Sequence

sequence box art
$15 Overall Score
Freshness: 10/10
Music: 9/10
Value: 4/10

Story, Music, Characters, Gameplay, Art

...no multiplayer?

Sequence is my favorite type of discovery, the sort of game that catches your eye as you’re sifting through a clearance bin.  It’s a name you’ve never heard of, a developer you don’t recognize but it looks kind of neat, and what the hell it’s cheap.  Why not, right?  You settle in at home, fire it up and you realize someone has clearly made as mistake.  Grab your receipt real quick, did they charge you full price?  No…what happened?  You can hardly believe it.

You just paid $3 for a really good game.

When you read the words “RPG/Rhythm Game Hybrid”, if confusion isn’t your first response, curiosity probably isn’t far behind.  The game plays like some odd love child of Puzzle Quest and DDR, with a healthy dose of clever humor and an intriguing story to propel you along.

Explaining the gameplay is better experienced than read, but much of the game contains standard RPG fare: hit points, spells, damage and the like.  There are Offensive and Defensive stats, HP and Mana.  These are modifiable by killing foes, gaining experience and leveling up as well as synthesizing equippable items obtained from fallen enemies through a very cleverly balanced system that requires the player to expend experience points to create, contributing more or less based on of the likelihood of success.

Anyone who’s played Final Fantasy XI cringes at the term de-leveling, but Sequence rewards you well for spending those hard-earned points, and it manages to keep the player at just the right level so challenges feel difficult but not insurmountable.

The battles are where things diverge from the standard RPG fare and we see the “rhythm” side of things.  Sequence requires the player to hit arrows in time to the music, but also to switch fields for Defense, Mana and Spellcasting.

It’s a bit confusing at first take, but the game features an excellent tutorial and is paced well to keep the player improving without overwhelming them.  The final boss (and hidden variant) is about the only truly brutal difficulty spike the game throws at you.  I realize that one should expect the final boss to be more difficult, but the confidence I had developed disintegrated moments after it began as I realized that I was not staring at a man but an eldritch beast, comprised of nightmares and flashing in rhythmic arrows, stretching wide a maw that knows no physical limits to visit ultimate destruction and suffering upon my very soul.

I mean, it’s still a dude, but he’s really tough.

Yet, without spoiling anything: I can say even that manages to make perfect sense in context.

The soundtrack is a crucial part of any rhythm game, and while more options certainly would have been a boon, youtube sensation Ronald Jenkees was an excellent choice, providing a decent variance in the sound.  The fact that they managed to avoid grating on my nerves despite the 15+ hours I put into the game is impressive in itself.  The fact that I actually want to keep listening to it is even more mind-blowing.

Wendi Chan’s art is definitely nice to look at, serving up some gorgeous background pieces, and while the static artwork is serviceable, the characters could use a bit more life.  While a couple of the bosses and protagonists Ky and Naia have facial variations (minor at that), the way the characters zoom off the edge of the screen after each cutscene looks pretty silly.  I kept imagining Ky on a Segway, arms crossed, trying hard to look cool.

Now, I’ve saved my favorite component for last: the writing.  The story isn’t particularly epic, but it manages to give you a compelling reason to move forward, while remaining surprisingly self-aware and genuinely funny.  A couple of the boss lines fall flat, but on the whole it’s worlds better than most games.

The voice acting is charming, effective and generally appropriate.  The only odd character out to me is Jane, who looks like an old military general but sounds like a 20-something girl.   It isn’t even that she’s bad, just miscast.   Highlights include absolutely everyone else.

Each item is also accompanied with some incredibly clever (or groan-inducing, but puns are like that) flavor text, making the majority of my reason for acquiring items simply to read them.  Kudos to Jason Wishnov for the credits sequence as well, an almost behind-the-scenes recording session from and about the people involved in creating the game.

Unfortunately, once the ride is over with, there isn’t much to do with Sequence.  I would have loved to see multiplayer, possibly more campaign options, a new game+ even, but alas…you get a hidden boss, a bit more story and hopefully the hint of a sequel.

It’s 240 MS Points, roughly $3.  Is it worth it?  Have you even been reading this thing?  Hell, this game outclasses a lot of stuff on the XBL Arcade that cost twice or three times as much.  This is the rare kind of game that restores my faith in the wild, untamed cesspit that is the Indie market.  Maybe even my fragile and tattered faith in humanity.

Go buy Sequence.  You won’t regret it, pinky swear.


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Author: Nate Graves View all posts by
Editor-in-Chief, Reviewer, Certified Indie Game Forager. Head Writer at Wasted Brilliance, developers of Aeternum. Must never fight the Fist of the North Star.
  • Nate Graves

    As an addendum, while there still isn’t much more to do once you’ve finished the game, for those who want just a bit more out of the experience, here’s a couple little tidbits:

    “To play any battle song in a standalone, DDR-like environment (similar to when you learn new spells), go to the Bonus screen, navigate to the song you want, hold down the left and right analog sticks, and press the Y button. You’ll be taken to a screen where you can just DDR it out. = D This only works on battle songs, of course.”

    There is a hidden weapon called the “Malignant Cancer” as well, which Iridium Studios had this to say about:

    “With regards to the Malignant Cancer, it is in
    fact hidden in the game. I don’t want to give anything away, but maybe
    looking at the items dropped on the Seventh Floor might give some kind
    of clue…”

  • http://twitter.com/IridiumStudios Iridium Studios

    Thanks for the great review, Nate. = D

    And the Segway line had us cracking up.

    • http://www.gear-fish.com Nate Graves

      Glad to hear it, I tease with love. :D 

      I’m sure it was evident in the review, but it was definitely my pleasure.  I look forward to seeing whatever comes next.