A Universal Issue
Tentacle sex and rape are the two big downers to this series. For a series with such good writing, it is amazing how quickly it becomes repetitive once h-scenes get into the picture. On the bright side, corrupting the heroines in Empire, Frontier, and Hypno almost always has immensely hilarious results after the mindbreak. It is kind of irritating that you pretty much have to mindbreak them to get the really good strategic skills, though.
To be honest, this is the game in the series I liked the least. First, it is the first one that introduces the tentacle impregnation=new troops system that was the recruitment system for this and Gaia. Second, it has the weakest set of heroines and protagonist in the entire series. Third - and last - it uses a dungeon-defense gameplay model, which I despise. To be honest, the Law route of this game is incredibly boring, story-wise, with a huge amount of cliched jrpg knock-off plot twists. While this isn't unexpected, the main heroine's personality is the worst part of it... her idealism wears on you after a while, and both the protagonist and the antagonist are both weak enough not to be able to make up for it. The Chaos route suffers from 'we just stuck an evil route on it for mad science self-indulgence' syndrome, and the ending is, if anything, even more pathetic than the Law ending (think a bad ending in a chuunige with the positions reversed). While the story is actually mildly enjoyable while it is going on, the aftermath is singularly disappointing and dissatisfying.
I'll just come out and say it... this would have been the perfect story if the main antagonist wasn't such a straight-out 'Me Dark Lord, Destroy world because me bored!' Kefka knock-off. Oh, the details are mildly interesting, but the last chapter is almost unforgivable. If it wasn't for the overwhelmingly good cast on the protagonist's side of things, as well as the game's excellent story as a whole (if you cut out the ending sections) this would probably be an eminently forgettable game. The protagonist's motivations, his background, and his abilities as a general and a warrior make him a really attractive main character, and the fact that he isn't just a mass of endless ambition and sadism (unlike many VNs along the same lines) is a huge attraction for this game. The actual gameplay is somewhat improved from Empire (the previous strategy-conquest game in the series) but the game balance is kind of broken at points (think sharp spikes in difficulty, especially at the beginning and end).
... you almost have to be impressed about how completely they integrated the monster-birth recruitment system into this game. It isn't nearly as annoying as it was in Abyss, where it made the actual process of recruitment a matter of extreme annoyance (especially if you wanted to constantly alter the makeup of your forces). However, you do spend an inordinate amount of time staring at the little calendar part of the UI and checking to see how it will effect the power of the units you intend to birth. Again, like all the previous games in this series, it suffers from a lack of a good antagonist. There is nothing really sympathetic about the final antagonist (too faceless). The actual base story is much, much more interesting than Abyss... and the main heroine of the Law route is undeniably adorable, as well. lol (out of character for this company is that there are no h-scenes for this heroine, hahaha)
They also added a dungeon-raid event battle system where you send your troops through an enemy's dungeon, in addition to the dungeon-defense and construction that makes up ninety percent of the game. This is a definite improvement, and the actual dungeon-construction and defense is a lot more refined (though I still thought it was inferior to Demonion's).
This is undeniably the best game in the entire series, from all angles but one - heroine development. Individual heroine development - usually done through a combination of sex events and conversational events - is a lot less deep than it was in the previous games (yes, it is somewhat weird to say that there is character development when it comes to mindbreak and tentacle-H, but it happens to be true). It also departs from the previous games' style in that you pick your path early on and have to stick to it (basically, you either decide to break Sylvia or become her friend by either continuing with the sex-training or picking her regular conversational events after the required initial scene).
This is perhaps the only game in the series where I actually found the chaos route worth playing, though the ending was perhaps less interesting than the actual antagonist and the process of going through the route. The Law route feels very much like a route to redemption from the hell his life has been for Leon and the world in general.
However, as anyone who plays this game from the beginning will notice, the true flower of this game's story is the relationship between Leon and Anora. The mutual interdependence, absolute trust, and unstinting love they give one another from the very beginning is touching, even though Anora is pretty much a neutral evil character and Leon a true neutral one, lol.
The Law route antagonist, as per the course in all the other games by this company, is a bit of a yawner, though the actual fight against him is pretty good.
In terms of the gameplay... it is undeniably improved far and above all the previous games in the series. Being able to invest resources in increasing your income of the four resources (food, ether, magical energy, and coin) as well as war (experience gained every turn automatically by all recruits) and medical (automatic healing on every turn) allows you to do something other than conquer to build up your base of power. The conquest itself is done in stage format rather than in continental conquest format, which has its downsides in terms of gameplay flexibility but has the advantage of not kidding you about how much freedom you have (both Empire and Frontier basically did the same thing but gave you the illusion you were freely conquering the world). The actual recruitment system, which has been evolving since Empire, reaches its peak in this one, where character customization is the most advanced so far, without the unnecessary complications of heroine impregnation in Gaia.
Overall, as a series... it makes you hate tentacles after a while, if you didn't already. It also makes some great protagonists (Empire, Frontier, and Hypno in particular). It also has very flat antagonists and gameplay that tends to be somewhat disappointing. Nonetheless, if you can slog through the H scenes (or just ignore them) Hypno - at the very least - is worth trying. Unfortunately, this series will destroy anyone who hates rape or tentacle sex, so I can't recommend it for the uninitiated... or for those who prefer soft H. To be honest, I started turning off my emotions after the first tentacles appeared and if it weren't for the fact that the moment the heroines' broke in Hypno was so deliciously evil, I probably wouldn't have bothered to read any of them. I'll never replay any of the games in this series, but I'll probably at least try the new ones in the series, if only out of curiosity to see whether they've improved the storytelling to fit my standards completely.