A new multi-party action RPG from the makers of Lufia!
CIMA: The Enemy was a surprise title for us when we toured Natsume's booth today. The game is being developed by the same people who are behind the Lufia series and is very enjoyable once you figure out what to do.
What makes CIMA unique is the number of "non-player characters" you control. The concept of controllable NPCs may seem a little contradictory, but let me explain. You have our hero, Arc J who can be controlled directly by the player and Ivy who follows along and attacks, but cannot be positioned independently. In addition, there are also parties of four characters that cannot be controlled directly by the player, but can be directed to specific points where they will wait or attack oncoming enemies automatically. In the demo, we only had a single party of four to protect, but Natsume representatives indicate that you could have three parties making a total of 12 NPCs. Also, by poking around the menus, I found that there are actually slots for up to 16 characters, which we confirmed was an indication that the final character count is not yet finalized.
Natsume repeated the goal several times: "Protect the party!" It is basically your job to clear the way of enemies and obstacles so the party can make it through the dungeon. If any one of you dies, it's game over. There are a number of enemy spawning points along the way that cannot be destroyed, but thankfully party members can defend themselves as long as they are equipped with a weapon. Usually, it's a good idea to stick with your party though, since they tend to attack a little slower.
As you get to more advanced dungeons, you'll need to start making more strategic use of your parties. Sometimes, multiple party members may need to stand on switches, or you may need to set a strong party member near a spawning point as other members go by.
All of your party members have full stats to keep track of and gain experience. We also noticed that there is even a menu that allows you to talk to individuals during certain situations.
Unfortunately, all we witnessed today was a series of dungeons, but the game is set to last over 30 hours with an intricate storyline. Natsume representatives also hinted that this is the beginning of a new series that they hope to bring to console platforms in the future. Sounds good to me!