Archives by Day

July 2019

Epic Seven

Platform(s): Android, iOS
Genre: RPG/Action
Developer: Smilegate
Release Date: Nov. 8, 2018

About Tony "OUberLord" Mitera

I've been entrenched in the world of game reviews for almost a decade, and I've been playing them for even longer. I'm primarily a PC gamer, though I own and play pretty much all modern platforms. When I'm not shooting up the place in the online arena, I can be found working in the IT field, which has just as many computers but far less shooting. Usually.


Mobile Review - 'Epic Seven'

by Tony "OUberLord" Mitera on May 3, 2019 @ 1:00 a.m. PDT

Epic Seven is a turn-based RPG that features full-frame animation, strong visuals and challenging battles.

It's not a surprise that the mobile game market is filled with less-than-stellar offerings. Many games are shallow experiences, governed by microtransactions, or both. Finding a free game that strikes a balance between good gameplay and asking for your money is a rarity. At first glance, Epic Seven looks like just another game that has flashy graphics and a possibly annoying microtransaction system. Surprisingly, the game maintains a level of quality beyond those initial impressions, and it does a great job of being reasonable in what it wants in return.

Getting started with the game isn't a perfectly tuned experience, though. After installing the game, it likely needs to download a patch, and while doing so, there are a few entries in the game's de facto encyclopedia. In theory, these help you get up to speed on aspects of the game's world and characters. However, it is a minimal introduction for the metaphorical fire hose of world-building that is unleashed during the game's prologue. Things start to click in place soon enough, but the prologue is the climax of another story arc that the player knows very little about. It's overwhelming, but you'll find that it's also by design.

In Epic Seven, the main character is Ras, the Heir of the Covenant, who is tasked with defeating the Archdemon who threatens the world of Orbis. In a cycle that repeats itself time and time again, this isn't the first time Orbis has been under such a threat. The story is a relatively common affair, with the able but inexperienced Ras learning how he can save the world while making friends and defeating enemies along the way. Despite the straightforward initial arc, the characters are interesting enough that you want to read what they have to say and figure out how they fit into the overall tale.

The initial curve of the game is overwhelming if you engage with Epic Seven with the mindset of, "It's a mobile game, so how complicated can it be?" The prologue-style opening throws a lot of story elements and characters at you, while using interfaces filled with bits of information that don't initially provide a lot of clarity. This eases with time as the story progresses and the in-game tutorials kick in.

Throughout the game, you play as a party of up to four members, but you decide which heroes to bring to each level. Each hero has three abilities: basic attack, a more powerful ability with a cooldown, and an even stronger ability with an even longer cooldown. The cooldowns are measured by their passing turns, but the cooldown persists between combat encounters within a level. You may want to burn a strong area-of-effect ability to deal with a large group of enemies, but you risk it being unavailable if there's a strong boss-type enemy in the next encounter.

Combat is turn-based, and it occurs in the order that is shown on-screen, so you can plan for the next enemy you'll fight. This lets you strategize over picking off an enemy that might have their turn soon, or perhaps leave a weaker enemy to do his thing while you continue to whittle down a boss. There is also a soul system, where most abilities generate souls that can be "spent" by supercharging one of a character's abilities or calling in an attack from a powerful summon. Similar to the ability cooldowns, knowing where to use souls to amp up an attack or get healed can be very important.

Each hero levels up individually, have their own gear slots, and their own stats. You get new heroes by using summons; you get a free one every day but also have the option to spend real money currency for it. To its credit, the game provides a screen detailing the chances of what you'll get out of doing so, so you have a rough idea of what to expect. Getting a duplicate hero can be a good thing if it's one that you enjoy using, as it allows you to combine them to add XP and unlock a permanent upgrade.

Navigating the levels is perhaps the more overly simplified aspect of the game, in contrast to nearly every other system in Epic Seven. You simply hold your finger on whichever side of the screen is labeled "Go," and occasionally, you'll find a fight, some loot, or something else of interest, such as an optional conversation. Occasionally, levels feature an area where you can choose which direction to proceed, but the game doesn't let you simply wander a map.

Frankly, there are a confusing number of currencies in the game, but the game doesn't force you to buy any of them with actual money. You certainly can, and doing so gives you a leg up on the tougher content by getting you powerful additions to your roster and inventory. However, the game throws a lot of loot and various currencies your way when you complete daily quests, milestones, etc.

Epic Seven wears its anime influence on its sleeve, but it is impressive how far that influence goes. The character sprites have a hand-drawn quality to them and are often well animated in their own right. There's a ton of color everywhere, and backgrounds and characters are filled with details. There are times when some background art seems strangely rough, but overall, a lot of time and effort has clearly been put into the visuals. The effects used during combat are almost always very smooth and pack a visual punch; when you use a full-screen laser to mow down some enemies, you're treated to a glaring blast of color and light as damage numbers chunk off the now-barely visible enemies.

Where the doors really get blown off is when the game decides to go full-on anime, with surprisingly long sequences of hand-drawn animation. It's in these moments that Epic Seven seems to forget that it's a mobile game; I wish more games in general had animation sequences that are done this well. Even using a character's strongest ability comes with a short animated sequence, and it does this for every hero.

The depth found within Epic Seven wavers between its biggest strength and one of its head-scratching weaknesses. I like how you end up learning that enhancing heroes in different ways yields different dividends or in figuring out how to get the rewards for daily quests. You'll intuitively learn about the differences in summons and how to get the Bookmarks required for each type.

Conversely, I'm not sure I like how there is simply an overkill of information on nearly every screen. You'll be checking out a favorite hero to see their stats and can immediately fall down the rabbit hole to find out who they hate, what elemental type they are, and wondering if their status as a Virgo ever actually matters. It's a lot to take in, and the tutorials don't get you to the point where it all makes sense.

Epic Seven doesn't fully escape the trappings of most mobile games. Of course, there are draws for you to spend real money on in-game elements, and the gameplay is driven via simplified, touch-based controls. There are many areas of the game where I feel like the developers made a conscious decision to set their sights on making a above-average mobile title. It's a gorgeous game backed by a level of depth that works well. Even though it's a free-to-play game, Epic Seven doesn't try to get money out of you at every turn, and that's even more impressive when you realize that all of the beautiful animation couldn't have been cheap.

Score: 7.9/10

Reviewed on: Samsung Galaxy S8

More articles about Epic Seven
blog comments powered by Disqus