Review by MikeSugs
"An Indie game that truly deserves to be experienced."
There are tons of $5 indie games out there that offer nothing more than a basic RPG with tired battle systems, cliche plot, and a soundtrack that leaves you yawning, at best. Apparently, the people at Iridium Studios were focused on defying that stereotype by producing a game that is not only entertaining for 10+ hours, but also leaves you feeling accomplished after its completion. In short, Sequence is definitely a game that is worth your money.
As usual with my reviews, this review is spoiler-free. The review will give a score (out of 10, with 10 being the best) based on the following metrics: gameplay, plot, sound/music, and graphics.
Sequence takes the "DDR-esque" style of gameplay to a whole new level. In this rhythm-based game, you are given three separate streams of falling arrows to focus on, with each stream affecting a different aspect of your the battle. The arrows in the mana field give you additional mana per correct arrow input, the spell field requires you to input the correct sequence in order to successfully cast a spell, and the defensive field requires you to hit the arrows and take damage for any misses. Although these fields are all active concurrently, the game does not force you to manage all three, instead, you are required to play on the field which is most advantageous to your battle.
With an arsenal of spells at your disposal (around 20), you are given ample variety to each fight. There is minimal grinding in the game, as enemies appear to get stronger at a reasonable level, and the only real need to replay battles is to acquire ingredients for crafting items. The only downside regarding gameplay is that game progression is very basic, as you fight three enemies per floor and there is literally zero exploration within the game.
Note that this game is single player, is X-box controller compatible, and requires you to calibrate lag prior to playing. I've read a few complaints regarding hit detection, but these were from people who forgot to calibrate the lag. Hit detection is fine after calibrating lag and there is a decent amount of leniency when it comes to hitting the arrows as you can hit a little before or after the arrow reaches its mark and it will still count as a hit.
On a side note, DDR gamepads are not compatible with this game. Even if they were, it wouldn't matter as the game requires nearly 15 different keys in order to play (i.e. cast spells, change fields, etc.).
Gameplay - 9/10
Sequence may be one of the only Indie games that actually made me stay up to 5am simply because I found the story so enthralling. As the main character, Ky, you wake up in an unfamiliar location known as the "Tower," an almost magical place crawling with monsters and guardians. You are not completely alone, as your "shepherd" named Naia is there (over intercom) to guide you through the Tower's various floors.
As you progress, the plot expands and introduces more characters, personalities, and a lot of comedic relief. Both of the main characters personalities evolve as you play the game and I found myself having a personal interest in joining the adventure with them. There is humor dispersed throughout the entire game and the dialogue is unique in the sense that it actually feels like this is how people would talk to each other in their particular situation. The "fourth wall" is also broken often throughout the game, but not enough to make you groan with annoyance.
It's always difficult to talk about plot without sharing spoilers, but you'll find that at the end of each floor, all you want to do is make it to the next guardian to see what is about to happen next.
Plot - 10/10
As a rhythm-based game, you would expect Sequence to have a variety of great-sounding and memorable soundtracks - and it does. With each floor comes new music ranging from techno to classical. Another great choice by Iridium is to include songs with varying tempos. As you progress through the floors, you'll notice that some songs are crazy-fast (190+bpm) while others are slow (~100bpm).
One complaint that I've read about and I do agree with, is that the song selection is rather limited when compared with the breadth and length of the game. Although each floor does introduce a new song, you'll find that most enemies recycle the same songs from previous levels (also note that each enemy you face has a specific song, you cannot pick which songs you want to play). Although I am fine with each enemy having a dedicated song, it would have been nice to have at least two new songs per floor. Overall, though, I'm happy with the selection of songs and I found myself tapping my foot to each and every one of them.
Sound effects are par for the course, but there really is no faulting a game for this. Each spell does have a unique sound when you cast it, which is nice.
One thing which pleasantly surprised me was the voice acting. Upon starting the game, I thought that the voices were cheesy and unimpressive. As I continued playing though, I felt that the reason why I thought the voices were unimpressive was because they seemed so natural and not over-exaggerated as you would find with many other games of this era. Expressions of anger, sadness, happiness, and laughter come out quite clearly through the actor's voices and it really adds to the gaming experience. (As an aside, the credits are definitely worth watching.)
Sound/Music - 9/10
The backgrounds and character avatars are beautifully drawn and really deserve a second-glance after beating the game. This isn't a game that requires a high-end computer (which is a plus in my book) so the graphics can be appreciated for what they are, and not for how much they can test your graphics card.
Each spell has a unique animation when cast and the colors used in the battle areas are vibrant and don't distract you from the game. Spells, arrows, and fields are color-coded as to not confuse the player and it is very easy to navigate battles since you're not fumbling to see which arrows are in which field.
Overall, I'm very pleased with the graphics as they suit the style of Sequence and they don't try to make the game something that it is not.
Graphics - 9/10
Overall, Sequence offers a great soundtrack with unique gameplay and a plot that will keep you intrigued throughout. I would be happily surprised if Iridium Studios were to release a sequel that was longer and continued the storyline. The voice acting is endearing (since the game's creator takes the lead as the main character) and really adds to the experience. The game has minor flaws, but with a quick glance at patch updates and Steam's forums, you can easily find the people at Iridium Studios hard at work, doing their best to fix all bugs and acknowledge the concerns of as many players as possible. I encourage anyone who is a fan of Indie or rhythm-based games to give Sequence a play through, you won't be disappointed.
Final Score - 10/10
Reviewer's Score: 10/10 | Originally Posted: 10/31/11
Game Release: Sequence (US, 10/20/11)
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