The original ‘Chronicles of Inotia’ is possibly one of the worst cases of people buying any-old tat on the iStore simply because it was an RPG in a market starved for them at the time. Slow, lazy and an overall sour experience (we will not be reviewing it on MBU because nobody wants to put in the time to complete it), there were considerable concerns when a sequel was released. Luckily this second installment in the growing franchise of KRPGs outdoes its older brother on all fronts.
Pronounced ‘In-oh-tee-ya’ and sometimes called ‘Inotia 2: A Wanderer of Luone’, the title was developed by Com2uS Corperation, a company founded in 1998 by Korea University and which exclusively develops games for the mobile market after a brief dalliance with Java. Currently standing at 4 entries into the series, (‘Children of Carnia’ and ‘Assassin of Berkel’ for those who are interested) the linking factor between each title is that they all take place in separate regions of the same larger world. Inotia 2 actually managed to win the ‘2009 Best App Ever Award’ from bestappever.com. A position held by ‘Shadowrun: Dragonfall’ in the last ceremony at time of writing, with ‘Final Fantasy VI’ in second place.
Visually this second entry is closer in style to a WRPG than it is a conventional KRPG, with large well drawn character portraits that use a more mature art style than standard anime fair sprites that are realistically proportioned. At the time of launch it was perhaps the closest thing to playing ‘Baldur’s Gate’ on the iPhone as was available, the visual comparison further increased when using the touch to move option that emulates mouse control. There is a semi-obtrusive series of buttons on display but these are tucked into the bottom right hand corner and as small as a finger-press icon can be. Additional elements, such as lifebars, monster stats and virtual D-Pad are also placed to the edge of the screen and may be at times a little too small to read at a glance. Monsters are nicely animated, though repeated in coloured variations throughout the game, and the backgrounds resemble high-quality chipsets that aren’t quite photo realistic but feature more colours than a SNES title would have been capable of possessing.
Music and sound both fall into a woefully generic standard that sums up the fantasy setting but feel arbitrary to the content of the game. Added as an afterthought rather than as part of the design process, the score feels like filler purchased from an open source provider for generic background themes that loop endlessly, whilst sound effects are variable in quality and bland to the point of being forgettable. It is possible to turn individual aspects of the games sound off, and for most this will be a game played on mute.
The narrative behind your journey is complicated by a bad translation that leaves moments intended to be tense or atmospheric falling flat. Regardless of your avatar’s chosen sex for instance, every NPC will refer to you as male. Starting in the town of Luone as a mercenary seeking employment you take on a number of simple quests before the games central story begins. Whilst this does provide narrative drive for the game and introduces additional important NPCS, it’s something of a cliché ridden mess and essentially a poorly written excuse to go from A to B and not to double back to Luone until much later in the game. It’s not terribly involving and ultimately is entirely forgettable.
Gameplay however manages to hold the title up quite well on its own, delving heavily into the KRPG traditions of incorporating a quest structure and multiple side quests that allow players to dip in and out of the game for session of various lengths and always come out having accomplished some kind of goal. Similar to MMORPGS in nature, a multitude of ‘can you find me 11 sheep skins’, ‘mix me a high level red potion’ or ‘kill 13 beasts’ style missions dished out from NPCs make up the bulk of the games content and some of these loop endlessly, making them farmable but sometimes leaving the impression that you’re running in place when you could be advancing a supposedly world-shattering plot on a tight deadline. Combat also owes a lot to the MMORPG, with clicking attack near an enemy (or when the control is switched to touch-sensitive, clicking the enemy itself) triggering your character and his/her party to automatically attack that monster endlessly until it dies. Special moves are placed onto icons that can be triggered with a tap and have cool-downs in addition to costing MP so cannot be spammed to win. Items also take up spaces on the slots you’re allotted for skills, making you choose what you’ll need carefully. Automated party members, of which you can have two at any single moment, are created using special items that the game dishes out only rarely, and differ in quality based on the rarity of the item. It is possible through play to unlock all of the character types for your team but these will be of a medium to low quality, meaning that higher level spells won’t be unlockable. The game places premium level characters behind a moderate pay wall of roughly a pound per character stone, which isn’t too expensive. These characters can be switched to the active role by touching their portrait, or run on rudimentary AI while your control your avatar. The pay difference is most obvious for the title in terms of storage space for items. This is a title that will happily throw a dozen loot drops at you and force you to micro-manage a limited inventory space while out in the field, with characters strictly having only a few personal slots each (and this includes their weapons and armour). Items of the same type stack, but in order to expand your inventory you’ll need to find bags that take up an inventory slot, but contain additional slots of their own in which items can be placed. Sadly the game only gives these out sparingly and in smaller versions than the massive inventory expanding items that can be purchased from the games store using real money. These do not come cheap and are overpriced to an extreme, though the game can be completed without them. The free edition of this game also comes with a ‘pay once to remove ads’ feature which is handy for those who are annoyed by this kind of thing.
Inotia 2 isn’t one of the greats, but it is a fun title to play through once. Eclipsed by better sequels and plagued by optional purchases that are over-priced and simply better version of what’s available freely in-game, it’s not a recommended purchase. Luckily the title went free a short while ago and with the inclusion of a couple of adverts on the home page can be enjoyed without having to pay out for the experience. It is entirely possible to complete the game without spending a penny (as was done on the original paid-version), though perhaps dropping one or two pounds on a high level supporting character (we recommend a healer!) is a good idea to make the longer dungeons less intimidating.