Title: Maglam Lord
Release Date: February 4, 2022
Reviewed On: Switch
Genre: JRPG/Dating Sim
From developer Felistella and writer Kei Miyakozuki, the same creators behind the Summon Knight series, comes their newest game, Maglam Lord. This title was originally released in Japan back in March 2021 and has finally made its way to the West thanks to publisher PQube. Maglam Lord interestingly combines multiple genres to provide a distinct experience, featuring elements of action JRPGs, visual novels, and dating sims.
You take on the role of a Demon Lord after a catastrophic event has left you to be the last of your kind, and you wake up in a modern world that is entirely different from the one you once knew. Stripped of your powers, you embark on a journey to reclaim your former glory and strength, alongside familiar faces and new ones.
To regain your power, you partner up with various characters you meet through an organization known as The Administration. You must transform yourself into a living weapon, either a sword, an ax, or spear, to be wielded by your partner since your physical form is too weak to fight. Interestingly, the game blends visual novel-esque gameplay and character relationships almost effortlessly. Partners can be swapped, and your pool of partners to choose from increases the further you progress. There is, however, a minimal cast of characters as the game leans towards the shorter end.
Maglam Lord boasts a fully Japanese-voiced cast with English subtitles. Thanks to excellent voice actors, character development is greatly enhanced, providing fantastic immersion. Frequent comedic and lighthearted remarks make each character feel genuine. In addition, you are regularly given dialogue choices during visual novel sections that can alter how other characters perceive you, seamlessly leading into the dating sim aspect.
The dating features are equally as excellent, allowing you to go on “dates” with your friends regardless of their gender once you build up enough affection with them. Depending on who you are trying to court, you can visit bowling alleys, movie theaters, and bathhouses. Your choices in the game ultimately dictate which ending you get, creating motivation for multiple playthroughs to see all possible outcomes. Love Guru G.G. has got your back with the Dating Dojo. How else can you prevent the extinction of your kind if you don’t find true love?!
Missions are initiated as requests found in your home base and are divided into being either story-essential or wholly optional. Admittedly, these quests can get uninspiring and bland, such as defeating X monsters or collecting Y materials. Maglam Lord is divided into 9 chapters, and it takes around 10 hours for a single playthrough, depending on how many optional side activities you do and how fast you read. Once a mission is initiated, you drop into the overworld or dungeon, which you can walk freely around in the top-down birds-eye view.
Hidden treasures and collectibles can be found throughout, and encountering an enemy initiates battle mode, similar to traditional JRPGs. The Administration also kindly asks you to look for other endangered species like yourself to collect. Every mission has clear criteria, but you are free to explore and wander to your heart’s content otherwise. Safe zones are scattered throughout each dungeon should you need to save the game, purchase items from the shop, or forge new weapons.
The combat system is perhaps the most lackluster element, featuring 2D side-scrolling hack and slash gameplay reminiscent of the old school Tales of entries. Fighting is straightforward, allowing you only to jump, defend, and attack. Depending on who you partner up with, you also have access to their special skills that expend mana. Some combos can be strung together, and a special gauge allows you to use the Demon Lord’s powers. Unfortunately, performance on the Nintendo Switch takes a dip as frames significantly drop when executing combos during battle, both in docked and handheld mode.
Camera angles can also get a bit funky during fighting sequences. Fortunately, there’s an insane amount of customization and build variety, thanks to numerous blueprints of weapons and armor that can be forged from material found throughout the overworld or bosses. Some neat attention to detail is that accessories put onto weapons can actually be seen in-game. The developers seem to have spent more effort making an excellent narrative with an attractive cast of characters rather than making the action more polished and fleshed out.
On the other hand, bosses are well designed and balanced, featuring unique movesets that must be learned and adapted to, making each encounter feel meaningful and impactful. Overall, the game lies more on the easier side of difficulty. However, repetitive battle encounters can become monotonous and cumbersome with a limited list of enemy types. In addition, the combat result screen background music becomes somewhat annoying, hearing and seeing the same sound effects ad nauseum…
The artwork and visuals are mostly gorgeously quirky, featuring chibi-style figures in the overworld and detailed character portraits during visual novel portions. Location artwork is intricate, ranging from hilly forests and dreary castles to luscious blue skies and fields. No area overstays its welcome, and every character met and location visited feels fresh and new. Moreover, more than 20 DLC packs have also been announced featuring content from other franchises, such as swords from the Tales of series that each has its own background music. Still, the graphics look quite outdated for a 2022 release.
Maglam Lord uniquely combines an action role-playing game with heavy visual novel and dating sim elements to create an experience that stands out from the JRPG crowd. While the action combat portions of the game are underwhelming and the graphics are outdated, the beautiful art direction, engaging narrative, and excellent cast markedly make up for it. You might initially play for the artwork, but you’ll stay for the characters.
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