September 18, 2012 9:00 PM | Staff
[Guest reviewer Colin Brown profiles each game in the Back to School Bundle currently running on IndieGames' co-created site Indie Royale.]
There's been attempts to marry the disparate genres of rhythm games and RPGs before, and there are probably many yet to come, but none of them have quite hit the mark as cleanly as Sequence does. Developer Iridium Studios takes the idea of tapping keys to attack, but emphasizes strategy over performance and dresses it up with some classic JRPG elements. To be honest, the genre bending alone would be enough to recommend Sequence as a curiosity, but the game also has a lot of quality backing up the gameplay.
You are Ky, a poor fellow who's been drugged and locked in a tower where he needs to fight monsters, gather resources and craft his way to the last floor. It would be simple if not for the deadpan verbal abuse accosting him at every turn via a woman on an intercom named Naia. Many indie games strive for comedy, with results all over the map, but something about Sequence just hits all the right points to make the humour seem effortless and genuine. It's partially the clever lines and banter, partially the strong voice acting and partially the sheer oddity of the game's script. The central bickering of Ky and Naia is amusing enough, but the game really shines when encountering the eccentric Guardians. But overall, the writing quality is high enough that it makes the conversations of the game into the main reward.
Special mention should also be made of the soundtrack, mostly because it's possibly the most important part of the game to get right. Each musical battle consists of three fields where DDR-like arrows descend to the rhythm. The game becomes an exercise in balance, as you need to flip between all three panes and prioritize which field is most important at any given time. One field restores a bit of mana for each note, another will cause you harm for every missed beat and the third is only used to properly execute spells. It seems hectic, and it really is, but good use of spells and strategy can be just as effective in dealing with the musical onslaught as your awesome rhythm game skills.
Wasn't I supposed to be discussing the soundtrack? In a way I am, since the gameplay and soundtrack are so intrinsically linked. Regardless, the music playlist is absolutely terrific, with some excellent compositions and the careful note charting that you just simply don't see in procedurally generated games. It can be a bit redundant due to some monsters sharing tracks and the repetitve requirements of the crafting system, but in small bursts Sequence is an absolute must play. It's not often a game takes a unique central concept and nails it so effortlessly.
[Sequence, Bunny Must Die, Swords & Soldiers (with its Super Saucy Sausage Fest DLC) and four other games are available now in Indie Royale's Back to School Bundle.]