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Seven Sacred Beasts (Android) artwork

Seven Sacred Beasts (Android) review

"An action-RPG where your main role is to keep out of the way. It's as fun as it sounds."

When it comes to Kemco RPGs, I've reached the point where I essentially know what to expect before I even start playing. That's the case with projects from three of the publisher's four main developers, at any rate. Hit-Point is the exception to that rule. While the other three teams follow general templates, Hit-Point tries to implement a mix of different ideas (often to its detriment). By attempting to actually create something different each time out while adhering to Kemco's tight production schedule, Hit-Point winds up producing a lot of unpolished games. Those titles show the team might be onto something, but just need more time to tighten things up a bit.

Or, in the case of Seven Sacred Beasts, the developers needed more time so it could start paying attention to the little voices in their heads telling them "This is a bad idea that should be scrapped!" I've genuinely enjoyed some Kemco games, and I've found most of those I didn't to be at least tolerable, but this one actively made me miserable to the point I eventually abandoned it. And let's be real: if you're making a game designed to last 15 or 20 hours and I'm completely sick of it after 10, there's a major problem.

If Hit-Point is consistent about one thing, it's a desire to make low-budget versions of notable RPGs. Rusted Emeth, for example, was the team's take on Japan's popular Metal Max series, borrowing such elements as robot moutns and guild bounties. Seven Sacred Beasts, for its part, is one of a few Hit-Point games to take on the "Mon" genre made popular by Pokemon.

If the game deserves any compliments, they are for its story. Hit-Point did at least try to build an interesting narrative. After a brief intro, in which a mysterious adversary attempts to wrest control of the lands from the benevolent Count Frung (only to be dispatched by the very forces he was trying to control), we move to the present time. Frung is now planning to hold a lengthy tournament to determine who is the best monster summoner in the land. Enter Mattie, a young jerk who cares little about proving himself. His sole motivation is sweet, sweet money. When he hears about the tournament, he is initially apathetic… until an equally young noblewoman, Kaldia, offers him an amazing amount of cash if he can emerge victorious. Mattie claims he is unbeatable as long as money is on the line, and from there the duo are off to overcome all opposition!

Of course, there are complications. The professional relationship between Mattie and Kaldia is constantly frayed by her disgust with his greed. Mattie's former partner, Cuore, has the hots for him and is determined to regain her rightful place by his side. The summoner, Adwell, views himself as Mattie's arch-rival and wants nothing more than to prove his superiority. And then there's Traddie, an inexperienced summoner who is inadvertently saved by Mattie during an early quest and immediately starts hero-worshiping him. Is Traddie a nice guy who is out of his depth? Possibly. But Mattie and Kaldia begin to suspect his weakness is a facade after a mysterious Black Knight starts attacking other summoners... especially since said villain tends to make his appearances in regions that Traddie was recently visiting.

After the first couple hours of play, I kept going only out of a desire to find out how this stuff would be resolved. Nothing else could maintain my interest. One night, I even fell asleep while playing it, which is a sure-fire sign a game is lacking in those "fun-factor" intangibles.

The main problem is simple: Mattie is a summoner, not a fighter. When you're going through the game's dungeons, your role is simple: tap one of three buttons to summon monsters and stay out of the way, possibly opening treasure chests or something while your monsters do all of the fighting. Combat takes place in real time. When you come within range of monsters in dungeons, they start moving towards Mattie. When you summon your guys, they'll charge after any hostile life and battle will commence. And by "battle", I mean that two sets of sprites will collide with each other, occasionally blasting off magical attacks, until one monster or the other is dead. As long as you have magic left in your meter, you can summon more monsters, so if your guys start getting wiped out, you'll quickly be able to bring reinforcements into the fray. If you want to take a more active role, you can wait for another meter to fill, at which point you're able to implement one of a handful of battle commands. These allow you to cast spells to heal your guys or damage enemy monsters.

Mattie does actually have one important role: as your monsters weaken the enemy, you can capture them. Sure, you'll be in range of their attacks, and Mattie is thus at risk, but you can gain new monsters to challenge future tournaments and dungeons. Speaking of those tournaments, this game takes place on an archipelago consisting of several small islands. Each island has a tournament building and a dungeon, with a few also having towns. To enter each island's dungeon, you first must win a three-round tournament. Each of these battles is just like those you'll encounter in the dungeons, except you can't access those scant few battle commands. The restriction means you simply summon monsters, avoiding your opponent's creatures and endeavoring to lure your guys closer to your opponent so they can take him out before he's summoned 500 monsters in a futile attempt to stay alive a bit longer.

As you visit each new island, you gradually learn how the game works. The best monster in the preliminary dungeon will help you advance through the first tournament. Then you'll enter its associated dungeon and capture the monsters that inhabit it in order to find the one that will get you past the next tournament. After winning every tournament… you've advanced through the preliminary rounds and get to do everything all over again. This time, you'll fight through tournament rounds to gain access to the second part of each of those same dungeons, where you'll capture the sacred beasts of the game's title. This game needed a decent plot just to mask just how paper-thin everything else about it is.

Where to start? These dungeons are painfully simple, serving as little more than a small collection of rooms strung together with a handful of monsters to subjugate or defeat. The side quests you receive from towns and tournament buildings generally are generic, with a good number of them infuriatingly asking you to capture specific egg monsters in order to evolve them to a better class. What's so infuriating about this? To evolve monsters, you need to collect a good number of gems that occasionally are dropped by defeated foes. While most colors of gem are fairly common, light and dark gems seem to drop much less frequently. Certain other monsters, such as the sacred beasts, also may be evolved. So in order to clear these side quests, you essentially must throw away rare items needed to evolve monsters you might actually find useful. Well, I'm sure you can spend real money to buy more gems via the IAP (in-app purchase) shop, but there's no way I was going to do that. Not for this game. Because, let's face it – Kemco games lose a lot of their appeal when their optional IAP shops start feeling somewhat mandatory, turning their short RPGs into something almost akin to modern free-to-plays.

So, let's sum things up. Seven Sacred Beasts is a game where you essentially control a support character who summons monsters and gets out of the way while they fight, only rarely being able to cast spells to personally influence the tides of combat himself. These battles primarily take place in short, simple dungeons and after you've cleared them all once, you get to endure a textbook case of "second verse, same as the first" as you revisit each island, tournament and dungeon -- only now with the stakes raised. This isn't a good game; hell, it's barely even a game. It's more an exercise in tedium, if you ask me. It gets a perfect rating as a cure for insomnia, but completely fails at any other goal it may have set for itself.


overdrive's avatar
Staff review by Rob Hamilton (November 26, 2017)

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

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