Rusty Hearts is a very Japanese style MMORPG game from the developer Perfect World. The game is primarily a third person action-RPG hybrid with simple controls and fairly simplistic gameplay. So how does it stand up under scrutiny?
As far as the story goes, I have been a bit confused about the in game story and the plotline. The tutorial has some characters running from a monster, when the one guy spots a woman playing the piano, and it is a big, startling sight for him. The main plot involves a few ‘Specialists’ who arrive in a city to do things that aren’t really explained, but primarily involve killing things. The origin and intents of the specialists are kept fairly hidden in game, so an air of mystery about these people and their actions exists. The issue with that air of mystery is that the specialists are the player characters, so it is rather hard to create mystery about the actions of a character when someone will be playing that character and thus have their own motivations and actions. In all fairness, Perfect World does a good job with what they can, to the point where the specialists have some in-universe and in-story mystery about them.
The main story of the game is actually fairly well paced, with action sequences making sense in context for the most part. Grind does start to appear when the main plot of a chapter is to clear out the sewers, and then a sub-plot is to clear one section on very hard ten times or something like that. In the context of the main story, however, adventuring through a monster infested sewer looking for something tends to play out quite well and be very believable in its execution.
The biggest issue I have found comes into play here: a surprisingly small number of people play Rusty Hearts, and the game is meant to be, and is best played in a party for dungeons and fights. Sadly, that means with very few players, you will have to go through battles on your own, and they can be quite hard, as they were intended for multiple players. This means leveling up is slower, and as a result, you progress through the story much slower.
The gameplay is quite nice. In dungeons, the arrow keys control movement, and your main keys to fight are z, x, and c as well as a hotbar of special actions and skills. The fixed angle third person camera is like the one in Devil May Cry, only better in execution. In the city area, though, the key mappings change and the camera can be rotated around, but requires button presses or holding down a mouse button to change. Sadly, this means that running around the city to get missions means a lot of changing the camera angle, because it stays where it was last set, and not in relation to the character. Not only that, but it resets to a default after each dungeon, so if you like a top down view (which is arguably the easiest and requires the least changing of the camera) then you need to reset it after each dungeon fight.
The characters are also pretty good. They have a sort of hand-drawn/cell-shaded look, similar to Borderlands but still different. As is typical of Japanese style RPG games, each class is instead a specific character, but each class here has a choice of one of three characters who can each use one of two weapons as their weapon focus. For Swords or Axes, you can choose between Frantz, Roselle, or Leila. The same goes for the various other classes.
Perfect World did mix up the typical class structure a bit, including one class that uses gauntlets or claws, as well as a mage class that uses a sword or a scythe. Plus, there is a ranged class that uses pistols or a musket.
Regardless of class, building combos and power attacks is incredibly intuitive, and part of the after battle scoring system is based on style. And honestly, spin-kicking an enemy into the air, floating them on a hail of bullets, then having the mage turn them to stone and shoot a fireball at them is very fun and surprisingly easy to pull off. Even building massive combos can be a simple enough task. In one battle, I had to build a 30 hit combo in a room full of enemies. With my scythe, I got a 68 hit combo fairly easily. Despite the ease of building such a large hit combo, simply building it was fun in and of itself.
Another thing I want to comment on is the music. Sadly, the battle and fight music gets repetitive, but the rest of the time, such as loading screens, the welcome/login and character select screens, the game plays a very well done piano piece. While it also repeats, I found that the piano on its own, with the song it plays, seems to be far more fitting of the tone that the game as a whole exemplifies. In other words, the piano music fits in perfectly with Rusty Hearts, while the action scene music just feels out of place in comparison. If there is one thing I’d like to see changed, it would be for most of the music to be replaced with more of the piano.
Score: 4/5 good
Pros: A well made and fun game. Playing it is intuitive, the story is well written and well paced, and the overall experience is quite positive.
Cons: Relatively few players can make progression slow. Buttons can be slow to respond, making cancelling a combo to dodge a slow process where you will get hit. Camera control in the city is bad in comparison to in dungeons.
If you want to get the game, you can go to the Perfect World site and get it from them (for free), or you can get it on Steam for free if you have Steam. The Steam version also allows for you to gain achievements to show just how awesome you are, and Steam is free.
Don’t have Steam? You can get that here.