Title: Date A Live: Spirit Pledge
Developer: Hot Game
Release Date: July 26, 2020
Reviewed On: iOS
Genre: Action/Visual Novel
I may not be the biggest mobile game fan, but I have found a particular appreciation for the Date A Live series over the years. Now, the series comes to mobile devices in Date A Live: Spirit Pledge, which brings all the spirit dating elements with it. Surprisingly, there is more interaction within the gameplay mechanics than other titles available, but the long grind might lose fan interests.
Date A Live: Spirit Pledge follows the story from the anime where players take on the role of a protagonist who stumbles into his fate. It turns out there’s a secret organization tracking down on spirits who have the power to destroy the city if they get out of control. Thankfully, there’s a way to stop them through dating and making them fall in love with you.
Easy right? Well, technically yes, since the narrative follows the anime, nothing will surprise fans here. However, players can make choices during the dialogue that provide an original response, but outside of that, it’s more of the same. The story is actually told through a visual novel format, which makes this entire mobile experience similar to playing a fully-fledged visual novel.
Players can choose the girls they wish to spend time with and then go on dates, which unlocks CGs. The date sections of the game run alongside the main campaign, so you’re allowed to unlock either mode at your own pace, considering you have the materials to do so. There are also ways to cook and gift items to the girls to increase relationship status, which then unlocks additional scenes.
The main story is tied to stamina, which I never really had an issue with. The game in this mode is more like a beat ’em up where players mash their way through waves of enemies. The enemies do get tougher in later parts, but the difficulty scale isn’t too noticeable if you level up characters as you progress. These missions do end up becoming somewhat repetitive, which makes the date portion nice since you can take a break from the main campaign. Each chapter also has additional difficulty levels to gain more materials.
The battles are pretty straightforward. There’s a primary attack with a few secondary attacks that require a cool down. While you hit enemies a special meter fills up that can unleash a special attack. You’re also allowed to build a party of characters and switch between them in a fight that extends combos. It’s a responsive battle system, but the entire experience gets old quick.
When it comes to the UI, I think Date A Live: Spirit Pledge could be cleaned up a bit. The main menu is just full of sub-menus that are easy to get lost in. Each day you have notifications leading you to several different sub-menus to collect rewards, which makes you wish it was all just condensed in one place. Still, it’s possible to have your best girl great you on the front page, so that is nice.
Date A Live: Spirit Pledge’s appeal hangs on how much players like these characters. Much of the gameloop post-story content revolves around unlocking characters and costumes and going on dates. This makes the game more of an experience between the player and the character, which might lose the appeal of those looking for hardcore PVP content within this universe.
The gacha pulls are a little harsh, and there are some elements of gameplay that are sped up with some monetary investment. However, it’s not necessary if you aren’t actively searching for a specific girl. With dates becoming the more significant portion of the game, be prepared to hunt for materials if you’re looking to build those relationships.
I really liked the range of characters available and how each of them all had additional costumes available. Sure, this means work from the player if they absolutely need a costume, but at least that option is there. Ever the CGs and character illustrations during story scenes are well done alongside plenty of voiced audio.
Date A Live: Spirit Pledge has several ways for players to invest in its mobile offerings. The gameloop of beat ’em up systems mixed with visual novel simulation creates a nice balance for those who have more time to game on their phone. Although the UI isn’t user-friendly, the illustrations, character designs, and voiced audio make up for it. Without a PVP mode, much of the game’s appeal rides on the player’s relationship with the characters, so if that’s not what you’re looking for, you may not find much enjoyment here.
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