Sequence – Review
5th May, 2011 1 Comment
It feels almost ridiculous to compare Sequence to Puzzle Quest, because they’ve really got nothing in common at all, and yet somehow it’s still the best comparison there is. Puzzle Quest took an RPG narrative, but in place of battles it put a Bejeweled style puzzle game.
Iridium Studios’ game has a similar kind of mix of genres, but in place of the puzzle game it puts rhythm action, and it works better and is more fun than Puzzle Quest ever was.
The story begins when 24-year-old Ky wakes up in an unfamiliar place with no idea how he got there. The only chance at an explanation comes from a voice over an intercom telling him that he’s in danger, and that to get out of it he has to ascend a tower. To get to higher floors he’ll need a key, to get a key he’ll need to craft it, and to craft it he’ll need to gain materials from monsters.
To get materials from monsters, they need to be defeated in a duel. A musicky duel!
Combat can be daunting at first (and certainly in screenshots) but is easy to get used to and totally natural after a couple of fights.
Gameplay happens in the centre field, and you can cycle between it and the outer fields with the triggers. The fields correspond to defence, attack, and mana. Arrows can appear in any of the fields at any time and when they do, you must first select the correct field and then press one of the face buttons (or use the left stick/d-pad) depending on which way the arrow is pointing, as it passes the mark at the bottom. If you miss an arrow in the attack field, your spell will fail. If you miss an arrow in the defence field you will be attacked and will lose hit points. There’s no penalty for missing arrows in the mana field and so this can be ignored unless there’s nothing else to do, or you need to restore some of your MP to cast more spells.
Spells are selected by pointing the right stick to the correct place on the spell ring at the bottom, and then pressing RB. That spell’s specific pattern of arrows will then appear in the attack field. By now you’ve been told to use almost every button on the controller and are slightly confused, but once the controller’s in your hand and the game screen is in front of you, it becomes second nature.
To win the fight, you have to reduce the enemy’s HP to zero before they do the same to you, or before the song ends. With songs differing in length this means that it’s sometimes necessary to vary your strategy because there’s simply no time to waste.
An extra element to the battles comes with special abilities that are activated once per battle by an unseen presence, and can throw the battle in your opponent’s favour. These abilities range from obscuring the arrows to covering up the outer fields and various things in between. If you find the going tough, an item can be crafted to nullify these effects.
The music in the game comes from Ronald Jenkees and Michael Wade Hamilton, and is consistently brilliant. One criticism that it’s easy to foresee is that there are only 12 songs that can be fought to, and this could lead to a repetitive feeling over the course of many battles. Firstly, not only is this a feeling that never really occurs (even fighting one monster fifty or so times didn’t become tiring) but look at how many battle themes something like Final Fantasy VII has. A few for bosses, perhaps a few for regular fights, and overall far less than you’ll find in Sequence.
Outside of battles there are two main things you’ll be doing. The first is crafting items, either to equip or to learn new spells. The items and their descriptions are often hilarious and full of all manner of puns, so don’t forget to check them out. The humour also carries over to the other main thing you’ll be doing, watching the story unfold.
The cut-scenes in the game are funny enough that you will laugh out loud, both at the superb dialogue and at the amazing cast of bizarre characters that populate the tower. Getting to the next boss is a constant joy just to see what the game has in store for you next, with Caleb a particular favourite.
The most astonishing thing about Sequence is just how professional the whole thing is. Throughout the entire game all you’ll think is “why isn’t this on Xbox LIVE Arcade,” because it’s better in quality, and in presentation than most games on that service. The voice acting is a prime example, because it’s simply astounding. That this kind of quality voice acting can exist in a game that costs less than two pounds is incredible, and when even retail games made by teams of hundreds can’t manage to get something this simple, this right, it’s testament to the quality of this game.
It’s impossible not to fall in love with Sequence. Even if the combat takes a few fights to get used to, there’s so much else to like about the game that by the end, no matter how much you try to fight it, it will have stolen your heart.
Sequence is available now for 240 Microsoft Points.