By William Haderlie / January 3rd, 2017
The story plays out very much like a Visual Novel, in fact (combined with the SRPG elements) it bears a lot of similarity to Koihime Musou, just much more moe and much less eroge. The game could have felt small because the story is actually fairly short; there is only one story fight per Chapter, and each Chapter only has about 5-10 min of Visual Novel style dialogue. But the optional (but necessary) Free Battles break up the story content enough that the game feels longer than it actually is. But even if it was only a Visual Novel, the character designs and the wonderful voice acting are enough to make it a pleasant experience. But this game isn’t only a Visual Novel; there is quite a deep Strategy Role Playing Game system here, and a massive list of collectible girls for you to obtain.
The battle grids are only ever flat, which was initially a disappointment for me. My favorite SRPG games have those wonderful 3D grids, such as Final Fantasy Tactics and Disgaea, but there were some hidden features of this flat grid. As you can see above, many of the grids are neutral, but others have an elemental characteristic to them. That becomes increasingly important as the game goes along because it not only determines bonus elemental powers and weaknesses, but it also can restrict movement. Movement is very important in all SRPG games, but it’s even moreso in this one due to the fact that your characters cannot equip any armor (although some classes are more resilient than others) and the fact that your game is over if the main character is defeated in battle. As a Master, she can summon up to 5 different minions at once to protect her, but keeping her in range of several different attacks can be very risky. Summoning takes both Spell Points (SP) and Summoning Time (ST), so you generally have to plan ahead on which characters you summon and when. Your characters can move and use a skill once each turn, and your Master can also use an ability and also summon once each turn. But movement can often be restricted by the area influenced by the enemies, which means that ranged skills are of extremely high value.
Building up your characters is a huge part of the game, but having variety in your group remains important throughout your playtime. One of the largest reasons for this is that attacks have their own elemental attributes, and someone of the same element will often be completely immune to abilities of that type. Of course, they are also very weak to attacks of the opposite element, but the resistance ended up being a much larger concern. There are fights where you will want to not even bother summoning certain character types, because they will be practically useless due to their elemental affinities. Even though there are no weapons or armor, they make up for that level of strategy by having a large number of character stats, and you can adjust those stats to fit your playstyle by spending TP (which you earn after each battle). Because movement can be restricted in so many situations, I found that investing in power and defense to be much more valuable and using distance skills to take advantage of long range situations.
As you move along in the Story Mode, you will have additional Free Battle stages unlocked. But I mostly focused on the Creature ones instead of the Master ones. You can go to the Creature Free Battle stages and use Iruse’s ability to capture wild monsters in order to gain new characters. According to the game’s Kickstarter and Steam pages, there are 151 usable monsters in the game, which is a huge amount and I never even saw half of them. But one advantage of there being so many is that engaging in the Free Battles seldom resulted in obtaining repeat characters that I already owned, even after playing the game for 40 hours. You also gain Contract Gems by winning those Free Battles (more if you fight the Master Free Battles), and you can trade those Gems in to unlock other girls without having to absorb them in battle. Iruse can only do that once per fight, and the normal Pokémon capturing rules apply here as well (low health and status effects increase chances) so if you want to boost the number of girls in your stable, you can use gems. However, what I used the gems for was to save up several more than the base 10 Gems, and instead guarantee that it would be a new girl that you didn’t already own. You can also spend extra gems to specify what elemental affinity the girl you summon will have, which is especially beneficial if you are struggling in a fight or you are completely missing an elemental affinity.
If this is all starting to sound a lot like Pokémon, you would be very correct. The SRPG battles and the VN story may lead you astray with what this game is in the long run, but over time this game most resembles that classic franchise. All the different monster girls have their own designs and there are a great many different artists that provided the character portraits (like you see above). Even more impressively is how many different voice actresses they have doing simple vocal quips for all the girls. This may be a small game made by a very small studio, but there is a ton of love put into all these moe monster girls. The story will only take around 20 hours (at most) to finish, depending on how many Free Battles you engage in to make yourself equal to or greater than the recommended level for the next Story Stage. But I’ve already played the game for well over twice that due to the sheer pleasure of unlocking all these cute girls. You keep them in a roster box that is very simple to use, and then you can just add them to your party or remove them before any battle. You can also save several different party configurations if you so choose. The monster girls in your reserve box don’t earn any experience, but as long as they are in your party (even if you don’t summon them in the battle) they will earn experience. That makes them much easier to develop than even the Pokémon monsters are, a much desired addition.
The music in the game is very pleasant, but really the budget was definitely put into getting all those voice actresses to perform. The backgrounds are pretty simple, but likewise that budget was put more into making the most out of all the cute girls and having a massive variety of anime character designs. So while this is a small game, I really like how they prioritized where they were going to invest that budget. And, as I said in the beginning, I also really like that they avoided the temptation to make this game free-to-play; I can almost guarantee that it would have been forgotten in that massive slew of other games released with that business model. Instead, you can buy this game on Steam for $11.99 MSRP (even less with the current sale), and it is well worth that price. The story is fun and cute, but the real charm of this game lies in the pleasant feeling of playing it and going back every now and then to unlock a new girl to build up. I could see myself going back to this little game frequently over time just for some pleasant fun, and to finally reach that 151 Creature figure. It’s not going to set the world on fire but I’m so happy to have an English version released, and it’s just the sort of moe diversion I needed right now.
Review Copy Provided By The Publisher
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