Checks Out Celestian Tales: Old North

Celestian Tales: Old North has been on my to-play list for quite some time, and I finally got around to giving the start of the game a go this past weekend. As per usual, I recorded as I went–here is the result!

My thoughts:

This strikes me as a quality jRPG. The characters are distinct, with believable dialogue and personalities informed by their various backgrounds.

With the exception of a few grammatical issues, the writing in this game seems solid and mature. In contrast to an awful lot of RPG developers, Ekuator Games seems to have a firm handle on what story they’re telling–and more importantly, exactly why they want to tell it. The first not-quite-an-hour of play leaves me feeling secure in the sense that this storyline will be worth following to its conclusion.

Or should I say “conclusions”? It’s almost unheard of for a jRPG to let you choose a main character and then get a totally unique beginning to the game based on your choice–if that were all Celestian Tales did, that alone would be impressive. However, the devs tout this game as containing not merely six different beginnings, but six entire story arcs–one for each of the six main characters. If true, that represents a pretty colossal achievement on their part, and promises to give this game some serious narrative replayability of a sort that I haven’t seen since The Spirit Engine 2.

On the visual front, Celestian Tales has big, competently animated sprites and lovely character portraits. I’m not sure what made them decide to mix pixel art with painted backgrounds; it’s not a very aesthetically consistent choice, though in practice it mostly works.

Most jRPGs opt for a series of relatively low-difficulty fights that offer a cumulative, resource-management-focused challenge rather than a per-battle survival challenge, but Celestian Tales goes full-bore in favor of the latter, with health and SP recovering fully after every single fight. To this end, enemies do an unusual amount of damage in combat, though I never felt particularly challenged by the game’s early encounters. It remains to be seen if battles get more interesting as the game progresses.

All in all, I was left with a very positive early impression of Celestian Tales: Old North.

If you want to try it for yourself, you can pick up Celestian Tales: Old North for the relatively cheap price of $12.99 on Steam, on GOG, and via the Humble Store. Windows, Mac, and Linux.

You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.


  • BarryB says:

    Not sure about the game, but definitely a virtuosic series of performances on your part.

  • MrGazillion says:

    I very much enjoyed this game. I think this is just the first chapter in what, I assume, they plan to make into an epic game. I forget the total play time but I think it fell in the 10-15 hours of gameplay which was disappointing considering that the story didn’t feel very concluded.

    I played as Aria and didn’t really revisit the game after completing it the first time. Since I mostly play JRPGs on my channel I didn’t feel like playing ~60 hours of this game only to get the slightly different introduction (though I’m curious how far they go to make it different).

    The battle system is definitely where this game shines though. I used Aria, Lucienne, and Reynard. I made Aria my paladin (more of an secondary damage dealer), Reynard was equiped to be a no-defense all offence character, and Lucienne soaked up all the damage with her taunting abilities. With the spike armor, her initial aggro feat, and her first turn ability (I forget what it’s called), monsters would usually take a ton of damage just by attacking her.

    What I also loved about it is that it shared levels across the party instead of individually. I *hate* when a game gives me a big cast of characters but then punishes me by giving to me at a very low level when they join. You never want to play catchup with them because it’s boring to grind just for that — especially if your main group suffers by being no longer equally leveled. I wish more games dealt with levels this way.

    Anyway, I will definitely be picking up the next game in the series.

  • Dave says:

    Yeah, MrGazillion, that’s correct, CT:ON is just part one of a longer planned saga. The developers are currently working on the “Howl of the Ravager” DLC, which will be a prequel, giving more backstory on many of the characters introduced in Old North. There will also be a part two which takes about 10 years after Old North, and a part three which takes place about ten years after that.

    I enjoyed the game overall and had a few minor complaints with. It doesn’t really seem worthwhile to replay the game with all 6 main characters just for a different prologue and epilogue… I wish there was some way to unlock the prologue / epilogue for all characters in a single play through.

    Also wasn’t fond of how weapon upgrades were hidden (you have to search everywhere for a shiny pixel) & not available from merchants- especially considering how it is usually not possible to backtrack to areas later on.

    But other than that it was a very refreshing take on the JRPG genre.


Leave a Reply

XHTML: You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>