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Reigniting My Love of JRPGs: Kricket Reviews

Theia: The Crimson Eclipse has been in my back catalog of rpgmaker rpgs for a little over a year now, having downloaded the pre-Orihalcon edition then deciding to start all over on the Orihalcon release. What I lost was forty-two hours of trial and error and not being diligent enough to care about my play-through and what that became was a seventy-one hour thrill ride from start to finish with a game that helped rejuvenate my love of the genre right as I was on the cusp of burn out. In fact, I was so motivated to make a review that I took screenshots well into the end-game and making notes on specific points I'd like to bring up in a review.

As per my norm, I'll be covering Presentation, Mechanics, and Story. My story section will be light of spoilers but there will be moments vaguely referenced to make some points to the other sections. So without further ado, let ol' Kricket regale you with his time with this marvelous marvel.


Upon the outset of the story, the mood is bleak, weary with a fragile veneer of hope somewhere underneath. Earthy tones and mechanical grays and silvers litter the landscapes you'll come across, and you'll find familiar assets being transformed to -feel- like something new and of it's own. Couple that with well chosen soundtrack pieces used at what felt like just the right time, and the package, overall, carries itself well. From Roalie to late game's Merzen, you'll find detail tucked away everywhere, and every NPC, while not always offering riveting dialogue, offered something worth nothing more often than not. It's a world stuffed to it's brim with lore and detail that one could overlook on their first run (because I know I did) and repeat play-through will have you noticing something new.

Some story segments have drawn 'cutscene' pieces spliced in that strongly reminded me of how early Phantasy Star told it's story, and while used sparingly, it was effectively used in a way where it didn't stop the flow of the story being told.

Combat is side-view and the sprites for the cast are awesome to look at, if a little janky at times in the end-game. The sprites have clear identifiable features and even though the NPC sprites overlapped sometimes in style, it never felt too jarring to remove you from any immersion you may be undergoing when you come across them.

The only time I felt a bit mixed about the presentation, as a whole, was when I was on the world map and seeing places that my brain swore had some relevance to the world and being sad that I couldn't explore more side-locations for loot or gear. Too, the pacing of the story is evened out across several chapters, and having the team be split until the very last chapter was something I thought I'd hate moving forward but instead, it helped me get acquainted with the characters and it more or less teaches you their roles and what they'll be best used for, even if it's not too clear how useless some could be in the end game.

But as interesting as the locations that inhabit the game are, where it shines are it's mechanics and the level of customization that's given to you.


Theia boasts of numerous mechanics for players to enjoy – weapon upgrades, Atlas shards to slot into them, skills you can upgrade, exceed techniques (think Limit Breaks) and the “Mastery Bar”, camping and hunts. I'll tackle them in the order listed because right away you'll be introduced to the first few within an hour of playing the game.

Weapon Upgrades are as the name says – you find ingredients needed, and with a bit of dosh, boom – you've a stronger weapon. Anyone familiar with crafting in other games, or even Final Fantasy 8's weapon system, will find this more or less the same. Be mindful of your late-game weapon upgrades because not all weapons are worth upgrading for the sheer numerical increase alone but rather the final weapons, with their dual-slotted capabilities, are the ones you should upgrade first if you can. Sometimes you'll find yourself not finding the items immediately and that can be frustrating, but I'll tell you how to circumvent that shortly.

Atlas Shards are where you'll find the bulk of your weapon customization, but early on you might find this a bit lack luster as really good shards will always have some drawback. End-game shards won't have nearly as much, if any, downsides and it boils to utilizing what you have as you go until you can find (or buy) better ones. In relation to the weapons section – some weapons don't have slots for atlas shards, while some only have either an offensive or defensive one, with all the final weapons having both. Upgrading your weapons -does not- offer more slots, which is why if you're not a min-maxing sort like myself, you'll want to be patient and pick your upgrades wisely. Granted, you can go all in and overpower as soon as you've the means, but -

Combat wouldn't be as rewarding if you did that. Each main cast member has four skills you can power up with ability points, and with each level, you gain an increase to it's effectiveness but also an increase to it's cost, so again, gauging when to level these up will always help you in the long run. A personal preference would be to always power up healing and buffs over attacks because they'll help you more than flat-out using attack skills ever will. I found that the combat in this was surprisingly faster than most 2k3 games, which means even grinding for levels or drops won't take that long. If you're the frugal type, pay -close- attention to what enemies drop what and farm those – you'll be thankful you did and your wallet will be fatter, longer.

