the most appealing aspect of "Qoga," as it offers an interesting break from the typical gameplay, while adding the most weight to the tale. If you're into psychological mind benders, you'll probably enjoy these segments.

The other end of 'Ar Tonelico,' aside from the static screen navigating and static bubble reading is the focused on the combat. Although, this time around the combat has been switched up from a turn based formula to a action oriented system much like the “Tales” series. This will please some, although, I was a little disappointed because of the general lack of turn-based games lately. In the action things are stiff and even more annoying with pointless random battles popping up. The trick here, you have to protect the Reyvateil in the group who helps along with her song magic, which you activate by shaking the controller... and the more the Reyvateil performs, she looses clothing. While there is no full nudity, little is left to the imagination. On the other side, the A.I. allies will help you in your battles as you basically run around and button mash for half a second per battle.

NIS America does another gracious job by bringing the last 'Ar Tonelico' effort to the Western audience. While "Qoga" might not be overly memorable in the grand scheme of role-playing games, it does provides an engaging tale, if you can look past its dated mechanics and under-performing presentation. This one is for the fans and if you're one of them, "Qoga" should provide enough psychological babble to keep you locked up for hours.

  • depending on your expectation, combat has been changed
  • aside from the combat, the experience is kept close to the other games
  • a certain level of charm, filled with “adult” content
  • for fans of the series/JRPG fans only
  • if you're looking for turn-based combat, you wont find it here
  • localization is what you expected, and that's not always a good thing
  • objectives aren't always clear
  • underperforming on the PS3, its time for a graphical boost, thanks!

Quote: "This one is for the fans and if you're one of them, "Qoga" should provide enough psychological babble to keep you locked up for hours. "

Reviewed by DowntownJimmy | 04.18.11

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Ar Tonelico Qoga
Knell of Ar Ciel

NIS America



US Release
March '11



Players 1
HD 1080p
Dolby 5.1