Seven Knights – Time Wanderer is an engaging RPG for Nintendo Switch that does just enough to feel like a full console game rather than a mobile port.
The first thing consumers familiar with the Seven Knights mobile game will notice about Seven Knights – Time Wanderer, published and developed by Netmarble, is that it feels like an upgrade to what they’ve grown accustomed to. That sensation, however, is only particularly notable for those who’ve sunk a lot of time into Seven Knights, whether it be because of the property’s gameplay or lore. For the rest of the population, Seven Knights – Time Wanderer is good at distinguishing itself as a solid pick-up due to its mixture of JRPG gameplay trappings and budget-friendly price, but is only just memorable enough, failing to leave a lasting impression that goes beyond its first few hours.
Seven Knights – Time Wanderer follows the story of Vanessa, the child-turned-hero, and her companion Sandy, a talking hourglass. The narrative proceeds from there in the manner one might expect of that kind of premise – it’s goofy, nonsensical at its worst, but never misses a chance to do something weird when it can, keeping the plot intriguing. The characters are pulled from Seven Knights on mobile and the worlds that Vanessa explores are also references to that game’s lore and environmental design, with secrets scattered across each map, though they’re rigid in how they’re allowed to be explored. Players simply follow dotted lines across maps and change direction when they see they are able to, encountering various mobs along the way.
The biggest appeal of Seven Knights – Time Wanderer is that it feels like someone took the basics of a gacha game battle system and stretched it productively into something deeper and more compelling. If nothing else, Seven Knights – Time Wanderer feels like a good blueprint for other games – console and mobile alike – to examine when it comes to porting simple systems into more complex housing. Seven Knights – Time Wanderer‘s combat boils down to highlighting one of five characters in the party and selecting from a small pool of abilities, but there’s limited time to do so.
Skills have cooldowns that occur during combat in realtime, and animations don’t pause them, either, which is good – there isn’t much time to reconsider plans after an enemy takes their turn, so decisions need to be made surprisingly quickly for what amounts to an active time turn-based system. Exploiting enemy weaknesses and chaining together combos is a lot of fun, and the pacing remains brisk, with the game’s large roster of heroes able to switch out in between fights to offer strategic variance or a simple refresher from the norm.
Seven Knights – Time Wanderer also has a few different progression systems, allowing players to build out their strengths through NPCs present in the Room of Sand. Here, players can decide to buy items and equipment and level up party skills, like passive bonuses to damage and magic resistance. It’s standard RPG fare, and these, coupled with an NPC who sells cosmetic costumes being present, are when the game feels at its most “mobile title,” but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. The systems are simple and intuitive, with very little in the way of complexity to make the barrier of entry an intimidating one.
That is, of course, also a weakness. Even later in the game, when two modes unlock that feature either more challenging battles or a deeper look at character stories, the simplicity of Seven Knights – Time Wanderer makes it difficult to feel deeply invested in. The graphics are reminiscent of Bravely Default‘s original outing on Nintendo 3DS back in 2012, and the animated cutscenes aren’t much more impressive. A forgettable soundtrack strengthens the sense that Seven Knights – Time Wanderer is pretty average as far as JRPGs go, but it’s worth noting that the game’s Japanese voice acting cast is absolutely excellent, with a lot of scenes being salvaged from basic script-writing thanks to the performances that were recorded for each character.
Overall, Seven Knights – Time Wanderer is a surprisingly strong addition to the Nintendo Switch roster of JRPG choices – just not one that’s a standout. Its battle system is deeper than it first appears and can create some fun moments, and a strong voice cast helps each character feel special, even if they feel like they’ve been rushed into the story. The basics of its equipment, upgrades, world-building and graphics limit the potential of the game, however. Seven Knights – Time Wanderer is a strong choice for existing fans of the genre, or those who want a game that feels like a mobile title with more meat on its bones.
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Seven Knights – Time Wanderer releases on November 5, 2020 for Nintendo Switch.
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