If at First You Don't Succeed . . .
Baroque's title comes from the Portuguese word "barroco," meaning "flawed pearl." For many people who play this hack-and-slash role-playing game, that's an appropriate description. Its flaws may tempt you to toss it aside, but persistence yields value.
Baroque's plot is its strength. The world has been destroyed, leaving twisted denizens and the strange Neuro Tower. The tower and its dungeon are the game's focal points. Your character has committed a great sin and must atone for it by venturing to the bottom of the tower, which may in turn heal the world. But you have no memory, which makes atonement difficult.
The tower is filled with monsters that were once people. They have committed a "baroque," kind of like a sin such as gluttony or lust. The baroque eventually turned them into monsters that represent their sin. You can "purify" them (basically killing them) through combat. Eating their hearts or bones gives players certain powers. Just keep telling yourself that you're the good guy -- maybe.
Players explore levels in search of a portal down to the next. But don't rush. Characters give clues about the plot or your unknown sin. Sometimes they ask, often cryptically, for items. Oftentimes you can't help a character at first but will see them again on another trip through the tower.
When you die, your level is reset and you return to the start of the game without any items. That maddening feature advances the plot. You must delve through the constantly changing (and growing) tower multiple times to unravel the mystery, so if you're impatient, this game isn't for you.
-- John Breeden II
Baroque Teen; PlayStation 2, Wii ($40) Atlus Baroque Teen; PlayStation 2, Wii ($40) Atlus