Thursday, April 18, 2013

Symphony Of The Origin [Kemco + WorldWideSoftware] - $10.99

As you probably already know if you’re even an occasional reader here at The App Shack, one of our favorite iOS RPG publishers is Kemco. The previous releases of Alphadia 1+2, Dark Gate, Grinsia, Aeon Avenger, Eve of the Genesis and Fantasy Chronicle are some of our top favorites within the Turn-Based RPG genre. But the game that got all of our love started, Symphony of Eternity, has finally gotten a sequel. Well, prequel if you want to get technical. Symphony of the Origin went live in English language AppStores last week and after spending about 7 hours with it I can easily say that SotO is my second favorite Kemco title, right after Dark Gate. 

Right off the bat, there are some things that stand out; Symphony of the Origin, like Kemco’s last release Aeon Avengers, is Universal. It also supports the new hardware’s 4 inch widescreen. Now, it’s not too apparent by looking at the screenshots in iTunes, but SotO also has some of the best graphics for a Kemco title to date, that combined with the depth of the equip system, all make this stand out as a step closer for Kemco being on the same level as Square in the RPG world.

The equip/item system is definitely one of the many highlights here. Instead of going from town to town purchasing stronger weapons, you’re given the option to upgrade your current weapons. You can also purchase new weapons and trade them out, but skills are locked to them until you reach a 100% mastered portion, at which time the skill be then be available no matter what weapon you have equipped. There are also 3 parts to every weapon; The main weapon (sword, hammer, bow, ect), hilt/arrows and grip/string/guard, each having different perks and stats and with the ability to interchange them all with one another so long as your character uses that type of weapon (for instance, you can not equip a bow string to a sword or hammer, or a sword guard or hilt to a bow, for obvious reasons). 

Another aspect of the game that stands out are the voice samples. During battles, your characters will spit out exclamations as they fight, and a phrase at the end of each battle. For some, this might become annoying, and there is an option to adjust the music, fx and voice volumes individually if that’s the case, but personally, I think it adds to the whole aesthetic of the game. 
Last thing, before we get into more of the gameplay; SOP Currency. SOP Currency can be purchased through IAPs. It is not required to purchase items, as all shop items can be purchased with the gold that you’ll earn from battles and treasure chests, but instead, is used as a sort of ‘cheat’ currency. With SOP, you’re able to purchase useful quest items like gold in clumps of 10,000, special herbs, potions, gems, elixirs and more that can all be used to cure and strengthen your team, as well as damage enemies. There are also special locations on the map which you can unlock with SOP Currency, giving you access to a sorcerer’s house who helps you master all of the finishing moves you have yet to learn, and 3 separate dungeon areas, each with their own boss. You can also purchase some special training and characters. In the game, two characters will join up with you for short periods of time. You can unlock them and have them available to you at any point in the game if you purchase them with SOP. You can also get special training and boost up your Merit Points max level limit. We’ll get into what more of this means as we get further on in the review, but the thing that is most important is that you do not need to spend another dime after the original purchase of the game in order to complete it. In fact, as you complete battles, you can convert those won battles to SOP Currency. By the end of the game, even without grinding, you should have enough battles won to convert to SOP Currency to unlock some of the cooler areas and ‘cheats’, which also carry over to a New Game+ if you decide to play through the game a second time. 

Now, starting off the game, you’ll be able to choose between Normal and Hard Difficulties. If you’re familiar with RPG titles, I’d recommend just going head in on the Hard Difficulty, as ‘Normal’ is more for new-comers to the genre. There’s an NPC in one of the early towns that will let you change from Hard Difficulty to Normal if you’re finding the game too hard. But you can not change from Normal to Hard, so keep that in mind going in to the game. 
Story-wise, the game is about humans, elves and dwarves, all living on Earth together, though still separated by geography because of their skills and habits. Humans on the plains, elves in the forests and dwarves in the mountains. Still, their lives are peaceful, and there is no war between the races. Inhuman creatures called ‘Evils of the Earth-depths’, as they reside in the bowels of the Earth, have attacked, trying to take over the Earth’s surface. Your main character, Ryle, is a young knight in training at the time that the human’s castle is attacked. During the attack, Ryle falls through the floor and into a secret area of the castle where a golem is hidden. Once coming within range of the golem, it is activated. Since no one knows exactly why the golem is activated by Ryle, the king decides to keep the two paired together, and sends them to the other races to show the human made golem to them, in search of answers. As you start your journey, more members will join your team while you look for information and try to find out why the evils are attacking and try to force them back into the depths of Earth. 

It’s not too original in terms of the plot, but like Kemco’s other published titles, Symphony of the Origin is very well written and translated. There are a few grammatical errors, but you’ll never be stuck wondering what is actually going on within the game. But, like their previous releases, the plot and writing is also one of the biggest things that holds it back from being on the same level as Square’s Final Fantasy, or any of their other RPG, titles. Personally, I love Kemco’s stories, and feel that they are very well written. But I will also admit that they’re lacking when compared to Square’s writing. This shouldn’t deter you from purchasing this wonderful title, but if you go into the game expecting it to match up to the level of FF titles, you might very well be disappointed. 

It’s still very clear that a lot of time, effort, love and care has gone into creating the world for Symphony of the Origin. And it’s definitely worth it’s original asking price of $10.99 (though it is on sale ATM for $3.99). SotO is also the second Kemco title that’s Universal, and the third that supports the 5th Generation’s wider screens. With the jump up in quality all around, it’s incredibly easy to recommend this title to RPG fans, especially fans of old-school RPGs. If you’re a new-comer to the Kemco world, Symphony of the Origin just might be the perfect title to start out with. It definitely has secured it’s place on our list of favorite Turn-Based RPG titles on the iOS, and comes with a heavy recommendation. As always, we can’t wait to see what Kemco releases next. 


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