Reviewed On: Nintendo Switch
Also Available On: PlayStation, Xbox, PC
In my review of Ghost Sync late last year, I mentioned that KEMCO is a solid JRPG publisher that tends to release many average to good games every year. Most of them aren’t particularly exceptional, but there is some value in all of them. Some, like Ghost Sync, are actually great if the player wants a retro JRPG experience.
With how many JRPGs KEMCO releases, it wouldn’t be a new year without a JRPG to kick it off with. Justice Chronicles is now available on the Nintendo Switch for classic RPG enthusiasts to enjoy. Now, this isn’t exactly a brand new title, as it came out on Xbox a few months ago and even the 3DS in 2016. Still, this is likely the most accessible the game has ever been, and the Switch will always welcome more RPGs.
Justice Chronicles has a fairly simple narrative, as most retro RPGs do. Players take on the life of Kline, a new recruit in a knight brigade. Kline lives in a world full of conflict, and one of his first jobs is to spy on an enemy nation. Of course, things don’t go smoothly, and Kline is forced to make a pact with a beast monster companion to save his life. This pact and Kline’s mission results in him saving a girl named Alia, and the group goes out on a journey to save the world from war.
Of course, there is much more to the story than I’m letting on, like some somewhat predictable twists and turns and a colorful cast of companions. Most of it is standard-fare, and players won’t find themselves too surprised at the narrative or characters. Most of them fit archetypes and won’t be too memorable after players turn off the game. This isn’t necessarily damning for Justice Chronicles though if players aren’t expecting some grand adventure like Xenoblade or Final Fantasy. It’s not fantastic, just serviceable.
As for the gameplay, it’s about what players would expect from a KEMCO game. The combat is a simple turn-based affair where the player’s party of three (and their beast companions) take turns to attack and cast abilities. A gauge builds throughout battle that allows for the characters to use powerful skills in tandem. Aside from this gauge system, there isn’t much more to the battle system besides the usual depth and strategy that you find in the genre.
Outside of battle, players can equip items to their characters that give them access to new abilities. These are obtained through gathering materials crafting from recipes. Side quests give access to more materials, giving players incentive to go off the beaten path. This might be necessary whether players want to spend time looking for materials or not, because Justice Chronicles is rather grindy. There are a few annoying difficulty spikes that pads the game’s 40-ish hour playtime. It’s not ideal for most players, but its understandable that some players will enjoy the grind as they make their characters gods with divine-like trinkets.
Visually, Justice Chronicles looks like what one would expect. The pixel graphics are endearing in a way, and the character portraits look solid. The level design does leave a lot to be desired though, and aside from a few noteworthy locations, most of the environments are bland. The character sprites look okay on their own, but don’t look great when walking through the pixel filled environments. If you can imagine what the mobile remasters of the classic Final Fantasy games looked like in the 2010s mixed with their original counterparts, you can picture what this game looks like. The juxtaposition isn’t pretty.
While it leaves a lot to be desired, Justice Chronicles isn’t an awful experience, especially when one considers the price. The story isn’t great and has both neat and frustrating beats throughout. The combat is rather bland, but is complemented by an interesting crafting system. If players have already played most of the Switch’s must have JRPGs, you could do worse than Justice Chronicles. Just note that you can do better even if you just stick to KEMCO’s library.
Justice Chronicles is a serviceable JRPG, but there are too many uninspired mechanics for this to be a must play.