Title: Seven Knights: Time Wanderer
Release Date: November 5, 2020
Reviewed On: Switch
I won’t pretend like I’m a huge Seven Knights fan, but I know of the mobile RPG series and understand that it has a significant fandom behind it. Mostly known for their mobile titles, developer Netmarble has entered the console market with the release of Seven Knights: Time Wanderer on Nintendo Switch. Interestingly, it’s not a bad take on the JRPG genre, even though you’d expect it to be full of gacha pulls. Spoilers, there’s no gacha here.
Seven Knights: Time Wanderer introduces us to Venessa, a feisty young girl who sneaks into a sealed room, protecting a magical hourglass. Without thinking too much of the consequences, Venessa ended up rupturing the device and sucked into a time vacuum where she ages significantly. Surprisingly, the hourglass can talk and is named Sandy. It’s explained to Venessa that she’d need to collect Time Crystals from different dimensions for her to get back home.
As she travels to various areas, she’ll meet new allies and even an antagonist who catches onto her quest and aims to use the power for himself. The story can be pretty cut and dry at some points, but it isn’t necessarily as dull as a typical mobile game narrative. Instead, the developers create some pretty high stakes for Venessa while also doubling down on the relationships between the characters. These interactions end up being a significant part of the late-game narrative and take players to a rather climactic conclusion.
During gameplay, players will explore dungeons via a map full of dots. By following the dots, players will encounter enemies, find treasure, or trigger events. It’s a minimal experience, but the developer attempted to mix things up by adding various roadblocks and light puzzles. It’s nothing that will hinder your progression in the slightest, but it breaks up the fact that you are pretty much just running around dotted lines.
Enemy encounters trigger a fight sequence. The battle system uses a unique turn-based system where players can use one character action per-turn, but this is active, meaning there’s pressure to make decisions quickly. There’s are also cooling timers put on some attacks, which limit spammed actions. As you use attacks, you’ll gain SP to use a special, which is unique for each character.
It’s tough to explain, but at first, I wouldn’t say I liked the battle system because I didn’t completely understand what they were going for. But after a few fights, I became more comfortable with it and realized that there’s a layer of strategy that goes into the more significant encounters. This includes paying attention to an enemy’s special attack to guard or deciding when is the right time to use a turn to heal up. The more annoying moments are when I would forget to use an action, and my turn would be completely skipped, allowing the enemy to attack again.
To mend the exclusion of gacha systems typically found in Netmarble times, characters are unlocked throughout the story. Each character has an element that is more powerful or weak against a different element. Using this to your advantage is key during encounters and will make late-game encounters easier.
However, I never really felt challenged by going through the main story. I did participate in every battle on the map as I looked for secret treasure or alternative routes, but I was never truly at risk of dying during a boss battle. Sure, some encounters were tougher than others, but my characters were rarely under-leveled or incapable of beating a boss.
There are additional dungeons with higher-level enemies to remedy this lack of difficulty, but it’s completely optional to take these on. Still, there are item drops and powerful weapons to find here, so that it may be worth it.
Some of the more interesting moments of the game happen while you’re traversing the map. You’ll encounter these side-stories that are just small quests that take place within the dimension. What is significant about this is that these missions can totally be missed if you don’t explore enough. After you complete a dimension, you will close the portal and can’t return. I actually thought this was a smart feature as it made each run feel a little more unique and rewarding to those who do take their time in dungeons.
Another notable feature of this game is the voice acting for each character and their illustrations. There aren’t too many poses, but it is nice to see some effort put into these interactions. This also extended into a relationship system where you can use Arcane Cards to progress new interactions with previous characters you’ve met and raise affinity with them by answering questions. I should also mention that they have bathing suit costumes, and that’s always a plus for me.
What ends up holding this adventure back is that it is pretty basic and doesn’t become deeper even in its final moments. The battle system and RPG system pretty much hit a wall after you unlock a new skill, and that’s pretty much it. This makes the experience pretty lightweight on the player and doesn’t overburden with deep RPG systems, but it does shed light on the game’s repetitive structure.
Seven Knights: Time Wanderer is a rather straightforward attempt at a JRPG with the inclusion of a unique active battle system. There’s a ton of room to grow here in terms of improved dungeon design, less repetitive encounters, and a more interesting gameloop. Still, the story is rather good, and the character interactions are reason enough to see the adventure through until the end.
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