Lord of Magna isn’t the kind of game I would usually choose to play on my 3DS. I’m usually either playing a first party Nintendo game, or something obscure. It’s not often that I give a smaller J-RPG the time of day, but here I am reviewing Lord of Magna: Maiden Heaven, a game whose name is as much of a pun as it is a description of the subject matter.
So what actually is it?
At its core, Lord of Magna is a strong isometric action-strategy RPG, in which a variety of characters and monsters take turns to move and attack. It follows Luchs, the proprietor of a large inn, which he inherited from his father, but which hasn’t had a single guest since he took it over, as he tries to improve the reputation of the establishment. Due to this funding crisis, he and his friends get by through collecting and selling Crystals, which are a valuable fuel resource in this world. After an earthquake, he sets out into the caves to collect crystals, but is attacked by monsters, and saved by a mysterious female warrior, with (surprise surprise) amnesia.
As the story develops, he encounters more mysterious girls, all referring to him as “Master,” and realises he has the ability to manipulate the mysterious source of power known as “Magna”, hence the title. Now whilst at first glance this sounds a little like a single powerful male protagonist taking control of a load of attractive clueless women and dressing them up as maids in his big house, the game seems to have completely honourable and honest intentions. Rather than portraying them as icons of titillation, Luchs treats them as members of his own family, as were his father’s instructions; though his friend Bart’s remarks arguably acknowledge the potential for smutty jokes.
The story isn’t going to win any awards, but it’s sweet and functional, and allows for a bunch of sentimental moments. Each character is well developed and has their own distinct personality, with bunches of character growth and individual dynamics between each. I particularly like the contrast between the first two girls you find; Charlotte and Beatrix, as it sets up the fact that each girl is completely different from the last in terms of not just looks, but in terms of personality, combat style and manner of speaking.
The combat itself revolves around completing main and sub objectives. Commonly, enemies appear in small groups, each led by a single, more powerful creature, with the ability to summon more minions each turn. It is therefore imperative that you fight through the horde and take down their leader as soon as possible, to stop them from continuing to spawn. Your characters can move in a certain radius each turn and spend action point to attack, heal and use skills. It’s a simple system, but with lots of well-needed variety which sets it apart from anything similar I’ve played before. It’s just endlessly satisfying to smash teddy-bear monsters flying so that they damage those behind them, and figuring out the most optimal way to wipe out enemies by rotating arcs of attack.
Then graphical style, whilst not mind-blowing in terms of fidelity, is very pleasing and fits with the cute style of the overall game. The visually anime-like style of the game works brilliantly, especially when coupled with the excellent character design and voice work. Whilst the voice work is limited, possibly due to the lack of space allowed for a 3DS game, that which is there is excellent, as are the anime-style cut scenes. It all melds together to create a truly consistent experience which I thoroughly enjoyed playing.
Despite the fact the name indicates the opposite, Lord of Magna: Maiden Heaven is a lovely, innocent game with a whole lot of heart. Whilst it doesn’t do anything particularly original, there’s something truly charming about this tale of familial love and friendship. With solid strategic RPG mechanics and an interesting concept, Lord of Magna is a breath of fresh air in a cynical industry, and well worth a look for both fans of cute anime-styled J-RPG’s, and those of us who have always been slightly interested, but cautious to take the leap.
Disclaimer:All scores given within our reviews are based on the artist’s personal opinion; this should in no way impede your decision to purchase the game.