Mana-Khemia impressionsJuly 30, 2007
So I’m about 12 hours into Mana-Khemia now. It seems meaningful that this is the first console game I’ve played more than 2 days in a row since the lady came back to live with me; she doesn’t mind watching me play it at all.
- I love the character art. It’s more detaily than the cel-shaded style of Grand Fantasm, and there’s a strong downward trend in the number of exposed midriffs. With Grand Fantasm, Iris joined Shion Uzuki in the club of heroines who went from reserved to lurid; Mana-Khemia’s heroine Philo is much more tastefully cute.
- The characters are way more likable, in the Atelier tradition. Philo is endearingly clumsy, Gunnar is outrageously manly, Vain (unlike Edge) actually shows human emotions, and so on. I even like Nike, contrary to my normal anti-cat-ears stance.
- Missions feel more fun because they are presented as field assignments at the alchemy school. There are also part-time jobs that work like the quest board in GF. Now, instead of the frustrating time-limit mist, if you stay out too long it just becomes night-time and monsters get tougher.
- Between the assignment episodes, you have free time to pursue quests of your own choosing or play character-based side-quests. The character quests feel a little bit like Ar tonelico, in that you can spend more quality time with the party members you like best.
- The alchemy-based level-up system is cool. On a big FFX sphere-grid-like field, locations open up as you synthesize new items. You can use AP gained in battles to unlock the power-ups at each location; there are no traditional levels or automatic stat advancement. Tying advancement to the alchemy system makes for a fun positive-feedback loop: the more you synthesize, the stronger you get, and the more ambitious you can be in dungeons, so the more recipes and ingredients you earn, so the more you synthesize…
Here’s a comparison of Grand Fantasm portraits versus Mana-Khemia portraits.