• Add Review
  • Subscribe
  • Nominate
  • Submit Media
  • RSS

Extremely derivative, but also enjoyable.

This game seemed very familiar somehow….

The game begins with Epoch, our protagonist, captain of the Dragon Knights of Rikalia. Though he has always been a loyal soldier, he has come to question the motives of the King, who hasn’t quite been the same since he hired that new advisor, who despite the flowing gothic hair and piercing red eyes, everyone seems convinced is a swell guy. Soon after, the King reveals his intentions are to capture the six legendary crystals which will grant his nation infinite power, and soon Epoch and his best friend are sent off on a mission of a morally dubious nature….

For the uninitiated, this is basically the introduction of Final Fantasy IV verbatim. Fortunately, we might be able to like this game anyway.

Balance 2.5/5:
Battles are somewhat interesting in this game as you are more or less required to make use of lots and lots of items if you want to survive. Characters can learn new skills from books, and Epoch can upgrade his various blade arts if you find certain items. Enemies, especially bosses, have effective healing abilities so coasting through battles is not an option, you need to fight at full capacity to the very last round. Healing items are cheap but unfortunately you are not given many chances to buy them in certain segments, and a particular scenario cuts you off from both any means of resupplying as well as grinding, right before sending you into a difficult boss battle. Up until that point you’ve been encouraged to use items as much as you need, so it seems odd to suddenly need to be so conservative. This category gets points for some of the interesting extra mechanics added, such as a character who learns skills from enemies ala Blue Magic.

Level-Design 2/5:
The levels are pretty enough, but this category loses a few points because it is often not clear what tiles are passable in certain caverns, and certain teleport events tend to have you enter facing the opposite way of the exit you just used, which goes against all my RPG playing instincts. I was also at one point faced with a block pushing puzzle that seemed to operate on completely arbitrary rules that made no sense. and though encounters are never random, which is always a plus for me, a lot of enemies seem to just move way too fast. This category is redeemed somewhat by an excellent stealth sequence in one dungeon.

Characters 4/5:
If you’ve read my article on character-writing, then you know that this is the category that will redeem or condemn a game this obviously derivative. In this case, the game is saved from mediocrity by its compelling protagonist, who lets us into his struggle and has us cheering for him. The other characters are at least satisfactory, some of the villains seem a bit too cartoonishly evil but the “lead” villains are both sinister and threatening. And the villains get plenty of screen time. Finally, the characters do a little dance when they get full healed and it makes me smile.

Storyline 3/5:
Although the game is shamelessly derivative, at no point were the parallels so off-putting that it drove me to want to stop playing the game. And once you get past the intro, the story does seem to deviate… somewhat. Part way through the game you are given control of a completely different party of heroes, giving you some perspective on what I assume is the history of this world and makes for much better backstory than monotonous cutscenes.

Music and Sound 3/5:
A lot of FF and Chrono Trigger rips here, both in music and sound effects, which I guess is fine for a game that is already drawing so heavily from FF games, although I tended to like the tracks from other sources much better. I would still recommend trying to diversify the soundtrack somewhat, but its not a big deal.

Overall 3.5/5
Overall the word I would use to describe this game is “traditional.” It has the feel of an older RPG which, given its roots, makes sense. But it also has some spectacular and engaging characters and dialogue to make for a compelling game experience. It reuses a well-known fantasy plot without being lazy and indulgent about it. Just be aware that you’re going to recognize things, a lot.