Black Rock Shooter: The Game is a direct spinoff from the Japanese series of the same name. Lesser known in the West and released in digital only via PSN as a two year old PSP game, it may fly a little under the radar for most.
Those who do happen to come across the his game though will be in for a bit of a treat, as Black Rock Shooter is a fun JRPG with plenty of action.
Whilst its influences come from an existing franchise there is nothing to worry about in terms of missing chunks of the story. Despite taking place in the same universe the various versions of Black Rock Shooter are all standalone stories, whether it be the Magna, Anime, or in this case the game.
The story for Black Rock Shooter: The Game is set in a post-apocalyptic world (we know, but keep with us), 19 years after an alien invasion has destroyed the world and humanity is all but defeated. The game’s heroine BSR is awoken from a slumber and thrust into the fight to save the human’s existence.
A lot of the story is told via communications between BSR and the various individuals who ally with her along the way. You may have seen the style this is done with before is you have played a certain Konami Stealth Em Up. It may be a direct influence, but it matters not as it does a job and drives the story forward. A story that whilst not amazing, does enough to keep your attention throughout, which is always a bonus.
Gameplay mixes traditional RPG elements with more section orientated battle sections. Enemies are encountered throughout the various levels, much in the way they are in a game like Persona, however once a battle is entered you lose the turn-based style of other games and instead find yourself in a real-time environment.
Armed initially with your gun, you will battle enemies with an analogue aiming system that has more in common with a third person shooter mixed with a touch of Ace Combat aiming. It is something that works really well from the moment you first go into battle, with the system being fairly intuitive. There are some moments of frustration with a lock on system, but you soon get used to it. As the game progresses BRS will unlock various new skills and find that she can level up areas of her arsenal. It is an RPG after all, so it is to be expected.
Rather than one long trek driven by a story, Black Rock Shooter is split into arena style levels that each have a bit of a briefing before each one. You’ll then navigate through and essentially take on and clear all the enemies. It nothing groundbreaking, but it does a good job of allowing gamers to play longer or shortened sessions, just as you would ideally want on a handheld game of this type.
This is of course a PSP game, so don’t expect huge;y impressing visuals native to the Vita. In saying that however, aside from a few low-res textures, Black Rock Shooter does look very nice scaled to the Vita screen and doesn’t suffer being a game designed originally for the PSP. Others do look better, but there a plenty that look a hell of a lot worse.
Black Rock Shooter’s main problem isn’t going to be with its graphics or gameplay. The main issues come from just what it is, a niche franchise, for a (now) dead system, released digitally only in a bit of a stealth manner. What you are looking at here is a game that should sell through word of mouth, picked up on the off chance, or by definite fans of the franchise.
There is a lot of fun to be had and it is a game that Gamestyle will happily pick up and play during those times between large Vita releases. It isn’t as long as some of the more established RPG titles out there, but in terms of value for money it does hit the spot. We urge you to take a chance on Black Rock Shooter.