Impressions: Magna Carta 2

Let’s face it – the Japanese RPG genre has stagnated over the years. While we are graced with the occasional hit title that we can’t cease heaping praise upon, we are also buried under hundreds of knockoffs that bring The Last Remnant to mind, or (at best) poor imitations of Final Fantasy. For a console generation with so much power, you’d think that Western offerings wouldn’t always outshine Eastern offerings that once enthralled and overjoyed its fanbase, myself included. In the case of Magna Carta 2, this modest and wholly underrated RPG fulfills its humble mission to prove that we need not be mired in the ways of the classic JRPG. It’s gorgeous on the outside, and it also boasts genuine charm and nouveau excitement. And that’s just what the doctor ordered.

Magna Carta 2 launches you into the sprawling continent of Lanzheim, bursting with life and color. While traversing the beautiful battlegrounds and lush countryside locations in Magna Carta 2, you’ll soon take note of just how smooth the game plays out. The bread and butter of any RPG is most certainly how it approaches battles. Rather than plunging the player into battle via screen transitions and the disconnect of separate locations, stances, and background music, battles are entered seamlessly via slashing at an enemy you see and encounter already on the map, similar to the dungeons in the Shin Megami Tensei: Persona games.

Through this method you’ll encounter untold dangers, as well as the most mammoth of beasts threaten to cut you and your party down to size. Fortunately, the turn-based system is built with such finesse that it’s actually a pleasure to go monster-raiding. Unleashing attacks via satisfying mashes of buttons is unbelievably fun, and light years beyond similar titles on the platform. Stringing together combos, normal attacks, and Overdrives will see that you can slay even the most vile of villains with the greatest of ease. The risk that accompanies repeated usage of Overdrive is a hefty one, as successful Overdrive attacks will see your party’s Stamina gauges refill. Unsuccessful attempts will leave you with susceptible and drained party members, but once you learn how to complete each attempt with marked success, there’s nothing quite like the excitement you’ll get from chaining together such explosively damaging attacks.

Customizable weapons, a hefty amount of items and treasures, and a wealth of places to explore ensure that you will be tangled up in the world of Magna Carta for a good 40+ hours. Unfortunately, the tedium that is attached to the required level grinding, fetch quests, optional side missions, and similar clichéd RPG mechanics is also present. You’ll be spending a glut of your time performing the same duties you would in pretty much any other RPG, and that’s one caveat Magna Carta 2 has against it. It bucks standard RPG conventions in several ways and falls back into step with them in the next measure. A curious path, to say the least.

Though constant battling and a cliché-ridden narrative may wear thin on the nerves, the astronomically high aesthetic quality of Magna Carta 2 is indeed its crowning glory. Each character is carefully crafted in such a way that plays to each individual personality. There is painstaking detail put into each outfit, each hair ornament, and the visuals are just absolutely outstanding. I enjoyed exploring each and every location thoroughly simply because of the quality oozing from every sun-drenched path, tree, and even the dungeons. The hyper-realistic anime-styled character designs  by famed artist Hyung-Tae Kim are a bit unsettling at first, but they do such a service for the game itself that it becomes impossible not to be enamored with them. Paired with a striking orchestral soundtrack, Magna Carta 2 is truly a visual and aural experience second to little else on the system.

If you’re looking for a traditional RPG that isn’t afraid to venture into new territory, than the 40+ hours you can squeeze out of Magna Carta 2 should be enough to satisfy that urge to grind relentlessly and unlock the secrets behind an amnesia-riddled boy’s intentions. It’s not an out-of-this-world adventure, but it’s a satisfying journey worth taking if you happen to be in the market for your next exercise in saving our world (or others.)

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