Aeria’s Best New Game In Years
On a whim, I bought myself access to the Twin Saga founder’s beta, ongoing right now for Aeria Games’ newest import MMORPG. What we found, is surprising: a genuinely fun, deep, and accessible anime RPG with some solid systems and narrative. Called ASTRA in Korea, X-Legend’s latest game is really surprising me with what kind of lighthearted fun it’s capable of. If you ever enjoyed older imports like Flyff, there’s probably something in Twin Saga you’re going to like.
The bad stuff? Well, the character creation is lacking in terms of options. There are a few hair styles, some colors, and a few faces. But like a lot of Anime-styled games, you choose between thin slightly effeminate male or overly feminine female for your avatar. This is later made up for by allowing so much freedom in progression and looks with costumes and your Senshi (companion).
The story’s pretty decent, all things considered. There were once two daughters of the god that created the world. They were the dark and the light, set to balance the world on the Celestial Scale. One sister took over and destroyed the scale’s power. The other, “the good one” used the last of her power to set free the Senshi – faithful companions who served her so well. She fell to the world’s surface, and her spirit came to rest in you. That’s where the story starts – you, a mercenary, stumbling into the battle between these two sisters, a battle for the world’s power and lifeforce.
It’s the stuff of Final Fantasy tales, and the cute anime style really works for it too. I wish my male character could be a bit more rugged, but it is what it is. The questing in Twin Saga is pretty standard, and linear. You’ll essentially follow one main storyline through all the game’s content and zones, but along the way you’ll discover tons of “hidden quests” that actually require thinking and searching. So the main quest is pretty cut and dry, and tells the story with kill this, go here style quests. But the hidden ones have you finding things for people, putting clues together, and reaping the rewards if you manage to complete them – titles, items, tons of XP and so forth.
After your first dozen levels or so, you’ll open up the world map, which like older Final Fantasy games is a sort of overworld for traveling between zones and dungeons. You’ll unlock Astral Adventures around this time, which are basically narrative style “choose your own adventure” stories that rewards titles, XP, currency, and more. You can do them multiple times, but only 10 in a day, and the serve as a nice break from hunting and killing or running dungeons.
I managed to get to level 17 or 18 in about five hours, so the pacing is fast, though I’m unsure what the ultimate level cap is. However, that’s just your main character level. Like Final Fantasy (I’m saying that a lot) Twin Saga lets you swap jobs on a whim. Your main level determines what sorts of enemies you can fight, but your job level is independent of that so each job itself can be leveled up. Each job also has two specialization skill trees to alter roles, and as you progress through the main leveling you’ll unlock upwards of nearly a dozen jobs. You start with three basic: Mage, Swordmaster, Gunslinger – but you unlock more like the Hunter, Cleric, Rogue, Berserker, Occultist, Dragonknight, Paladin. Each one has their own weapons, skills, and runes to slot and tweak their stats.
On top of that, after the intro story, you’ll unlock your first Senshi – basically a system that allows you to find and collect companions who each perform different roles. They level up, can be equipped with blessings, and more. So that’s MORE progression for those who love that sort of thing. Kind of like Pokemon, but with people! And less balls.
Combat is tab target, but briskly paced, and pretty fun. My main downer is that in nearly 20 levels and a handful of hours I didn’t come close to dying, much less needing to use the auto-potion feature. The game’s VERY easy so far, which I wish wasn’t the case. Maybe for the first hour or two, but I’d like to see a little more risk from enemies by the time the tutorial stuff is over.
Overall, I’m actually happy that I spent $20 on this, and can see myself casually playing Twin Saga whenever I need a lighter-fare MMO. It’s really pretty fun, and feels like a well-thought out game. Cash Shop doesn’t seem too heavy yet either, but the items are limited in the Founder’s Beta, and Open Beta (launch) is still weeks or months away. We’ll see how it feels then, but I did get a permanent pet with my $20, and a bunch of runes to slot on my characters, so I don’t feel like it was money wasted. I imagine the higher cost packages had better come with some shiny mounts and stuff though, to make them worth it.
I also still haven’t even unlocked my own Terracottage, essentially a vehicular house that you use to travel. I’ve ridden in one for the story, but it’s not yet my own to use. It’s odd to find so many unique features packed into a game like this, as imports tend to be very derivative. But X-Legend clearly likes to try new things, and this may be their best game to hit the states yet. It’s definitely worth keeping an eye on as the open beta draws near.