Atlus has recently sent us a review copy of their upcoming action/RPG Dual Hearts. We've had the game for the past week and one day, out of sheer boredom, I decided to pop it in. I thought I'd just play the game for 30 minutes and go to bed (it was roughly 3AM at the time), but I ended up playing for a good 3 hours and went to bad smiling. Dual Hearts was a refreshing experience, and was incredibly reminiscent of SquareSoft's niche title Threads of Fate -- which is arguably the finest action/RPG on the PSOne. Published by Atlus, licensed and developed by Sony, Dual Hearts is an appealing game that has enough to do to keep most gamer's satisfied throughout the whole journey.
First off, the game's graphics are solid -- if a bit simplistic. Despite what you may have heard, or read, Dual Hearts boasts some pretty impressive visuals, complete with eye-candy. The game is made up of solid character models, coupled with pretty cool facial expressions (surprised, angry, saddened, confused, etc). They animate superbly well, with the exception of some clipping between the clothing and body. Every movement is fluid, and quite pleasing to look at. The textures can be simplistic and yet, pretty good looking at the same time. In some areas of the game, there will be textures that stand out -- specifically on the walls and the ground, as well. The lighting effects are well done, too. Each dungeon, or whatever area you are present in, is lit to near perfection, so the mood is set just right, thus the atmosphere is superb. And lastly the color palette is excellent, and really helps create the whimsical dream atmosphere that the game attempts to -- and successfully-- pulls off.
The gameplay isn't anything too deep, complicated, or really "Final Fantasy". In short, plain and simple, language; it's fun. The game is best described as a mix of Threads of Fate (once again, a damn fine PSOne game) and Brave Fencer Musashi. The combat (while somewhat cumbersome) is real time, and does feature a lock on option. If you must know, yes the lock on feature is borrowed from The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, and works almost as well. At first, fighting is a bit too easy and generic, but eventually you'll be given combos for your weapons --a spear and a sword-- which you weild simultaneously. Your weapons will upgrade and get enhanced the more you use them, which pretty much translates into more fighting. The story is hardly epic, so don't expect Final Fantasy or Chrono Cross, as you toss in that DVD of the game, because you will be disappointed. While not reigning dominant in the flash category, Dual Hearts is mostly substance as its story is very warm and light-hearted. Not to mention the game itself features a distinct feeling of being (as already mentioned) "whimsical" and that's a very welcome breath of fresh air. There's a lot to do in Dual Hearts. The game offers a lot of options to tinker with. Your weapons not only upgrade as you use them more and more, but you have supporting characters to help you along your quest in many, many ways.
Purposefully avoiding going into any serious depth (that is, of course, being saved for the review), Dual Hearts is an action/RPG I really do suggest looking into. If you were a fan of the PSOne SquareSoft action/RPGs, then Dual Hearts will suit you very well -- you'll wear it like your own skin. It's easy on the eyes and most importantly fun to play. The game characters are very likeable. Rumble, is the game's main character and Tumble (a "Maku" by definition) is the second protagonist. Tumble is a clumsy, but adorable little guy who plays a large role in the entire game. He is the supporting action character who will greatly aid you in the game. Take my word for it, Dual Hearts is an enjoyable title, that is worth investing time into.
9/10/2002 Arnold Katayev