iPhone Game Review: Seed 1 - Rise of Darkness
Reviewed by Jade Dragon
If one makes a list of games that provide the experience close to or matching RPG classics like Golden Sun and early Final Fantasy series, Seed 1 - Rise of Darkness has to be pretty high on that list if not on top of it. Chillingo teamed up with an RPG specialist CH Games to bring this expansive RPG title for free to the iPhone and iPod touch. The game has the classic RPG gameplay: questing, dungeon crawling, leveling up your character and traveling through a large world map that solidifies the iPhone and iPod touch as a strong gaming platform and in this case, the best friend of an RPG fan.
Playing Seed brings back memories of the early Final Fantasy, Zelda and Golden Sun gameplay, and like playing these classic titles, you will spend hours upon hours playing Seed 1 ? Rise of Darkness. Continuing the tradition of the genre, Seed gives you a world full of dangerous fields dotted with dungeons full of monsters and treasures. Yet, you must travel through the treacherous terrain and clear the dungeons, and bring peace to the world and wealth upon yourself. Thankfully among the savage land, you will find over 20 peaceful towns and cities. All your quests will come from the folks who dwell in these places. You will talk with kings, queens, common folks and treasure hunters to help prevent wars among kingdoms, slay monsters to harvest items and find hidden treasures throughout the land.
Like Zelda or Golden Sun, the gameplay in Seed is largely organized by quests you get from the townsfolk. The quests either take you to the closest fields and dungeons, or lead you to new towns or cities. Both quests and monsters have pre-set levels, this means you won?t trigger quests until you?ve reached certain points in the storyline, and if you venture too quickly into far reaching dungeons without the proper levels you will have a hard time beating the monsters who have much higher levels. But if you follow the storyline, the AI has just the right difficulty settings for your character to fight good battles and to level up. One nice thing about the fighting system in Seed is that you get real time fighting unlike in many Final Fantasy series. Seed 1 ? Rise of Darkness has only one character, and that character can wield four different kinds of weapons. So you don?t have to decide whether you want to be a swordsman, a lancer, a gunner or a wizard at the beginning of the game. Though if you want to be effective with weapons it?s wise to pick one (or two if you have more time to level up) and raise that weapon?s level with all your upgrade points. Each weapon has its own special powers which match the combat methods of monsters (melee, range and magic).
In addition to weapon upgrades, Seed offers plenty of armor pieces for upgrades and consumable items for health, magic, cure and more. You can also pick up weapon enhancement tools from monsters (they drop these when you kill them), and some towns have blacksmiths who can enhance your weapons and armor as well as add bonus (like strength, dexterity and more) points. Since all weapons and armor pieces have level requirements, enhancing the weapons/armor you have is the best way to increase your attack and defense stats before you reach the levels for weapons/armor with higher stats requirement.
Another interesting game design in Seed is the in-game purchase options. The items from the ?SEED Shop? can be purchased through your iTunes account and you can access the shop anywhere in the game. These items are not necessary to complete the game, but they will save you ton of time from reloading the game or traveling through the large world map just to get to certain town, and better armor, weapon enhancements, bigger inventory (the number of things you can carry) and more. For example if you die the SEED Shop sells Reincarnation Stone that can resurrect your character so that you don?t lose your progress or wait for the game to reload which takes a while. Luckily you can save anywhere in the game as well, so save often. Another example, each town in Seed has a warp gate and the SEED Shop sells the gate card which allows you to warp to that town instantly, saving you a lot time traveling on the road. Since the game is free, the in-game purchase is not only fair but also very clearly designed.
Like the gameplay, the graphics in Seed 1 ? Rise of Darkness have the traditional fantasy RPG style that fans of the genre know and love. The terrain and dungeons have very different looks, and there is also a large collection of monsters; some look scary and others look cute. There is a night and day setting in the dungeons also, and the night monsters are harder to beat and the surroundings in the dungeons are harder to see at night. The game uses the on-screen controls which including a virtual D-pad on the left and action button (OK), menu button and map button on the right. The controls work well and responsive. The UI and menu screens are clear, and items, armor and weapons all have their own look.
The music tracks remind us those in Zelda games or Golden Sun series. They fit the genre and have a decent variety. The sound FX is simple but effective.
If you call yourself an RPG gamer, even a remote one, Seed 1 ? Rise of Darkness is a must have in your iDevice game library, and hey the price is right. Those who have been waiting for a title that?s worthy of mentioning in the same breath as Zelda and Golden Sun for the iPhone, you will love this game. Seed has a solid RPG gameplay, a huge world map, interesting dungeons and monsters and ton of weapons/armor to seek and manage. The fact that your character can wield any weapon makes up for not having multiple characters, though it would have been cool to have cooking recipes like in Golden Sun since many towns have cooks in Seed. In the end this is a title that you will spend lots of battery charging cycles on.
Ratings (scale of 1 to 5):
Graphics: - 5 - Sharp and colorful graphics that fit a fantasy genre game.
Sound: - 4.5 - Good music and decent collection of sound.
Controls: - 4.5 - The virtual d-pad and on screen controls work smoothly. The menu interface and maps are intuitive and easy to learn.
Gameplay: - 5 - A classic fantasy RPG, the game has heavy gameplay, a large world map and lots of quests.
Playing Hints and Tips:
-It?s always a good idea to stock up on your potions, warp stones and cure times when you are in town. Since you can carry a large quantities (99 in most cases) in a single slot, having the potions beats standing around and waiting for your status to recover which takes a loooong time.
-Build up your character before venture out too far on the world map. Also enhance your weapons and armor when you can, though remember you might lose a weapon or a piece of armor if ?refine? option fails. So make sure you have a back up item in the inventory.
-The final boss is tough because it?s a series of dungeons stringed together. Bring some Warp stones so that you can get out when you are stuck deep in the dungeon.
Developer / Publisher: CH Games / Chillingo
Release Date: Jan 2, 2010 (updated)
Buy App: iTunes App Store
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