Sequence

Sequence was not a game I was overly-enthused to play, mainly because it’s a Rhythm game, a genre of game that seems to be entirely played by Japanese teenagers in arcades around the world. So when it came to a rhythm game that only involves about six fingers, I was incredibly sceptical and dived in expecting the worst.

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On something anyway.

This rhythm/RPG hybrid game is the first game from US game developer, Iridium Studios, and a reasonably interesting first game, breaking the conventions of both the genres and then mashing them together. My scepticism was soon dissolved by the humour this game subtlety weaves into the game-play, dialogue and even menu screens. This even begins from the outset where you choose your difficulty, the four options being:

  • Easy – For those musically challenged.
  • Normal – For those musically challenged, yet stubborn.
  • Hard – For those not musically challenged.
  • Spasmodic – For those socially challenged.

I chose the normal category, classifying myself as the stubborn, musically-challenged kind of mythical figure.

You play Ky, a wise-cracking, self-narrating, sarcastic protagonist who wakes up in a mysterious tower with no memory of how he got there and is contacted by Naia, an equally wise-cracking, sarcastic and cynical guide who tells Ky he must battle his way through the seven levels of the tower to be free again.

The game play is very simple since, as I mentioned earlier, you only use 6 fingers. There are three simultaenous panels and in each of them, arrows fall through the bar, you have to press the corresponding key. You can switch at will between the panels as each one has a different purpose. The red panel is your defence panel where you prevent damage being done to your HP. Different coloured arrows are worth different amounts of damage. The blue panel is for mana generation and the green panel for spell casting. You can only have a limited amount of spells, some that damage, heal, syphon, defend, etc. That pretty much sums up the gameplay aspect and I admit, isn’t anything to rave about.

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You battle a storm cloud with the art of music… how indie.

This is one of the first RPG games where I can rave about the experience, inventory and crafting system. It’s all based around XP gain. Like any RPG, as you win battles, you gain experience and level up, increasing your base stats (which Ky thinks are arbitrary and I tend to agree). You can gain additional XP by “desynthing” items and experience gems which also minimizes micro-managing. But you use this XP for almost everything. At the beginning of each floor you’re given recipes which require certain loot drops and an XP cost to craft weapons, armour and accessories. You can also use XP to craft spells and then additional XP to learn these spells. The more XP you invest, the greater chance you have of succeeding. If you fail, nothing is consumed except for the XP itself. If you’re keeping track of the amount of times I’ve said XP, you’ve probably realised that you can spend a lot of XP and will ultimately result in de-levelling.

The game pokes fun at standard RPGs for having illogical crafting system, odd items that grant random stat increases and has a constant subtle humour which is genuinely humorous, as opposed to the toilet humour of Deathspank. The voices are also genuine and lacking the usual R2D2ing that a lot of RPG’s utilise. And often it comes down to whether you should finish casting the spell or defend yourself against potential finishing sequences, bearing in mind you’re time limited to when the song ends. The songs themselves are also catchy, original and enjoyable to listen to.

With all this said, there are still shortcomings that are typical to this type of RPG, some of them that the game seems to point out (which isn’t inexcusable). You need loot drops to be able to craft items and proceeds, each enemy drops 3 items, all with a different drop chance. But when you battle the same monster 5 times in a row and still don’t have the 70% chance item you need, it can be incredibly frustrating, especially when it’s holding you back from completing the game. And asides from the dialogue, the story-line is boring and more of a tedious hindrance to finishing the game beating the monsters.

And the main problem is that the game becomes tedious and repetitive  especially when you’ve had the same battle over and over, tedious enough that the humour and fast-paced game play aren’t enough to keep you interested. I also soon realised is that it’s entirely possible to play this game on normal difficulty with absolutely no sound (though you would miss out on the enjoyment of the music).

This is an RPG game with strategic, rhythm gameplay elements. Similar idea to Puzzlequest, an RPG game which replaces standard RPG battles with what is essentially bejewelled. This game is definitely worth a gander, especially for its low price and decent sense of humour.

Sequence is available on the Steam Store for $4.99 and XBLA for 240 points. Or you can gain it as an free extra by donating $15 to There Came an Echo, their latest game and a Kickstarter project.

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