Title: Rance Quest Magnum
Release Date: February 25. 2021
Reviewed On: PC
Genre: RPG Visual Novel
Rance Quest Magnum is an RPG visual novel hybrid with a high fantasy setting. Both genres lend to slow-paced drama, but Magnum is a rare showing of how to improve each theme.
Rance Quest Magnum’s gameplay revolves around the RPG theme. The level system is straightforward, where you gain EXP from defeating monsters and level up. Still, Magnum is not afraid of throwing you into the fray, with your first fight happening within the first few minutes of gameplay.
While the menus are antiqued in look and a b it cluttered, it’s easy to get used to them. Paired with the late 90s art style and the overall sound design, these conventions come off as charming and nostalgic rather than irritating.
The battle system in Magnum makes it clear what the characters’ roles are. Characters begin with two or three moves each, but their movesets and passives are cohesive enough to solidify them into a recognizable niche.
The early party starts with Rance and Sachiko Senters, a timid girl with a massive shield. Her Shield skill allows her to take hits for other party members, and she heals over time. These indicators clarify how to use such compact characters, so even RPG beginners can grasp the combat.
Additionally, each action has a usage limit per dungeon. Other games have this restriction instead of MP as a way to discourage using the same attack repeatedly. However, Magnum’s usage limit system limits the most powerful attacks to four or fewer uses, which is pretty low.
This is where the difficulty lies, as you can quickly burn through your most powerful attacks and be unable to fight the quest’s boss. This even gives incentive to letting certain party members skip their turn to save those precious usage points. It is also a way to judge how powerful a new attack is. An early example is the aptly named “Rance Attack,” a powerful shockwave that deals massive damage to all enemies, but it can only be used once per dungeon.
Taking a page from open-world JRPGs, Magnum offers missions that will eviscerate early-game parties. In that sense, the quest system feels liberating, letting you loose to complete whatever mission you would like.
The lack of early game handholding is another great aspect that tramples over the age-old tropes of RPGs. Even if the choices are limited to what missions you can actually accomplish with your current level, the freedom to choose based on your judgment really imparts the feeling of being an adventurer.
However, the dungeons themselves truly feel “old school” in the negative sense. The dungeons’ design ranges from bog-standard forests to mostly empty caves, with clunky overworld exclamation points to show where you have to go. The enemy designs are generic at best, with three-dimensional sprites that could fit in any other RPG and clash with the “classic” aesthetic of the otherwise two-dimensional dialogue sprites in menus.
Furthermore, random encounters are present in the form of a meter that fills up while you walk. Once you have taken a certain amount of steps, you will potentially encounter an enemy. This is better than other RPGs that can simply spring a foe onto you at any time; random encounters feel better left-back in the annals of time. While random encounters are an understandable solution to preventing the player from strolling up to the dungeon boss unscathed, the enemies are uninteresting. They do not contribute to an otherwise satisfying gameplay loop.
The visual novel portions make up a massive amount of Magnum’s playtime. Smaller, less story-based missions still have humorous dialogue, but the narrative’s real meat is the story quests.
This is refreshing since visual novels can easily tire a reader out after an extended playthrough. If a player is burnt out on exhilarating left-click action, they can choose to play less word-intensive RPG portions.
The story itself is straightforward, even if Magnum is Rance’s 11th entry in the series. Rance’s slave, Sill, has been trapped in magical ice in the previous game. Despite Rance’s insinuation that Sill is just another girl in his harem, he goes out in search of curse users to learn how to break Sill out of her prison.
There are many references to characters from previous entries, but they are quick enough to ignore those who want to start here. The foundation for a more extensive narrative is present but not necessary if it is not desired. The snappy dialogue is the main draw of the visual novel portions, and the basis of these conversations is always based on bouncing off of Rance’s character.
Rance’s character is a topic all on its own. Rance is a massive scumbag, treating those who have what he wants with heaping doses of violence and frequently violates close allies. Rance is only a hero in the sense that his desire for personal achievement, money, and more women for his harem vaguely lines up with the needs of his quests. Otherwise, he is a terrible, terrible man.
This could be a massive turn-off even for players expecting an eroge since these traits are so overbearingly stained into his character. However, the game’s denizens often acknowledge Rance’s horrible characteristics, so it’s clear that players are not expected to like him. It’s just unfortunate that these aspects of Rance are so prevalently in your face, as it could drive off potential players.
Finally, the CGs are worth noting in that they are frequent and gorgeous. Aside from the expected eroge affairs, the anime art style has a brilliantly colorful appeal that contrasts with the dull browns and greens of the quest settings.
The CGs could have been a forgotten aspect of the visual novel portions of the game in lieu of its RPG nature, but it is clear that both genres have been respected in the making of this game.
Rance Quest Magnum has the notable distinction of having aspects of RPGs and visual novels without the sluggish nature of either. The player is free to switch between either genre, and they complement each other surprisingly well. This combination leads to a massively binge-able experience, and it has tons of content for you to do so. Still, Rance’s sleazy traits could repel and disgust potential players.
If you can find it to get past that, or if his brand of power fantasy appeals to you, Rance Quest Magnum is a game jam-packed with creative and thought-provoking content.
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