Like many of my fellow RPGFan staffers, I’ve been reviewing video games for years, and not just RPGs. I’ve had the joy of reviewing some stellar software, and the schadenfreude of slamming some games that, had I developed them, I would have been tempted to leave off my resume. And yet, I’ve never had as hard a time sitting down to write a review as I have with Inotia 2: A Wanderer of Luone, a game that I more or less liked, at least when I started playing it.
Inotia 2 puts you in the shoes of a mercenary whose simple quest for work turns into a quest to save the world from the return of an ancient evil. Along the way, there are many side quests you can undertake, and you’ll need to, because grinding is absolutely required. Most of the sidequests fall into two categories: kill a number of specific enemies, or go somewhere to visit someone, generally to deliver something. Unfortunately, the game expects you to remember the names and locations of every NPC, even those you may not have chosen to speak to yet.
That problem grew increasingly annoying as I progressed through the game, but the sidequests aren’t what convinced me to stop playing before I beat the game. The blame for that lies squarely at the feet of the main quest. Fairly far into the game, I was told to find and kill two bosses. For once, I was even told where to find them. However, when I arrived at the first location, a guard told me I needed to go back to town to get a key. In town, I was told I couldn’t get the key without permission from someone else. That person required me to do a favor for someone else, who wanted me to go to the deepest part of a nearby mine and kill a boss. And that’s when I decided I was done being jerked around.
Fun factor aside, Inotia 2 is not a bad looking game, but it does feature a lot of palette-swapped enemies. For example, most bosses are only strong, named versions of normal monsters. The environments don’t seem to vary much, either; lots of forest, and every dungeon you enter looks almost exactly the same.
My guess is that the graphics were made less of a focus to save the processor for companion AI; as you progress through the game, you can hire up to two mercenaries to fight by your side. Once you hire them, they’ll level up along with you and you can assign their skill points as you see fit. It’s a nice concept, but there are a lot of problems with it in practice. First, you don’t get any choice in the class of the mercs you hire, and the opportunity comes up so rarely that getting someone in a class you don’t want is extremely painful. Second, your mercs don’t get access to all of their class’ skills – they get a random selection that may make even someone from the “right” class useless, like a healer who doesn’t know how to heal. There’s no way to control their skill use, either, so you’ll probably find yourself running out of health and stuck with a mana-less healer far more than you’d like. There are also some pathfinding issues, but what would a party-based game without pathfinding issues be? (Better, that’s what.)
The sound effects and music aren’t the worst I’ve heard, but they are annoying enough that I turned them off the first chance I got. Interestingly, you can play regular music even if you’ve got the game’s music turned on. I am not sure that’s a good thing, but it is different, and I’m willing to give some credit to even a bad idea if it’s different.
Like some other iPhone/iPod Touch games, you have options when it comes to control. You can use a virtual d-pad and attack button, or you can tap on the screen where you want to go. Neither option is flawless, so I found myself switching between them from time to time. Because of the icons on the screen, using the “tap to go” method means that there are places on the screen that you can’t get to. On the other hand, using the d-pad means that you have to walk right up to any enemy you want to attack, which is a major issue if you’re playing as a mage, whose attacks are ranged.
I guess when all is said and done, my problem in rating Inotia 2 is that it didn’t cost much. And while I may not have enjoyed the experience all the way throuh, I did enjoy it long enough to justify he amount of money I spent on it. So if you’re looking for a fun RPG to spend a few hours with, go ahead and grab this one. If you’re in it for the long haul, though, grab something better, like our 2009 iPhone/iPod Touch game of the year, Zenonia.