Ar Nosurge: Ode to an Unborn Star: Party people

October 15, 2014


Relationships between party members have always been a mainstay of JRPGs. Why these seemingly random people who look like they have no business with each other on a normal day come together for a united purpose is usually beyond us. These relationships are usually touched upon, but never really go incredibly in-depth. But what happens when one developer decides to make that the central theme of the game? Japanese developer Gust gives us that answer.

Ar Nosurge: Ode to an Unborn Star serves as a follow-up to the Japan-only Ciel Nosurge and a prequel to the Ar tonelico series. The story follows two sets of characters whose two lives are linked to each other as a way to see two sides of the conflicts. You start the game as Delta and Cass. The two live in the city of Felion which serves as a safe haven from the ongoing threat of the Sharl, humanoid, fairy-winged creatures that are at war with humans. The city itself is protected by a large barrier and an elite task force known as PLASMA. Cass is part of this squad and is tasked to defend the people from this threat.

Delta was once part of this squad himself, but was suspended due to an incident where he lowered the barrier protecting the city and allowed the Sharl to attack. Since then, he’s lost his memory and owns a restaurant serving as its mediocre cook, but continues to work with Cass as a mercenary. The two are tasked with infiltrating a church that worships the Sharl. Our other set of protagonists, Earthes and Ion, are trapped in an unknown world, and learning more about the outside world inadvertently intertwines their paths with Delta and Cass.


Exploration within the game is rather limited. The areas you can explore are broken down in a menu and there isn’t too much to explore on each map, but each area serves a very specific purpose. Through save points littered throughout the explorable world, you can change who you take control of by zapping into the other character’s view. Occasionally, the game will force itself to switch between protagonists to advance the story, but sometimes switching is needed to advance to the next area. Should an area be locked for Delta and Cass, Earthes and Ion can take control and influence the environment the two lie in and vice-versa. It’s an interesting take on the dual-protagonist scenario, having the two working with each other rather than have their story arcs separated.

Battles play out in a rather unusual style, fighting a number of enemies in a number of waves. You have a limited number of attacks to defeat enemies before the enemy can take its turn. During your turns, you can charge the Song Magic chosen at the beginning of the battle. Depending on the charge of the chosen Song, you can potentially wipe out the number of waves it was charged for or even finish the battle altogether. However, it can only be used once in each battle, so timing it correctly is key. If a song isn’t activated through a battle, the longer the charge, the less the likelihood of encountering enemies on that specific map. Each battle consists of a limited amount of turns. If the turn limit is exceeded, the battle ends and you earn the typical RPG spoils as well as Dive Points.


About Dive Points: the main characters can develop Song Magic by learning more about their partners by diving into the depths of their minds. It breaks away from typical JRPG style of conversation and turns it into a visual novel of sorts, with choices used to develop your relationship with the character. Depending on your choices, crystals are developed to power up your partner. This is the only way to obtain new Song Magic. Scenarios can be repeated given you can pay correct amount of Dive Points to access them. You’re not only limited your partner for diving. With the various characters you meet on your journey, their mindspace can be examined as well. Each interaction can influence the way these characters act towards the party outside of diving.

The part of Ar Nosurge that’s particularly odd can be found in its Purification mechanics. The crystals you receive can be inserted into your partner (as well as yourself). How? By taking a bath together in a hot spring.

I wish I were kidding.


Characters change into their swimsuits and get into in-depth conversations with their partner. As the relationship deepens between the two, the amount of areas increases where you can place the earned Geometric crystals and power up your character. While it’s tedious leveling the character up through conversation, the crystals do have significant effect on characters as it raises their attributes for battle.

Aesthetically, the game falters in some areas but excels in others. Because exploration isn’t a huge part of this game, this seems to be the neglected area. Roaming the overworld occasionally stutters and causes glitches. More of the visual focus was put toward character interactions and the plethora of anime cutscenes littered throughout the game. The game is gorgeous during those parts, but we wish they had paid equal attention to the rest of the game. The game’s soundtrack has a futuristic Suikoden kind of feel to it. It’s highly orchestrated, and many tracks have a choral vocals as well to compliment battles, exploration, interaction or even the odd song you hear during Synthesis.


Individually, these aspects sound like a mess, but somehow, Ar Nosurge: Ode to an Unborn Star manages to pull it off. Each individual feature serves a very distinct purpose and influences future actions greatly depending on the amount of effort you put forth. This game will likely only appeal to the hardcore JRPG fan; casual players looking to level up and move the story along should probably stay away. As long as you’re willing to overlook a couple of confusing story elements and a couple of pacing issues, it’s another solid JRPG that anyone who loves the genre should own.

Pros: Superb soundtrack, interesting battle system, unique character development
Cons: Oddly paced and confusing storyline, bland environments, fanservice may make some uncomfortable

Score: 3/5

Questions? Check out our review guide.