Covenant of Solitude review
Kemco is on a roll: after the enjoyable Symphony of the Origin, they already released the second mobile JRPG in less than a month – Covenant of Solitude. Maintaining a certain level of product quality is always hard, especially when the required quantities are rapidly increasing, so the main question is – has the Japanese developer managed to deliver a great portable gaming experience again?
Covenant of Solitude puts the players in the role of a young boy Fort, the descendant of genies who can communicate with monsters. This makes his childhood pretty hard, since he is labeled as a “freak” by his peers, and he only makes a couple of friends while growing up. When he’s 15, the unusual and tragic circumstances drive him away from his hometown and the epic adventure begins. I won’t spoil anything else, but I will say that the game’s narrative and the way it’s presented are surprisingly dark, although the cheesy dialogue and some awkward translations take quite a bit from the experience. Still, the story holds the water and avoids some (though not all) of the genre cliches.
The technical aspect of Covenant of Solitude is mediocre, especially in comparison with the quite polished Symphony of the Origin. Both exploration and gameplay sequences are in 2D, which is fine, but the colour palettes tend to repeat, especially in dungeons. There’s really nothing else to say about the graphics – they’re simple, but they’re not the game’s focus, anyway. The upside is that due to its non-impressive visuals, Covenant of Solitude is optimized for a vast number of devices and there are absolutely zero performance issues with it. I’m much more disappointed with the game’s soundtrack. Don’t get me wrong, the compositions that are in it are good, but there’s too few of them, so things tend to get repetitive after a few hours of playing time have passed. At least all of the sound effects are of high quality.
The gameplay itself is exactly what you would expect from a JRPG, with some additional twists. For instance, instead of simply recruiting companions, Fort will “sign contracts” with various monsters that he (i.e. you) will want to use in combat. Signing a contract with a monster actually means creating a new monster to add to your team. The number of monsters that you can create at once is capped at 20, although only 3 monsters can accompany Fort at a time. There are 4 tribes of monsters: Dragons, Beasts, Fairies, and Vampires. There are also 4 monster classes that are non-discriminative to the monster tribes: Fighter, Healer, Wizard, and Thief. By combining these tribes and classes, as well as monsters’ passive abilities, players are able to create uniquely skilled companions. The tactical depth this monster creation mechanic adds to the game is nice, but the fact that every newly created monster starts at level one will result in underusage of this interesting game element. E.g. when faced with a tough boss, most people will simply find grinding for two hours with their non-ideal party to be easier than recreating their party and leveling it up from the start again. This design oversight could and should be fixed in the following updates. Still, Covenant of Solitude offers a lot of quality role-playing, and it’s significantly longer than the surprisingly short Symphony of the Origin, albeit it doesn’t have any real replay value. Besides the chaotically cluttered UI, the game controls are a little clunky and although you’ll get used to them after playing for a few hours, you’ll still be running into walls quite a bit because they simply lack precision. Sure, high control precision is not vital (or even relevant) for beating this kind of game, but its absence in Covenant of Solitude is still an annoying nuisance, and the same goes for the presence of IAP’s. It’s worth noting that this is a pretty challenging title that’s not exactly intended for casual gamers.
In overall, Covenant of Solitude has a lot to offer to the fans of JRPG’s. However, it isn’t exactly Kemco’s best work, mostly due to the cluttered UI and its non-responsive controls, so if you haven’t played some of their earlier games, do give them a chance first. That especially goes for Symphony of Eternity and Symphony of the Origin. This game is the perfect example of how seemingly less unimportant game elements can still take away a lot from the overall experience. However, for the current discounted price of $2.99, Covenant of Solitude is still a worthy purchase. It’s not as polished as Symphony of the Origin, the game I simply can’t stop comparing it to, but at its core, it is a fun and challenging RPG title that I hope will get improved with the future updates; And luckily, a few updates are all it takes to correct this game’s flaws.
Graphics: 5 - mediocre
Sound: 6 - quality sound effects, but the OST is too short
Gameplay: 7 - interesting monster system and challenging bosses, but the cluttered UI and clunky controls diminish the whole experience
Duration: 8 - around 20 hours for an average gamer, more if you’re keen on uncovering every secret the game has to offer
Score: 6.9 - a good, but not great JRPG
The game score is not an average of other rated elements (since not all of them are equally important), just the reviewer’s overall opinion of the game.