The Mobile market is absolutely bustling with anime-inspired RPGs right now. The overwhelming torrent of titles making their way from the east makes it almost impossible to stand out among the crowd. For our latest eastern import, we’re taking a look at the recent release of Epic Seven.
Epic Seven came crashing onto western shores recently and like many of its competitors, it takes an anime aesthetic and weaves it into a traditional free to play RPG adventure. Developed by Super Creative and published by Smilegate, Epic Seven has already broken into the top ten iOS and Android charts and received a generally positive response when it launched across the globe. Like many of its competitors, it puts players in the shoes of an unassuming hero and sets out on a journey to save the land. In Epic Seven, the land of Orbis is mired in an ongoing cycle of destruction and rebirth as a feud between the goddess Diche and malevolent deities continues to spiral out of control. As the prophesied Heir of the Covenant, players must guide the game’s protagonist, Ras, as he attempts to avert the seventh cycle of destruction as it looms over Orbis.
Epic Seven follows a fairly familiar narrative arc for this sort of adventure. It takes a heroic quest, a prophecy, and puts it before of a hero who seems totally unprepared for the task at hand. Plenty of peripheral characters, comedic moments, and a range of great anime cut scenes manage to make Ras and his adventure more engaging than it really has any right to be. Some superb voice acting is performed by a whole host of artists like Brandon Bales, Fyrda Wolff, Stephanie Komure, and Abby Trott. The breadth and variety of top-class voice talent speaks to the quality of this eastern import. With portfolios that include Guild Wars 2, Smash Brothers, the recent Spider-Man, and the Netflix reboot of Carmen Sandiego Epic Seven certainly stands out as far more than another mindless port out for a cheap cash grab.
Loading up Epic Seven and setting out on an adventure for the first time is a surprisingly painless affair. The game currently takes up a surprisingly reasonable amount of space on my phone and never seems particularly punishing, even on budget handsets. Whether its the lobby screens, animated interludes, or 2D combat scenarios, my Moto G6 and its Snapdragon 450 annihilated everything Epic Seven had to throw at it with no discernable lag. However, it is easy to see why Epic Seven is relatively light on mobile hardware. The majority of the Epic Seven’s action is played out against a range of 2D backdrops and unlike games such as Aion: Legions of War, never really seems to break out into a third dimension. This aesthetic decision turns out to be a mixed blessing. Whether it is crawling through the game’s narrative adventure, completing side missions, grinding through a wealth of labyrinths, or attacking rivals in the PvP Arena, this RPG’s world is a flat affair that never really challenges the platform it is played on. Epic Seven is silky smooth across a number of devices and the 2D approach sits well with its anime aesthetic but the game rarely managed to blow me away outside of the cut scenes or the amazing soundtrack that seems set to sweep you away from the moment you log in for the first time. Character design is pleasing but could reasonably be ripped from any light fantasy RPG and the game’s backdrops can sometimes just seem somewhat repetitive.
Getting Into Action
Combat in Epic Seven is a similarly mixed affair. The turn-based combat and side-scrolling exploration that underpins most of Epic Seven is relatively intuitive. It does not take too long to get to grips with the controls. Movement is linear and characters journey into danger by simply swiping along the horizon. Combat controls do not get much more complicated either. Players can dish out a range of attacks, buffs, debuffs, and support spells depending on the heroes involved. Choosing the relevant skill from a limited action set at the bottom of the screen and then prodding a relevant target triggers heroes to engage in an action. In essence, it is all a turn-based tap and swipe. Combat does, however, start to break out into its own when combined with the game’s incredibly polished cut scene animations and a raft of other details like elemental bias and a sort of pet system that can save you I a pinch. Beyond this, crushing enemies underfoot does not get too involved and plenty of Epic Seven’s encounters are determined by the strongest team to turn up on the battlefield. This generally holds true for arena PvP and the game’s latest combat content, Guild War. While arenas are nothing particularly unusual, Guild War is a team based scenario that allows players to raid enemy fortresses over a twenty-four hour period. Teams are deployed to guard and attack strategic areas during this instance and it adds an interesting layer to endgame in Epic Seven.
