It’s hard not to get tired of Korean RPGs. Most suffer from a poor translation of a generic story and play the same as the many other Korean mobile RPGs on the market. To this end, the spark that we once found in Gamevil’s Zenonia and Hybrid series no longer persists. And unfortunately, Advena doesn’t help to reignite that flame.
Advena tells the tale of Urus, a young warrior who is betrayed by his power-hungry ‘brother.’ He then sets out with a small group of friends to stop the evildoer, and finds out that he’s the hero from the prophesies. This generic story, coupled with an abysmal translation and characters that are genuinely obnoxious, have but one saving grace: the skip button.
Advena is a side scrolling beat-‘em-up with RPG elements. You pick up quests, do battle in a specific locale against the native enemies, and use rewards to buy new equipment. Combat boils down to using special abilities and combos, both of which drain SP. Once that’s gone, you’re stuck with button mashing, which can and will feel like a grind after a while.
The twist is that you can control any of your three party members and set the AI to act in a specific way. There’s never much incentive to switch from your main character, but having the option is nice. The only time you ever need to control your allies is when your main character dies.
Throughout your journey you’ll end up with five characters to choose from. However, characters not brought into battle don’t level up and quickly become too weak to be useful. Oddly, even if you don’t take a character with you into a mission, they’ll still show up in dialogue.
Equipment is plentiful in Advena, so you’ll end up with a lot of it. Most equipment requires a certain class and stat to use and you end up having to pile points into otherwise useless stats so a character can equip a new pair of boots. Customizing your stats is limited and often imbalanced.
How dare you attack moi?!
Advena has PVP and PVE multiplayer modes, but we couldn’t get them to work. PVP rejected all of our requests on both 3G and WiFi, while PVE threw us into a random single-player area. This said, the multiplayer mode feels tacked on, and isn’t too enticing.
Korean RPGs are notorious for digital good stores, and Advena is no different. You can pay real money to buy a massive amount of items, inventory space, and so forth. You can also used purchased ‘Vena’ (the in-app purchase currency) to revive a dead team without penalty. The problem is that everything is very expensive and feels a bit sleazy.
As problematic as Advena sounds, it at least has relatively fluid controls. The UI and menus are responsive enough that you won’t feel like you’re smashing your fingers at a brick wall. This is certainly an improvement from other Gamevil offerings.
The art design is also worth noting. There’s a fair amount of detail in the locales and armor designs are usually cool. The same can’t be said for the repetitious, looping soundtrack. Turning off the sound is probably a good idea for this game.
It’s hard to recommend Advena to anyone other than Gamevil’s staunchest supporters. The market is far past saturated when it comes to Korean RPGs and we’re going to need to see some major changes to the formula if they wish to remain relevant.