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Chantelise – Review

This article on Chantelise: A Tale of Two Sisters could simply go on about its gameplay, the story, or that it is a light and fun independent title that can now be found on Steam. And it will cover those things. But first and foremost, this is about how two studios managed to work together to come out with Chantelise as we know it in English.

Once upon a time, there was a Japanese independent circle called EasyGameStation. They made fan games and independent titles like Recettear. But Chantelise was their first original-content game; it features all original characters and an original story. In Japan, Chantelise has been available since 2006, but it has not been as widely available to overseas gamers until the release of Carpe Fulgur's English localization this past July.

The gameplay of Chantelise is relatively straightforward. You control (with keyboard/mouse or with a recommended controller pad such as the Xbox 360 controller) Chante's sister Elise, who is a young swordswoman who plays in a basic hack-and-slash manner. Chante herself has been turned into a fairy and follows you about, helping you by casting spells using gems that Elise picks up. Controls are simple and can be remapped should you so wish on either the keyboard/mouse or on the controller pad.

As the introduction of the game says, these two sisters are on a quest to turn Chante back into a human, and very early on they come across a town with some curious ruins. Maybe the witch who turned Chante into a fairy is there...? Such begins the story. There are five dungeon areas in the game, but they are full of sub-areas and secrets so it can be more than twenty hours before you finish the game. However, the story can be a bit too light for some, especially on the strength of recent indie titles on Steam these days, but this is supposed to be an enjoyable diversion of an action RPG and it is there that it shines. It is indeed fun, and light, and a good break from other types of games such as that psychological horror game you have been meaning to play but are too scared to actually start, or that first-person shooter that you have trouble finding a good team to play with.

But most Americans have not heard of the Japanese circle EasyGameStation, despite the fact that Recettear was released in English by the same localization studio Carpe Fulgur, so it was up to Carpe Fulgur to help bridge the Japanese studio with American (and other overseas) gamers yet again.

Carpe Fulgur has worked together with EasyGameStation before on the localization of Recettear, and they upped the ante for producing Chantelise's localization. This was not a rushed and shoddy patch job; Carpe Fulgur coordinated with EasyGameStation to express their wishes and intent to bring the English-speaking audience the best version of Chantelise possible. With the advent of high-speed Internet and the proliferation of various messaging and email services, cooperating with the original studio is made easier than in past years, thus ensuring a quality localization treatment that would have taken many more man-hours to do in years past. In fact, in their blog article, Carpe Fulgur lists some of the major changes that they and EasyGameStation made that can be seen in the English release that enabled the game to be the best game it could possibly be. 

It was Carpe Fulgur's release that enabled full support for XInput controller devices, so if you ever remap the controls or use a controller pad as I did, you know who to thank for it. As far as the localization script goes, there is still Japanese audio but each “Sou sou” or “Itadakimasu” – even Chante's brusque mannerisms and Elise's soft-spoken demeanor – is well rendered into English, providing a seamless immersion into the game. Localizations should help immersion, not detract from the game, and certainly Carpe Fulgur did its job well. More international efforts should be like this – with the proliferation of the Internet, there is no reason why they should not be.

This is a fun and lighthearted action RPG that is only $10 USD on Steam. However, some aspects of the game can seem frustrating; in the tutorial, for example, the player has to clear all of the enemies in the area before being allowed to proceed and the player does not know that fact initially. Also figuring out where to go and how to do it, even if the destination is made clear to you, can lead to some frustration as well.



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