As I mentioned in my Atlus Booth Report, I was pretty dazzled by Softmax's magnum opus Magna Carta. Now that I've gotten some solid playtime on the Japanese version, I'm finding the story engaging and the gameplay refreshingly unique, albeit with a few minor flaws.
As this grim war chronicle unfolded, I was a little worried it would be nothing but a heavy drama. That was until the naive, amnesiac priestess Reith fell into the story to add a softer and slightly humorous touch, with a natural charm and cheerful personality that's hard to resist, especially for Calintz whose life has been nothing but grey for so long. It's not surprising that he quickly makes himself her protector. A protector she's going to need...
Say good-bye to random encounters. Every fight here is as fixed as a WWE match. If you're walking, enemies can even be snuck up on for a Counter Attack, which gives you a few strikes before they can even begin to get their licks in. Though if you're running through an area and they spot you, be prepared for a Back Attack, giving them the advantage. Don't worry about taking too much damage, however, because all harm can be healed away by resting after battle, conserving precious healing items.
Once your action bar fills, attacks are launched through timed button combos. How well you time it will effect the strength of your attack, and a string of Greats will also fill up your Trinity Drive. Tapping into that will bolster your next attack for big damage. For even greater slashing power, there's the Crazy Attack, though the button combo to pull that off is as nuts as its name. Certain characters also have the ability to "gamble" their action by guessing the enemy's next attack element. Guess right and you counter with a devastating assault, but expect to get pummeled when your choice is off the mark.
To reiterate my point from the outset, Magna Carta isn't without a few minor flaws. The fixed camera can be occasionally troublesome, especially near the start of combat. The normal fights can get a little repetitious when you're usually better off just using your strongest character over and over. The boss fights are considerably better, but they would have been better still if allies were under AI control instead of standing there until you switch to them.
Quirks notwithstanding, this Korean-made RPG has all the makings of a memorable game experience, though only if people can look past its "Final Fantasy clone" shell, and adapt to its unique battle system.