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Symphony of Eternity (Android) artwork

Symphony of Eternity (Android) review

"The game where I discovered that Kemco can produce quality RPGs."

After playing through a few less-than-inspiring RPGs, I began to worry about what I might have set myself up for when I began the Kemco Khallenge. I'm as big of a JRPG fan as anyone else on this planet, but I have my standards and Kemco's mobile output often struggles to meet them. Grinsia lacked a challenge and felt overly derivative, while Alphadia was, if anything, even easier.

Fortunately, Symphony of Eternity proves that Kemco's design teams are capable of putting forth efforts that deserve my respect. The game is more than just competent and playable. It's actually fun! I now have reason to hope that the Kemco Khallenge will be more than an agonizingly slow and painful way to murder my love of RPGs!

What makes the game good? First, it's not insultingly easy. I found myself regularly casting healing spells during and after combat, and I didn't frequently use the available auto-battle function to skip through fights. It was actually a good idea to use spells and combat skills, particularly against bosses. Wow! Combat where victory isn't assured and I might need to employ actual strategy in order to survive? What a novel concept!

Secondly, when compared to a lot of Kemco games, the love and care that were put into this project is evident. It even begins with a video intro, complete with a blaring J-Pop tune. Sure, it's mostly a generic collection of character portraits and such, but that still sets the game apart. Out of the 20 or so Kemco RPGs I own, only three others offer a similar video before you reach the title screen.

I also liked that random encounters don't exist in Symphony of Eternity. Instead, monsters are visible in dungeons. They'll wander around randomly unless they see you, at which point they'll move to initiate combat. If you jump them from behind, you'll be able to launch a preemptive attack and the same holds true for them. Fights also provide some audible entertainment, with Japanese voice work during battles. It's usually not more than various grunts and exclamations that you probably won't understand due to the language barrier, but a number of important bosses also have dialogue, including some fairly impressive evil laughter by a late-game boss that you'll be hearing whenever it decides to utterly devastate your party with its best attacks.

The plot impressed me less, since it offers nothing I'd call ground-breaking, but it does at least get the job done in a no-frills manner. The tale opens with a brave knight holding off an insurrection at a palace, in an attempt to allow the princess of the kingdom to escape the fate that befell her parents. Then the scene changes to an adventurer named Kreist who is traveling through a nearby forest with his golem companion, Dauturu. They quickly resuce a girl from monsters, and she identifies herself as the aforementioned princess, Laishutia. Kreist's main reason for passing through the area is his search for a mystical bauble that supposedly grants any person's wish. The girl takes an immediate interest, and since Kreist is for the most part a generic nice guy, he can't pass up the chance to help a damsel in distress.

As JRPG players know, things are never simple. The knight featured in the intro is still working for the good of the kingdom (along with his subordinates), even though the local leadership did just change by violent means. The leader of the group seems to have internal issues, and one of her advisors is most definitely planning treason. There's also another golem on the loose, who seems to have it in for Dauturu. Those factors and others provide reasons to traipse around the world, talking to elves and dwarves alike as you collect a bunch of elemental relics and the bigger picture gradually becomes clear. It's almost a love letter to timeworn tropes.

I feel comfortable using a term like "love letter" because Symphony of Eternity offers a legitimately fun experience. After enduring Alphadia, I was hoping for a setup with some actual meat to it, and this game delivered by offering its own take on the classic job system. Throughout the game, both in stores and treasure chests, you'll find books that your characters can equip to change classes. You'll be able to learn a number of abilities and combat stances by studying each new discipline, eventually leading up to a mastery bonus that often comes in the form of a stat upgrade. By the end of the game, all three heroes will be loaded with all sorts of useful attacks and spells, giving you a variety of ways to tackle tough encounters.

Weapons also work differently than you might expect, if that's what you want. At shops, you can forge your equipment instead of merely buying it. Although this is more costly and typically requires you to have found various ores, you get nicer stat bonuses as a reward.

Another nice touch is that you can access maps to aid with your dungeon exploration. The labyrinths here are simple compared to the immensely annoying ones featured in Alphadia, but the assistance is still appreciated, especially when you need to find a hidden room in one dungeon that holds a tome that will allow Laishutia to master one of her most useful classes. Maps, along with the aforementioned visible enemies, prevent the player from being forced into a slew of unnecessary battles. A late-game accessory also renders the party invisible to enemies, which increases the likelihood that you can manage to launch preemptive attacks when the time comes. Unlike other Kemco games I've played, though, dungeons don't feature runes that allow you to automatically recharge your health and magic. You'll know a boss fight is coming up shortly and you can heal through more conventional means, but that's it. If you've been worn down by weaker foes, that's your cue to warp out of the dungeon. The game isn't going to hold your hand.

Unfortunately, not everything the developers did differently worked as well as some of the stuff I've praised above. For nearly the whole game, you have a three-person party with the occasional guest star party member. Then, just before the final dungeon, five other guys abruptly join your crew. What's the point of that? You've spent the entire game customizing your characters and learning to work as a team, so there's no real benefit in dropping five other heroes on your lap at the last moment. The game is also completely linear, sometimes refusing to allow you to go in an interesting direction if the plot isn't headed there at that moment. As for the graphics, the only time they look good even by 16-bit standards is during combat.

In spite of those complaints, though, Symphony of Eternity earns a recommendation because it actually provides a decent challenge and is fun to play. It doesn't break any new ground, but it works well as comfort food for the RPG fanatic's soul. Though it's not on the level of a SNES-era Dragon Quest or Final Fantasy game, it's still a more-than-adequate time-waster if you've already conquered those and now you want to try something new.


overdrive's avatar
Staff review by Rob Hamilton (October 27, 2015)

Rob Hamilton is the official drunken master of review writing for Honestgamers.

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