Enchanted Arms Review
Enchanted Arms is a capable and often enjoyable role-playing game, but it's also one that you'll likely forget as soon as you finish it.
- Surprisingly natural, funny dialogue for a role-playing game
- unique battle system is fun and challenging
- the collectible golems are all unique and useful.
- Awful English voice acting
- too much tedious backtracking through large, vacant, and uninteresting areas
- aside from some flashy battle animations, the visuals are unimpressive
- it's frequently difficult to get a good view of the battlefield.
Enchanted Arms is the first Japanese role-playing game for the Xbox 360, and while it isn't overly impressive or memorable, it's a capable representative for games of its type. The game sticks closely to the console role-playing template made popular by the Final Fantasy series, to the point that even the victory music that plays after each battle sounds eerily familiar. Androgynous characters, melodramatic plotlines, random encounters, and ridiculously overblown battles form the basis of Enchanted Arms, and if you have any previous experience with this type of game, you'll feel like you've seen it all before. Despite that, if you give it plenty of time, you'll find that Enchanted Arms is still worth playing if you have any interest in role-playing games.
You've heard this story before. A feisty young man with no memory of his past discovers within himself a hidden power capable of saving--or destroying--the world. His name is Atsuma, and he's a student at Enchant University, where he studies a type of weak magic known as enchanting. However, some people seek a more powerful form of magic, which has been lost for the past 1,000 years. Turns out that a millennium ago, humans were quite proficient with magic and used it to create artificial servant creatures, known as golems. As you might expect, the golems one day went berserk and turned on mankind, nearly destroying the world in what's known as The Golem War. The most powerful of these creatures, called devil golems, were sealed away to prevent another disaster. Flash forward to present day, and some conniving megalomaniacs start fussing with the seals to draw upon the powerful magic that lies within. At this point, Atsuma's destiny as savior of the universe is revealed, along with a mysterious power that resides in his right arm.
As Atsuma, it's up to you to keep these nasty golems in check, which you do by running around the world battling not only golems, but also the humans who are attempting to manipulate them. Enchanted Arms plays like a traditional console role-playing game. You spend most of the time running through dungeons or down long, linear paths from one city to another, engaging in random encounters, collecting money and items, and developing your characters to make them stronger. Between battles, you'll often be treated to some heavy dialogue or the occasional prerendered cinematic sequence.
The story sequences in the game can be quite lengthy, with conversations lasting several minutes. You might be tempted to simply skip through all the chatter, but if you do that you'll miss out on a lot of the charm that Enchanted Arms has to offer. The dialogue, while sometimes a bit overdone, is relatively natural and engaging for a role-playing game. There aren't many characters in the game, but that works to its advantage by letting you focus on the dynamic between four entertaining personalities. There's also plenty of humor, and although a lot of it is downright silly, it doesn't feel forced and is funny enough to prevent your eyes from glazing over during every story sequence.
The nuts and bolts of the game are simple but effective. Throughout most of the game, you'll be running on a linear path from one point to another. Sometimes you'll run from one town to another, and other times you'll be running from the beginning of a dungeon to the obligatory boss fight at the end of that dungeon. While in these areas, you'll be drawn into battle with a random assortment of enemies every several steps. The encounter rate is usually reasonable, letting you cover plenty of ground between battles. Sometimes, however, you'll find yourself going from one battle to another every few steps, which quickly gets tiresome. It doesn't help that the game requires you to backtrack through these large, empty spaces several times, which is boring and takes quite awhile since you're prone to being attacked every step of the way.
The nature of the combat system in Enchanted Arms results in some often very lengthy battles. That said, the system is fun and challenging most of the time. Each battle takes place on a flat, 6x4 grid that is divided down the center. Your party is randomly arranged on one half of the grid, while your enemies are on the other. You can't pass the center line into the enemy grid, so you have to plan your attacks accordingly. You can have up to four characters in your party, and during your turn, you can move those characters and assign actions in any order. Once you've done that, you press go and the actions are carried out. The battles all come down to positioning, because each attack has a specific range and pattern. Some attacks will hit only a single square, others will hit a line of squares, and still others will hit an entire enemy area. By balancing your party so that you have a proper mix of ranged and direct attacks, you can be ready to face any enemy. The battle system doesn't require much in the way of strategy, but it does demand a bit more than simply selecting the attack command over and over. It feels almost like a puzzle game because you have to figure out the best order and position for each of your characters to maximize damage and minimize risk.