Baroque (video game)
PS2 North American Cover Art featuring Advanced Angel
|Designer(s)||Daizo Harada (Game director)
Takeshi Santo (Game producer)
Shinichi Abe (Main Game programmer)
Satoshi Miyauchi (Main Game programmer)
Ryuji Kudo (Main Game programmer)
|Genre(s)||Role-playing video game, Roguelike|
|Distribution||DVD-ROM, Wii Optical Disc|
Baroque (バロック Barokku) is a role-playing video game developed by and published Sting Entertainment, released in Japan for the Sega Saturn on May 21, 1998. It was ported for PlayStation on October 28, 1999, also released only on Japan. A remake version was for PlayStation 2 and Wii and was released in June 28, 2008 and March 13, 2008, respectively. Atlus announced that they would release the game on the North American and 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. On December 28, 2012, Sting released it for the Apple iOS platform. Rising Star Games released in Europe on July 18, 2008 for PS2 and August 22, 2008 for the Wii.
The objective of Baroque is to guide the nameless, mute, and amnesiac player character through the Neuro Tower to the bottom floor. Randomly generated, the majority of the layouts of the Neuro Tower's floors change each time the player ventures inside. Portals found on each floor of the tower will transport the player to the next floor. Death in Baroque does not result in a game over screen, but advances the plot, unlocking cutscenes, new areas, and comments by the non-player characters. The Neuro Tower expands after certain conditions are met.
The player character begins the game outside of the Neuro Tower with no items or experience points. Before entering the Neuro Tower, the player is presented with an Angelic Rifle, a special weapon that can destroy any monster with a single shot. However, the rifle has an ammunition capacity of five shots. The player can find items, swords, and equipment scattered around the tower at random and by defeating enemies—which also grants the player experience points, allowing the player character 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, and will lose all items, including those equipped, and all gained experience points. By throwing an item into a consciousness orb, the player can retrieve it from one of the non-player characters on the next play-through. 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 uses two gauges to measure the protagonist's health: hit points and 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.
Setting and characters
Set after a world-altering cataclysm called the Blaze that took place on May 14, 2032, Baroque focuses on a nameless, mute, and amnesiac protagonist. Early on, he finds himself tasked with purifying the Meta-Beings, once-human creatures that have lost themselves to the delusions inside them, and reaching the bottom floor of a tower to gain redemption for his forgotten sin. Through his interactions with the other characters and unlocked cutscenes, the player learns about the back-story and characters.
Outside the tower, the protagonist encounters several characters: Collector, a young boy who stores items as a hobby; Coffin Man, who maintains an underground training dungeon; Baroquemonger, who possess the ability to read an Idea Sephirah; the Horned Girl, who can voice the thoughts of anyone near her, and lost her identity to shield herself; the Bagged One, who speaks the words of others instead of her own; Longneck, who took part in research; and the Sentry Angel, who guards the research facility. Within the tower, he finds other characters: Alice; Eliza, who seeks to create Consciousness Orbs by using the protagonist's Idea Sephirah and help heal the Absolute God; Doctor Angelicus; Fist & Scythe; Neophyte; the Littles, who exist as the embodiment of pain; and the Archangel, who lies impaled on a Consciousness Orb at the tower's bottom floor, and implores the protagonist to purify the Absolute God.
Prior to the start of the game, the Order of Malkuth discovered that the Absolute God had returned to earth. They also found Consciousness Orbs, gigantic sensory orbs used by the Absolute God to compress reality, scattered around the world. The Malkuth Order wanted to learn more about the Absolute God, so they experimented with them. Subtle distortions in reality started appearing and people slowly began to change. The Archangel's sister was the first person to become a Meta-Being. The Malkuth Order, led by the Archangel, created artificial Consciousness Orbs to help stop the distortions, but the false orbs only added to the distortions. The Archangel removed "pain" from the Absolute God, and poured corrupted data into the Consciousness Orbs to keep the Absolute God from fixing the distortions. He then harvested the Absolute God's pain as the Littles.
Littles, the embodiment of pain, are creatures that can only live inside of "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 make a new world. The Koriel, a group of high-ranking members within the Malkuth Order, tried to stop the Archangel; they decided to make direct contact with the God through fusion to hear its will. A member of the Koriel, the protagonist had a conjoined twin brother, with whom he shared a heart. Only one of them could function at a time, and both were dying. The Koriel sacrificed the older brother, and picked the protagonist for the fusion. When the Archangel learned about the Koriel's plan, he interrupted the fusion and caused the Blaze. The Absolute God created Alice and Eliza to fill the gap left by him. While the God gained a voice, the protagonist became mute, but gained the ability to purify others. The consciousness of protagonist's deceased older brother got absorbed by the Consciousness Orbs and fused with him during the Dabar.
