It’s very seldom that a game can overcome a bad first impression on a player.
SYMPHONY OF ETERNITY KEMCO_GAMES
$2.99 (Both on Android Market and Amazon App Store)
The title screen is somewhat bland, and a little concerning; with a Facebook link, links to KEMCO news, and their latest RPG title on one side… you hear the music, also on the bland side… and you look longingly at that Exit button on the upper-left. This gamer heaved a heavy sigh, and hit ‘New Game’.
It got only marginally better. It’s a scene of a Princess’s bedtime, and the screen isn’t even close to filled; it was tiny even on the Galaxy Nexus screen, and miniscule on the Droid 2. The font used in the dialogue box looks a little off. The music has a new sense of urgency, the story takes off… apparently there’s a coup d’etat taking place… suddenly, a character makes a face which reminds me a little of one I’m very familiar with as a denizen of the internet…
…and just like that, I knew I had to keep playing, just to see what would happen. The story had piqued my interest as well, so I plunged on. The next thing that happens, is I’m plunged into one of the ugliest overhead view maps I’ve ever seen, with some hideous enemies, and my dopey character.
Seems I’m on a quest to find a legendary weapon called “Regratlute” which makes wishes come true. Okay, cool. By accident, I learned that you move by just touching the screen; poke where you wanna go, essentially. This was a new thing to me, so while I was getting used to it, the first thing I did was dumbly walk right into the closest enemy patting around near me.
Shock and a smile. The battle screen looks and sounds fantastic!
Fighting is natural to any veterans of jRPGs – you can attack, change stances, use skills/magic, or items… you can put on Auto-Attack, or you can run away. Combat has a very distinct jRPG feel, and the music will take you back to that place as well.
You also have ‘Break’ moves – tap ‘Break’ in the upper-right corner as the character who has 100% in their ‘Break’ bar attacks, and you will do a supercharged version of the attack, usually dealing at least double damage and increasing the odds of the attack doing any side-effect type things it may usually do.
The enemies throughout the first 3 1/2 hours of the game (I could not put it down!) all have very cool models, and I’ve seen no model duplicated as of yet.
This game is challenging. It isn’t too hard; its just right. Challenging. I know I talk about Final Fantasy a lot, but if you remember how it felt being in enemy-filled caves and dungeons with limited items and waning mana for heals, never knowing when the next mob will kill you – you get this feeling again in this game. This was exactly what I was looking for in a jRPG, and I’m thrilled I found it here. While not exactly the same as FF3 (thank goodness for no random enemy encounters) there are times you’ll find yourself on the brink of death with a mob or two directly in the path between you and the treasure chest that might have the heal or mana you desperately need; or might be a piece of gear you’ll need to make a note of for when you respawn. Then you just gotta ask yourself… how badly do I *really* need to go get that treasure chest? You’ll be pissed when you find out later it was a Tablet or something, right…?
The boss fights are epic. Each one I’ve encountered so far has had me up against the ropes and struggling to catch up (to be fair, I wasn’t taking much time to level up and bashing my way through). I’ve gone into a few fights PREPARED and struggled. This is a real game, and playing it comes as a profound relief after the last two I reviewed.
If you have voices turned on in the settings (the voices are in Japanese, which personally, I like) your party will yell and grunt as you attack, groan and yelp when they take hits, and even ask each other if they’re okay and say thank you when you have them use healing items on each other. Very neat touch, being able to toggle this on and off!
Speaking of the options, the game does not leave you in a lurch. Sometimes the game will require you to move a character into one of the corners of the screen, where your buttons are to call up the menu and view your map are. Well, touch movement doesn’t exactly work there – so you call up your options, and change your Movement Controls to “Fixed c. keys” or “Movable c. keys” and a gorgeous looking D-pad appears in the bottom left corner. I only use this in a pinch, as the touch control is quite nice for dodging enemies easily, but having the option to have it at all AND move it is very handy.
Character customization is done in a tried and true way; you collect various ‘Tablets’ during the course of the game, and equip them to your characters. These tablets have skills on them which become available to your character upon equipping. As you collect TP (Tablet Points; these are not for your bunghole), your character permanently learns the skills listed. For instance, if you’re holding a tablet that says ’30 Heal’ – once you gain 30 TP while holding said tablet, Heal is forever a part of that character.
With each level you gain on your toons you gain Merit Points, which can be applied as bonuses to a long list of skills. Between these two things, you can make your character anyway you want; a thief with high evasion, a very defensive knight-tank, an insane damage-dealing Berserker – possibilities, while not endless, are quite nice and plentiful.
What was said about the overhead map remains – it is brutally ugly. The sounds remain someone innocuous and bland. Thankfully, you spend the majority of this game in combat – and in GOOD combat, too! I did mention the boss fights, right? So awesome.
Because I love playing this game so much, I’m at a loss for flaws beyond my first impressions – the crappy overhead map became enjoyable for me, because it made me realize that KEMCO focused on the things that make a game of this genre worth playing – Great story, scary monsters, and intense combat. Sure, there are little things – the touch moving is tricky at times, and its cumbersome for those very few parts where you have to switch to the D-Pad… I have no idea how long the game is, perhaps a commenter can help? If it’s any assistance, I’m 3 1/2 hours into the game, and I appear to have acquired 2 of the 6 pieces of “Regratlute” – by that math, at 1.75 hours per, I should have all 6 pieces in 7 more hours of gameplay… plus whatever happens next.
- Defeats first impressions.
- Overhead maps look like shit.
- All other graphics look really good.
- Excellent combat, perfect amount of challenge – KEMCO nailed it on this one.
- Recommended highly if you crave a classic jRPG on your mobile device. I’d pay more than twice what they ask for it.