Ran Online Review

by Gabriele Giorgi, Onrpg Writer

From Godzilla to Evangelion, Japan has always been the first bulwark against aliens, demons and all kinds of enemies who wanted to invade Earth. But mankind was going to be safe, since brave defenders (robots, super-humans, mutants… you name it) would protect our civilization. This time the menace comes from hell itself, and our guardian angels will be… students!

Taught to fight
18 years ago a total eclipse enshrouded Asia and a meteor shower swept the land leaving only destruction in its wake. The affected part of the continent was quarantined by the rest of the world: the meteors had opened a dimensional rift into a demonic realm!

Soon afterwards, a new organization sprang up: it gathered wealth and resources, and built schools meant to train the strongest and the smartest: they would become fighters and make their stand against the uprising evil.
The organization erected shields around the schools, hoping to keep possessed humans and living dead at bay. But in Leonair, one of the campuses, the shields went down and, in but a single night, the school fell.
Now only three of them remain. And the fate of the world rests in their students’ hands.

The training begins
In the intro screen you will be greeted by a greatly-inspired hard-rock tune, which perfectly sets the mood of the game. Unfortunately the music in the rest of the game will be pretty ordinary, but the intro theme really rocks!
You have to choose your campus and your role: each school has its own peculiar style (old-fashioned, mystique, high-tech) while the available careers are four, but each one has two paths to be followed: even if careers are pretty standard (tank, melee DPS, ranged DPS, healer/buffer), specializing in one path is a way to customize them. You will receive skill and attribute points for every level, and you will be able to spend them accordingly, choosing to concentrate only on a few powers or to develop a wider array to draw upon. Just keep in mind that, in order to raise certain skills, you have to meet both level and attribute requirements.
If you want more skill points, you can perform tasks for a particular NPC who will award them on completion: usually it will be a hard task, but it will be worth your while.
As soon as you have spoken with teachers and other persons inside the school to understand the basics, you will be given missions. The first tasks are meant to let you explore the campus and give you an overview of locations (both interior and exterior) and opponents. Missions are detailed in the appropriate panel, and there are just enough of them to go by; usually they will involve killing mobs, but at times you may be required more menial tasks like cleaning rubble… a break from grinding, anyway.

Fighting style
Fighting mobs is pretty straightforward: just left-click and your character will start to auto-attack the enemy. The right button is reserved to use abilities, and you can place them on a shortcut bar, as well as potions and consumables you might need in battle to heal and regenerate power. Standard method, and it works, but considering that, as you progress, fights become more and more fast-paced, a quick activation of skill via keyboard (just like for consumables) would have helped.
Since WASD keys are reserved for items, movement is point-and-click and to rotate the camera you have to keep pressed the central mouse button; odd choice, and awkward at first, but it is balanced by a very efficient map system: you click anywhere on the mini-map and your character will go there, no matter how many twists and turns it takes. You can also buy “tickets” to fast-travel back and fro between the school building and the last place visited… or where you died.
Apart from ordinary loot from the mobs you killed, there is a feature worth mentioning: destiny boxes are a sort of Easter eggs where you can find temporary buffs or, less frequently, bombs and even spawning bosses.
Students also want to look cool while fighting evil: the schools and departments will provide different uniforms as you progress, and if you want to further customize your appearance you can buy other unique outfits from the item shop (as well as other perks to help you leveling). Only the choice of faces is pretty limited.
Scantily-clad girls and fashionable boys will look even cooler while they perform their moves: while the game makes large use of polygons for environment, animations really look great, with plenty of special effects you won’t easily get tired to watch.
And since rivalry is so common among schools, there are limited time frames when members of different college can fight each other in PvP.

The darkness within
Your opponents are the spawn of hell, but in the beginning the mobs you’ll encounter will be just possessed humans; only later in the game you will face monstrous opponents like zombies and vampires. Perhaps the designers wanted to keep the horror theme more on the inside, but maybe some horns, claws and fangs more would have helped.
But the real problem with enemies resides in the lack of information: the only thing you can see is a vital bar, but you will receive no information at all about the challenge level, as in most MMO. As a result, you’ll have to learn by yourself which opponents you can take on, without any means to assess it.

There are other two “dark sides” to be mentioned.
First, since game server are based in Asia, non-Asian players are likely to suffer from serious lag issues, even to the point of seeing their characters dead after a few seconds of (apparent) inactivity: mobs do not care about lag when they want to smash you!
Another flaw is represented by the English translation, often quite weird, and at times the meaning of some sentences is really difficult to grasp.

If you do not experience lag issues, you might enjoy this game: it’s got some nice features, although some parts could have been improved or designed in a better way. If you love manga and anime, especially works by Go Nagai like Devilman or Violence Jack, and want to be a part of a story like that, then look no further.

– Nice animations and cool outfits
– A good number of skills allowing to customize characters according to fighting style
– Efficient auto-navigation system

– Possible serious lag issues for non-Asian players
– No stats or challenge levels shown for opponents
– English translation sometimes weird and difficult to understand

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