Rance 6: The Collapse of Zeth Review (PC)

After the short spin-off mission that was Rance 5D, comes Rance 6 which is a giant sprawling adventure. Almost every facet of the game has been expanded manyfold to the extent that it plays like a totally different game. The auto battles are now full-fledged turn-based fights, the random dungeon exploration gives way for full dungeon trotting, while the party of a handful of characters now numbers in the 20s, most of which Rance can woo.


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This adventure takes place in the land of Zeth. Ruled by mages, everyone else is just a second class citizen and serves little more than slaves for the magic wielding nobles. After a successful mission, Rance is captured and send off to fight for their entertainment while his mage slave Sill is treated as royalty.


Displeased with the turn of events, Rance winds up joining the Ice Flame, a group of freedom fighters struggling to overthrow the mages. He doesn’t join them to help the innocent or because of fame or fortune, but  instead because they have hot girls on their side.


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As you may have gathered, Rance isn’t your typical hero, hell he isn’t even decent enough to fill the shoes of an antihero. He is perverted and at times a cruel asshole who somehow manages to always come out on top. Everything he does is because of his crazy libido. But it is this unlikable nature of his that also makes him such an interesting character to follow.


This adventure takes twists and turns and will always keep you guessing as to what is bound to happen next. In one moment you will be exploring typical underground dungeons and forests while in the next you will visit an art gallery and yet in another you will try to rob half of the gold from a corrupt bank.


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The game’s selling point is its bizarre but enjoyable cast of colorful characters as well as it’s over the top humor. Talking about humor, it is present in every facet of the Rance 6, from the enjoyable but often ridiculous story, to battles with totally out of place magnet wielding wrestlers, to the epic ways in which Rance is turned down after his unsuccessful sexual encounters.


Dungeons are now fully rendered in 3D. All the dungeons are handcrafted and feature different mechanics keeping the exploration fresh. Exploring isn’t just about combat, as you will also stumble across various character and mission events, serving as a nice break of pace. In one instance Rance and his crew had to hunt down ATM machines scattered around town and destroy them to prevent the greedy mages from making money off the poor folks.


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Like in your typical dungeon crawler you explore tile by tile, whilst battling hordes of absurdly designed enemies in random encounters. Whereas Rance 5D had automatic battles where the player could do little more than watch, Rance 6 uses a classic turn-based system. Despite all this, battles are still more on the simplistic side. You don’t have to manage MP since special moves just take more turns to cast. Items can only be used outside of battle so that is another thing to worry less about.


You can place three members in the front and three in the back. The same goes for the enemies. Melee fighters can only attack one lane in front of them while ranged members can attack the back rows. So it’s up to you if you want to focus all your efforts on the vanguard or if you instead want to strike the squishy but well defended back lines that are definitely preparing to cast a devastating spell.


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Dungeon crawling can be a tedious affair. The developers of Rance 6 knew this and did their best to make this rather punishing genre as accessible to the wider audience as possible. Rance can escape from any fight with ease, except, naturally, the obligatory boss battles. You can even return to a safe hub at a moment’s notice at no cost, where all your party members are automatically healed and revived at no cost. All this is not to say that you cannot die, just that if you do only you are to blame.


The simplicity is translated to the equipment system. Each character has only five different armors and weapons available, ranging from classes D, C, B, A to S. In order to buy a class A weapon you have to have purchased all the previous classes. So it ends up being less of what you want to buy and more of who you want to buy it for.


Rance 6 has a staggering roster of characters. You can have a total of 16 members in your party at any time, six of which you can drag into battles at any time. If a character is killed or if they run out of stamina by participating in too many battles, you can freely swap them out with one of the reserves you brought on with you. All these characters get experience whether they participate or not so you don’t need to rely on a single group of elite party members.


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Gone is the timer and with it the random ability to succeed or fail crucial actions. Now different events in the main hub require a different number of colored orbs which you can grab while exploring dungeons. It’s an interesting mechanic and forces you to think out what you want to do. But generally it ends up being a bit on the tedious side, since these orbs always appear in similar places, allowing you to effectively enter a dungeon, grab a few, exit, use them up in events, rinse and repeat.


As you have more events with your allies so too will your budding relationship grow. Each character has friendship points which indicate how close they are to Rance. Bringing members to main missions is all fine, but only the most loyal will want to accompany you to random locations.


For its insane cast, it’s amazing how much the group feels like a whole. Every character has his or her own agenda with Rance leading the way. Rance will coerce just about everyone into joining his party from colorful perky mages, to elegant Japanese women, to crazy girls with names that wouldn’t sound out of place for a death metal band. To everybody’s surprise the first character that joins you isn’t a buxom vixen but a stubby axe wielding guy named Rocky.


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Where Rance 5D took just shy of 10 hours to complete, you can expect more like 50 hours for this one. Rance 6 allows you to explore different dungeons to your heart’s content, only blocking your progress with more powerful enemies that roam these uncharted areas.


The increased scope of Rance 6 also means there is much more sexual content here – hundreds of scenes to be exact. It’s up to you if and when you want to trigger them. Having sex with your party members is a great way to raise their level cap, stats and friendship, just like in real life.


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Once you befriend Tamanegi, a crazy sociopath pervert whose hobby consists of capturing monster gals and “training” them, you will be able to employ his abilities in order to unlock steamy sex scenes.


It is clear that this was a 2004 release, since visually the game can be somewhat of a mixed bag. The primitive 3D dungeons do little to complement the beautiful hand drawn CGs and adorable sprites. The interface is cluttered and unwieldy, even more so than in its predecessor and it definitely takes some getting used to.


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Rance 6 is a uniquely refreshing RPG that has a lot to offer. The simplified dungeon crawling and combat, as well as the ability to escape whenever you want alongside with some other nuances erase any frustration inherent to the genre. But like always, the stars of the show are its eccentric characters and over the top humor. If the prospect of a funny visual novel with decent gameplay sounds enticing, there is nothing quite like Rance 6.


Both Rance 5D and 6 are sold as a bundle. And while the latter is a far more grandiose adventure, both are unique enough to be worth the asking price alone. Seeing how the Rance series had a successful launch in the west, MangaGamer promised more Alicesoft games in the near future. We can’t wait to see more of this legendary series make its way westward.


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