Baroque is a console role-playing game developed by Sting Entertainment and published by Atlus, originally developed for the Sega Saturn and later ported to the PlayStation. It was later remade by Sting, where it was to be a planned exclusive for Japan. However, Baroque was scheduled for release in the United States on March 18 2008 for the PlayStation 2 and Wii. Atlus USA eventually released both versions of the game on April 8, 2008.
Baroque's story takes place following a world-altering cataclysm called the Blaze that took place on May 14, 2032. The world, now existing in a twisted state, is populated by Meta-Beings, creatures that were once human but that have lost their hearts and minds to the Baroques inside them. The player's goal is to reach the bottom of the Neuro Tower, the former home of the Order of Malkuth, a religious organization seeking to save God. At the beginning of the game, the protagonist is told that by purifying the Meta-Beings within the tower and reaching the bottom floor, he will find redemption for sins committed that he cannot remember.
As the story develops it is learned that the Archangel removed noradrenaline ("pain") from the Absolute God and poured corrupted data into the Consciousness Orbs to keep the Absolute God from fixing the distortion growing inside of itself. He then harvested the Absolute God's pain as the Littles. Littles, the embodiment of pain, are creatures that can only live inside "ampules" and were cultivated by Doctor Angelicus and Longneck. Their purpose was to be used as bullets for the Angelic Rifle, so that the Archangel can purify the Absolute God and take its Idea Sephirath to become the new Absolute God.
The Koriel, a group of False Angels within the Malkuth Order, tried to stop the Archangel by attempting the Dabar fusion (fusing a human with the Absolute God to "hear god's will"). The protagonist had a conjoined twin brother and they shared one heart. Only one of them could function at a time and both were dying. They sacrificed the older brother and picked the protagonist for the fusion. When the Archangel learned about the Koriel's plans, he interrupted the fusion and caused the Blaze.
The Absolute God created multiple divinities (Alice and Eliza) to fill the gap left by the protagonist. It gained the protagonist's ability to speak, while the protagonist gained its power to purify. The consciousness of protagonist's deceased older brother got absorbed by the Consciousness Orbs and fused with him during the Dabar. The protagonist gets chosen by the Archangel for the Sisyphean task of heading to the bottom of the Neuro Tower to purify the Absolute God, because he is the only person with the power of purification.
In the end, the protagonist fuses with the Absolute God along with Alice, Eliza and the Littles. The world is still distorted, but they decide to form a consensus reality (purification of the world is impossible) by merging with the Baroques of the Meta-Beings.
- This young man carries the burden of a sin he cannot recall. He's lost his memories and cannot speak. The Archangel finds him wandering the deserted city, and orders him to head to the bottom of the Neuro Tower. He is the only one with the ability to purify the Meta-Beings.
- The leader of the Malkuth Order has large wings and red eyes. He hands the Angelic Rifle to the protagonist and tells him to go to the bottom of the Neuro Tower. However, his reason for doing so is unknown.
- A short-haired, rebellious girl. She seems to carry a slight grudge towards the protagonist. She is one of the Wandering Maidens.
- Long-haired girl who seeks Pure Water. She doesn't talk much and tends to avoid the protagonist. Another of the Wandering Maidens.
- A false angel who was called the "Doctor of the Angels" in the Malkuth Order. She assists the Archangel.
- These characters are flying within the Neuro Tower. They have wings and look somewhat like angels.
Fist & Scythe
- Armored soldiers of the Malkuth Order known as the Massacre Angels. They wander the Neuro Tower looking for something.
- A False Angel wandering through the Neuro Tower searching for traitors within the Malkuth Order. He is absolutely loyal to the Archangel.
- He stands guard in the Outer World.
- A man who stands in the corner of the Outer World. He has the ability to read the information contained in an Idea Sephirath.
- A boy who loves to pick up items from the Outer World and stuff them into the bag on this head. He doesn't seems to have any interests other than item collecting.
