As of October 24th select European and North American PlayStation Plus members were invited to join a closed Destiny of Spirts in order to help improve the experience. For those unaware, Destiny of Spirits is a free-to-play, location-based, social RPG game for the PlayStation Vita and is developed by SCEJA. Players are tasked to work together cooperatively in a turn-based RPG style action to battle evil Chaos spirits.
Now jumping into beta you’re thrust direct into a pretty lengthy and rather confusing tutorial which sets the game up to be far more complicated than it truly is. Basically it just gets bogged down in over-explaining simple ideas and systems. It’s a huge issue and one that the developers clearly seem to be aware of. because after you have completed the tutorial you are asked to participate in a survey to offer feedback. If Destiny of Spirits hopes to have any success when it leaves beta, this must be address because quite honestly I cannot see many sticking with the game should it stay as it is.
Diving into the game itself, it plays out like a traditional RPG which uses a basic elemental system, which is a fancy way of saying a more complicated version of rock paper scissors. It’s nice to see, but it’s also nothing new, you have seen it before. Actions in battle are extremely limited. Typically you have around three moves to choose from in each battle; attack, which enemy you attack, and a special move. The special moves can be interesting, ranging from the offensive and defensive end of the spectrum. The issue is that all special-moves drain from the same meter, no matter which spirit uses them. This may not seem like much but when a single special move can cost half your meter, their use becomes rarity. Fortunately meters do restore after each battle, unlike health which only returns over a set period of time.
Friends become a bigger part of the experience as you progress. With the co-operation of other players in Destiny of Spirits you can trade, summon, and even attack. It’s clear that the developers wanted to promote a strong social network in the game, though due to the menu interface the experience can be kind of clunky. Still there are some interesting friend-based mechanics such as going on “raids”, which do their best to reflect MMO missions of the same name; but in actuality are a semi-social affair. You never actually get to fight alongside any one; you merely chip away at the same boss in isolation.
Spirits are undeniably the centerpiece of the game, and thankfully they are handled quite well. They can be summoned using summoning stones which serve as the games currency. You can also choose one Spirit to absorb up to five others in something called merging, which is how you level up each spirit… Heck spirits can even be traded with other players and hunted based on your location. Using spirits you enter battles to free zones which are represented as quadrants on a real 3d map of the earth. Once you battle through a few rounds of minions you go head to head against a boss character who when beaten delivers you a bonus; whether it be increased party size, a bigger friends list and more.
The sprites themselves are wonderfully drawn and some are even inspired by characters from franchises like Gravity Rush and Doko Demo Issyo. The problem is that while including these PlayStation characters is great, they are only unlockable using Destiny Orbs, which are the games premium currency. Here is where you start to notice that Destiny of spirits is a true F2P game in that it locks almost everything interesting behind a pay-wall, and anything worthwhile in the free department costs something even more valuable; your time Do you want to heal after a fight? Either wait it out (It can be upwards of one hour) or pay up front. Want to summon rare and more powerful spirits? Pay up front, or keep testing your luck through the games. It goes on and on.
For the sake of the beta the developers throw out all manners of currency to players as if they were rappers in a night club, but I suspect when the game is released this won’t be the case. With the help progress was difficult enough, without it? I may have fallen asleep.
For all of its problems Destiny of Spirits does have a Pokémon-like quality in that can become addictive to summon new spirits, trade with players, and level the creatures up; but that is where the similarities end. As of right now there is no story in the Destiny of Spirits, and without a motivating factor to justify the collecting, it’s hard to say whether or not players will choose to spend their time with the game.What it boils down to is that how much you enjoy Destiny of Spirits will largely hinge on well the F2P structure is implemented. There is a solid (if lacking) system under the hood, and it is hard to argue about the content when it is free, but can you put a price on your time? We’ll find out when Destiny of Spirits officially launches, which is when the developers intend to do just that.
Destiny of Spirits closed beta has been live for selected PlayStation Plus users from 6am GMT on 24th October and will conclude 6am Friday 1st November.