Well, we didn’t get a hold of the PSX yet so my Chrono Cross jones is getting worse. I didn’t feel like starting Cthulhu Saves the World yet so I was looking through XBLM to see what they had that was a little different. That’s how I ended up with Sequence by Iridium Games.
From the screenshot, you might think it’s your standard RPG fare. You’ve got your character’s stats to the left, equipment menus in the center (crafting ingredients and “recipes,” weapons, armor, etc) and your twenty-ish protagonist to the right. Then you come across this:
Whoa. Wait. WHAT?
Yup. Those are the sort of directional arrows one finds in rhythm games like Stepmania and, of course, DDR. But what the hell are they doing inside what looks like a combat screen? Well, that’s where it gets interesting.
The plot is pretty straightforward. Ky, the hero, wakes up in a place crawling with monsters. A female voice over the intercom tells him he has to make it through the seven floors of the Tower before he’ll be released, but isn’t at liberty to tell him anything else. After giving him a tutorial about how the battles work, she directs him to a safe room where the monsters won’t attack him.
In order to move up the Tower, keys have to be crafted along with equipment. Monsters drop items that are used for crafting the weapons, armor, accessories and other key items. They’re also used for crafting scrolls that teach you new spells to use in battle. Crafting is more difficult than most games because it uses your XP instead of money, and there is always a possibility that your attempt will fail. If you do, you don’t lose your items but you do lose the XP. You can increase the percentage that you will succeed, but it also increases the amount of XP you lose so you have to balance the potential loss of a level with the benefit you’re getting from the item.
Combat is a cross between an RPG magic system and Stepmania, with music at different speeds and beats per minute. It ranges from a light piano theme to electronica, and that’s just the first couple of stages. There are three grids you have to keep an eye on; mana, defense, and spells. You switch back and forth between them with the trigger buttons, hit the face buttons (or D pad) in time with the beat, and initiate spells with the left and right bumper buttons. Sound confusing? It is at first, but I got used to it pretty quickly, even though sometimes I’m looking at the wrong grid. It’s fast paced and a little stressful, even at the easiest/slowest level but crazy addictive.
I really like the interface and graphics in this game despite the fact that the words are really hard to read on the screen of our crappy old TV. The characters are pretty much static, but they look good and the voice acting is actually good. Some people have complained about it but I’m going to be they’ve never been forced to watch dubbed anime, a.k.a. the crown prince of really bad voice acting. The fact that an indie game even has voice acting amazed me but with the horrible way the text shows up on our screen, I’m glad they have it. Of course, if you don’t like it there’s a handy option to turn it off.
It’s a shame I can barely read what’s on the screen because there are plenty of clever descriptions for items, a bit like they have in Disgaea, and some pretty great references to internet memes. The first boss is their version of Joseph Ducreux, to which Ky replies “is this a rap battle?”
For me this game has a high replay value because I am determined to get the rhythm right and the items to drop. It doesn’t feel like grinding to me because of that and I’ve gone back to play previous levels just for fun. I’m playing on Easy right now but there are three other levels: Medium, Hard and Spasmodic. I’m kind of afraid of the last one but I have a feeling it – like the entire game – is right up RM^2’s alley. He was ridiculously proficient at DDR.
Like Breath of Death VII, this game is ridiculously inexpensive for what you’re getting. It’s 240 Microsoft Points, which comes out to about $3, and is also available on Steam.
So if you’re looking for a game that is going to gleefully eat up every second of your life because you can’t stop playing it, Sequence just might be the game for you. I’m looking forward to seeing how it ends at some point, if I can ever kill this stupid Fire Ent and make the damn door key for Floor Three. Unless it takes a sharp, terrible turn later, I’m quite comfortable recommending this game. Thumbs up!