If only the game was as good as it's concept art...
I’m a huge RPG fan. Swords, spells and stats put the wind in my sails, and I pride myself in what I believe is an expansive knowledge of the genre. Breath of Fire, Grandia, Alundra, World of Warcraft, Zelda, Star Ocean, Final Fantasy; you name it, I’ve played it. The conventions of the role playing game have been burned into my retinas and lodged themselves firmly in my brain, I’ve seen just about every combat system, levelling up mechanic and spiky-haired hero love story the genre has to offer. It’s due to these facts that I feel qualified to tell you about SEED 1 – Rise of Darkness. Yes, to inform, but also to warn, for SEED is an RPG fans nightmare.
Few people will be able to look at SEED 1 – Rise of Darkness without conjuring up images of Gamevil’s award winning Zenonia. It’s not surprising -- the game has set a new bench mark for role-playing-gaming on iDevices, and has paved the way for all other developers to follow. CH Games have done exactly that with SEED, and have replicated Zenonia’s structure, interface and combat system with alarming accuracy. Change the story and combine with some truly fantastic conceptual art that did the rounds a few months ago, and you have a sure-fire winner on your hands, right? Wrong. Underneath the glossy character art and high production values is actually a rather embarrassing RPG.
It’s a harsh comment, by my own admission, but the first few minutes of the game will cement this fact for anybody who’s foolish enough to purchase it after reading this review. SEED pops players in the shoes of Litta, an irritating, lifeless moron few will take joy in controlling. The game jumps straight into a feeble plot about how this fellow yearns for adventure, with no back story to the character or game universe whatsoever. All we know is that this whinging kid wants to go on an adventure. With no experience with a weapon, Litta is suddenly trained in the ways of the sword, lance, gun and staff, and masters all four within a matter of minutes. After a meaningless and horrendously scripted scene with his master, Litta is told to sneak aboard a ship to travel to ‘the continent’, and Littas adventure begins.
From here on out the game consists of fetch quest after fetch quest, each one as meaningless as the last. Main story-related quests involve the collection of pointless objects, and so do the sub-quests. The only variety is the enemies you need to kill in order to obtain them. Which brings me neatly onto the combat system, which in the games defence, is fairly solid. Tapping the action button in the bottom-right corner will prompt Litta to attack with his equipped weapon – much like in Zenonia. Downing enough enemies will eventually allow Litta to level up, whereupon skill points can be distributed to his Strength, Dexterity, Vitality, Wisdom and Intelligence attributes. All the RPG gubbins that drives the combat is technically sound, but doesn’t bring anything new to the table.
What I do like about the game, which isn’t much, is that how you choose to equip Litta is reflected in his on screen appearance. This is a fairly nice addition to a little iPhone RPG, and gives greater meaning to obtaining better weapons and armour. The game is competent graphically too, with a broad and colourful palette and excellent character art accompanying the less than excellent dialogue. The sound design however is remarkably bad. Each piece of music is on a very short loop, meaning that the same four or five note melodies are on a constant cycle. Even more annoying is the fact that these loops don’t even ‘loop’ correctly, and skip between cycles.
Little things annoyed me too. For some inexplicable reason, characters that inhabit the game world seem to bounce, and not the slow ‘bob’ that NPCs adopt in many games. These characters bounce violently, like little humanoid vibrators. SEED shops rattle my cage too, which are shops connected to the App Store itself, meaning that you have to spend real money in order to buy the objects on sale. Of course all manner of other objects are obtainable in the game itself, but it still felt a tad cheeky.
Some may argue that I’m being too harsh on the game. After all, it is an iPhone RPG; a stripped down role playing experience that shouldn’t be critiqued in quite the same way as its bigger console brothers. A fair point indeed, but consider this: Zenonia took the very same RPG template and was incredibly successful. Admittedly, I had some issues with that game too, but it’s by far the best RPG to grace the iPhone to date, and SEED hasn’t even come close to stealing its crown.
Unfortunately SEED amounts to little more than a myriad of fetch quests strung together with badly scripted narrative and horrendous dialogue. The game was a genuine chore to play, and I’m going to have to put some serious hours into the new Zelda (released tomorrow!) or something similar in order to help restore my faith in the genre. With SEED, CH Games have taken the role-playing formula, put it through their development blender, and released a horribly disfigured mess of an RPG that will offend anybody who has even the slightest knowledge of the genre. If you haven’t played Zenonia yet, play that instead, and if you have, play it again. Although it offers a sizeable portion of game, there’s little fun to be had with SEED.
- Sound: 4
- Graphics: 7
- Gameplay: 5
- Longevity: 8
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