Mastery is akin to what some players might see in games like Star Ocean where at certain intervals, you'll gain passives or buffs to your party. Each character have a different means to adding to the Mastery bar, all told to you via in-game stat screens, and it's usually either attacking and using skills. Different levels (there are 3) offer different levels to perks, with level one sometimes having downsides and level two and higher having none to having bonus perks. As the game progresses, you'll find plenty of Mastery abilities to use, and while some find less use in the end game, they're viable at least until mid-game. Also, the higher your mastery, the more you'll gain post battle depending on the type of Mastery affinity the characters have, so going above your set ability never hurts.

Camp, on the other hand, is where you'll spend downtime with your characters and I encourage you to camp often after each major story-beat and talk to your characters because it's here you can have them gain some stat boosts or even new skills. Also, you'll find yourself having a Merchant tagging along through your journey, and if you invest into his shop, you'll have your very own dispensary for items, atlas shards, and -materials-. It's nice that this is a feature, both camp and the merchant, because it's these extra touches of interactions with the characters that helps flesh their character out between the chapters. Granted, this can only be done when Seth is leading the party, but that's not a major concern as it's how he and the others react to one another.

Hunts can be undertaken in major cities and offer harder than average enemies that drop rare Masteries, equipment and Atlas shards, and they should be taken as soon as you can, and done whenever you think you're strong enough. Preferably when the party size is at least three our more, but some hunts can be done with even smaller parties if you plan your battle plan well enough. It's really a 'at your own pace' mechanic, so it's not too stressful.

There's more I could go into as far as side content (trophies, gaia shard collecting, 'action figure' gathering, etc) but that's something you should invest time into but I will say – there's an arena in addition to that, so you'll definitely have plenty to do if you're into being a completionist.

Now, this next section will cover basic plot elements and impressions of the story, and it'll become more vague after chapter five, due to....circumstances in said following chapters.


From the outset, like I stated earlier, there's gloom abound with a thin line attached to hope. This common theme follows the group throughout the game like an irritating rain cloud that decides it'll pour on their parade at the worst possible moments, and they're left to pick up the pieces afterward. Especially when you see the toll it takes on the main character, Seth. If ever there was a 'poor bastard' vote to be given to an rpgmaker protagonist, it'd be him.

The plot is fed to us in evenly paced pieces – from why he's running from the kingdom he served, to being roped back in, to the greater conspiracies he and his team will unravel as it goes – things aren't as they appear on the surface and this nagging mystery thread through the game and it's various kingdoms is perhaps the strongest driving narrative, right behind it's cast and the way they're forced to endure some horrible circumstances. Each character has their own path in life, and most of them have side-quests in the late game that wrap up their stories in what I feel is a 'gray' area – because many of these characters lose a lot through the course of the game and some of them face their own demons as they go – some not internally either.

All of this is set against a backdrop of a world struggling to regain it's footing with an energy crisis and a treaty that seems to be doing more harm than good, along with some extraterrestrial forces that want to treat Ariathale as a second home but for suspect reasons at best. What eventually comes of this is coming facing to face with an eldritch being that, for the most part, effectively works as the 'faceless villain' that drove other villainous characters to commit the actions they commit.

But right at the end, the game manages to do what I was hoping it would – each character breaks from the gloom to ignite their hopes, gather them together, and they survive. Well. Not all of them, but I won't say who. And the ending 'final' battle had me gawking at my computer screen because it was pay-off after pay-off from plot threads I swore would stop at their side-quests but no, there was more for everyone, even if it was just a little bit.

I wound up with Ending A, and the way it wrapped up for everyone felt right. People had moved on, and outlived their traumas and carried those scars with them, each telling their own story.

At the core of the games story, I want to say that message was stronger than the overarching plot itself – that enduring and overcoming insurmountable odds is sometimes the best outcome we could hope for.

In Summation

Is Theia: The Crimson Eclipse an amazing game from start to finish and a literal marvel of well-put together pieces? Yes. It's a near perfect sum of what makes JRPGs good, trims off some of the fluff and stuffs extra content in it's place and gives us more to grasp onto. I highly recommend it and couldn't recommend it enough to people searching for a sci-fi fantasy epic that's sure to deliver on all fronts, even with the minor short-comings (janky animations, lack of variety in atlas shards early on that amounted to much, and the forced party mechanic could turn some people off even if I wasn't put off), and it's deserving a 4.5 out of 5.

I appreciate anyone who took the time to read this, and to the creator and everyone who helped make this game possible - a sincere thank you from me to you.


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Hi! Thanks a lot for the review! :D
I'm really glad that you liked so many things about the game! It has its flaws, but I guess I made a good job overall :)
Thanks again, and see ya around!
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