Format: Xbox360 (reviewed)
Enchanted Arms is a classic Japanese turn based RPG with superb graphics, a compelling storyline and a challenging combat system. If Final Fantasy style games are your thing and you have an Xbox360 then you should definitely check out Enchanted Arms.
The story follows our protagonist Atsuma, a somewhat lethargic student at the Enchant University with no recollection of his past, and a right arm with strange abilities. As you might expect the game revolves around the events that unfold, revealing Astuma’s past and his potential to save, or destroy, humanity.
Unsurprisingly, you study Enchanting at Enchant University, a weak form of magic prevalent in the world. Whilst stronger forms of magic have been known to exist, but have been lost ever since the destruction caused over 1000 years previously during what is known as the Golem Wars.
Golems are another central feature of the game, both as allies and as enemies. Golems are robotic beings crafted and powered by magical enchanting, designed to perform a wide variety of tasks from housekeeping to warfare. These golems form the basis of the enemy force as well as the majority of your allies. As you progress you encounter a wide variety of golems each with differing abilities, strengths and weaknesses; and some of these golems can be incorporated into your party to fight alongside you.
On this note, the combat system is quite different from the standard turn based RPG template. Rather than just turn based attacks, combat takes place on 2 6×4 grids, one in which your opponents move and the other for your team. Attacks are based on placing your characters in various positions around a grid, dependent on their movement range and abilities. It takes some getting used to, and can get quite complicated at times trying various combinations to find the maximum effective damage, but it certainly creates a thrilling atmosphere in combat.
Combat is also affected by a system of opposing elements – water and fire, earth and air, light and shadow. If a creature of a particular type receives damage from an attack of the opposing element double damage is received and elemental attacks of the same type do half damage.
The final interesting aspect to battling is that your characters regain full health and energy at the end of every fight, as well as wiping any effects on them. Fatigue is controlled by ‘YP’ which are points that are used every time the character performs an action or takes damage. These points can only be recovered at various health points dotted around the world, which encourages you to rotate your characters. Near most of these health points are usually ‘store’ points where you can purchase new items, skills and create new golems and weapons.
Another very welcome deviation from the standard template of this genre is the abolishment of save points! Rather you can save at any time, except when in battle. Should your entire party be wiped out in a battle, you have the option of restarting the battle or loading from a save point, a blissful change from having to go back to a save point, potentially preventing you having to redo chunks of the story.
As with almost every Xbox360 game, Enchanted Arms has its share of achievement points, which centre around defeating bosses at certain points throughout the story. So if achievement points are a driving force in your life, then there are plenty to be had if you are persistent enough to play through the entire story.
The story is very linear; although this is completely normal for this genre, and the plot is excellent, unfolding in a way that lures the player to always want to press on. The conversations can be very long winded and the humour, while plentiful, can be somewhat puerile. That said, it’s still worth paying attention to the cutscenes and conversations or you risk losing out on vital plot elements.
The graphics are not mind blowing, but they are excellent, and are certainly in keeping with Microsoft’s impressive next-gen technology. The cutscenes are particularly pretty and the whole is very well crafted.
Sadly the sound is somewhat lacking… the sound effects are pretty average, but the background music is fairly limited and can get quite repetitive.
Fortunately the main game has plenty of hours of gameplay as there isn’t much an online aspect to Enchanted Arms, but you do have the option of pitting skills and golems against others around the world. Although this would require finding others online to play against, which I couldn’t do in several attempts.
Bottom line: if you enjoy the Japanese style RPG, then Enchanted Arms is a must have. A well told storyline, pretty settings and a superb combat system make for an excellent game.