There was a time that Lord of Magna: Maiden Heaven was in trouble of never being released in Japan due to the original developer, Neverland, going under shortly after the release of Rune Factory 4. Thankfully Marvelous opted to retain most of the key staff in order to finish the title and bring it out in Japan. Offering a bit of a unique twist from what Neverland was known for, is Lord of Magna: Maiden Heaven worth picking up now that it has been released in the West?
Players begin the game as Luchs Eduard, a young innkeeper managing the Famille Inn on a very xenophobic island. Both the protagonist and the name of the inn can be renamed by the player and due to the way people of the island treat outsiders, most of the townsfolk see Luchs as an oddity and often shun him as his inn encourages outsiders to stay in the area, leaving him with only two close friends, a perverted friend named Bart and a farming girl named Amelia.
Despite never having a guest stay at the facility, Luchs has continued to support his family’s inn despite being the last member of the family left alive. Thankfully Bart and Luchs are able to eke out a living by selling crystals, valuable materials often found in caves after earthquakes, to the townsfolk. After a particularly strong quake opens up a nearby cave, Luchs takes this opportunity to try and earn some more cash. Only problem is, once he arrives in the cave to find it filled to the brim with crystals he finds that one particular crystal contains a mysterious pink haired girl with a strange bracelet.
Shortly after finding this girl, fiends begin to surround Luchs and only after wishing to live does the girl inside the crystal awaken to slay every fiend in the area after the bracelet she was holding appears on his arm. After managing to return to the inn, Luchs discovers that this girl is named Charlotte and that she has almost no memory of who she is. By taking her in and treating her as family, Luchs vows to try and help her piece together her memory and the key to that appears to be finding the rest of her sisters that are still missing.
As players progress throughout the story from then on they will begin to learn the origins of these mysterious girls while also meeting a number of new ones along the way. It is worth noting that Lord of Magna: Maiden Heaven can feature some rather long dialogue sequences but considering the character interaction is one of the game’s strongest aspects this is a good thing. At certain points in the game Luchs will have a moment of downtime where he can choose to spend a bit of extra time with one of the girls they have found so far.
These Heart Events as they are called allow players to not only learn more about a specific character while continuing down their possible story route, but also unlocks new abilities for that character while going on something similar to a date. While most of the girls may appear to feature fairly standard personalities for a title such as this one, by spending time with them over the course of Lord of Magna: Maiden Heaven’s story that there is an enjoyable diverse cast of characters to keep things interesting and fresh.
Now it is worth noting that due to the layout of the game a number of the girls introduced in the latter half of the game are given a bit of a rough treatment compared to the likes of Charlotte and Beatrix who are introduced during the first hour. This isn’t too much of an issue however as each character is still given three heart events total, though players will need to be careful on whom they choose to pursue as it is entirely possible to lock yourself out of a certain route quite early. Of course, with the game designed for multiple playthroughs in order to see the multiple endings (which are tied to specific girls) this is intentional rather than a flaw and considering the enjoyable nature of the story players should feel right at home trying to go through at least an extra time or two if they can handle the combat system.
The player run inn serves as the home base for everything in the game, meaning players will be able to access the store to buy and sell items while also making use of a bath house that can provide boosts to players in the next fight if they have bath salts to use. However most of the time in Lord of Magna: Maiden Heaven is spent out on the battlefield, either taking part in a side-mission that usually serves as a good way to level characters and obtain money and items or progressing the story.
Lord of Magna: Maiden Heaven makes use of strategy RPG style combat with a bit of a twist as players are encouraged to take out as many enemies as possible using their attacks and triggering the game’s “bowling” mechanic. At the start of every turn the player can move their characters within a certain circle radius where they can then choose to either attack, use an item, activate a skill, or defend. Each character and skill has a unique attack range and size but it is worth noting that outside of simply moving and opting to do nothing, the character will use up 1 Action Point. At the start of each character’s turn they are given 1 AP with most skills requiring at least two to be useful, meaning that for the most part players are almost encouraged to play defensively at times in order to build up their points.
This can lead to some tediously long battles due to the way most battles unfold in Lord of Magna: Maiden Heaven. You see, enemies appear in squads with each team having a squad leader with a standard level of health and numerous grunts that are eliminated in one hit. No matter how many of their grunts are killed the leader can continue to summon more grunts onto the field and it is up to the player to try and eliminate the leaders and grunts as quickly as possible to avoid the constant respawn.
One of the best ways to do this is to take advantage of the aforementioned bowling strategy. Whenever an enemy is defeated by an attack, they will be sent flying in the opposite direction of the attack and if they happen to hit another grunt, it can trigger a chain reaction of up to twenty enemies being defeated if they are grouped together tight enough. Once ten enemy kills are chained together in one move the attacking character will be given an extra AP and a chance to attack again in that round allowing for a flurry of properly placed attacks if planned right.
Unfortunately in the latter half of the game many enemies begin to absorb large amounts of damage while enemy generators spit out new leaders every few turns. This can lead to extremely repetitive battles of attrition that take far longer than they should, even if the player utilizes the elemental affinities of the various girls to target the weaknesses of the foes they are facing in that specific battle. It is worth noting that players can alter the level of battle difficulty in the options menu to alleviate some of this repetitiveness but it still remains an issue especially on a second run through.
Visuals & Audio
At first glance Lord of Magna: Maiden Heaven may not appear to be overly detailed as far as 3DS titles go but seeing the game in motion is where everything comes to life. The chibi designs of the 3D character models still have some level of detail and are surprisingly well animated as they move around during dialogue sequences, tilt their heads, and make various other small motions in what one would expect to be a static backdrop to the actual conversations that are held in a visual novel style format with extremely detailed anime character portraits. Each character portrait features some form of animated movement and it adds an extra level of detail to important sequences or whenever Luchs begins bonding with one of the girls.
The soundtrack for Lord of Magna: Maiden Heaven is fairly standard as far as fantasy RPGs such as this one go as there are very few tracks that actually stand out outside of the opening theme. It is interesting to note that this title offers only an original English voice track option and in a rather strange decision, the lines that are voiced vary wildly from time to time with important bits of dialogue often left silent or simply presented with a standard quip from the character while basic dialogue can be fully voiced, leading to a bit of disconnect between scenes.
Lord of Magna: Maiden Heaven is a stylish looking strategy RPG that offers a fresh feeling combat and an adorable cast of characters that make it hard to choose which sister Luchs should pursue first. There are issues with the overall pace of the storytelling and while fresh, the combat can drag at times but despite these flaws this charming RPG had me pushing through the New Game+ mode (that allows the level progression of two characters, money and Heart Events, to be brought over) to see more of what the title had to offer.
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