Rise of the Third Power - PS4 Review

Rise of the Third Power by developer Stegosoft Games and publisher DANGEN EntertainmentSony PlayStation 4 review written by Pierre-Yves with a copy provided by the publisher.

Estimated reading time: 8 minutes

After a successful Kickstarter campaign, Rise of the Third Power is the second title to be released by Stegosoft Games. Loosely inspired by the political climate of our own 1930s in Europe, this latest Indie RPG will see our band of protagonists try to prevent a war between nations in some of the most roundabout ways possible.

Starting up twenty years after the signing of a peace treaty that put an end to the greatest war that humanity had ever seen, we find ourselves following the first of our protagonists infiltrating a castle on a stormy night. Planning to capture the princess before her wedding day, without a plan of course, the two kind of make it up as they go. Exploring the castle, finding keys to lock doors, pretending to be exterminators as an impromptu cover, it really sets the tone that while there is a serious threat to these kingdoms, it's at least going to be entertaining while you try to minimize the damage.

This for me was my driving force to see things through to the end of the adventure. It's not because the rest isn't very well designed, it's because the dialog is both entertaining, engaging and present compared to a lot of other stories which throw everything including the kitchen sink at you at the beginning and then forget about the end. Rise of the Third Power is present from start to finish and while there is a long lull in one section, it more than makes up for it right after.

Having originally taken RPG Maker 2003 "kicking and screaming out of retirement" for their first title of Ara Fell, this latest title shows just how far Stegosoft Games have come in terms of presentation. Using their own custom engine in Unity that was used to revamp their first title under an Enhanced Edition, Rise of the Third Power continues to show the care of it's presentation both big and small with some items that we take for granted until we finally look at the screen to find them missing.

The world feels alive. There are leaves floating by, there are birds flying solo or in occasional pairs, there is a real sound of rain and the waves. At all times there was more than just putting down a visual design to look at as you walked or ran through an area which keeps things visually interesting instead of saying, oh yay, another forest or town. Each space feels like it fits and each country's towns while feeling familiar to one another with architecture don't feel cookie cutter.

It's between these various locations and the dialog that Rise of the Third Power comes together. There are several locations to explore but once you boil them down and look at what you've done, that's where you can see the creative genius as there locations aren't always very big but they are designed in such a way that after trying to find the keys, battling various enemies and sitting through dialog, an hour could have easily passed by.

It's a brilliant design as it keeps you in the moment even when re-exploring later down the line either for platinum trophy, which by my estimate would take me another three to four hours with the side quests left, or the backtracking. While not exactly a modern feature, we often rely on the use of fast travel systems to get by, especially once we’ve already crossed the ground once. I’m in wholehearted agreement of this as it’s often almost necessary now days to have one embedded because otherwise it’s like Dragon’s Dogma or the original Dying Light where you just keep running and running and running until you’re hands are exhausted from having done it for the hundredth non-exaggerated time.

The reason that I didn’t find the lack of this feature a point against Rise of the Third Power is that the world is designed in such a way that short of one specific forest, it’s never going to be an issue. If there was an issue with the traveling options it would have been that I would have liked to not have to re-travel through various towns in order to use the bridge past it or the access to the docks once you get a ship and access to the open waters between the continents.

One definite drawing factor to a Stegosoft Games title is the combat and Rise of the Third Power continues to deliver on this point. Characters, from your first two protagonists into your last six, all have unique abilities and not a single one has a “default” labeled attack. Instead, each character has abilities that suit their personality such as Rowan, your “former” pirate swashbuckler has a pistol and a sword. The sword can do bleed damage and accumulate how badly an enemy bleeds over time while the pistol needs a cooldown after being discharged. Other characters like the princess Arielle can by contrast with a ship’s cannon, yes, ship’s cannon, can target enemies directly or everyone all at once.

While this would perhaps sound “par for the course” the difference is in how these characters can use their abilities. Some like Rowan use his sword and pistol with a cooldown at will so to speak while charging up for other abilities. One of these abilities is called Fury which launches a bottle of booze in the air and has a pistol shoot through it uses rage that accumulates either by being hit or by slashing at enemies. Arielle by contrast accumulates her gauge a bit at a time or can simply take a turn to reload and be good to go right then and there. Finally, the more magic user types have actual mana that can be accumulated through potions or a good old staff to the face if it's your priestess Reyna.

A bit of icing on the cake for the above is that before any major battle, before any major point of no return, you are asked if you want to save your game. This alone lets you know something is coming up or that if you move forward you may not be able to finish what you were currently up to such as a current side quest of the collection of items for upgrades which leads into the two amazing support systems for your characters.

The first, like any good JRPG, is the ability to level up. However, instead of leveling up individually, the whole part is leveled simultaneously once the counter hits 100%. The twist here though is that while you are granted ability points for your characters, like the leveling up, it applies to the whole party so you have to choose who gets upgraded on that level. It’s not as bad as it seems as each new entrant comes with a few points. As time goes on and new abilities in the tree cost more as you put points into, some levels may only have one ability for one character or three for another if they haven’t been upgraded yet.

In terms of upgrades though, you don’t have to buy any items per say for your characters short of a few materials if you really aren’t finding them out in the field. Instead, you are given a crafting system that lets you upgrade your gear over time and amazingly, not in sequence as I found out rather happily as I just couldn’t get a level 3 version of an “archer stone” but I had a level 4 which let me put that upgrade into place. The materials and the books to unlock these show up at the right time so if you’re playing on normal you should have no issues keeping pace.

If I had one complaint for Rise of the Third Power it would be certain bosses, a certain protagonist’s sister to be specific. She just doesn’t know when to give up and can have multiple turns in a row all while spewing out status effects after status effects. If it was once, fine. Twice, pushing it. But it’s more than twice and they are not the only boss that you have to face off against with these kinds of effects or that has multiple turns to your often one short of Natasha’s potentially getting a second and her ability to grant a second turn to another character. I found it spoiled things a bit and if I was that leveled on normal? I could only imagine the harder difficulties.

Otherwise the music was fantastic for both these boss fights and all situations in general. Some tracks range from soft and folkish to upbeat while exploring towns while battles are almost Hans Zimmerman Pirates of the Caribbean vibe mixed in with a bit of rock. It’s catchy and it's changing over time so you are not hearing the same tracks over and over again from opening to close credits.


Overall, I loved Rise of the Third Power. Looking like a classic JRPG but playing to a tune all of its own, it has everything from well written characters and a well paced experience over to a very well designed battle system and amazing music to support it all.

Score: 8.5 / 10