Epic Battle Fantasy 4 is an adventure RPG game, developed by Matt Roszak, releasing on Steam is February 2014. This is my first foray into the Epic Battle Fantasy series and have no other previous experience with other games in the franchise.
Gameplay is a simplistic RPG style view, with turn based combat for the fights. Controls are so simple; you literally can play the whole game with just your mouse. The game has a real “Pokémon” feel to it, as you explore you will find parts of the map you can’t explore yet because you don’t have the required skill, for instance, to cut a tree down or to smash a rock. Once you learn said skills, you can backtrack quite easily to explore and find treasure hidden in the previously locked area. The game has well over a hundred different enemies to kill, and learn their strengths and weaknesses of. My favourite part of the game play is easily the loot and item system. The game boasts over 170 different items for your characters to use; you can upgrade these items through using the Forging mechanic which require you to use craft-able items to make the upgrade.
The combat system is really well designed too; you have a party of four characters eventually, but you can only use three in a battle, the fourth acts as a backup in case one of your others dies. The Pokémon element theme is a key mechanic too; making sure you use the correct weapon with the right effect on the enemy is an almost absolute must most of the time. Characters can also learn “companions” which acts as like “ultimate” attacks, and any of your characters can use them rather than having them bound to one of your party – the best and most fun by a country mile has to be the Super Nova, which just obliterates the entire screen.
Visually, EBF4 is again, simple, but that comes across very pleasantly. The in game art style looks colourful and vibrant, and has a very 3DS look to it. The narration parts of the game are done in a beautifully, almost hand drawn style of art, as if they have just been pulled out of a children’s book. I was enchanted by the visuals straight away as soon as I saw this. There is little animation in the game, given the 2D aspect, but the small amount of animation in the game is done really well, no odd movement cycles or strange looking attacks. There isn’t any voice acting; however there aren’t walls and walls of text to read through, so that can be forgiven.
EBF4’s difficulty levels can be changed on the fly, and you are almost encouraged to play on the highest difficulty until you start hitting a brick wall. I played the game on a normal difficulty and still felt sufficiently challenged by the fights. You can ramp up the difficulty to epic mode for those wanting to get extra achievements though. Once you complete the game you have the option for New Game+. Not to mention the Fire Mountain area of the game. This area scales with your characters level, allowing you to take on unique beasty bosses for extra special loot. This for me again, reminded me of the Pokémon games and the Elite Four trainers.
The world, in which you play in, is full of extra little bits to do, with roughly 20 side quests to complete, which offer no real variety but still add a bit more game play. The quests are only collection quests, so don’t expect to be getting really in depth quest lines like other RPGs. The quests will reward you with stat increasing items, or more equipment to make use of. There are also a number of NPCs scattered around the world that whilst they offer no game play advantage, they do have a bit of lore behind them though.
EBF4 took me just under 20 hours to complete. I went into this game expecting it to be over in five hours. I am absolutely amazed at how much content and how long this game actually is. What really does this game the most credit is, I wasn’t bored once whilst playing, and I wasn’t waiting for the end of the game to roll around as I was having that much fun playing. There may not be a massive amount of replay ability given the linearity of the storyline, but the New Game+ mode will definitely cater for any people that are fans of the game play.
Technically, the game runs in a much smaller resolution, whilst you can play full screen, it is a scaled up version. For some reason, I almost had a lot of stuttering during some moments in the game. This was fixed by reloading the game, but I couldn’t quite work out what was causing it. Obviously the game isn’t very taxing to run, given the 2D graphics, but still, I was dropping frames every now and again. The game cannot be played using a controller without the use of third party software, but I would recommend people play this game with their mouse.
To sum up, I am absolutely amazed at the quality of this game. It is easily one of my favourite RPG experiences I have ever had. I remarked quite a bit in this review about the resemblances between EBF4 and Pokémon, and that comparison really does this game justice. It is an absolute masterpiece of a game that looks so simple on the outside, but is beautifully and carefully developed on the inside. The game is so perfectly priced at £8, 99 too, with hours of content and high quality content at that!