In a sure sign that the gulf between Eastern and Western handheld gaming is closing, the Chinese mobile game Mana Chronicles has just arrived on our iPhones. It’s interesting to us that a typical mobile game from China can be good, but still not great, when compared to other App Store fare.
Mana Chronicles plays a bit like Hybrid, but without the crazy story or combos to get in the way. You play as a human named Leon, who is at war with the forces of Inferno (Hell). He’ll join up with an archangel named Fratley, who helps him stop the army of Lucifer, portrayed inexplicably as a cute anime girl.
Hell hath no fury…
Ok, so the story doesn’t make a lick of sense, but that’s not what the game’s about. Mana Chronicles requires you to mash the attack button, performing one basic combo as you take out waves of enemies. Unfortunately, that’s about it– there are no environmental obstacles, puzzles, or any kind of challenge beyond moving just out of the enemy’s range, then moving back in for the kill.
Your character will level up, automatically distributing points to his stats, and you will eventually unlock new swords, special attacks, and alternate characters to switch to. Once you discover that Fratley makes you invincible for a short time, even the recurring boss battles can be a snap.
The vorpal blade went snicker-snack!
Mana Chronicles has a short campaign mode, but it moves along at a good clip and offers some decent action. You’ll also unlock a handful of individual challenges, which are good for leveling up your character between story missions.
There’s not much of a story to speak of, and this is hardly an epic adventure. But if you’re looking for a cheap beat ’em up thrill, Mana Chronicles is worth a few dollars. It’s just not the premium experience we’re used to from the Hybrid series.