Do you have the power?
Are you the one?
Lord of Magna: Maiden Heaven is the latest RPG by Marvelous (Rune Factory 4 and Senran Kagura) Localised by XSEED. It follows the story of “Insert your name here” Eduard (I went with his default name of Luchs here.), a young man who made a promise to his father to take care of the family inn when it falls to him and to treat his guests like family. This is a tradition that has been passed down from generation to generation and now it falls to Luchs to carry it out. At first we are treated towards a very omnious scene that may or may not be in the recent future or long past and we are plopped into the inn and observe the little things that make the world. It seems like the Inn has no guests and the only way Luchs gets by is due to his collecting of crystals to sell for money with the aid of a friend Bart. There is an earth quake and when Luchs goes out to check on it, he meets his first Faerie girl, Charlotte, an Artemisia who has lost her memory. This officially starts the game, drawing you into the first chapter of which there are thirteen in total.
Lord of Magna has a very simple story. You have to gather crystals to support your livelihood while you search for more of the Artemisias to help those you have found regain their memory, it’s a linear progression and outside of map battles that can take place outside of the chapter battles, there isn’t much exploration outside of the inn. The story initially isn’t very distinct at first but it picks up, giving you more and more reasons to care about the characters you have found along the way. There are a few characters that add themselves to the narrative without being playable themselves. You have Bart, who is your character’s best friend and has a grand love for puns, you have Amelia, who is the woman who is extremely irritated by the women that seem to be popping up at every second (“They are multiplying before my very eyes”). If you’ve ever seen an anime with a Harem theme, this is what you’d come to expect.
That in itself isn’t a bad aspect, when it isn’t broken there isn’t a need to fix a cliché but it would have been nice for bit more oomph in the storyline especially since it is one of the driving forces taking you through the game. There are side quests and “heart” events that progress your relationship with the heroines, however these can feel very contrived and short. There is a very large downside to the heart events which I will cover in the combat section but you usually have the option of choosing between one to three girls at time, with each set of girls having a heart event available between certain chapters, so if you want to view all the heart events for Charlotte, you will be unable to do so for Beatrix because they are in the same set. There is no other way to view both in one playthrough unless you view one then choose the other at the next possible point but it would mean missing one event for the previous girl that you can only see if you play the game again after you’ve finished it (without spoiling, I would recommend that you get all three possible events for at least one girl). I felt the Heart events varied wildly, from being inconsequential to very moving in the blink of an eye. All of the chapter scenes were well made but at times could feel long, especially as you would get two or three in succession.
The Combat in Lord of Magna is the most interesting aspect of the game. You can have up to four people fighting at once. This generally involves the main character and three of the maidens you have selected. You can move around and position yourself before attacking and each character has a different set of abilities, target range and special skills. You get more abilities the more heart events you have encountered for each of the heroines. Since the heart events are finite in number you need to choose wisely on whom you build bonds with.
I personally enjoyed the comboing potential… did I not mention that? So the way enemies are built, you have a bunch of minions surrounding a boss minion and the boss minion can re-summon any of its dead minions and they come together in a sort of burst attack. This consists of the minion monsters flailing at you while the boss minion decides whether they’re going to use a regular attack, magic attack or special. Watch out, as the game is governed by an elemental weakness system, which can cause the damage to go much higher than expected. I did mention combos, your characters can hit the little minions and send them flying into other minions for extra crystals and, if the combo is high enough, you get an extra turn. It is very fun and an interesting twist on turn based strategy combat. Sadly, the effects outside the extra turn are underwhelming. The collision, while highly effective against minions, do almost negligible damage to their creators and other big monsters, the little minions will be re-summoned if the large creature has the space and health (As re-summoning depletes the monster’s health.) and sometimes they can be created in places that separate you from your team or cause you to be unable to move as you cannot walk through units.
There are three gauges, your HP, your AP and your tension. AP are your action points, attacking generally takes one unless you are using a special move which can take up to three even four AP. Tension is something you attain via the Heart events, once you have achieved the heart event with one of the maidens, they receive a new move and a tension gauge. This fills up with each enemy you defeat and when it reaches the required level you can use a powerful attack. If you do not complete the Heart event with a maiden, you don’t get the tension gauge which comes to the biggest problem with the combat system. It makes you choose very early which girls you have to fight with if you want to have a good ending as you have three spaces and there are three sets as they make their heart events available.
Some girls can’t have all the heart events in one playthrough anyway but if you like two girls in one set and enjoy using both of them, you have to split your heart events so both get the benefit of having a tension gauge and an extra attack with no way of knowing which is better, unless you save and reload which I would definitely mark against the game because it stops you achieving the full potential with the characters you like. Also, I found that most of the Stage bosses didn’t present a tactical challenge but instead they had obscene amounts of HP which you would spend many rounds trying to chip away. This might not be a problem if some of those bosses didn’t return as regular monsters in some levels. There is the ability to synthesise items, most of the reason I did not mention this in the review is because it is very expensive and the very worthwhile items usually require rare drops from monsters and a very high number of crystals. The crystals, with the exception of a few abilities, are only present to buy items for use in battle or synthesis.
The game is presented in a few ways, you have the most of the story told using the sprites, as they walk around, a drawing of them and their mood will be on display as they speak with partial voice acting which I enjoyed to an extent as the Maiden I liked seemed to be German, so her voice acting was amusing at times because she would randomly say things in German that weren’t written in the speech bubbles. It was a nice touch that made it feel different and fresh although it had me wondering what the full voicing of the characters would be like. The sprites are adorable, watching them prance around (yes, many of them do prance) brought a smile many a time. There is the occasional fully animated cutscene and a few stills of scenes.
All in all the 3DS make a good home for the game, and the use of sprites add charm, I didn’t have any complaints graphically as it was part of the flavour and style of the game.