South Korean developer Com2us has made a name for itself with charming, addictive, pick-up-and-play titles such as Homerun Battle 3D and Slice It. Likewise, its old school JRPGs Chronicles of Inotia and its sequel Intoia: A Wanderer of Luone have garnered countless fans. The most recent entry in the series, Inotia 3: Children of Carnia, is a decent, if shopworn RPG experience that is as comfortable as a fuzzy bathrobe and as challenging as taking a nap.
Given the number of Final Fantasy and Zelda imitators out there, it should be no surprise that Inotia 3 retreads much of the same narrative ground as its predecessors. You’ll be shocked to know that you play as Lucio, a reluctant, yet stalwart hero whose world is threatened by a mysterious force. You must accept your destiny, battle faceless goons… and make awkward conversation with girls.
Look out, Bambi!
Really, though, if you keep returning to this genre, you’re no longer in it for the story. When these types of titles succeed, it’s because they bring a new narrative hook, battle mechanic, or because they cleverly play on a sense of nostalgia for games of yore. Unfortunately, Children of Carnia doesn’t succeed on any of those points.
Things start out promisingly. You can choose your main character from one of six classes, which is an impressive amount of variety for a game of this scope. Another nice mechanic is the ability to travel with up to two companions. You can control them at will, but there is no need to, as the computer AI works just fine. Travel with a healer, and you will never need to look at a health potion.
Gameplay is simple, linear, and predictable. As Lucio and allies progress through their quest to find a set of snazzy gauntlets, you trot around a 2D kingdom on a series of kill-and-collect quests. Along the way, the game holds your hand at every turn, and the enemies never present much of a threat.
Come out come out wherever you are.
In our time with the game, we never worried about dying, and simply guzzled health potions in the rare event that health dipped below 50%. Additionally, this is not Zelda: there are no puzzles to speak of, and the dungeons do not require any strategy. The game even highlights the next area of the map and never lets you get lost.
The developers boast of the game’s enhanced graphics, but we were hard-pressed to agree with them completely. The dated, 16-bit sprite graphics are cute, colorful, and nostalgia-inducing, but not revolutionary (and they look miserable on the iPad). Higher quality character portraits and dialogue windows, however, are crisp, attractive, and anime-inspired.
Much as we loved these types of RPG adventures back in 1993 (and again when they re-emerged on iDevices), we think the market for them may be officially saturated. While Inotia 3 may give some players an engaging, if mindless, trip down memory lane, many others will likely prefer to skip the journey altogether.