STAFF REVIEW of Illusion of L'Phalcia (Xbox One)

Sunday, July 28, 2019.
by Adam Dileva

Illusion of L'Phalcia Box art It seems like every month, KEMCO releases another one of their RPG’s from their PC/Mobile catalogue on Xbox One. With no shortage of titles to port over, the newest, Illusion of L’Phalcia is what console players are now able to enjoy if they’re looking for another run of the mill RPG. While there are no shortage of KEMCO titles to choose from, Illusion of L’Phalcia does pack a lot of content, even if it does run on a little longer than expected and is quite a grind in its endgame.

Created by Sage Elpis hundreds of years ago, The Sword of Amal contains within it the mystical power to grant wishes, provided it has a magic source of sorts. Seeing how powerful it was and weary that it could be used or evil, the sword was hidden away with the only clues to find it being a map torn into six different pieces. Protagonist Ryser, along with his talking cougar friend, aptly named Cougar, are Seekers; treasure hunters of sorts.

Ryser seeks to be rich with gold, and Cougar, well, he’s a foodie and would use his wish to eat a buffet of the world’s finest foods. They are in search for the map pieces to find the Sword of Amal to fulfill their shortsighted wishes, but like any RPG trope, will find friends along the way that join them to help, or for their own reasons. You’ll come across Tiana, a girl being chased by soliders, her guard Ferio and Caldina, a mysterious warrior, all of which are searching for the Sword of Amal for their own reasons.

While the story is one that we’ve seen a hundred times before, the character interactions is quite entertaining, especially the first half when Ryser and Tiana are constantly at each other’s throats for minor reasons. Sure, it gets old after a while, but as the story progresses, there will be twists, albeit obvious ones, but it at least keeps you engaged until the credits roll.

Much like practically every other KEMCO RPG, Illusion of L’Phalcia is a homage to the classic 8bit RPG’s that we grew up with. This means the majority of the gameplay is your top down sprites with limited animations, though combat within this one is done in a 3D aesthetic. Also like nearly every other KEMCO title, you’ll learn about the main story, talk to townspeople, head to your next destination, beat a boss, move onto the next town for more information and repeat until the final confrontation.

There are a few extras thrown in, like a handful of sidequests that you can choose to do, but these generally simply having you going through a previous dungeon and bringing back a specific item or two. As you explore the world map, you’ll also come across optional area bosses that are much more challenging than regular monsters and will give you special rewards if defeated.

Combat is your typical run of the mill turn based RPG style, choosing whether to attack, use a skill, magic or item. Attacking doesn’t cost anything, but magic and skills will utilize your MP, so they can’t be relied on as heavily. If you simply want to auto battle with attacks, pressing ‘Y’ will allow you to do so, essentially fast forwarding the dull combat.

As you fight in battles and use abilities, you’ll also charge your special meter, allowing you to pull off a triple team attack when used. This will randomly choose a skill from each of your three chosen teammates and use them, free of charge from MP. It’s handy to have in a pinch, but I wish I could queue up which abilities were used instead of it being randomly chosen. Where the real diversity comes in is with L’Phalcia’s interesting rune and magic system.

As you progress, you’ll find and earn Gems throughout your journey. These runes are how you equip your characters with specific types of magic (black for damaging and white for protective). What makes this unique is that each character has their own grid of a different size and shape. This grid is where you need to fit in runes, somewhat like moving around items in your Diablo inventory, making them fit within the grid constraints. As you gain levels, you’ll earn grid expansions, and as you earn higher level runes, they’ll become bigger or odd in shape.

A standard white magic rune is as simple 2x2 square, where a black rune is more like a “Z” shape. The high end runes are much bigger and more oddly shaped, so it’s difficult to slot in everything you want, requiring some strategic choices of who’s going to utilize which runes. There are other types of runes as well, like counter attack, physical damage bonuses and more, but the trick is to somehow make them fit within each character’s grid. Even though you can rotate pieces, it’s very tricky to figure out what the best rune combo for everyone is given these grid restraints.

Defeating those area bosses on the world map will earn you some special points, which can be used for high end items and gear, so it makes them worthwhile challenging yourself to. Given that the base game is $18.99 CAD, I was surprised to see that there was optional DLC also offered as well, though I shouldn’t have been given this isn’t the first KEMCO title to offer DLC like these.

Instead of story, quest or character additions, DLC for L’Phalcia is offered in the form of shortcuts. For $6.49 CAD, you can have a XP x3 bonus, full restores after battle and even disable random encounters. Sure, these are completely optional, though at the endgame, you’re going to be very tempted once you start to grind to max level to take on the biggest bosses. Luckily the game doesn’t pester you to do so, but when the base game is priced as it is, it would have been nice to have these as built in options.

While I find the classic 8-bit visuals endearing and nostalgic, obviously they aren’t anything pretty to look at. The hand drawn characters during dialogue are done well, though the 3D battle animations are quite stiff and basic, especially some of the skill attacks and enemy designs. Your 12-20 hour journey will have a handful of repeated audio tracks that become quite repetitive, especially when you’re grinding in seemingly never ending dungeons. Seemingly, narrative important scenes are fully voiced, though only in Japanese and no option for English. Transitioning from voice to text back and forth is jarring and the bland writing doesn’t help much either.

Even with my complaints, I was sucked into the predictable story all the way to its credits, and is a decent way to spend a weekend if you’re looking for a serviceable classic RPG experience, even if it won’t be a memorable journey that you’ll think of afterwards and has a massive difficulty spike near the end.

Overall: 7.0 / 10
Gameplay: 7.0 / 10
Visuals: 6.0 / 10
Sound: 5.5 / 10


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