Released earlier this year for Japanese audiences, Egglia: Legends of the Redcap arrives today for Android and IOS devices, developed by Powerchord Studios and Brownies Inc, this mobile JRPG title is a love letter to those who grew up on the RPGs from the SNES and Playstation era. That's because the main driving force of this game is comprised of ex-Square Enix employees who have branched off and made this unique mobile JRPG experience. These include ex-Marketing Producer for Square Enix, Michio Okamiya, character illustrator Shinichi Kameoka and legendary composer Yoko Shimomura.
The game starts off with an introduction to the world, your player character falls from the sky and is discovered by a fairy and an elf, named Marigold and Robin respectively. They are surprised to see your character, as he is a Redcap goblin, one of the more dangerous types of goblins, alone in the neck of the woods. What more, your character's horns have been broken off, which Marigold notes to be the source of a goblin's aggression. This is when you name your pacified goblin and join Marigold and Robin's quest to rebuild the world.
The world of Egglia is splintered and all the unlockable areas need to be found within special "Niebel" eggs. Coincidentally, your main character being a Redcap goblin means that he is the only one who can unlock these eggs and restore balance to the world. Soon you are joined by a motley crew of fantasy characters straight out of an Enid Blyton book, like brownies and gnomes and such. The story is alright if not a little bit cliched, they do shake things up by making the main player character a goblin and there is no main antagonist from the get-go. Overall these kinds of stories are more traditionally rooted in JRPGs and they don't seem keen on breaking the mold, then again maybe we shouldn't fix what's not broken.
All these magical creatures need a place to stay and live, this is where one of the key elements of the game comes in which is the Town Building aspect of the game. Players get to name their towns, habituate it with the characters they meet and most importantly, mine and farm items that are needed for leveling up and completing missions. All the characters that you save throughout your adventure will spend their days in town, providing you with quests, reward you with all sorts of items and some of them will even set up shop to sell furniture, food or materials for crafting. Furniture is used to decorate your very own personal home, similar to your house in Animal Crossing.
Doing quests for your friends not only earn you experience points, but also Friendship points that can increase your friendship level with the character you helped out. It's a pretty neat mechanic and would feel right at home for fans of Bravely Default.
There are 3 more sections of your town that are dedicated to the Spirits that you can acquire in the game. Spirits are little summoned creatures that you can bring up to 3 into battle at a time, they have different elements to them and will provide you with different attacks and stat buffs. There are sections in the town to grow food to level up your Spirits, a section to grow minerals to evolve your Spirits and a place to actually grow and hatch your Spirits. Your Spirits even have mini vignette-like cutscenes, similar to the party members having little skits in between battle in the Tales games.
The real meat of the game comes from the combat, with the unlocked worlds opening up several stages for you to traverse for story missions and for grinding. The battle system consists of a turn-based, hexagonal grid layout of a map with your moves depending on dice rolls. How many steps you get to take and the higher chance of a critical attack is all based on the dice roll. Players will travel the map while defeating monsters and scavenging the world for crafting parts. In battle, players can bring two party members that provide buffs and can find specific extra items for you.
Players can also bring 3 spirits with them, they are displayed at the bottom of the screen with 2 Spirits providing offensive spells while another is for support. Basically, players must get to the end of the level while taking turns with enemies on the board, this system becomes a slog when your dice rolls aren't too high and it feels like a waste of a move to just get to one hexagon ahead. It is also a little unfair that the enemies don't really follow the same rules as you when it comes to moving around. Another minor gripe is that it takes a little too much tapping to get things going in combat. Overall, the combat section is rather weak.
What really shines in this game is the dialogue, the art, and the music. The team at Brownie Inc and Powerchord Studio must really have good translators on their team as the dialogue is smart and witty, with certain characters being self-aware and playfully break the fourth wall when speaking. The characteristics of each character really shine in their manner of speaking, and really accentuates the atmosphere of the game. Only your character doesn't speak as he falls into your standard silent protagonist trope.
The art is wonderful of course, wouldn't have expected any less from the character designer of the Mana series. All the characters have distinctive silhouettes and wonderful colours on them.
The music is divine, Yoko Shimamura truly is a master at work. The soundtrack for Egglia really doesn't shy away too much from her usual compositions in Kingdom Hearts, with the main town theme really invoking memories of Traverse Town in the original Kingdom Hearts.
In a nutshell, Egglia: Legend of the Redcap really brings back memories of playing JRPGs of old. Those who grew up on the Mana series or Final Fantasy IX, this game might just be for you. Like most JRPGs, it will take up a lot of your time and I highly recommend it for those who commute to college or work to play this game, which is perfect for those long trips back and forth. The combat does fall short, though hopefully, the developers can fix it in future updates.
Beyond that, it really is a love letter to JRPGs of old on your smartphones, perfect for on-the-go playing and chock full of mechanics, art, and music that you love growing up. Egglia: Legend of the Redcap is available now on IOS and Android devices.