In the end, the protagonist fuses with the Absolute God along with Alice, Eliza and the Littles. Although the world is still distorted, they decide not to purify it; instead, they accept the distortion and thereby achieve freedom.
Produced by Takeshi Santo, Baroque saw a Japan-only release for the Sega Saturn by Sting Entertainment on May 21, 1998; a Japanese release for the PlayStation followed on October 28, 1999, with a limited edition of the game appearing simultaneously. Masaharu Iwata composed the audio for Baroque while Toshiaki Sakoda developed the sound effects. For the remake of Baroque, the developers changed the viewpoint of the player from a first-person perspective to third-person one. Additionally, Shigeki Hayashi composed the music for the remake. In Japan, Sting published the remake for a PlayStation 2 release on June 28, 2007, and a Wii version on March 13, 2008; in North America and Europe, the Wii and PlayStation 2 releases were simultaneously published on April 8, 2008, and August 29, 2008, respectively. In Europe, it was released by Rising Star Games, the PS2 version was released July 18, 2008 while the Wii version was released on August 22, 2008, it uses an original Japanese and Dubbed version that can choose in option mode.
English voice cast (Wii and PlayStation 2)
- Kyle Hebert as Archangel
- Mary Elizabeth McGlynn as Eliza, Doctor Angelicus
- 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
Japanese voice cast
- Ai Bando as The Protagonist
- Mamoru Miyano as Advanced Angel
- Yuka Shioyama as Iraiza, The Mind Reader
- Kaori Nazuka as Alice, The Horned Girl
- Dai Natsuki as Doctor Angelicus
- Tsuyoshi Takahashi as The Baroquemonger
- Rika Komatsu as The Collector, The Bagged One,
- Shinichi Yamada as Longneck, Thummim
- Yasuhiko Tokuyama as The Coffin Man
- Kohei Fukuhara as The Sentry Angel, The Fox Brearer
- Yuki Makishima as Urim
- Kenji Nojima as The Worker Angel/Neophyte
- Takahiro Fujimoto as The Researcher Angel/Brain, The Execution Angel/Scythe
- Keiji Hirai as The Researcher Angel/Gas Mask, The Execution Angel/Fist
Baroque was adapted into a horror fantasy shōnen manga titled BAROQUE 欠落のパラダイム (Ketsuraku no Paradaimu Baroque lit. Baroque: The Missing Paradigm?), written by Shinshuu Ueda. The chapters were serialized in Monthly GFantasy and were published in three volumes by Square Enix from March 2001 to March 2002.
|01||March 2001||ISBN 978-4-7575-0429-5|
|02||September 2001||ISBN 978-4-7575-0546-9|
|03||March 27, 2002||ISBN 978-4-7575-0657-2|
Baroque spawn another game in the series for the PSOne in 2000 (and later for PSN), Baroque Syndrome, which plays like a visual novel and serves as a prequel to the events that led to the cataclysm. Sting also developed and released a scrolling shootemup, Baroque Shooting, and a typing game, Baroque Typing, for Windows, in 2000 and 2002 respectively. These games were released only in Japan.
Baroque received mixed reviews, with a combined score on GameRankings 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."
Daemon Hatfield of IGN felt that while Baroque had a "unique" concept, it lacked direction. Hatfield criticized the game concept as "convoluted" and rated the game "5.4". GameSpot's Lark Anderson described it as "[a] fiendishly difficult, randomly generated dungeon crawler that at times can be an incredible work of interactive fiction, and at other times, a muddled mess." Anderson praised the variety of items and weapons, and the "strong and compelling" story, but thought the unconventional, deliberately unclear method of storytelling and lack of an introduction made it difficult for the player to care about it.
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- Sting Entertainment (April 8, 2008). Baroque. PlayStation 2. Atlus. "Collector: Picking up items is my hobby. Though I can only hold 5 items."
- Sting Entertainment (April 8, 2008). Baroque. PlayStation 2. Atlus. "Coffin Man: Welcome to my underground cemetery. If you die, you're all mine. If you're cool with that, please come in, goddammit."
- "Character – Baroquemonger". Atlus. Retrieved January 12, 2011.
- "Character – The Horned Girl". Atlus. Retrieved January 12, 2011.
- Sting Entertainment (April 8, 2008). Baroque. PlayStation 2. Atlus. "Baroquemonger: Fading, disappearing self...Eventually she had stopped being herself...She could not be harmed, so long as she was someone else..."
- "Character – The Bagged One". Atlus. Retrieved January 12, 2011.
