Comics and video games are a perfect match. It makes sense for these worlds to collide. The comic art style can look stunning in motion. Light Apprentice doesn’t quite hit the mark, but it’s a fun and simple turn-based RPG.
The land of Ethenia has five powerful beings, the Apprentices. When the world was in danger, they fell into a deep sleep. 300 years later, a young explorer finds the Light Apprentice, Nate, inside a crystal. After a clever nod to Avatar: The Last Airbender, the journey begins.
Light Apprentice is only volume 1 of 3. The main role of the story is to set up the remaining two volumes. With that in mind, don’t expect an epic conclusion to the story or too many answers. It is only part 1. The story is interesting enough. It immerses the player into Ethenia and gets you excited for what’s to come.
A downside of the plot is the lack of character moments. There a few great scenes which explore the motivations and history of the cast. Yet, they could have done much more. The first volume is the best time to flesh out your characters.
Gameplay has two sections, exploration and combat. The exploration sections are like point and click games. You interact with the environment to find items and solve puzzles. It lacks any sort of complexity, but that’s a good thing. You won’t be stuck for long, allowing the plot to progress at a smooth rate.
The combat is traditional turn-based combat with a few twists. Characters don’t have individual magic points, they all share a single “Spirit” bar. You have to be careful with how you spend it, as everyone’s ability usage depends on it.
A shared MP bar needs better execution. Combat becomes inconvenient and stale fast.. It limits what you can do during combat and you’ll find yourself using the same strategy for every fight.
A good aspect of the combat is the mini-games for each action. Every ability has a different mini-game for you to complete. You may have to time a button press, draw a shape or collect the stars on the screen. While it does break the monotony of combat, it gets repetitive.
The combat, in general, lacks smart design. Great turn-based combat systems, like Final Fantasy X, are enjoyable at all times. By the middle of the game, battles in Light Apprentice become a chore. You won’t have to grind for items or gold which is a major plus.
What Light Apprentice does right, is character growth. Your actions in battle will shape how a character grows. For Nate, you can either defeat foes or forgive them. Killing enemies will give him offensive abilities. If you show mercy, Nate will gain defensive skills.
This makes getting through boring combat worth the effort. There are only two pathways for each character, which restricts what you can do. You can take either a passive or aggressive route.
Certain story choices can also affect what abilities you get. They also change some of the events that happen. It isn’t too in-depth. You’ll still have to do the major boss fights and other key events. At the very least, it may warrant a second playthrough.
Aside from the main story, Light Apprentice offers side quests. They aren’t interesting or worth your time. The quests involve a few consecutive fights and a reward at the end. You may have to do them on the harder difficulty to grind for items.
Regardless, the quests are a lost opportunity. This could have been the perfect way to tell extra stories. They didn’t have to be serious. A few lines of funny dialogue can go a long way. Nothing of the sort was on offer. There is no incentive to do these quests.
The comic book of Light Apprentice art style is a perfect fit. Cut scenes look like a real comic book, complete with “Whooshes” and “Bangs”. The exploration and combat don’t look as good. Bland 3D models and environments are what you get. Combat animations are basic and nothing special. Quite disappointing to see the high standard of the cutscenes not carrying through. The best part is the comic-like transitions during the exploration.
There were also a few graphical glitches during gameplay. The battle interface would sometimes sneak into the comic strips. There was also a section where the enemies’ stamina meter wouldn’t show up. These aren’t major issues, but it’s worth pointing out.
The soundtrack is decent. Battle themes have catchy melodies. Nothing spectacular or epic, but that’s okay. The simple melodies are a great fit for Light Apprentice. There’s no voice acting, which is unfortunate. Good voice acting can make a major difference in story-telling. At least the main protagonist isn’t silent.
Light Apprentice brings with it some excellent ideas. The execution of those ideas isn’t up to par. The dialogue choices in the story open the way for a second playthrough. The question is, would you want to play it again? Once is often enough.
No doubt there is a foundation here for future titles. Some improvements in combat and side quests are a must. With those, volumes 2 and 3 will be epic comic book adventures.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary PC code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.