Like other mobile RPGs, again, Epic Seven is built around progressing a powerful party of heroes and manages to hit all the normal notes in doing this. Players start out with Ras and some accompanying NPCs. After some time Epic Seven allows protagonists to gather a range of new comrades as they begin to progress through the opening stages of their adventure. These team members are available as both combat rewards and characters that can be summoned using a range of currencies. In game heroes are also available for those willing to lay out real-life cash and there is no doubt that they provide a sizeable leg up. However, the fact that players can summon a daily deluge of new teammates, or indeed loot companions, makes the process of obtaining these extra characters a little less egregious than in other pay to win style monetization models. Upgrading and assisting your comrades comes in various forms and is core to Epic Seven’s progression model. From a traditional leveling system to a common gear grind, Epic Seven hardly throws any surprises into the mix in this regard. This does, however, creates a solid and rewarding, if generally uninspired, system that manages to dodge at least some of the pitfalls of other progression grinds.
Progressively More Coin Required
Anybody jumping on the progression bandwagon will quickly notice that Epic Seven comes in with a pocket full of currencies, from gold to gems, summoning scrolls, and more. Much of this can be earned by simply playing through Epic Seven, however, the plethora of payment methods in your pocket rarely last long. While it seems easy to grab gold while in dungeons, or while completing side quests, Epic Seven is particularly proficient at draining massive amounts of coin when upgrading anything. This is mitigated through the use of quest rewards, a deluge of daily achievements, and a number of buildings that are available in your home instance to provide regular rewards. Thankfully, and despite the inclusion of huge gold sinks, and an energy system I rarely felt under pressure to pour in my hard earned cash. You might not reach the highest echelons of the in-game arena without laying down your own coin, but Epic Seven allows players to compete quite adequately without it.
Much of this review might seem familiar to those of you that read our coverage of Skylanders: Ring of Heroes or Aion: Legions of War and that is because Epic Seven opens by following the same formulaic approach as many of its competitors. Epic Seven styles itself as an anime-inspired RPG, and while I found the cutscenes, voice acting, soundtrack, and aesthetic really quite charming, the underlying game systems seem to become almost as repetitive as navigating dungeons. Progression, loot, gear, summoning, hero upgrades, equipment enhancements, side quests, and home instances all felt far too familiar. Where games like Food Fantasy take the established home town instance and twist it into a kitsch restaurant management sim, Epic Seven could easily be a reskin of any generic title. This feeling permeates whole swathes of the game’s experience and even when combat breaks out things feel a bit flat in PvE.
While combat is easy to get to grips with, this can be to the detriment of engagement. Dungeons, adventures, and battles require little interaction and can begin to feel tedious. PvP and the Guild War are far more engaging but I found crawling through dungeons fairly aimless and exploring PvE areas relatively linear. Unlike Dragalia Lost, that manages an isometric environment that is both cute and concise, Epic Seven’s world ends up feeling like a time sink as you swipe across it, intermittently interrupted by some action. The result is a tendency to hit autoplay and let the game do most of the work, which really is a shame.
An Essential Addition?
Still, if you don’t mind the long corridors or uneventful intermissions between an awesome anime story then Epic Seven has a ton for you. Epic Seven already has a ton of content and we’ve already seen an update to the base game. The base game now includes the aforementioned Guild War mode and new characters with consistently great voice acting. Super Creative manages to balance Epic Seven so I never felt gouged for cash and the normally abhorrent energy system didn’t bother me at all. Even if the cash shop is predictively expensive, the anime aesthetic will definitely distract fans of eastern imports from this sore spot. I’m definitely going to be dipping in and out of this particular title for the time being. Epic Seven is an absolute feast for fans of anime, even if it is no Food Fantasy. If you are looking for a solid eastern import that you can quickly get to grips with then you have nothing to lose by trying this free to play adventure from both Android and iOS app stores.