HYBRID: Eternal Whisper

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STP Hands-On: Gamevil’s Hybrid: Eternal Whisper

Earlier today, Slide To Play sat down with Gamevil USA president Kyu Lee for a hands-on look at their upcoming action title, tentatively named Hybrid: Eternal Whisper. Featuring gameplay similar to the Devil May Cry franchise, the game is currently in its second month of development and slated for release in September.

Though Hybrid’s a bit of a departure from Gamevil’s recently released Zenonia, Lee said he thinks fans of the RPG will still enjoy the side-scrolling, stylized action of this new project.

‘Zenonia focused more on story, leveling and the items,’ he said. ‘Hybrid is more focused on the skills and the action. It’s slightly different, but still skewed toward the core gamer audience. I think the audience will like the action.’

A port of a Korean title that’s been out since October, Hybrid’s biggest challenge for developers so far has been converting controls to a touch interface. But the early model we tried showed promise, as all of the actions are tied to basic touch gestures on the screen.

The story is a bit involved, as Lee admitted that even he couldn’t really explain the details to us. He did confirm that there are more text panels than Zenonia, which is certainly believable based on the number of Korean talk bubbles we saw. At 150 levels, this title is no slouch for content, and some of the maps in the 140-range featured some pretty hairy boss battles. The maps, which are relatively small and play rather quickly, mostly involve clearing out enemies.

An epic Hybrid boss battle

This is an early build for sure, and Lee was quick to point out the bugs and tweaks to the interface that they plan on fixing as they progress in the development. Lee said he felt the character model is too small for the iPhone screen at the moment, and with the conversion to the touch interface, the HUD may be redundant as the controls mature.

There are no online features as of yet, and Lee said it’s just a little too early in development to see where they’re going to go.

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Hybrid: Eternal Whisper Review

Great games, for any system, don’t come along nearly often enough. With more than 21,000 games currently available on the iPhone and iPod Touch, there are plenty of ways to just waste time. But if you want a high-quality experience that rivals some of the biggest names in console gaming, spend your time and money on Gamevil’s masterful beat ‘em up RPG, Hybrid.

Hybrid contains a complex, wide-ranging story, full of interesting characters and its own unique mythology. You play as Grey, a young man with a mysterious background and a charming protector named Fairy. Grey is thrust into the center of an epic conflict that takes him between two parallel worlds to fight thousands of nasty monsters.

Grey’s been reading Harry Potter and the Secrets of the Occult.

We were reminded several times during Hyrbid’s ten-hour storyline of the Final Fantasy games– those wordy, sentimental tales that sometimes don’t make a lot of sense, but never stop trying to win you over. The story may not be Hollywood-caliber, but it’s a mile beyond almost any other iPhone game.

Unlike the Final Fantasy games, though, Hybrid’s gameplay is all about action, and this puts it in the same category of brawlers like Streets of Rage or Devil May Cry. Every step of the way, you’ll gain experience points and currency called POW that can be spent in several different ways, from upgrading your abilities to buying more health potions.

Hybrid’s combat system is extremely satisfying. Using just one attack button and a D-pad, you start off with a simple repertoire of moves, including a dash and an alternate grip on your sword that lets you easily attack surrounding enemies. As you play through the game, elemental magic and new advanced moves like double-sworded spins and gravity wells are granted to you by the wise priests and spirits who help you on your quest.

Instead of being just bit characters, each creature you meet will help shed some light on the complicated story, and many have individual personalities that come across through the heavy amounts of dialogue. While some impatient gamers may not like being forced to stop slashing and read the dialogue, it’s part of an overall experience that makes Hybrid much more than a typical action game.

When someone asks you if you’re a god, say yes!

We have a few minor complaints about the basic mechanics of Hybrid, like the fact that some magical attacks are a pain to pull off consistently, and the overall look of the game tends to sacrifice fluid animation for having lots of enemies on the screen at once. Plus, the cinematic direction is definitely lacking: During cutscenes, characters simply stand at attention and deliver their lines robotically.

What Hybrid may lack in its animation, it overwhelmingly makes up for by its seemingly endless leveling up system. As any gamer knows, the desire for “one more round” to upgrade your character, buy a new sword, or unlock another chapter in the sweeping storyline can threaten to put your real life on hold until you beat the game. And when you do, Hyrbid offers even more combat situations to play, like an endless survival-style mode set in a floating garden in the sky.

We couldn’t be more impressed with what Hybrid has managed to pull off. In its mythology, it claims that words have power, and by that measure, the lengthy story that accompanies this game is heavy stuff indeed. However, it’s also an addictive action game as well, one that should strongly appeal to adrenaline junkies who are looking for their next challenge. Hybrid pulls off both its action and RPG aspects with a fantastic sense of style, making this easily one of the iPhone’s best games.

Previews:

Hybrid: Eternal Whisper Hands-On

At this year’s E3, we had a chance to sit down with Gamevil and take a look at an early build of their upcoming 2.5D action title, Hybrid: Eternal Whisper. Now, we have our hands on a near-final build of the game.

Although it was developed by the same team as Zenonia, the gameplay is on the other side of the RPG spectrum. Hybrid is primarily an action game that incorporates RPG elements, such as stats, a deep storyline, and leveling up your character. This unusual mix of genres is partially how the game got its name. While you fight intense battles, your gear and skills all play a part in the outcome.

Another reason the game is a ‘hybrid’ is that battle stages are rendered in 2.5D, meaning you can move in all directions. This depth (literally) brings new strategies when dealing with enemies and allowed Gamevil to innovate with new mechanics. For example, you can sidestep out of the way of an oncoming enemy, then dash back up to toss it into the air.

Your character is controlled by a D-Pad and attack button, much like Zenonia. In fact, the entire interface, from quick boxes for potions to health bars, is nearly identical. New twists include a button to change stances (used for different scenarios and for combos), the Mana bar, and a button to summon a guardian named Fairy to either defend you against enemies or rain down lightning on them.

However, Hybrid feels much less like a port than Gamevil’s other titles, mainly due to the fact that menus and some attacks have been tailored to the touch screen. For example, a simpler menu allows players to naturally navigate menus without using the D-Pad. Spells, such as fire attacks, can be activated through swiping on the screen.

Hybrid may have a heavy focus on combo attacks and fight sequences, but there is also a solid storyline to back it up. You play as Grey, a ‘hybrid’ with a forgotten past who is on a mission to kill the evil Chaons, who killed his brother and are corrupting his homeland. However, his youth means he needs guidance on his quest, which is where his fairy guardian, who is simply referred to as Fairy, comes into play. She helps guide him, protect him, and find out the names of enemies, which is necessary in order to do them damage. We won’t get into specifics as the story is still getting fine-tuned, but there is noticeably more dialogue than in Zenonia.

When talking with Eusoon Han of Gamevil, he informed us that ‘[Gamevil’s] goal for Hybrid: Eternal Whisper is to bring a new breed of action to our users. We want to give everyone a refreshing, pleasurable action experience.’

Han also told us that they hope to submit the game no later than mid-September, so there is a good chance the game will be on the App Store quite soon. The price is still undetermined, but expect it to be in the premium range. Once it launches, look for our review.