Square Enix’s Seiken Densetsu: Rise of Mana is finally out for iOS, and I’m just going to come right out and say it: this game is incredible.
Not since The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time have I felt so captured by a game. The sense of adventure, wonder, and beauty is so perfectly portrayed through this free-to-play mobile game that it makes playing other games seem a bit stale. Enough of the quicky review, though. Let’s introduce this masterpiece of an RPG.
Angels working with Demons
Seiken Densetsu: Rise of Mana immediately throws you into an epic battle between the strongest angel and the strongest demon that ends with both falling from their spirit world to the human one. Unfortunately for these two spirits, their power is greatly weakened while in this realm and they have to work together if they want to get back home.
How do they work together? It’s simple: one fights while the other rests inside the body of the fighter. Just being in the human world is taxing on these two, so in order to regain strength, one of these two warriors rests inside the other. With the press of a button, you can switch between the two characters, but you do not get to play with both at the same time.
As the angel and the demon search for a way home, they rescue a small fairy-like spirit that was under attack. Indebted, the spirit first takes them to a small village for both rest and information about the world they are now in, and then continues to fight alongside the two as a support character.
This village goes on to serve as a quest hub, where you can also buy equipment, make friends, and pick up further information about your predicament. Within an hour of play, I knew I was in for an adventure.
Seiken Densetsu: Rise of Mana is an iOS game, so you naturally control your characters via the touch screen. You tap or hold in the direction you want to move and your character swiftly runs to that position. Your character can also roll from an attack by swiping in the direction you want to evade. Attacks are easily performed by tapping the enemy. It’s all very simple.
However simple the basic controls may be, there are a couple of added moves that can make for a rather quick changing and exciting battle system. First, you have what we’ll call your super move. With a tap of the button, your character will set off his or her strongest attack. While in the midst of battle, you can also switch characters. This immediately launches the fresh character’s powerful attack. Stringing your current character’s powerful move with a character swap can create a good combo to devastate your enemies.
If that isn’t enough, you also have support characters that fight alongside you in battle. You can summon their powerful magic attacks at any time, but the ability cool down for each attack is long.
There are also the elements to take into consideration. At the top of the screen, you will see which element is currently associated with your attacks. Its effectiveness is determined by your opponent. This means that while fighting, you need to be aware of your health, your own stamina, your support character’s stamina, and your element. It can be a lot to pay attention to, but you’ll get the hang of it quickly.
A work of art
The world of Seiken Densetsu: Rise of Magi is beautiful. Everything from the houses in the village to the grass on your path is so wonderfully drawn that you can’t help but be impressed. The vibrant colors and superb character design combine to make for one aesthetically-pleasing gaming experience.
The artistic beauty is not the only thing to appreciate about the game; the soundtrack is also a masterpiece. Easily one of the better soundtracks to come out of an iOS game, Seiken Densetsu: Rise of Magi’s soundtrack will even go on sale at the Square Enix Store on April 23, 2014. This game’s awesome sound does not stop with the music though; even the sound effects are top notch. Everything from the footsteps to the text scroll is just perfect.
What unfortunately isn’t always perfect is the fighting. During battles, you will need to tap the enemies, swipe to dodge, and launch your powerful attacks at the correct time. The problem is that some of the enemies’ attacks make for large explosions or whirlwinds that take up nearly the entire screen and block your view. This makes it difficult for you to see what you are doing, and impossible to react to other incoming attacks.
Not only that, but the tap system can be frustrating to use in a fight. Tapping is your go-to control for a lot of things. Locking on to enemies, attacking, and moving can all be done by tapping certain sections of the screen. So you can imagine how frustrating it is when you want to move towards an enemy and instead of dashing forward your character swings his sword. Not a major issue, but occasionally frustrating.
That being said, once you get used to the controls, Seiken Densetsu, Rise of Magi is a joy to play. I honestly can’t remember the last time I was so drawn into a game. Its stunning visuals, sound, and just overall sense of adventure is just beautifully done and I can’t recommend this game any higher.
If you have a Japanese iTunes account, head to the App Store and download this game right now.