Alicesoft is a company that has been featured several times on this blog already but as a quick summary: one of the most famous Eroge companies for making actual fun games rather than simple Visual Novels.
Back in the 90s-early 2000s, the company was on a roll having created several hit games such as Kichikuou Rance, Pastel Chime and Toushin Toshi 2. With their newfound financial success, Alicesoft, like most companies of the day, was able to divert some funds into creating some experimental, quirky games. This is one of them.
Persiom is an interesting mix of RPG dungeon crawler, puzzles and timing mini-games, all rolled into a single package.
The first thing that that stands out about this game is that you’re offered a choice of main character selection, something that rarely ever happens in these sort of games. Players can choose from the “Rags to Riches” knight Kuroa, the Princess Mishera who’s searching for her missing brother and finally, the roguish “Wine and Women” Joker King.
While the story isn’t exactly the game’s strong point, being a dungeon crawler at the end of the day, this selection allows the player to choose a narrative with their preferred theme. For example, romance focused players can choose Kuroa while one hoping for a more comical theme can select J K instead.
Like most dungeon crawlers, Persiom challenges you to descend a mega-dungeon, collecting treasure and slaying monsters. Unlike most dungeon crawlers, each floor of the dungeon is a giant puzzle waiting to be solved.
Each turn, players may move up to 3 squares at a time, walking into enemies, rooms or objects in order to interact with them. However, each step they move is also drawn from a pool of total movement possible which limits overall mobility. The starting pool of movement is, of course, not enough to bring you to the end.
How do you get more movement points, you may ask? Well, the player is able to “flip” over brown tiles, revealing their hidden contents underneath. If the tile beneath is a number from 1-3, the player adds the movement point to his pool. However, sometimes a monster may spawn on the tile guarding its resources! Players must then move to the tile and enter combat with the monster and defeat it in order to claim his rewards.
To stop players from overturning the map willy-nilly, after every turn, the back of the map will “collapse” and the dungeon will progress onwards like a forced scrolling section in a platformer. Not only are tiles that collapse this way lost forever, in addition they also DEDUCT from your movement pool instead! In addition, some enemies can snipe at the player from afar, whittling down his health which may lead to a death.
Thus, the player must learn when and how much risk to take. Too little and he won’t be able to risk the end of the floor, while overreaching himself leads to the same issue while also posing the threat of death. Finding a balance is key to the game.
Thankfully, the player also has multiple items at his disposal to help in this task, whether it be healing items, candles that can melt and fill up gaps in the floor, movement recovery items and so on. As a final resort, a player has access to “3 wishes” if they ever run into a “dead end” puzzle issue, such as running out of movement points. Using them allows the player to continue on the floor at the cost of reduced experience points for that floor, which is a trade-off they must consider.
Similar to the “Judgement Ring” in the Shadow Hearts series of JRPGs, players have to time and click at the correct time as a bar moves along a gauge. Depending on where the bar lands, the effectiveness of the attack varies. Each weapon type has its own unique gauge set-up: for example, clubs are hard to use and thus have narrow gauges, while sabres tend to have big wide gauge areas for easy striking, and daggers have more areas in which critical hits occur.
The speed in which the bar travels also depends on the agility of the enemy: Zombies are slow and thus the bar is simple to control, while swift enemies can be tough to hit with certain weapons as the bar speeds by like a roadrunner.
Players with poor reflex skills can attempt to turn the system off with auto-battle but I find it generally much better to actually play the battles manually.
There is also the chest-unlocking system, which uses the same timing concept used in battle.
But that’s not all! To make things even stranger and throw more genres into the mix, at the end of each level it’s possible to play a variety of mini-games for benefits such as earning more gold, repairing your equipment or an extra chance at earning a rare item.
Mini-games in the mix that can be done include: Arkanoid, Rock Paper Scissors, Quiz Games and so on. These mini-games may not be original, but they’re fairly well programmed and help spice things up as DCs are a genre that can tend to drag on sometimes.
In addition, there’s also a monster-capturing mini-game you can engage in if you wish. The main difference being that rather than collecting yellow electric rats, you capture cute monstergirls instead to put into orbs that you can toss at your enemies to fight on your behalf… sounds familiar? As the only formed of ranged attack in the game, expect to be doing that quite a bit.
(Trivia: Fans of other Alicesoft RPGs may find the monsters displayed familiar: Persiom technically takes place in the Ranceverse, although characters from that series only show up as minor cameos in this one)
All in all, Persiom is an interesting little experimental game that’s relatively short and doesn’t require much investment and has nice production values for its time, so if you’re looking for something fun to fill the time, consider this as a candidate!