In a world where two kingdoms clash a party of heroes emerges. Hell bent on finding the source of the disturbance between the usually peaceful Pedabin, and Nabe alliance our heroes take to arms. As all journeys start with slaying of a number of wolves, and a number of mundane errands to run. Advena follows the same twists, and turns that we have seen in countless action RPG the last couple of years. Actually the gameplay is not that far from that found in the Hybrid series from Gamevil. To get into Advena it helps if you have played similar games since the tutorial is limited to the basic fighting controls, and does not tell anything about combos, using items or travelling the world.
Advena is an action RPG viewed from the side, but still played in three dimensions. You are free to move in, and out in the game world. This gives the game a feeling of depth, as compared to having only a 2D view. It does however mean that everything can get quite crowded when battling. Too often I get confused about which character I am actually controlling since attacks, and looks are quite similar.
The controls are all touch based, and work really well. A large virtual joypad for movement is located in the lower left corner, and a large attack button in the lower right. There are also diagonal jump buttons located above the attack button, and a cycle inventory slots button. In the centre of the lower screen four inventory slots are visible, and it is great to be able to rotate to a new set of items when in a hurry. The fighting is all about button mashing, doing the odd strong attack and then button-mash again. There is a team attack that is truly powerful, but it charges slowly.
The controls can be customized, and lowering the visibility of some buttons really help in seeing the game world behind them. Too often I missed out on the blue points showing a travel point because it was hidden behind the large movement controls.
Changing characters whenever you want is strength to the game. Just touching the face of a party member changes active fighter. The AI handles the other party members, and does it quite well. The AI uses potions, and tries it best to keep everyone alive.
When you enter an action area you fight off a few waves of enemies, and then you move to the right in the screen. This is repeated over, and over before a level is complete. Initial levels have about four screens, but soon there is six or more. This makes the game really repetitive, as you have to trudge screen after screen before completing a quest or facing a boss. I also found it weird that enemies spawn by being dropped from the skies. A more realistic approach would have been to have enemies spawn from the left or right outside the vision of our heroes.
A map is used to travel the world, and there are no random encounters to be seen. To me this is a good thing, as it makes travel quicker. There are cities, forests and the odd palace to visit. Once in a city you can approach most NPC:s for a quick chat. You can also buy, sell and upgrade gear. It is also possible to set up versus PvP, and even coop raids at some taverns. The world of Advena is of a decent size making it easy to get to grips with, but also large enough to guarantee a hefty game life.
The presentation is a mixed bag, and the highlight is definitely the battle sequences. Cool visual effects, great animations and varied enemies give the battles a boost. I am not equally pleased with the rather boring towns, NPC:s standing frozen and lack of movement. Even worse is the texts telling the story, and used in dialogues between the characters. It is cut off making it both hard to read at times, but also completely ruining the immersion. Menus are washed out, items are too small and the small font makes item descriptions hard to read.
To get any music you have to set the ringer to on, otherwise you are only left with sound effects. The music is still not present during the battles, and during town visits it isn’t that inspired. Quick RPG techno I like to call the style, and I would really have liked to have support for own music instead. Sound effects are repetitive, and quite weak. I would have liked some kind of voice work in the game to give the characters more personality.
My largest complaint with Advena is the blatant need for IAP to progress without an unreasonable amount of grinding. You get a limited amount of Vena that acts as the game currency, and you get extra if you rate the game. If your heroes die in battle you can revive them, but it takes Vena to purchase Origin of Life. If you run out of both Vena, and Origin of Life deducing experience punishes your party. Overall I dislike the heavy usage of IAP the game wants, and I would rather see a higher price combined with a better-balanced gaming experience.
Advena is an action RPG that doesn’t really do anything really new. The positive aspects are the responsive controls, cool switch between party members mechanic and battle animations. On the negative side the sound is boring, the story is predictable, texts don’t fit text bubbles and finally the heavy use of IAP to succeed. If this would have been a balanced game the $0.99 would be a steal, but now it is just an introductory fee. Most people will either have to pay up to enjoy the game, or simply remove it when the party has been wiped out yet again.
Seller: GAMEVIL USA, Inc.