As a friend of mine uses to say, “another month, another Kemco RPG”. And during 2018 and most of 2019, it was true. The Japanese publisher became very famous between Xbox players for porting many mobile games from the Japanese studios Exe-Create, Hit-Point and Rideon. With 19 (!!) games already published and more to come, the publisher has been providing RPG players with a new adventure almost every month. Here at LifeisXbox, we’ve already reviewed a few of them with very mixed impressions and opinions and now I’m in charge to bring to you our impressions about their last adventure.
In Wizards of Brandel, game developed by Exe-Create and published to Xbox One by Kemco, you play as the young wizard Darius who will befriend the female swordsman Erica and the demon-girl Phelia in an unexpected journey after he finds that his friend Mark may be the Evil Lord, the one responsible for casting the world of Brandel in fear for hundreds of years. Fight alongside your Familiar Spirits and use all your magic to save the day in this old-school RPG!
What do you do? In Wizards of Brandel you will explore the world of Brandel, attending quests and fighting monsters and demons in turn-battles in dungeons. Tired of combats? No problem: outside of battles, you can grow flowers in a magical garden, craft new weapons, research and improve your magic through research labs.
What we liked!
- Audio: If I needed to name one thing that went beyond any expectations I had with Wizards of Brandel, this one thing would be the music. The soundtrack is really great! Sometimes it will be a little repetitive (especially the battle theme), but if there’s something I liked in this game, this thing is its music. The sound effects, on the other hand, are timid and nothing special. I believe they are a case of assets being used over and over again between Exe-Create many titles. But as the music is indeed very good, let’s keep it on the What we liked session.
- Combat system: Although very similar to other titles of the studio, the combat system of Wizards of Brandel is still challenging and interesting: although you take up to six characters to the battlefield, they will count as three duos. Each duo is composed of a character in the Main position while the other will be in the Sub position, working as a support instead of an independent character. Those in the Main position can attack, defend or use magics or skills while the characters in the Sub position can use items, magic and skills or support the main character, increasing the damage (with a secondary attack) or effectiveness of the skill or magic he/she used. When both characters use a magic attack, you can unleash a Unison, a special attack the combines the effect of two spells (different or not) into a more powerful one. Instead of depending on mana points or skill points, each skill and magic you use has a cooldown time (in turns) that you must wait before being able to use it again. You can switch your characters’ positions between Main and Sub in the menu, which grants him/her more efficiency when using some spells or abilities. Try to determine the best combination according to your combat strategy to succeed in these turn-based battles.
- Familiar system: Familiars are monsters you can make a contract with (using special items for it) that will enter battles by your side (actually, behind your character), forming duos with your characters. They can level up and learn new skills and magics, making them very useful in combat. You can also assign them in your magic garden to side-jobs for the Maid association (what will grant you Maid Coins that can be exchanged by items in the store) or have them dowsing, what gives you an item every 10 battles.
- Adjustable-rate of random encounters: I know not everybody is a fan of random encounters. Thinking about it, whenever you enter a dungeon Wizards of Brandel offers you the possibility to adjust the rate of encounters for half or 2x and, when you reach the end of the dungeon, to no encounters or 3x. This way you can speed up your exploration or farm EXP to aiming for higher levels. An interesting addition I wish more games would follow.
- Visuals: The world of Brandel has some beautiful and very colorful graphics with a retro vibe that will fulfill your nostalgia daily quota. The characters are very detailed and represented by high-quality anime-style illustrations, while NPCs are way simpler and less detailed. There’s an uncomfortable repetition of visual elements, textures and special effects in the game and the constant feeling of ‘I’ve already seen it before’. We’ll talk more about it later.
- Different currencies: Something that may take some time to get used to are the different currency systems of the game. You have Gold that can be used in stores of each village or city, Vigor stones that can be used in a special store only accessible from the game menu and Maid coins that can be used in the special store from the Maid association. You can gain Gold from battles along your adventure. Vigor stones can also be gained from battles but are rare to get. Maid Coins can only be gained when doing tasks to the Maid Association (or exchanging Gold for Maid Coins in a quotation close to 9.000 Gold for 1 Maid Coin – and you can only be able to trade if you get more than 2.220 Maid coins in a single trade). Why should we make things simpler if we can make them more complicated?
What we disliked
- Navigation through menus: One thing that would make navigation in the skill and magic menus way simpler would be using the upper buttons to skip pages and tabs. As it is right now, you must manually change tabs and pages. C’mon, guys: making things less wearing isn’t that complicated.
- I believe I’ve already seen it before: If you have already played some of the games published by Kemco, there’s a good chance it was one of the titles developed by Exe-Create. If this is your case, from the moment you start your adventure in Wizards of Brandel you will notice a constant feeling that ‘I’ve already seen it before’. And you are right. Many of the games developed by Exe-Create re-uses the same assets from previous games published for Xbox One. This familiarity sense is not only present in the visual aspect, but also in most of its game mechanics. Since the games aren’t, necessarily, a sequel, it’s strange to see so many elements reused between different titles. It’s more than ‘playing safe’: it’s almost unfair with their consumers.
As a fan of JRPGs (that are now – thankfully – finding their space and audience in Xbox One games catalog), I could easily recommend Wizard of Brandel to every RPG fan. It’s an easy-to-enjoy game that will please players seeking for a new adventure. But as someone who has already tried a few games from the studio, I feel really bothered by the reuse of elements from other games not related to this one. If you’ve never played another title from by the duo Kemco & Exe-Create, you can simply ignore it and enjoy this adventu
With a history of gaming that goes from his old man’s Atari 2600 to his Xbox One, Rafael or RAF687, our Brazilian editor, has a love for games as old as he can remember. He has already spent countless hours in many consoles (Mega Drive/Genesis, Sega Saturn, PS1, PS2 and Xbox 360) and is always ready for more (as long as his wife is asleep). Raf has been writing for LifeisXbox since 2017, with a passion for games of almost all genres – though we know he has a special place in his heart for RPGs, racing games and anything that includes pixel art. Writing about games has always been a childhood dream to Raf, dream that he has fulfilled reviewing games for you here. You can drop him a message at Twitter, Facebook or Xbox Live at any time.