Symphony of Eternity is a fully featured RPG made in the style of the great Final Fantasy games of the 16-bit era. It was developed by Kemco, who were actually one of the first companies in gaming history to get a 3rd party NES license way back in the stone ages. Thus, Symphony of Eternity looks to have some serious game-making lineage behind its 99 cent price tag and nostalgia inducing gameplay and graphics.
The game is controlled in a fairly standard way. To move around the map you tap and hold where you want your character to end up, though you have to make sure they won’t get caught on any corners or else they’ll get stuck and you’ll have to back him up, and try again. This navigational foible is really the only issue with the controls. The rest of the interface largely consists of tapping easy to identify buttons, and shouldn’t present a problem to anyone playing the game. Though as an old-school RPG gamer, not being able to mash a button to quickly standard attack your way through low level battles is something of a lost art here.
From a gameplay perspective, I’m certain Symphony Of Eternity is an experience old-school gamers will devour rabidly. Like the best RPGs, the combat is deceptively complex. There are a variety of way to enhance and modify your characters, which include your typical fighter, healer, and well rounded dude with funky hair (see also: Chrono, Cloud Strife, Zindane). The ability to add specialized enhancements to combat various elements (fire resist, extra ice damage, etc etc) makes this feel like a fleshed out experience, and not something shoveled onto mobile platforms to make a quick buck, as certain RPGs sometimes feel.
There’s just something about buying a slew of new swords, armors and accessories after a particularly difficult battle that will fill the right player with a sort of nostalgic satisfaction; for it’s an experience fairly non-existent in today’s modern game scape. Also, a delightful call back (or annoyance) to old-school games, you damn well better save your game or lose those hours or progress. There is no autosave.
Unfortunately, the story and graphics are sub-par. The graphics look like they were copy and pasted from other games, the shops and towns often times look like something created by an avid gamer fooling around in RPG maker, and none of the characters emote. Now I understand part of this due to the old-school graphics, but even in games like Chrono Trigger & Final Fantasy VI, characters had some frames of animation used outside of battle to convey happiness, confusion, or anger. There is no *style* to the proceedings outside of “look like an old-school game”.
And I’m not kidding about the woefully written dialog. This stuff is *bad*. As in, if you’re the kind of gamer who plays RPGs for the experience of a sweeping and epic story, you’ll have to fight the urge to turn it off after the first, say, 6 lines of dialog. The game is lacking in all tension and character diversity, and pretty much everyone talks the same, spewing so many “Alright then”s and “Well, Okays” that, again, it feels like the game was created by an avid gamer who never told a properly paced story.
Yet, with competent controls and quality gameplay, Symphony Of Eternity is a pretty easy recommendation for fans of the genre. There was *great* care taken to making this game feel the right way. I happily chugga chuggaed my way through this game, delighting in level ups, upgrading tablets, and getting a big chunk of exp. from boss battles. But I also rolled my eyes enough during the plot to give myself a headache so bad I puked during a game of poker. As a game it succeeds better than I think anyone would expect considering it’s under the price of an alka seltzer. However, as an experience, well, Final Fantasy Tactics is only 15.99 in the app store.