Lunia: Full Game Review

Earlier this month I previewed an odd little game called Lunia, outlining some of the elements that stood out for me after my initial play time, both good and bad. At the end of my preview I noted that some aspects of Lunia rubbed me the wrong way, but I was still looking forward to spending some more time with the game, which is exactly what I did.

For the sake of this review I’ll be going a bit more in depth about the two primary elements of Lunia, the arcade-style combat and MMOG inspired character development, and attempt to determine whether or not the two elements blend well enough to provide a compelling MMOG experience.

Starting out in Lunia is as simple as selecting your favorite storyline character.

Arcade-Style Combat: A closer Look

Simply stating that a game is inspired by arcade-style action can be a bit misleading. People will make different mental connections depending on the type of arcade games they may have been exposed to during their lifespan. Having grown up in the era of the Atari 2600, the mention of arcade games brings to my mind such classics as Galaga, Pac-Man or Asteroids – games that notably focused on increasing intensity in a never ending loop of new enemies. As a result, the notion of breaking up those loops via uninspired boss fights never really took hold for me. Games that came out later in that same decade, such as Super Mario Bros., popularized the concept of level capping boss fights for a new console generation, and it’s remained a staple of single player gaming ever since. When Lunia is described as being motivated by arcade-style action, it’s clearly those later entries that inspired the game.

Players in Lunia embark on a series of repeatable missions that can be accessed at any time via a handy UI button, or by simply leaving town in the appropriate direction. Think of these missions like a series of short arcade game levels, because for the most part that’s exactly how they’ll play out. As you advance, enemies will become increasingly more difficult, come in larger numbers and will have a greater variety of special attacks. Though not every mission in Lunia is capped by a dreaded boss fight, the vast majority will be. Rather than rehash what I’d previously said about boss fights in my preview, let’s just say they certainly weren’t my favorite aspect of the game.

Once a level has been cleared, you’ll be given the option to open one of two locked chests, the choice typically being between either potions or items that can be sold to vendors back in town. For some reason this choice will also be on a timer, so you’ll only have 10 seconds to decide which you’d prefer. From there you’ll be shown a score-board for the level, which tracks things like how long it took to complete the level and how much damage you took. These stats will be compiled into a final score for each mission, which will ultimately determine the overall experience gained. Thanks to the repeatable nature of the missions, these scores are also something you can improve upon should you so choose to.

Each mission presents you with a handy scoreboard at the end.

Character Advancement: A Closer Look

Though combat in Lunia will primarily boil down to alternating between hitting the A button and Space Bar in various combinations, characters will also gain levels and learn new skills they can add to their hotbar similar to most MMOGs.  While some of these skills prove to be extremely useful, such as area heals or knockbacks, quite a few of them tend to be all flash and no bang. This is just as well, because for the most part the button-mashing nature of combat keeps things moving at a fast clip without the need to rely too heavily on tactics.

Loot plays a very prominent role in Lunia, to the point where you may find yourself spending just as much time in a mission running around to collect dropped items as you do fighting swarms of oozes or orcs. Earlier on in the game this can become somewhat of a burden, as it necessitates frequent trips back to town between missions. That said, Lunia does also offer quite a few special items that can be purchased via an item mall that is accessed either within the game or at the official website. While I didn’t spend too much time browsing the items for sale, some of the things that stood out were odd things like rented pets that you could also buy outfits for – in other words, the purchasable items are more of the visual enhancement type rather than anything that would alter the balance of gameplay in any meaningful ways.

Tying the Two Together

The storyline in Lunia provides a humorous break between missions.

The arcade-style combat and character advancement in Lunia might otherwise be an odd pairing if not for a longer story arc played out primarily in a series of flash-based cutscenes. These short scenes will appear either before or after most missions in Lunia, and add a layer of charm to the game that really helps to tie everything together into a more cohesive experience. Though the cliché anime characters might not appeal to some, I still enjoyed the storyline enough that it helped me overlook the fact that I knew I’d likely die a dozen times as soon as I reached the next boss fight.

On the whole, Lunia is an easy game to recommend to anyone looking for an extremely casual free-to-play game. The anime inspired graphics might not appeal to some, but thanks to the ability to set up private mission instances, this could also be a great game for families with younger children to play together. Otherwise, Lunia is certainly a light-hearted, fun experience so long as you aren’t expecting too much depth and don’t mind running circles around bosses every few minutes.

(4/5 Hammers)

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