Maglam Lord is an interesting beast. It’s a visual novel JRPG that aims for the fences, trying to marry a text-based story with RPG and action but, in biting off more than it can chew, barely makes it to 2nd base as the three elements mix like custard and milk, which you also shouldn’t try – believe me.
Attempting a pseudo-adventure through the aforementioned genres is certainly cheaper than creating a full epic, but making the very different elements fit together seemlessly and feel part of the same experience when they are often separated by a single menu is far from a walk in the park. Maglam Lord, with its RPG-like dungeons and 2D fighting make the three different designs and perspectives feel like one – or even two – too many. The chibi designs , while ‘cute’, feel removed from the avatars you’ve become accustomed to and the action fails to match the quality of the story interactions, which provides a harem comedy narrative that Japanese anime fans will certainly enjoy.
As a male or female demon who spent your life killing humans you now, naturally, live with said enemies and go on dates with them. After initially being beaten to an inch of your life, you wake to find that the hellhole of a world of constant warring between gods and demons has completely vanished and you now need to adapt, and live life of relative normalcy amongst them after being decreed an ‘endangered species’.
It starts off – like it sounds – full of amusing ideas that expands through personality and relationship-affecting conversation options and is then further enhanced with a good Japanese voicecast (with English subtitles) and composed with a decent soundtrack. It’s essentially a fully polished product that would justify an entire game all on its lonesome, and for all intents and purposes, probably should have been.
If the text-based gameplay was the lion’s share of the title then you might be able to take the rough with the smooth, but the tacked on action is at odds with the ease in which the story is told, and while not entirely unbelievable based on the fantastical story, morphs the main character into a barely viewable weapon to be wielded by partners whom you meet along the way – despite your character being by far and away the most interesting part of the game.
After being introduced to the story you are then blindsided by a wall of blandness with boring dungeons that host chibi representations of the characters. RPG dungeons, while never been known for their intricate details, are hardly given a fair shake of the stick here, with the camera not only fixing the player to the center of the screen so your character doesn’t even actually move (with the camera instead sliding around the map), but it provides the worst possible angle to see anything on the map.
If that wasn’t underwhelming enough, when you do end up striking an enemy or just running into one (hint – it doesn’t make a difference) you shift to a 2.5D battle stage with an oversimplified control system and poor action gameplay that turns the battles into button mashing and highly unsatisfying affairs all while the camera shakes more than a Bourne Identity movie.
This tall hurdle almost became an impenetrable fortress for me to overcome as the fun story-progressing missions are interspersed between the grind of almost mandatory repetitive fetch quests, which are used to level-up your character’s level before for the next story section (as there’s no adjustable difficulty level).
Every decent RPG that includes grinding as part of its makeup has some kind of enjoyable feedback, some dopamine-producing element to it in order to not make the grind feel like tedious filler between story points but Maglam Lord fails to implement anything that would entice you click on that next mission without grimacing in some form. It’s because of this, and the quality of the text-based element, that I find it hard to justify the action’s inclusion at all.
The fetch quests sandwiched between the story also provide you with materials for you to create and customize new weapons, or Maglams, but with move-sets that feel identical, this does little to make the action seem any different from first to last.
Such is the extent at which the action is attempted to fit the form of the story, that its hard to really comes to terms with the marriage will it never feeling like a good fit. I think the game would have benefited more from a turn-based battle system or even cutting the action out entirely, instead focusing on the decent relationship simulator elements and the conversation choices, which – if anything were to convince you to buy it – would be it.