Stop me if you've heard this one: a guy wakes up on a beach to see a beautiful girl in front of him who needs to be taken home through a valley of bandits. Oh, and he lost his memory.
Okay, so Steambot Chronicles starts off like every other RPG, what makes SC unlike other RPGs is that it is much farther reaching in its gameplay than most games like to admit.
There really isn't much definitive plot, since you can approach the game in completely different ways in each play.
How you play the game, and what you want to accomplish are huge parts of this game. While you have a wide variety of things to do, you can only really progress the storyline one particular way per play, largely concerning your decisions in the beginning of the game.
As a result, to understand the full breadth of the game, you are going to have to play it several times. This isn't really a bad thing considering how well crafted and how beautiful the game is.
Do you want to be a trotmobile fighter? You can do that. Do you want to be a musician? You can do that too. In addition to trying to figure out or solve whatever problem may be ahead of you, depending on your choices, you have various ways of going about it. Basically speaking, this is one of the best examples of a sandbox RPG that I've ever seen. It manages to give the players choices without seeming generic, and that is what it's all about.
As far as mech handling, imagine Katamari Damacy with legs. The controls are a bit hard to get a feel for at first, though unlike most control systems, familiarity does not really breed mastery. The camera angles often hinder you, though it is inventive.
Dual analog just seems like such a bad idea for a giant robot.
The musical mini games are simple enough, but with a few interesting changes compared to most rhythm mini-games. These mini games are actually challenging enough for an entire facet of the game.
There are various instruments that you can pick up and play each tune with, different ones being more difficult than others.
Visuals and Sounds
I'm usually against cel-shading, but in this case, it gave the entire game a very clean feeling, which suits the nature of the adventure.
The voice acting seems a bit off, but that is often a problem with voice acting in video games, particularly ones without cinema scenes or clear cues. The pauses aren't quite as bad as, say, Thousand Arms, but there just is not enough emotion in the voices to really convey much of anything.
Efforts of Atlus
This past summer showed that Atlus had been working for a long time to bring out a collage of new games, and Steambot Chronicles is probably the best one out of the crop, especially when compared to Deep Labryinth and Metal Saga, two games trying desperately to be classic in their own ways.
Steambot Chronicles has inventiveness on its side, and that is more than enough to, in my mind, forgive the flaws in controls and voice acting. A game can't be perfect, but it can be fresh.
Final Verdict: 8.4/10
Official website at www.atlus.com/sc/.