Worst RPG of the Year
We're not sure what we did to the universe to warrant having to play Mugen Souls Z. Before pushing ourselves through this otaku-laden atrocity we couldn't believe that a video game featuring heavy JRPG mechanics, giant fighting robots, self-parody, demons, and world conquest could be so thoroughly unenjoyable. The terribleness doesn't really sink in until the one-hour mark, where you're exposed to your first twenty minute dialogue sequence between two scantily-clad characters who say nothing to move the plot forward but actively reference how sexy they are. Having played a number of longwinded RPGs, the dialogue alone didn't faze us. More concerning was the design of these self-proclaimed "sexy" characters — all of whom looked and acted no older than the age of twelve. This aesthetic choice may not be a deal breaker for everyone, but it certainly makes us feel dirty.
Mugen Souls Z tries its hardest to make you loathe your time in the 12 Stars Galaxy. The player will spend most of it being barraged by numerous combat sub-systems, unnecessarily bloated dialogue segments, unhelpful tutorials, and exceedingly vapid hijinks. The few enjoyable aspects of the game are offset by a number of poor design choices and perverted pandering veiled as fan service. And we're not a group that's easily shaken by sexy outfits or double entendres. Playing Mugen Souls Z is an uncomfortable foray into the depths of moe and intentionally sexualized characters. We'd be lying if we said it didn't leave us with some degree of post-traumatic stress. Staff members who played it are doubtful they'll ever look at anime, Compile Heart JRPGs, or moe the same way again. Maybe that's a good thing.
Featuring one of the most unlikeable protagonists in any RPG ever, The Witch and the Hundred Knight's stagnant gameplay and distasteful story left a foul taste in the mouths of anyone unfortunate enough to play it. We have no idea what Nippon Ichi Software was thinking when it created this nightmare, but steer clear: it easily finds a spot among RPGamer's worst RPGs of 2014.
When Spiders announced that it would be developing one of the first RPGs appearing on this next generation of consoles (as well as being available for the previous), there was some cause for optimism. Its previously entries had been rather mediocre, but its latest release, Mars: War Logs, had indicated that the company could create a pretty worthwhile experience when keeping its goals and story a bit more localized. Unfortunately, with Bound by Flame that way of thinking was thrown out of the window when the company promised RPGamers an epic tale. The resulting tale is far from epic in any way, with most of the major events actually relegated to off-screen and the game churning out an astoningishly unsatisfying second half.
A gameplay system that, while functional, has been seen many times before with little change, and a setting that is woefully underdeveloped leaves very little to be desired. Unfortunately, the potential of an earlier-than-usual RPG treat for this console generation was ultimately squandered from a company that can do better, and the game can be considered a poor effort. A decent customization system and a pretty good soundtrack were never going to save things.
by Trent Seely, Adriaan den Ouden, Alex Fuller