As someone who hails from a former mining town, I feel fairly confident in saying that Luchs Eduard’s actions follow the correct protocol to the letter; it’s common knowledge that if you discover a young woman encased in a crystal, you’re supposed to take her home and dress her up in a maid outfit and ask her to help out at your inn. What’s my source for that you ask? Well, erm…it’s y’know…LOOK BEHIND YOU – A FIEND!
Lord of Magna: Maiden Heaven, the latest game from the mind of Rune Factory 3 co-director Masahide Miyata places the player in the shoes of a young man trying his best to keep his family’s inn afloat in a town that is extremely wary of outsiders; which might explain why it isn’t exactly a roaring success. The rooms in his inn do start to become occupied however, after a routine crystal-mining trip leads to the discovery of Lottie, a bubbly and buxom young woman who has an odd case of amnesia, as well as an unknown connection to Eduard.
Whenever I encounter a character in a Japanese role-playing game who is suffering from the memory deficiency, my initial reaction tends to involve me throwing my arms in the air out of frustration of having encountered such an overused plot device once again, but something was very different about my experience with this game. While the content of the lost memories still contains details that are important to the overarching narrative, the gradual process in which memories are unearthed feels less forced and is presented to the player in a way that feels more like natural story progression as opposed to a kneejerk twist. Memories start to become unravelled early on in the narrative following the introduction of Lottie’s prim sister Trixie, prompting the discovery that all of Lottie’s six sisters have incomplete memories, which are gradually restored by reuniting with their siblings. Unfortunately for Eduard and the “Artemias” (Lottie et al), locating all of the sororal comrades isn’t as easy as taking part in an episode of Who Do You Think You Are? though. Their appearances are usually accompanied by fiends, who will stand in your way and prompt Lord of Magna’s RPG combat.
The action in Lord of Magna: Maiden Heaven is a curious combination of turn-based battles and free-roaming strategy; as if the different systems seen in Fire Emblem and Bravely Default were smashed together. The game carries Fire Emblem’s essence of having ally and enemy units moving across a limited distance each turn, but throws in a system similar to the latter’s “Default” option – by declining to take any action in a particular turn aside from moving, you can build up “AP” that allows you to use more powerful techniques. Unlike my two previous examples however, this intriguing battle system is unfortunately let down by a simplistic and predictable enemy A.I., which results in the harder battles simply being a game of numbers. This ultimately leads to faster level progression, which was perhaps demonstrated the most by the three level gap between Trixie and Lottie that has persisted throughout my play-through, as a result of the latter losing all of her health in a single battle. The gameplay isn’t bad by any means; facing enemy hordes that rival a Musou game in size is no walk in the park, but I do think that it could have been something more special if even just the more important opponents (such as bosses) were given more intelligent strategies to play around with.
The greatest strength of this role-playing game doesn’t lie with its battle system though, but in its charm. With its mix of vibrant colours, cute chibi-style sprites and lovable characters, the decrepit inn is given a warm touch many lodgings in a similar condition would share – it feels like a home. The characters’ sprites admittedly look a little too rough than I had hoped; especially in regards to the enemies, but in a sense that only makes the game feel more homely. When I initially started playing, I would find myself annoyed at how long it would take me to go from one battle to another but as time went on and I became more invested in the story and its characters, the more I started to value the time spent with each of them – whether it would be helping Trixie deal with the insecurities she seldom revealed, enduring Bart’s excited ramblings about Operation M.A.I.D. in Heaven or discovering the secrets behind the girls and Eduard’s bracelet.
The concept of “Family” plays an integral role in just about every aspect of Lord of Magna: Maiden Heaven’s story and to be honest, I think that it ultimately serves as a perfect symbol for my feelings towards the game. While it isn’t perfect and at times can feel a little rough around the edges, it has a warm, welcoming embrace that cannot be denied.
The game is currently available to purchase exclusively on the Nintendo eShop.
Disclaimer: A copy of “Lord of Magna: Maiden Heaven” was supplied to WiiUAndMii for the purpose of this review.