Baroque plays very similarly to a standard roguelike, with the main difference being the player moves in full 3D space in real-time rather than being confined to a turn-based movement system based on grids.
The player begins the game outside of the Neuro Tower, the game's primary dungeon, with no items. Before entering the Neuro Tower for the first time, the player is presented with an Angelic Rifle, a special weapon that can purify any Meta-Being with a single shot. However, the rifle has an ammunition capacity of five shots. There is no way to reload the rifle while in the tower.
Once inside the Neuro Tower, the player must advance to the bottom by exploring each floor and finding the exit. The player can find items, swords, and equipment scattered around the tower at random and by defeating enemies. Defeating enemies also grants the player experience points which allow the protagonist to gain levels and become more powerful. However, should the protagonist die before reaching the end of the dungeon, the player will be returned to the starting point outside the tower, will lose all items that were either equipped or in the inventory, and will return to character level 1. An exception to these rules is through the use of consciousness orbs scattered throughout the tower. By throwing an item into a consciousness orb, the item will reappear outside the tower and be picked up by a character called the Collector. Up to five items can be saved in this manner at the start, but the number can increase if certain conditions are met.
The game makes use of two life gauges to measure the protagonist's health. The hit point gauge displays the current and maximum values of the protagonist's hit points. The vitality gauge displays similar values representing the protagonist's vitality. The vitality gauge constantly drains during gameplay. If it empties, the hit point gauge will begin to drain. Both gauges can be refilled by eating various forms of flesh and hearts to restore hit points and vitality respectively. If flesh or a heart is consumed while the relevant stat is filled to maximum, the protagonist's maximum hit points/vitality will increase by a fixed amount.
Like a traditional roguelike, the layouts of most of the Neuro Tower's floors are randomly generated, meaning that the map changes each time the player ventures inside. However, certain aspects, such as special rooms and characters will always appear on specific floors.
Death and plot advancement
More of the plot is revealed as the protagonist dies and restarts. Certain story-revealing cutscenes and conversations will only occur if the player has died or by reaching the bottom of the Neuro Tower and starting over.
Originally, the music for Baroque was composed by Masaharu Iwata, with assistance from John Pee, and Toshiaki Sakoda.
The remake was composed entirely by Shigeki Hayashi, and features a new style, with a stronger emphasis on a more industrial rock feel, as opposed to the ambient material in the original.
English voice cast (Wii and PlayStation 2)
- Kyle Hebert as Archangel
- Mary Elizabeth McGlynn as Eliza
- Michelle Ruff as Alice, Urim
- Dave Wittenberg as The Coffin Man
- Karen Strassman as The Horned Girl
- Wendee Lee as The Bagged One
- Derek Stephen Prince as The Protagonist, Longneck, Thummim
Baroque inspired a sequel, Baroque Syndrome, as well as several spinoffs, such as Baroque Typing and Baroque Shooting.
Baroque received mixed reviews, with a combined score on Game Rankings of 53% for the Wii version and 58% for the PS2 version. The most popular complaint focused on the game's extreme difficulty curve. RPGFan explained "...it is not for everyone. Only those who truly appreciate rogue-like RPGs will be able to get the most enjoyment out of it."
- ↑ Baroque - New release date, Wii details update, new items, site updated. Go Nintendo. Accessed January 18 2008.
- ↑ Drones hold Baroque in the dungeon until April. Siliconera. Accessed February 27 2008.
- ↑ http://www.gamerankings.com/htmlpages2/944292.asp?q=baroque
- ↑ http://www.gamerankings.com/htmlpages2/937839.asp?q=baroque
- ↑ Alexander Lucard. Diehard GameFAN's 2008 Gaming Awards. Diehard GameFAN. Retrieved on 2009-01-24.
- Official site
- Japanese Site
- Atlus USA talks Baroque: localization, gameplay, market positioning
- Baroque trailer at YouTube
- Information about Baroque