Prius Online Preview – Giant Mecha, Little Girls, and Flashing Blades

prius online
An adorable little Anima.
Do you like giant mecha? Do you love playing in a fantasy setting? Do you want an freakily powerful, Alma-like little girl companion to follow you around with mindless devotion and the ability to set your foes on fire? If you answer yes to all three questions, then you might be be interested in Prius Online, the latest Korean import being distributed by gPotato. This F2P (free-to-play) game is currently in beta and Ten Ton Hammer got the opportunity to give it a hands-on preview.

The lore of Prius Online is the standard mix of impending doom and the idea that the player is a figure of great destiny. For character creation, the player has four races and six classes to choose from at the present time, with a seventh class to be revealed later. The classes are race and gender locked. If you want to play a Gunslinger, then you’re going to be a Hume (human) female. If you want to be an Ayin (elf) male, then you’re going to be a Legionnaire. The whole extent of character customization is pretty much jto adjust your hairstyle and facial appearance. After creating your character, then you create your Anima (a little girl who bonds to you and has incredible powers) and give her behaviors of passive or active, independent or dependent. Then you’re off to begin your adventures.

Overall, gameplay is your standard MMOG fare. You pick up quests and complete them to gain xp. As you gain levels, you gain skill points that you can use to pick up new skills or enhance a skill. Rather than going to a trainer to buy new skills, you are instead remembering the old skills that your character has. The background of the game is that your character died and was brought back to life. Sadly, your memory has been affected and you remember very little. As you hit certain milestones in your travels, you will trigger a cutscene. The cutscenes are well done and enhance the story, but they definitely need work on the dubbing and the text.

prius online
Once unlocked, your Anima will be loyal to the end.

As you travel, you will find (or buy) gear that will increase your stats and abilities. Buying and selling items is somewhat cumbersome in that you have to right click on an item and then select if you want to sell it, buy it, equip it, or discard it. This same type of interface also plagues the talking to NPCs and getting new quests. When you talk to an NPC, you’ll have to go back to choosing the general talk option once you have hit the end of a dialogue tree. You may have other topics to discuss, but you’ll have to go back to the very beginning of your dialogue and start again to eventually hit those other topics.

The main talking point of Prius Online is their 3C system, which stands for three characters. Eventually, you’ll have control of three different characters in the game and you’ll be able to switch back and forth between them if circumstances permit. First, you have your main character. Once you hit level 10, you can do a quest to unlock the second C, which is your Anima. The Anima is an anime girl that bonds to you and wields incredible power. They have different moods which can affect their gameplay. If they are not in the correct mood, they might not use that ability that you ask them to use. You can help change their moods, and strengthen the bond between your character and them, by talking to them. You can switch to back and forth between your character and the Anima by hitting F11. You’ll need to switch to the Anima to access their full abilities and for crafting. When you’re controlling the Anima, your normal character will just stand and wait. You only have a limited time you can be the Anima, at which point you’ll snap back to your character.

prius online
A mighty Gigas.

At around level 30, you’ll get the ability to get a Gigas, a giant mech that is controlled by the Anima. Gigas have a huge amount of firepower, but can only be summoned at certain times. You can have more than one Gigas, and you can view your whole collection (gotta collect them all!) while in your Atrium.

The Atrium is your character’s home and exists in its own dimensional pocket. The Atrium serves as your crafting center, your place of rest, personal bank, and quest history library. For crafting purposes, there is an NPC called Cepa that can only be interacted with only while you’re controlling the Anima. You can upgrade the Atrium with better amenities if you’re willing to spend the coin.

Combat is your typical auto-attack and activating special skills or abilities. Defeated enemies drop loot that you can recover. You have a mini-map to help you locate quest locations, but viewing your normal map can get difficult as that the text can obscure points of interest. Also, NPCs that have quests only show up on your mini-map if you’re extremely close. To help find available quests, you should go to the bulletin board located at the various hub sites. There, you can find a listing of the available quests in your area and who are the NPC contacts. There are also dungeons that you can go into, but they require a party to do so. There is PvP in the game in the form of arena fights.

The graphics for Prius Online are bright, colorful, and represent a more whimsical view of fantasy. One example is a monster that you’ll fight that are flying onions…yes, you read that right…flying onions. If you don’t like the anime visual style, then stay away from this game. Every character is done in the Eastern anima style. No rugged men (except for the Lon race) to be found here, only androgynous metrosexuals. Cuteness abounds in this game.

prius online
Bringing doom to the fearsome flying onions!

Prius Online is currently in closed beta and it shows its prerelease status in several ways. First, skills and crafting are not clearly explained within the game. There are tons of grammatical errors and the voiceover dubbing on the cutscenes is way off. The lack of drag-and-drop or hotkey selling in the player market and NPC dialogue trees should be improved. Another game aspect that can use some attention is if you happen to fail a quest. If you fail a quest, you just can’t start the quest over. You have to abandon the quest completely, go back to the original source of the quest and retake it, and then begin the quest anew.

The game is definitely more Western-friendly than other Asian imports, but shows the unmistakable hallmarks of a half-localized Eastern game. It will take a lot of time (ie: grinding) to make decent improvements to your Atrium. Crafting is pretty complicated and that it will take quite a bit of grinding to master. Plus, your Anima’s mood has an impact upon the crops that you’ll be cultivating, so I assume that you’ll be interacting with her quite a bit to make sure that she’s in the proper mood for whatever you’re trying to cultivate.

Overall, I had a nice experience trying out Prius Online. It’s certainly rough around the edges as it’s still in beta and slowly being reworked for Western audiences. While there a few things that need improvement, gameplay is solid, if largely unimaginative, and the setting is visually appealing. The 3C system of character, animas, and gigas is genre adapted take on AI-controlled mercenaries / minions, but is arguably better done – since stoy is told through the squad and more fun to play with. There are some aspects of the game that minimized my enjoyment (the grindy aspects of crafting and gameplay in general), but without a cash shop its impossible to see how free-play purist-friendly the game is. If you like the anime premise of Prius Online and its squad based features, there’s no harm in checking out Prius Online when it officially launches later in 2011.

prius online
A Gigas in action.


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