As far as RPGs go the Xbox has had a hard time getting the selection it needs to compete with the likes of the PS2 and GameCube. Now it looks set to change all that with games like Sudeki. After a lengthy shadow puppet show revealing the basic story of the game you will enter the menu, once you adjust the settings such as speech speed, sound effects and music volume you will start the game. When you start the game, in accordance with the age old RPG cliche, the character you control called Tal, is asleep and in a similar fashion to the pokemon character, is late for an important appointment, in this case a training session with the Illumina kingdoms army.
Once you are done with the short sword training tutorial you will be able to explore the town a bit and upgrade weapons or buy potions that replenish Health and Spirit Points or reverse status changes such as poison. If you get lost in the first town, Climax have included a guide to show you to the locations in the town and you may just need him as the town you start out in is rather large. Once you finish off everything you have to do in the first town you will have your first fights with the Aklorians. They are an army of creatures intent on conquering Haskilia, and you must help Queen Lusica defend her kingdom against them and collect Totems to restore balance between the bright world and the dark world.
Over the course of the game you will gather a party of four; Tal, who you start off with, and upon completion of his first mission you will meet Ailish and later on in the game Buki and Elco will join the party when you have to retrieve a crystal to prevent the Aklorians from getting it. Each party member has their own special abilities that you will need to utilize; Tal's special ability is strength and can push blocks while Ailish can use magical sight to reveal hidden items. In battles Tal and Buki have a selection of combos they can perform using just the A and X buttons in different orders including but not limited to: a, x, a, which performs a spinning air type attack. The attack will be different depending on who you are using at the time for example; using the spinning air attack while Tal is selected will perform his Aurora Scythe, if you are using Buki she will perform her Dipping Hawk Punch. The game will build up a list of the monsters you encounter as you progress.
Sudeki uses a real-time battle system and depending on who you are using, it is either first-person shooter or hack-and-slash style fighting. When you are in a battle you can use equipped items with the D-pad and pressing the Y button brings down a menu of spirit strikes you can use if you have enough sp that will slow down the action and activate the selected spirit strike. As you fight you build up experience and when you kill enemies you see the amount of exp you got from defeating them.
The graphics in Sudeki have a similar style to Japanese RPG's but with a more American RPG feel, by that I mean the characters have an anime look to them but the towns look like Western style RPG towns. The spirit strikes look great and when you finish monsters using the spirit strikes you see them splatter. When you attack monsters using normal attacks you see some decent blood effects and trail effects left by the swords.
The voice-overs in Sudeki are pretty good, although some of the villager's accents may get annoying after a while. There isn't all that much music in some places as it is more like ambient sounds for the caves and dungeons.
Sudeki is available now from all good videogames stores for an RRP of $79 - which is good value compared to the usual $100+ games!