So I got a device for Christmas, that, according to Wikipedia, is known as a Phablet (bigger than a phone, smaller than a tablet). Since then I’ve been trying out a few games for it. I recently played ‘Symphony of the Origin’, an RPG designed for smartphones.

‘Symphony of the Origin’ follows Ryle, a young swordsman, as he sets out with a group consisting of elves, dwarves and golems to save the surface lands from the Evils of the Earth Depths. The game lasts about 6-8 hours, and you can buy extra content to make it last longer than that if you like.

The plot is standard save-the-world RPG fair with lots of speeches about how awesome friendship is. Your enemies spend a lot of time in the the first half of the game helping you. It’s best not to think to hard about the plot or the motivations of your enemies. It kinda all falls apart if you look at it too closely. The dialogue is mostly error free, though a bit clumsy, and most of the humour is pretty juvenile, with some of it bordering on creepy (particularly the subplot about Karin and Yakulf). I, personally, didn’t find it that funny, but if you enjoy characters getting drunk and talking about how cute various other party members are, you’ll probably find it funnier than I did. I didn’t particularly care about the plot and neither liked nor disliked the characters.

The customization and combat is a lot better than the plot. Each character has a different weapon with three parts to it. The main part you can level up or change to learn new abilities. Once you’ve mastered an ability you can change your weapon and still keep the ability. The other parts of the weapon have different effects associated with them – you can change Ryle’s sword hilt so it gives you better defence, or choose one with better attacking power, or one that allows you to defend another party member from attack and so on. As well as the weapon options you also earn merit points as you level up. You use these to give bonuses to attack, HP, critical hit chance and so on. You can reset these anytime, so you could change these around for each boss fight if you wanted to. Unfortunately the game is very easy on normal mode, so you don’t actually have to make use of any of these great customization options. And by very easy I mean I finished the entire game without dying once. Not once. This is quite possibly the easiest game I’ve ever played. I think the main reason for this is that you need stamina to use abilites, and your stamina regenerates a bit every turn. So you can basically just spam bosses with your most powerful attacks and heal every turn. I never got into a position where I didn’t have enough stamina to use an ability. Playing on hard mode might be a little better, I’m not sure. I’m not particularly motivated to play it again.

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The controls work pretty well, though occasionally they are a bit awkward when you have to do some precise navigation. The mini-map is pretty useful inside dungeons, as it shows you where secret passages are that lead to extra loot. Moving around the world map is pretty easy, and you can buy an item to travel instantly to any town, which I did most of the time. There are a few side-quests, like finding fossil plates in return for items. They aren’t recorded anywhere, so you just have to remember them.

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Overall, this game has a lot of flaws, and a few good points. Considering it’s price though, I suppose that’s to be expected (I got it for $3 USD). I haven’t played enough other tablet/smartphone games to know the quality of what else is out there. Anyway, the plot is pretty standard, the controls work, and the customization element is pretty good, though unfortunately the game is too easy to make it really necessary.

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