More waning than waxing.
The first thing Luna Story’s title screen will ask the player to do is, “press any key.” I cannot help but wonder if this is a silent message from the translator indicating that hitting the home key, indeed the iPhone’s only key, would be a sound course of action. The “press any key” message is a holdout from the game’s origins as a traditional cellular phone title, and is just one of the aspects of the game that the creators did not bother changing. Players map abilities and items to the star and pound keys, and words often spill out of improperly sized text boxes. The game’s opening message is on par with the largely erroneous use of the English language throughout the game; fans of Engrish will rejoice in the fact that the player must “mount” their items to use them. Did I mention that the first boss in the game is an eagle named Disney?
Of course, I picked up Luna Story with the intent of reviewing a game and not grammar, but Luna Story wanted to make that difficult for me. After playing a full hour of the game, I was suddenly unable to boot Luna Story without the game crashing at each startup. Though I tried every trick in the book, the ultimate solution was reinstalling the game and erasing my save. Unwilling to let that bring me down, I created a new save and played further into the game until… you guessed it. The third time has so far been the charm, but each time I boot the game I am worried that I will once more become stuck in a reboot-crash-repeat loop.
Speaking of loops, the game’s soundtrack loops at about twenty seconds, and it is a clear half second break each time. A custom soundtrack would have been wonderful, because after some time the originally pleasant main song sounds like nails on a chalkboard. This music plays as you wander about the visually charming overworld while progressing through your various quests. Players can upgrade their characters with new techniques, items, and even pets found on the world map. While the RPG mechanics are not deep, the game has more of a focus on hack and slash gameplay than micromanaging stats. The actual combat doesn’t feel polished, and it is often the case that one will find themselves boxed between high level monsters with no way to escape. The simplest way to explain Luna Story is to say that it is a quest-based action RPG and compares structurally to games like Diablo, Torchlight and Zenonia. None of the quests are particularly interesting, most are of the fetch variety, but the story of the game was mildly interesting when it could be understood.
The fundamental concepts within Luna Story mimic those of Diablo, but the execution is rough. What could have been a smooth experience is slowed down by finnicky controls and a poor interface layout. Luna Story requires the iPhone to be held in portrait mode, and the location of the on-screen controls means that your hands are likely to cramp after even fifteen minutes of playtime. Fifteen minutes is about how long it takes to get into an encounter with a Unicorn that speaks only in ampersands and pound signs-later on, a magical necklace helps you understand its ancient tongue.
Luna Story has the makings of a decent action RPG but falls short of being worth the player’s time or money. Poor controls, an even worse translation, and numerous bugs all drag down the user experience. I found myself discouraged with the game’s tendency to crash, and the whole experience lacks quality that can easily be found elsewhere on the App store. Buried underneath all these issues are the trappings of a good game, and I know that some readers who are big fans of games like this will disagree with my negative sentiments. My question to such players is, why aren’t you playing Zenonia?
This game was reviewed on a 2nd gen device.