Elven Chronicles in Review – Final Fantasy on your iPhone? Well…

elven-chronicles-review-mainHey you, happy campers. I’m sure that ever since Elven Chronicles came out you have been dying to read the review by the amazing, wonderful, and unrivalled… Me! Well, your prayers have been answered! You know, it still surprises me that the general quality of RPG games on the relatively powerful iPhone shames the hallowed three letters. When I was given the opportunity to review Elven Chronicles, I got the feeling that this could be the turnaround for the genre on our favourite platform. Was I right? Well, you’ll be the judge of that…

elven-chronicles-review-cutsceneElven Chronicles fits into the genre of RPG called JRPG (Japanese RPG) which is well known for the following: cute anime, tactical playgrounds, and constant travel from city to city. Fighting is done turn by turn where each unit may attack, cast magic, or use an item, but no equipment switching can be done in the midst of a fray. I should also note that in Elven Chronicles, combat order cannot be changed. The other major characteristic of a jRPG is that as your heroes level up there you don’t get to choose how. Elven Chronicles is no different. In fact, it may be even more strict: characters automatically gain health, and mana, and their attack and defence stats are upped a bit after a level up; you don’t even get to choose the spells the character gains skill in! The only thing you have some control over is a character’s equipment, though since both characters have COMPLETELY different paths, it is largely just show.

elven-chronicles-review-statusThe second thing I wanted to note is that this is a port. Elven Chronicles originally appeared on J2ME enabled phones back in 2006 and the only thing that changed since then are the graphics (which admittedly are gorgeous). The controls reek of non-touch interfaces; even tap and drag skill/spell selection is missing. After a few hours into the game, the wizard class amasses 2 dozen spells, making scrolling through them a pain.

All menu screens are a pain to handle as well since you can’t swap a weapon by just tapping its name; you have to tap the weapon icon in the top row. And the menu transitions are annoyingly slow. The movement on the overall map is, thankfully, tap based BUT when you try to talk to one of the villagers you often have to tap them about a dozen times until the game recognizes that you are trying to communicate. And one more thing, make sure you save often! Elven Chronicles DOES NOT save state on exit, even if you are interrupted by a phone call, so you’re screwed since the game will restart at the menu screen after the call ends!

elven-chronicles-review-spellsOne thing jRPG games have been known for is immense, involving story lines. Unfortunately, Elven Chronicles is not even close to being up to par. There is no opening cutscene, rather your hero wakes up in the forest where he and an elf exchange pleasantries. Evidently, we (the character) were part of an convoy that was attacked: that’s it. As the character levels up, the story is broadened a bit more, but it is in shambles: there is no character development, nothing that brings you into the world, and no reason to be traipsing around the countryside.

In a brave overview, the story revolves around teleporting from town to town and defeating a boss who is stationed outside. Sidequests consist of going out and killing several beasts in one of the nearby locations. And if you’re a perfectionist like me, you’ll be frustrated to find that the sidequests are unlimited with nearly no rewards. The only decent stuff you get, you get from killing the boss creatures or the town vendor. And if you like exploration you’ll be disappointed to know that 99% of the chests you find contain potions and the other 1% contains the same crappy items you can get for completing quests.

elven-chronicles-review-battleElven Chronicles lives up to a promised game time of about 20 hours, but most of it is spent travelling from towns to dungeons and encountering annoying battles. Thank god for the Town Portal spell which let’s you instantly return to the last town you were in and back again. Battles too, are generally simple; the only twist comes from guessing what element your enemies are more vulnerable to, but even that is indicated by their colour and appearance. Mind you, as you enter the second town, you may accidentally be teleported to a nearby level by a friendly dwarf. There, enemies are about twice a powerful as you are. I literally spent a couple of days trying to survive there until somehow, I discovered that I had to leave town via a different exit to find enemies a bit more my size.

To sum it all up, if you were hoping for Final Fantasy for the iPhone, you got screwed, especially considering the horrendous price of $3.99. Elven Chronicles is one the most boring and frustrating games I ever played on the iPhone and while it may be a step in the right direction (considering the other jRPGs on the platform) it has still a very very VERY long way to go. The only reason to pick up this game would be if you are a real fanatic of jRPGs and have a lot of spare cash. For everybody else, I would recommend to turn your attention to the old classic Vay, which may look much worse in terms of graphics but is a much better game. With this I declare Elven Chronicles officially touched.

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App Summary
Title:Elven ChroniclesDeveloper:Big Blue Bubble
Price:$3.99 ($1.99)App Size:7.4 MB
  • Stunning graphics
  • 20+ hours of gameplay
  • No character development
  • Frustrating and unresponsive controls
  • Poor storyline presentation
  • Boring gameplay
  • The game restarts if interrupted by phone call

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