Now let’s draw some happy little destruction runes…
Recently, I was able to get the final build of Lost Magic, the new touch-screen RPG from Ubisoft. Touting an innovative control scheme and a fresh look on the genre, I went in with high hopes for a solid addition to my DS library. And for a while, it was awesome, but unfortunately, it feels like Taito crammed in extra mechanics that just feel awkward.
The game tells the story of a world where "The Creator" split up his power into seven wands, each containing some degree of his essence, and gave them to seven powerful sages for protection, who then passed them down to their heirs. Issac (the main character) is the son of one of those heirs, and when one of the wand's keepers went mad with power, she defeated every last wand-keeper, including Issac's father. Luckily, the Wand of Light is being hidden away from the evil Diva of Twilight's hands... with Issac. Your journey will be to grow stronger as a mage and eventually defeat her.
What separates Lost Magic from the crowd is that, besides being in real-time, all spells are executed by drawing rune shapes on the touch screen. Most are fairly simple, and I was really impressed with how intuitive in feels. What's more is that the potency of the spell is directly related to how well you drew the rune. Simply put, this is one of the coolest ideas I've seen yet on the DS.
The problem came up shortly after the game started, when you're introduced to the RTS gameplay. See, by using a certain rune spell, you can capture monsters that you've fought in battle and then command them later on. All you have to do is draw a circle around what units you want to deploy and then tap the area on the screen that you want them to depart to. As fun as it sounds, your troops are actually pretty clumsy, and will often stand still when they should be moving. And since no one you control (including the main character) has the sense to walk around objects blocking the path, they’ll often be caught doing nothing at all, waiting for enemy attack. Their avatars have to be pointed in a straight path. This may not sound like a huge deal, but when you're crowded with enemies, it makes a difference, and I've lost many fights because of it.
Still, the rune-drawing is a lot of fun, and it really keeps the game going in places where I’d be too bored to continue. The presentation leaves a lot to be desired, though; the 2D sprites are pretty dull and lack detail, and the music is really generic. As far as the story, Issac's quest to find his long-lost parents isn't too interesting, and the cookie-cutter characters I've come across don't help things much.
Even with all of these problems, I’m keeping up hope that Lost Magic can prove the RTS gameplay’s worth. Check back on April 18th when Lost Magic releases, and PGC puts up the full review.