From the onset, Beyond Reality seems like it could fall into being just another one of those RPGs that deals with a daydreamer of a wonderful paradise and the miserable world they actually live in. Breaking this glass jar and releasing its true contents not long after is a brilliantly paced RPG with a variety of characters and features combining some of the well known avenues with some other more interesting ones to balance everything out into something great.
Fallon, who may look a bit like Eclair Farron (aka Lightning), is getting ready when she gets a call to head downstairs from her apartment because her ride has arrived. Getting into the car a bit of banter begins before the car suddenly hits a woman crossing the street ending her life. Waking up Fallon realizes it was but a dream as even with the tragedy that transpired there was no way that the clean paradise she was in could be real compared the pollution infested reality that she was travelling in by train. Walking into the institute in which she is basically running, the rest of the day isn’t quite going to go according to plan.
Without spoiling any of the surprises in store, Fallon and the rest of her Alpha Omega Company are launched into an epic Fantasy and Science Fiction based experience ripe with Time Travel. Each of the locations are rich with details and require a fair amount of exploration at times as they are anything but tiny. There are instances when a map would have been a good thing but then again, that's what a memory and a pad of paper are for. It isn’t the size of these locations that offers a great experience but the design and setup of the flow. Some spaces will require either some careful consideration to make it through as encounters are not random but instead are represented by coloured orbs on the map that will increase in speed once your party comes too close. Others will require a bit of thought as not everything is always as it seems and what may look like a collapsed portion of a cavern floor may very well be a passage downwards warranting inspection.
The enemy orbs on the map are well done as they will casually roam around at a leisurely pace until the party wanders perhaps a tad too close in which all bets are off and the chase is on. As enemies roam around the map the encounters themselves are not random but the foes to be faced are keeping a bit of silent tension at times as to whether or not an area can be passed through to make it back to safety as the healers are all out of magic and the party just used its last healing item. The thought that may cross your mind is “how does the party run out of healing items?” but Beyond Reality’s reality is that things are damned expensive and the residents and enemies alike are cheapskates. This honestly forces a bit of decisions and budgeting as to whether or not to buy that new shiny six-hundred dollar spear for one of your party members or instead put it into health items and a night at the Inn in order to recover because those are not cheap and the tent outside of town is too close to town to be worth resting in. These are very real decisions at times and it honestly isn’t all that hard to game over depending on what foe is being tackled.
While exploring through the areas in order to either find someone, something, or the passage through, there can be more than the standard blue orbs lying about. Red orbs can be found which are enemies that are part of side quests that can be picked up while randomly talking to residents of the areas you explore. Try not to get too excited though as more often than not the reward is in the action and the loot at the end of the fight more than it is in the reward given. This generally was not a bad thing as there were some fights that offered some very powerful items for the time that could not be found in the actual shops. Purple orbs which will become more common later on are the once red orbs come back after a quest has been completed. Though their appearance can be random they were still worth facing off against as they could still yield a good amount of experience points.
For anyone that plays RPGs especially the more classic ones and Indies in general, you should find yourselves at home. With standard attacks and skills available from the start, most characters have the ability to charge up and unleash a devastating attack on the next turn. A nice touch is that while setting up to release these powerful attacks is that the character portraits change in appearance denoting that the ability to launch said powerful attacks is ready. In the beginning these can seem a bit overkill until they actually seem like the best way to deal with enemies in a new zone while gauging their strengths and whether or not the party should head back and visit an Inn.
Some characters like Fallon are a force to themselves while others such as a pair of siblings that you start off with both need to charge up and can only unleash hell together. If one is not ready or incapacitated then the attack will fail causing you to have to retry the next turn. Between these powerful attacks and the use of magic the battlefield is an interesting place as several enemies have their own repertoire of abilities and most of them tend not to go down easy.
An issue that I have with RPGs in generally regardless of Indie or AAA is that once a party grows beyond the size of who can be brought into battle, it becomes a game of who gets left behind. I say this as generally it really is not worth the time to level each other member to be on par with the rest. So I was very happy to see that every party members is granted experience points in battle as they all participate. The battle party can be set up either through the main menu or during battle by having one member swap out with another. This allows for any situation to be handled and only costs the turn of the character being swapped out preventing having to go back and level up certain members at the cost of others because either their skill set is required or they are the only ones left with you.
Beyond Reality is another great example of what can be done with an RPG Maker engine. Between the well written dialog, the interesting premise and execution, the gameplay is only ever a bonus with battles that make you work for victory. With many hours to enjoy, this is definitely an adventure worth having.
Article by Pierre-Yves