Summon Night: Twin Age Review

The Summon Night franchise has undergone a significant amount of metamorphosis over the years, trying its hand at a number of RPG sub-genres, and achieving mild success with each. The latest from the folks at Flight-Plan taps into the unique input options of the Nintendo DS, and delivers a somewhat novel, but unspectacular gaming experience.

The game begins with themes straight out of role-playing 101: normally peaceful spirits overrun by darkness; an isolated, semi-human society that maintains an intimate relationship with nature; tension between races, propagated by fear and manifested in hatred; an orphaned brother and sister who must revisit their past; and magic. It’s as if every RPG in history threw their individual plot elements into a hat, and Summon Night: Twin Age reached in to grab a handful. This doesn’t necessarily mean bad things for the storyline, it just makes the player feel overly familiar and slightly used.

The game is essentially an action RPG hack-n-slash affair, with gameplay action ranging from movement to attacks to special gesture-commanded skills and magic, all controlled by the stylus. There are even a pair of toolbars that players can use to quickly access certain items and techniques in the heat of battle. The control scheme and combat methods are actually the game’s strongest points, which is fortunate considering that the larger part of one’s play time will be consumed by running through enemy-infested maps with blades and magic a-blazin’.

It’s true that there is a lot of grinding to be done in Twin Age, and more crate- and pot-smashing than I care to engage in again for quite some time. It can become a fatiguing endeavor, then, when the mostly-uncontrollable party members commonly bear much of the burden and require little attention from the player the majority of the time. It also doesn’t help when the action becomes so jammed that it is difficult to discern where one character ends and the next begins.

Certain aspects of the game work to counterbalance the fatigue effect, at least. Save points are placed in relatively close proximity of one another and levels/chapters are not obscenely long, allowing players to play Twin Age on their own terms and at their own leisure, rather than under the iron-fisted rule of the designers. There are also sections between chapters where players select party members to have conversations with. Because there are a fair number of characters to interact with, and because the player is given an initial choice to control one of two protagonists, these segments inject a touch of variety into gameplay that can sometimes knock on monotony’s door.

Let us not forget the combat, of course, which asks players to interact more intimately with the game, making timed stylus taps, drawing lines on-screen, etc., in order to execute special maneuvers. Then there is the fact that the two main characters — a fighter and a magic user — are swappable on-the-fly, and have different trees of skills to work with throughout the game. Lastly, there is a crafting system with specific recipes and required ingredients that can be found throughout the world’s various locales, and that produce some very powerful items.

Summon Night: Twin Age presents a generally gratifying gameplay experience, making good use of the DS hardware and offering players a unique and functional method of controlling the on-screen action. Where it stumbles is in the exploration surrounding that, and in its largely derivative storyline.


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Author: Eddie Inzauto View all posts by
Eddie has been writing about games on the interwebz for over ten years. You can find him Editor-in-Chiefing around these parts, or talking nonsense on Twitter @eddieinzauto.

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