Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Lord of Magna: Maiden Heaven (3DS) Review

Lord of Magna was one of the silhouetted games teased by XSeed a few months ago.  It is a 3DS game that follows the story of Luchs (thankfully you can rename him) and how his life changed once he met a mysterious girl named Charlotte.  Together they find more women like her and must discover their true origin and purpose.

I have to first talk about the battle system, since it is by far the most unique aspect of the game.  It first appears to be a grid-less strategy RPG, which it mainly is.  However, the main enemy units are "leader" units, and they can summon up to 10 grunts.  These grunts have very low HP and attack power, but move together with the leader as a unit.  Attacking the grunts will kill them and send them flying backwards.  If they collide with another grunt, that grunt will die and roll backwards.  If they hit a leader or generator, they will do a bit of damage to them.  The idea with the grunts is to try to knock them into each other to kill as many as possible, almost like dominoes or bowling.  It sounds strange on paper and works...ok.  They don't always seem to get knocked back as you think they would, and they don't like to line up in ways that allows you to get a lot with one hit.  If you do manage to hit 10 with your attack, you get another turn for that character.

The leader units can summon more grunts, but it costs them HP to do so.  Generators are stationary and don't attack, but every few turns will summon leader units, again at the cost of some HP.  While it is more efficient to take out the leaders first, it is very viable to keep taking out the grunts until the leaders don't have the HP to summon any more.  It is a much longer process though.  Grunts give no experience when killed, but there are many sub-missions to kill all enemies that reward you with an item, so there are reasons to clean house.  All experience gained is shared with the four people in the battle.  That makes it less painful to train up lesser experienced characters.

Lord of Magna's story is decent.  The dialogue is fine, but there are a few story points that are just glossed over, leaving a few questions that work against the story as a cohesive whole.  Plus, you can't skip scenes.  You can fast-forward, but not skip entirely, which really hurts when replaying the game.  I'm sure you can't skip because there are dialogue choices, but I would prefer to skip at least the scenes without them in subsequent playthroughs.  It is pretty easy to see what will advance the plot, since it is often talking to the character(s) with crowns over their heads, so I never got lost, plot-wise.

There are also Heart Events, which will help the main character get closer to the seven girls.  They have three each, and you usually have to choose among several of the girls which event to do.  The Heart Events are time sensitive to the plot.  If you miss Lottie's second one, for example, the next time it is possible to do hers it will be the third.  While any missing ones can be done on subsequent runs through the game, it makes character development seem sudden if you first do the girl's third event, or something along those lines.  Plus, it seems that you have to do one when they are presented.  This is fine until you have them all.  There's no real reason to repeat them, so why force repeat players to do them?

My first run through the game took just shy of 24 hours.  It would have been 20, but the final boss fights are stacked against you in ways that will likely require grinding.  I won't ruin who or what the final boss is, but you fight it basically three times.  The first isn't too hard and feels appropriate for that stage of the game.  The next time, you cannot use your main character or the girl you have chosen during the game.  Since they are likely to be two of your higher level characters (at least in the first run), you have to somehow make do without them, or train up at least one alternate to cover.  That's where the grinding comes in.

Plus, to make it more annoying, the final boss has a near instant death attack when between 50 and 25% health.  It doesn't exactly kill you, but instead does about triple your likely HP at that point of the game... which is pretty much the same effect.  The final form of the boss has more than three times the HP of anything else fought to this point.  While it isn't quite as dangerous damage-wise, it takes a long time to whittle down all that health.  Other fights in the game can be stacked against you, but aren't near as difficult as the final two.

There is some replay value to the game.  There are endings with each of the girls, and even achievements you can unlock.  Thankfully, the game has a new game+ function that is pretty good.  You can choose two people's levels and five items to keep into the next run.  Each time you beat the game, you can choose an additional person.  Plus, the people you choose keep on their equipped skills.  If you are creative in choosing what they have on, you can then keep more than the five you choose directly.  It's a bit strict since you can't keep everything, but the ability to choose is really nice.

Overall, Lord of Magna is pretty fun.  The only point I didn't enjoy was the final two fights and the grinding I had to do so I could pass them.  It is a bit rough, but fun to go through at least once.  I feared that the game would be filled with fan service, but there's barely any.  I was intending to stop after my first run through, but ended up doing it again before writing this.  I would encourage SRPG fans to at least try the game for its unique battles.

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