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Hey it's a new Lufia game, a good one!

  • Seeric
  • 07/31/2012 06:18 PM
  • 478 views
This review is for the demo released on June 20, 2012.

Despite only consisting of four games and an extensive remake, the Lufia series has undergone some massive changes in both gameplay and quality and has included at one point or another a class change system, monster collection, Wild Arms-esque tool-based puzzles, randomized dungeons, an active party size of nine, and both standard and action-based RPG combat. So, when a game like Lufia V: For the Savior comes out, it can be a complete mystery as to what it even is. Thankfully, this game takes after the original SNES games, generally regarded as the best entries in the series, and is quite fun to play.

The basic plot won't surprise anyone familiar with the Lufia series. The Sinistrals have once again appeared in the world along with the rather pleasant-looking Fortress of Doom and it's up to the descendants of 'Maxim & Co.' to stop them while also helping out everyone they come across for one reason or another. It sounds cliche, but a Lufia game without the Sinistrals set on destroying humanity and a red-haired protagonist set on saving it would be like a Mega Man game without Dr. Wily; it's series tradition and fans will like it even if it's a bit silly and redundant.

On the other hand, the plot as a whole has more complexity to it. There's a new main antagonist this time around in addition to the Sinistrals and his actions frequently either directly or indirectly affect the heroes, which is a nice change of pace from the four Sinistrals who, aside from Erim, generally don't interact with the heroes from beginning to end in Lufia games. The demo also introduces a mysterious trap-loving comic relief villain who will likely play a larger role later on, although it's again nice change of pace to see a comic relief villain/rival who also still happens to be surprisingly competent and a legitimate threat. Players unfamiliar with the Lufia series won't have to worry about not having played previous entries as the demo does a good job of teaching players about past events, Maxim and his descendants and allies, and the Sinistrals without descending into excessive amounts of exposition. There are also plenty of plot twists, some obvious and some legitimately surprising, over the roughly three hour duration of the demo. As for the protagonists themselves, the main protagonist is Cameron (Cam), a young descendant of Maxim, and he is joined by his friend Cain, a descendant of Dekar, but they also team up with a Ruins Hunter (thief) named Lily in the latter half of the demo. Cain tends to let his emotions get the best of him and makes decisions without thinking things through, though he's still levelheaded enough to not come across as outright stupid, while Cam tends to enjoy being a 'descendant of Maxim' and going on adventures to help people, although both are given legitimate personal reasons for why they want to track down the antagonist as well; Lily isn't around for long enough to get to know her particularly well, but she seems to mostly be in it for the treasure and gets swept along for the ride after certain events happen. None of the protagonists particularly stand out as 'unique', but they're still likable and there is plenty of time for them to grow once the full game is released.

Aesthetically, there is not much to say. The game looks and sounds like a Lufia game because the graphics, sounds, and music are taken from Lufia games and are implemented well. Sprites for protagonists and antagonists also seem to be modified Lufia sprites and look nice and fit in with the general aesthetic with the only issue being the minor one of the antagonist's cape looking like it's attached to his head when viewed from the side. I didn't come across any layering issues and there are some nice touches here too which mimic the official Lufia games, such as secret passages being briefly visible in the flash before a battle begins and enemies in combat 'floating' to resemble the more jittery movement enemies normally have in Lufia games. The only real aesthetic issue I found was a lack of interaction with environments outside of dungeons; there doesn't seem to be any flavor text and it doesn't seem like items are hidden inside objects in towns either.

Dungeon design is where Lufia V: For the Savior shines though and it manages to capture the unique feel of Lufia puzzles. Each dungeon is packed with puzzles to the point where a room without one is quite rare. Puzzles themselves tend to be short and sweet with solutions which are generally as simple as placing a pot on a switch or pushing a single block, but actually arriving at the appropriate solution usually requires some out-of-the-box thinking or some careful planning and solving puzzles is consistently satisfying as a result. Players also get access to tools, in this case a sword and later in the demo bombs, which can be switched between in the main menu and which are further used to help solve puzzles; the sword is usually used to cut down various types of plants while bombs are of course mainly used for blowing stuff up and opening passages. Dungeons also always have HP and MP-restoring runes as well as a save rune before boss fights, but dead characters won't be revived so players will need to be careful when fighting their way through to the end. As for enemies, there are random encounters on the overworld, but enemies are visible within dungeons; for those unfamiliar with Lufia enemy movement, it works the same as usual here where enemies move in a sort of rogue-like fashion as they only take steps whenever the player is also moving, resulting in the act of avoiding fights also having a bit of a puzzle element to it. With the exception of a 'labyrinth' segment near the end of one dungeon which didn't seem to fit, dungeons in Lufia V: For the Savior are great to play through and perfectly capture both the style and quality of the puzzles found in the series.

However, the weakest part of Lufia V: For the Savior is probably its pacing, and on several levels. While the plot moves nicely enough once it gets going, it takes a good fifteen or so minutes of cutscenes and walking around and talking to people before the player really gets to do anything; establishing characters and basic plot early on is important, but a look back at nearly any famous RPG will show that most give the player at least one fight near the start before diving into the plot and character development. Pacing issues also affect the battles as Lufia V: For the Savioruses an ATB system, itself a bit of an oddity for a Lufia game, but not entirely misplaced considering how much the series can change from game to game, but the ATB gauges fill very slowly to the point that even in the more difficult fights it still feels like a good chunk of the time is spent just waiting around for the bars to fill. Furthermore, both the item-based 'IP' system and the monster companion system found in some of the Lufia games are absent here and by the end of the demo Cam had learned three spells (two of which were different tiers of the same healing spell) and Cain never learns any at all, so there is generally not much to do in fights other than normal attack and heal. This is alleviated a bit once Lily shows up since she had four abilities by the end of the demo and she also has the interesting gimmick of having relatively low HP and MP, but is able to restore both in small increments even when outside of combat, yet even then individual fights did not feel particularly engaging with the main threat coming from fights wearing players down over the course of a dungeon due to the lack of MP-restoring items. There is also the odd issue of usually being able to buy items, weapons, and armor all from the same NPC, but needing to select these three categories individually from a list.

It is also worth noting that Lufia V: For the Savior currently contains two action sequences, the first of which is a boss fight while the second is a chase sequence. The boss fight consists of using the sword to slash at a teleporting boss while dodging its attacks and consists of two phases; the controls are a bit wonky as action-based combat in RPG maker games tends to be, but it's otherwise well-done and a fun fight. The chase scene was probably the more interesting of the two though as it requires players to run away from a boss while dodging around and pushing blocks, resulting in a surprisingly high amount of tension for a series of simple block-pushing puzzles. Both of these were surprisingly fun additions and there will almost certainly be more such moments in the full release.

Pacing issues aside, Lufia V: For the Savior looks like it is shaping up to be a real treat for fans of the series as it stays true to the general spirit of the franchise while adding in a few new twists, but even players unfamiliar with the Lufia games are likely going to enjoy this one.

Posts

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I just read this review and WOW, thank you very much for the feedback! I've actually addressed a few of these issues as I've been working on the game this Summer.

I'm actually packing to head back to college so I don't have time to leave a longer thank you at the moment, but seriously, this is great =), I'm glad you enjoyed the game for the most part, and I agree completely with the ATB being WAY too slow, along with variety of attacks of both monsters and the heroes, but that will be fixed in the final version.

Thank you for the kind reply, your game demo was very enjoyable and I'm glad to know that the battle system will be getting an update in the future. Good luck and have fun in college!
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