Black Rock Shooter has curious origins. The character began as an illustration that would inspire a song that used the vocal synthesizer Hatsune Miku. This song would eventually become part of an anime that focused on a middle school girl who meets Black Rock Shooter when she is transported to another world while searching for a missing friend.
Black Rock Shooter the game takes a different plot. Earth is at war with a group of aliens, and only 12 humans remain. The 12 soldiers awaken Black Rock Shooter (or as she is called in game BRS) to help them. She is tasked with helping fight the enemies, mostly mechanical, but with humanoid leaders.
BRS is based on a real-time battle system. With BRS’s gun and special abilities (that are unlocked both from finding powers in chests and from completing challenges such a killing a set number of an enemy type) take aim at the enemies as they creep closer. The creatures usually will flash before they attack in order to allow BRS to dodge their attacks, but this move is still hard to time. I found myself dodging too soon and still being hit, or simply not dodging fast enough. Many of the boss’s special attacks usually took a time or two to learn how to dodge, and often dealt enough damage to take out an almost full heath BRS. You learn from trial and error in each boss battle, and you can learn how to deal with most minions from one or two battles.
BRS is an RPG, but it is an extremely linear one. While some points allow for branching paths, very rarely does anything lie at the end of a side path. Most chests are along the main path. The game is fairly repetitive as well, where most of the gameplay is simply moving from one point to another. Travel here, fight enemies along the way, fight a few more difficult enemies, rinse and repeat. You can always go back and replay old levels to grind a bit, but it’s rarely necessary. Replaying may only be good for attempting to improve your dodging skills.
The one area that the game does open up is the Free Hunt Mode, which unlocks at the end of this stage. BRS has the ability to go throughout each city, fighting enemies and eventually re-beating the boss. It gives players a chance to unlock things such as movie clips and art, but these sections can easily be bypassed.
BRS was designed to be played on the PSP, and it really shows when playing on the Vita. Areas are rather gray and simplistic, which fits the apocalyptic setting. However, the scenery is again repetitive, and you will find yourself replaying sections of the game without actually repeating the level. There’s nothing particularly engaging about the graphics that will draw you into the game.
BRS is fully voiced in Japanese, but translates the subtitles into English. I will admit that I was amused to hear the Japanese accents on the multicultural team.
The music of the game isn’t anything special, but its repetitive enough as you work your way through each stage to make the tunes familiar. I was actually surprised the original BRS song did not make it’s way into the game.
Overall, BRS left me rather unimpressed. The plot was slightly convoluted, as I couldn’t totally understand how this fairly inept group of fighters was still alive, nor how 12 men were supposed to save Earth. Then what? Plot holes aside, this may be a game best left to fans of the series. Otherwise, there isn’t much here to keep players interested.
Publisher: NIS, Developer: Imageepoch
Release Date: April 23, 2013 (US) April 24, 2013 (EU)
Platforms: PSP/PS Vita Digital: Yes
Price: $19.99/ Rating: ESRB: T PEGI: 12
Online Pass: No