If you take Soul Caliber and Final Fantasy and mixed them together, you would end up with Hybrid: Eternal Whisper. Hybrid is the latest RPG from Gamevil, creators of the highly acclaimed Zenonia.
While Zenonia was awesome, in a zeldaish way, Hybrid is the RPG for grown ups that more closely resembles Monster Hunter. Instead of spending a lot of time traveling through cities, doing quests and getting lost, Hybrid throws you right into the action focusing on real-time combat. Instead of lots of turn based move options you have cool melee combos and awesome magin effects. You can even throw your enemies up into the air and finish them mid flight! You would never see action like this in Hyrule.
You play a recently orphaned son of a great warrior. As the odd boy with grey hair and grey eyes you find that you also have a special companion (known as fairy) that will allow you to do what no one else can, defeat the evil scourge plaguing your world. Fairy guides you through your journey as you meet spirits, and other guides who will join you and help you along the way.
Most RPG’s make you feel like they are opened ended but really have a main story line and some small branching side quests to make you feel like you are in control of the story, but of course you are still being guided down a single path. Rather than try and keep up the illusion Hybrid spends time showing the story to you. When you start out you get a lengthy story about who you are, and the world you are in. After that, you fight. After the fight you go back into story mode, and then back again into fighting. Gamevil took out the town traveling adventuring aspect of the game to let you focus on the good stuff, getting stronger, getting new stuff, and tearing up the baddies.
One the the main complaints of traditional RPG’s is that the fighting (the thing you are doing most) feels like a grind, and is not really fun. It’s just a means to the end of leveling up and beating the next big guy. With Hybrid’s combat focuses system fighting (again the thing you do most) is the funnest part of the game. This refreshing twist breathes new life into the RPG world.
Combat in this game is fast and furious, not to mention 90% of what you will be doing in the game. You controls consist of a virtual D-Pad and an attack button. You also have a button for changing how you hold your blade (Swap). With this configuration you can move, and dash with the pad, then use the attack to slice. Consecutive attacks earn you combos (like familiar fighting games). While attacking you can hit the swap button to gain more points, and do more damage. As you go along you learn lots of move/attack combinations to keep things interesting while tearing evil a new one.
At the end of each round you also get rated on time, skills used, and Hybrid comes up with “style points” and give you a letter grade on how you did. The game will keep track of these scores and let you post them on a global leaderboard to see how awesome (or not) you actually are.
Of course in addition to the normal fighting type moves you can also use magic. To do this Gamevil decided to go with a swipe system. Swipe your finger from one corner to another for a spell, do it in the opposite direction for another spell, use them together for combos. You can also use magic, with a melee move to summon your soul blade for a mid-air fight. Later in the game you also learn a skill called Gravity, but I haven’t made it far enough to see what this does yet.
For you leet lewt seekers this game will not leave you disappointed. After defeating enemies you can collection potions, items and weapons to help you on your journey. You can equip them as they are, or take them to a magical smithy to enchant or combine items. This combining creates a lot of posibilites for your equipment and give you a lot more depth in your strategy and gameplay.
As you level up you can allocate points to Spirit, Body, Force & Sync. These are attack power, defense, critical damage, and special ability, respectively. You know what the first three do, but sync is something totally new. Basically this skill determines how quickly your fairy button recharges. When it’s 1/3 full you can summon a fairy to help defend you, or send her back quickly to do massive AOE lighting damage to all around you.
In addition to the main story line you are also given a special garden level where you can visit the smithy, post your score, or play in an escalating and eternal number of challenges. These are presented to you in levels, and each time you go into a level your mission is different. These vary from killing everyone, killing everyone in a certain time, defending certain players, etc. In this garden time “moves slowly” so you don’t have to feel guilty about putting the story on hold while you level up your dude while putting in some quality time with the hilt of your blade. The mode give you unlimited challenge and leveling potential at anytime in the game.
Hybrid’s fresh take on RPG’s is satisfying, addicting and fun. The graphics and polish are amazing with an art style that makes this look like and RPG you want to play. In addition to tons of content in the story line (seems about 40 hours) you also have unlimited play time in the garden. Post garden scores online and gloat about your accomplishments, or become the best on the planet! Combat stays fresh and fun giving you tons of opportunity to learn new moves and magic, fight new people, and terrorize many types of bosses. RPG and fighting style games come together in an amazing Hybrid (see what I did there) that results in one of the funnest games for the iPhone.
Fans of some old or “Classic” RPG’s may find the real-time combat off-putting. Instead of relying purely on strategy you must have quick finger reflexes and be able to think on your feet to do well in this game. Classic RPG’ers may also miss the wandering around and adventuring through towns, but I think the game makes up for it in telling a deep and interesting story as you go. For it’s graphical brilliance there are a limited set of backgrounds and baddies to fight, while it may take you a while to see all of them, they do repeat a lot in the game.
The Bottom Line
It’s not a stretch to call Hybrid the best RPG on the iPhone. For those of you searching for an amazing iPhone RPG, you have found your prize. This game combines unique iPhone controls with a unique storyline, fantastic characters, fast paced gameplay, and tons and tons of depth. What more could you want?Towns?, you don’t need no stinkin’ towns!
Presentation & Graphics
I’m a sucker for good pixel art, and Hybrid delivers. Along with great characters and animation the UI, items, and menus are all brilliant. I would like to see a little more variety but what you get is quite visually stunning.
The sound is good, but can get a little repetitive. A little above standard fare for an RPG.
Here is where Gamevil has really hit a homerun. Hybrid takes out all the useless parts of the RPG and hones it down to it’s tasty nuggets. For a on-the-go platform like iPhone and iPod Touch Hybrid is a perfect fit.
Kudos to Gamevil for taking a classic RPG style gaming and coming up with a way to include other players. Playing in the tower give you infinite play possibility, which is good, but what makes Hybrid stand out is the ability to post your high score and check against other players across the globe. This give you a lot more incentive to come back and do your best. Oh, and by the way, the normal game, probably has over 40 hours of gameplay, stick that in your iPhone and play it.
Game Rating – Editor’s Choice!
It is not lightly that I call Hybrid the best RPG on the iPhone right now, and the title certainly didn’t come accidentally. You can tell that the creative geniuses at Gamevil have worked hard to make this an experience made for your how you use your iPhone. Hybrid is an Editor’s Choice and will be a contender for game of the year. Finally, the must have RPG for your iPhone or iPod Touch is here.
Hybrid: Eternal Whisper - is out now for $5.99.
*Reviewed on an iPhone 3GS