Growlanser III: The Dual Darkness is the second game in Career Soft’s strategy RPG series to be announced for a US release by Redding, California-based publisher Working Designs. The series’ latest installment doesn’t boast any real technological advances over past Growlanser games, but like its predecessors, Growlanser III promises to be an engrossing RPG that features incredible artwork and a complex war-based storyline.
Much like Career Soft’s Langrisser III, Growlanser III takes place millennia before the events in the first Growlanser game. The world of Growlanser III is actually set on a different planet from that of the first 2 games in the series, unfolding on the home planet of the ancestors of the people from the first two games.
As the game begins, the sun has begun to burn out and the humans on the planet below are starting to suffer the brunt of the effects with decreasing crop harvests and increasing starvation. The Featherians, a technologically advanced race of winged humanoids, have built a huge device to teleport humans to a safer, more hospitable world. Sadly, technology has its limits and the majority of the humans are left behind. Growlanser III tells the tale of the less fortunate who are left behind to cope with the impending gargantuan natural disaster.
One day, Annette Burns, the daughter of a high-ranking government official in the kingdom of Kisylonia discovers a young amnesiac by the name of Slayn Wilder. Slayn is the protagonist of Growlanser III and has absolutely no recollection of his identity or his past life. Soon after, a rash of strange events begins to occur: VIPs are mysteriously killed and natural disasters like floods and droughts begin to crop up. Before long, Slayn and Annette embark on a quest to find the cause of these strange events and put a stop to them.
Growlanser III’s storyline sounds intriguing and one aspect that will surely accentuate that fact is the multitude of dialogue options that the game will feature. Like in past Growlanser games, the choices that players make will affect Slayn’s love life as well as the overall plot of the game.
Following series tradition, Growlanser III resembles a traditional RPG outside of battles. In addition, the series’ trademark Real-Time Mission Clear system, where battle events affect the mission objective, returns yet again. Characters will again be able to augment their weapons by attaching objects (in Growlanser III, Spirit Stones and rings) to them, bestowing special attributes to each character. As a matter of fact, the only reported difference between the gameplay of Growlanser II and III is that the newest game will feature randomly generated dungeons.
Graphically, Growlanser III retains the sprite-based 2D overhead look of previous installments and bares a striking resemblance to games in the Langrisser series. Screens from the import version indicate that the visuals look nearly identical to those of Growlanser II. In addition, the immensely gifted Satoshi Urushihara returns as character designer and illustrator for The Dual Darkness. In this previewer’s opinion, the character art for Growlanser III is darker than its prequel but not quite as appealing. Though the art is every bit as unique and stylish as most of Urushihara’s past works.
Like Growlanser II, the Japanese version of Growlanser III featured spectacular voice acting accompanying the majority of the dialogue in the game. The probability that the plethora of spoken dialogue will continue when Working Designs localizes Growlanser III is overwhelming. However, the soundtrack won’t fare quite as well, as Noriyuki Iwadare has yet to return to the Career Soft fold.
With beautiful art, a deep storyline and innovative strategy battles, Growlanser III promises to be one of the finer US RPGs available when released. The Dual Darkness won’t break any new ground technically, but should provide an engrossing experience for those willing to take a chance on a game that doesn’t feature the flashiest graphics around.
In Japan, Growlanser III was sold in both a regular edition and a limited “Moe-Moe Lucky Pack” which included a pink plastic alarm clock featuring Rummy, the cute female witch from the game. There is no word on whether Working Designs will include the clock with the US version, but judging from their track record, there’s a good chance that some extra goodies will find their way into the domestic release. Unfortunately, a release date has not yet been announced.
©2003 Working Designs