- Sting Entertainment (April 8, 2008). Baroque. PlayStation 2. Atlus. "Baroquemonger: It seems he was conducting some sort of research, but reading the details will be no small feat. The distortion is hindering my ability to discern it."
- "Character – The Sentry Angel". Atlus. Retrieved January 12, 2011.
- Sting Entertainment (April 8, 2008). Baroque. PlayStation 2. Atlus. "Eliza: Please... pure water... your... crystal..."
- Sting Entertainment (April 8, 2008). Baroque. PlayStation 2. Atlus. "Eliza: I will bear Consciousness Orbs... I will bear Consciousness Orbs and change my crazed mother back..."
- Sting Entertainment (April 8, 2008). Baroque. PlayStation 2. Atlus. "Archangel: I cannot move from here. I can only tell the followers what to do from here, because of this spike through my back. You are my last hope, with your purification abilities. Please."
- Sting Entertainment (April 8, 2008). Baroque. PlayStation 2. Atlus. "Achangel: The Consciousness Orbs are tools to absorb and spit out information. They are located all over the world, including inside the Neuro Tower."
- Sting Entertainment (April 8, 2008). Baroque. PlayStation 2. Atlus. "Koriel Member #11: The world began to bend ever so slowly, and the Archangel argued that the Absolute God was trying to destroy us. But, we couldn't believe it. That's why we attempted the Dabar."
- Sting Entertainment (April 8, 2008). Baroque. PlayStation 2. Atlus. "Archangel: I just could not bear to see my sister become an invisible existence. The world was a paradise for fools who escape reality and pretended not to see distortions. I just wanted to turn that empty paradise into the same twisted form as my sister. Now go to the bottom floor. You're the only one who can heal my regret. Please..."
- Sting Entertainment (April 8, 2008). Baroque. PlayStation 2. Atlus. "Research Angel: The Archangel argued that the Absolute God should be sealed away because she was beginning to twist. But he was the one who was distorting her with the fake Consciousness Orbs. Only the Koriel realized this."
- Sting Entertainment (April 8, 2008). Baroque. PlayStation 2. Atlus. "Bagged One: The Archangel said, 'If I have the Absolute God's core, we can make a new world over and over again. I will be the next one to create and sustain the world. I'll return the world to normal in an instant.'"
- Sting Entertainment (April 8, 2008). Baroque. PlayStation 2. Atlus. "Koriel Member #2: We wanted to hear the will of God. That's why we fused with you. To hear the will of God from your mouth. Do you speak the will of God? Did the Dabar project succeed?"
- Sting Entertainment (April 8, 2008). Baroque. PlayStation 2. Atlus. "Koriel Member #1: Thank you. I am the last. Thank you for purifying everyone. No wait, I am not the last one: we still have you. You are the final Koriel. The rest is up to you. Now purify me."
- Sting Entertainment (April 8, 2008). Baroque. PlayStation 2. Atlus. "Woman: There's no other way. A single heart cannot support the both of them.[...] We have no alternative. We must sacrifice one of them."
- Sting Entertainment (April 8, 2008). Baroque. PlayStation 2. Atlus. "Koriel Member #6: Did the Archangel realize our plan...? Did the world become like this because you were torn apart? How terrifying... what caused the world to warp?"
- Sting Entertainment (April 8, 2008). Baroque. PlayStation 2. Atlus. "Eliza: We were born as multiple divinities in order to fill the gap you left. But through the Consciousness Orbs, we were able to meet again..."
- Sting Entertainment (April 8, 2008). Baroque. PlayStation 2. Atlus. "Alice: The Archangel ripped us apart. In order to drive the Absolute God mad. In order to become God himself. I don't mind disappearing, but I'm sad that I can't become one with you."
- Sting Entertainment (April 8, 2008). Baroque. PlayStation 2. Atlus. "Eliza: We had no ability to speak. No, rather, the world we maintained itself was our language. Due to the project you called 'Dabar', you and I became one, and you tried to hear our will in your own tongue. But the Archangel tore us apart. We entrusted you with the ability to purify, and you left us the ability to speak your language."
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- "BAROQUE (1) (コミック)". Amazon.com. Retrieved 2009-09-17.
- "BAROQUE (3) (コミック)". Amazon.com. Retrieved 2009-09-17.
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- Hardcore Gaming 101: Sting RPGs
- Baroque Universe, MobyGames.
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- Daemon Hatfield (2008-04-30). "IGN: Baroque Review". IGN. Archived from the original on 19 June 2009. Retrieved 2009-06-16.
- Anderson, Lark (April 16, 2008). "Baroque Review for PlayStation 2". GameSpot. Retrieved January 13, 2011.