February 23, 2001
Evergrace - Preview
Release Date Publisher Developer Rating Players Price
29/3/2001CraveFrom Software1$99.95

Evergrace may not be the best looking RPG ever, especially when you compare it to Final Fantasy X and the developers, From Software, haven't got the greatest track record with RPG's. But the most important thing with any RPG is the storyline and Evergrace promises to be highly detailed. Hopefully the gameplay, graphics and atmosphere of the game will be equally impressive. Only time will tell, but it's nice to see so many RPG's appearing on a new console so early in its life.

The following is the history and setup for the game;
The Rise and Fall of the Rieubane Empire
Long ago, when the Rieubane Empire emerged, there was a great warrior renowned as a legendary mercenary of the Edinbury continent. He and his army fought against the Rieubane Empire. The Empire thus concluded that the warrior's inhuman power came from the Crest with which the warrior was born. Morpheus, magician of the Empire, established the Human Research Laboratory and conducted research on the Crest by capturing the warrior. As a result, the man-made AI Crest and Palmira armaments were developed, supporting the ascent of Rieubane.
Morpheus (no, not the one from the Matrix) always believed that there was a greater hidden strength in the Crest, and continued research. But when Rieubane invaded Toledo to capture more test subjects, the Empire - along with Morpheus and all its people - suddenly disappeared. People remembered the "Lost Empire of Rieubane", linking the Crest and Billiana trees as bad omens.

The Birth of Fontraile in the Tragedy of the Crest
A hundred years after the disappearance of Rieubane, tales of the Lost Empire have withered away and the land became a forest of Billiana trees. Four villages once belonging to the empire formed an alliance to establish the empire of Fontraile. However, ties between the villages are weak, and internal conflicts are frequent.
The territorial land of Fontraile grew more fragile year after year. Solta, one of the four villages, claimed that the land was being depleted by the Billiana forests, which sucked up the nutrients and resources. They stated that the Billiana forests should be cut down. However, Morea treated the Billiana trees as sacred, and fiercely disagreed with the Soltans.
The two villages argued with each other repeatedly. The fierce argument finally developed into a war, later referred to as the "Billiana War". The Soltans had four great warriors known as the Four Swordsmen of Solta, and with their strength, Morea was overcome. Once Morea was defeated, a new country of Fontraile was developed, led by the Soltans.

Long ago, on the continent of Edinbury, there existed people with a mark known only as the Crest. Many inexplicable and tragic events occurred around people who bore the Crest. Soon people began calling the Crest the "cursed mark" and feared and avoided anyone who had it.

In modern times, when such legends were long forgotten, a young lad of Solta by the name of Darius bore the Crest on his right hand. He did his best to hide it from people, so that no one would see it. To his horror, his parents were murdered by an invading army when he was very young. He grew up believing that this tragedy was brought on by the Crest. Darius grew up as a swordsman whose only concern was for vengeance. One day, while chasing after the murderer of his parents, Darius encountered a great Billiana tree, symbol of his sworn enemy, Morea. Thus, he opened a door to a world he never knew had existed.
"Where am I . . .?"
Amid unfamiliar surroundings Darius encountered a mysterious life form called Krisalis and learned about the Lost Empire.
"What's the meaning of the Crest, and what is the destiny of those who bear it?"

Sharline lived in happiness and harmony with her family and Darius, who treated her like a real sister. But she knew of the strange mark on his right hand. One day, a sudden tragedy occurred, and Sharline was transported to a different world. When she awakened, she was met by the worried gaze of another girl.
"Where am I?"
In these strange and foreign surroundings, she was powerless to prevent the girl who had helped her from being kidnapped by someone.
"Why was she kidnapped? Can I somehow return to my own world?"
Thus, Darius and Sharline began their journeys, each in search of destiny...

Evergrace takes place on a continent called Edinbury. It has seen the the rise and fall of empires and has a deep forest of Billiana trees. The continent includes the Lost Empire Rieubane which researched the Billiana trees and the Crest which resulted in the creation of Palmira Armaments, which made it the greatest military power in history, but it abruptly disappeared. As with other places, the people of Rieubane abhorred the Crest bearers. Other places of interest during the game include the Human Research Laboratory which was lead by Morpheus, the Toledo which was a small village deep inside the Billiana Forest which was ultimately destroyed by Morpheus. Three other areas of interest include Fontraile, a new empire comprising four villages that once belonged to the Rieubane Empire, Solta, one of the villages making up Fontraile. Solta wants to develop the Billiana Forest, and thus is in constant contention with Morea. This is the place Darius once called home, and finally Morea a village that considers the Billiana trees sacred. Morea contends with Solta, wanting to avoid the fate that befell the Rieubane Empire.

During the game you play either Darius or Sharleen which each have totally seperate stories. Interestingly it is possible to switch between characters during the game. It's an interesting proposition and one which apparently works quite well.

Evergrace allows you to customize every element of the weaponry, armour and clothing to help strengthen the characters. By combining certain armour and clothing you can unlock secret magical abilities and powers. Equipping the members with different clothing or armour will show a visible difference to the characters on screen, not just a difference on the stats page like so many other games. The combat is interesting in that it makes use of the analogue buttons to determine the power of each attack. Naturally a more powerful attack takes more time making you vulnerable to attack. A weaker attack is a lot quicker, but will take a lot more hits to inflict the damage.

Evergrace won't be up to the standard of Square's Final Fantasy games, but can you really expect that these days anyway. This is an interesting game with some unique features and a complex storyline. UbiSoft have promised a release in March and if you are a RPG fan, you will probably want to take a look at this game.