Heva Clonia Online, by publisher OGplanet, is a cutesy, Anime-style MMORPG that offers tons of combat, a lot of quests (mostly from kill-X-rats territory), a bunch of other players to join up with for dungeon-running, a pet collection system that borders on Poke-something, and quite a few other activities. I've seen my share of games from Korea, China, and Japan and know that the details of each game are what set them apart from each other. The foreign games can seem the same, just as many Western titles can, so to know the difference, you simply have to play them.
I gave my usual Rise and Shiny treatment to the game and enjoyed it over the last week, casually poking around town, jumping into dungeons, collecting monster DNA, and trying to understand some of the strange, mistranslated quest dialogue.
As I finished up my time with the game (for now), I discovered that I had quite a bit of fun, but I also ran into many of the same problems that I have had with other titles from the same area.
FIrst, let's talk about the game's details. You start off in a pretty simple tutorial that features some great voice acting, even if it's still in Korean. Personally I have no issues with foreign languages being featured inside of my games. After all, none of these worlds we play in is real anyway, and many are supposed to be alien places, so what better way to feel immersed than to hear words that we normally never hear?
After the tutorial you'll be cast into the world to start figuring out what you want to be when you hit level 10. Until then, you can use pretty much any weapon or item you like. It's a shame that the game doesn't appear to allow such freedom after level 10, and I can't figure out why locking someone into one of three classes (Hunter, Warrior, Magician) is preferable to allowing more free-form play. I do understand game audiences, though, who would almost always rather conquer a specific class and linear series of quests rather than an open-ended virtual life. Still, the three classes that are offered in Heva Clonia Online aren't poorly done, and each is fun to play in its own way. I preferred the warrior with his spinning attack. The jobs will later split into more specific, class-related jobs at level 30 and later at 50.
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Combat is fun enough, but it was marred by a control scheme that takes effort to learn. You can remap pretty much every single key on your keyboard, but I found remapping the keys to be more than a bit strange. Instead of your arrow key being described as "move forward," it's called "arrow up." Even when I moved it to my W key to see whether a classic WASD movement scheme would feel better, the other keys' odd descriptions were confusing.
Z targets your nearest enemy; X is your default attack. But at higher levels, using special abilities can start a combo that is completed by pushing specific arrow keys. Although I used the arrow key combos in the tutorial quite a bit (the tutorial puts you behind the wheel of a high-level character), I didn't get to use those combos on my lower-level. Instead, I spammed one or two abilities over and over. There's a pretty common skill tree that helps you tweak your character, but it's nothing very original. When I see a skill tree, I typically feel a bit cheated. After all, it's really just a linear way to get locked into one job. I'd rather branch out.
The pet system is really where it's at in this game. There's a codex that shows all of the potential monster DNA that you can collect by attacking monsters. When you find some DNA, you take it to an NPC who helps you to combine them into a pet of a different grade, from A to E. You have to use two pets of the same grade to get the best results. Early on I was happy enough with the pet I had and didn't see much reason to change, but different pets give different buffs, help in combat, and can equip different items. They really act as a member of your party more than a cute sidekick.
There are some fun dungeons built right into the edges of the main town that everyone hangs out in. There were scores of players around no matter when I logged in and plenty of people to form a couple with in order to access the couple-only dungeon. I liked the fact that I could instantly transport to other areas to play through other dungeons, but I suspect I had an advantage because my press account had extra gold and a few characters of different levels to play with. I imagine there's quite a grind to get to the higher levels in order to join the other dungeons that I easily accessed on my freebie character.
I enjoyed Heva Clonia Online, of course, but I like bright, shiny, cartoony games that freely give out many, many hours of fun stuff to do. Say what you want about games from the East, but there is as much variety and depth in the market there as here. Does Heva Clonia Online come from the more original category of games? Sort of. As I mentioned, the quality is in the details. Graphically it's a good-looking game, but it does look like many games that have come before it. Its gameplay is grindy, but only lightly grindy. This is a good game for spending time with a few friends in a group. The cash-shop items (when the cash shop is opened) will be tradeable to other players, and there are tons of customization options to play with. You will enjoy the game if you enjoy games like this, if you don't well... then you won't.
Next week I am taking some time to look at the newly launched Path of Exile. I will be livestreaming the game, along with members of the developer team, on Monday the 28th of October at 4:00 p.m. EDT. Check it out here!
Each week on Rise and Shiny, Beau chooses a different free-to-play, indie, or browser-based game and jumps in head-first. It might be amazing or it might be a dud, but either way, he'll deliver his new-player impressions to you. Drop him an email, comment, or tweet!