I’m running out of witty ways to introduce yet another KEMCO RPG, so I guess I’m going to have to fall back on a tried and trusted journalistic technique: introducing only the facts. Antiquia Lost is another in KEMCO’s ever expanding catalogue of retro styled, story-driven, turn based RPGs, this time focusing on the story of a young boy, Bine, and his assorted unlikely comrades who have to undertake a journey to save the world. Stop me if you are feeling an overwhelming feeling of deja vu, won’t you?
Bine is a young man of the Fai tribe, who are the most human looking of the three tribes in the world. The other tribes are the Eeth, who resemble giant cats who walk on their hind legs, and the Ruta tribe, who I can best describe as sentient jelly blobs who assume human form to walk around, but stay a kind of translucent blue colour from head to toe. With me so far? Excellent. Well, one day, Bine meets a girl called Lunaria, who is somewhat of a curiosity, as her parents were from different tribes. What this amounts to is a normal, human looking girl who can turn into a blob, and stick to people to see if they are good or not. And yes, Antiquia Lost is that weird. She seems to really enjoy sticking to Bine, and explains this is because he has a delicious taste.
The companion and representative of the Eeth tribe is Jade, an older cat who explains he is only a traveller, and from the Ruta tribe we have a Coral Brigade soldier, named Safira. She is famous for always getting lost, even in her hometown, and thus our party is complete.
The story of Antiquia Lost revolves around a spate of disappearances of competent magic users, who just up and disappear into what seems to be thin air. There are no clues as to where the disappeared go to, and they are from all strata of society from the various Royal families to commoners, including Bine’s friend, Seraphy. Obviously, as a mixed group of travellers, suspicion seems to follow them wherever they go, and this is only magnified when the three friends learn that by being near Bine, they can use powerful abilities.
Lunaria can transform her shape, from using her finger as a key to becoming a giant demon in battle, when their Brave Arts bar is full. Jade’s Brave Art heals the team, and Safira has an ability that can shield the party from harm for up to five turns. As the team come to trust Bine more (by having conversations and the giving of gifts) these Brave Arts can evolve and become even stronger, so keeping the trust level high will have good consequences as you go through the game.
I’m not going to say any more about the story, as the great joy in the majority of KEMCO games is found in discovering how the threads of narrative are woven into a lovely comforter. But I will say that the twist is visible from about a third of the way through, unusually for these games.
As far as the gameplay goes, it’s very much business as usual for a KEMCO adventure; wander the world map, go to towns to collect information, head to a nearby dungeon and kick seven shades out a bunch of demons on the way – all in a 2D turn based style. Without wanting to be unkind, it does appear that they have run one of their earlier games through a photocopier and then changed the main sprites, as even the monsters that we fight seem familiar. I have certainly seen the mushroom type monsters in games before, and the actual combat is very much what we are familiar with, seeing you choose between a physical attack, using magic, either offensive or support, items or to defend each turn.
It is still possible to go through a large portion of the game on autopilot by allowing KEMCO wizardry to fight for you, and I was able to beat most bosses this way. Also making a return is the weapon refining mini game, which allows you to trade either tickets or coins for a chance at a good weapon, which can then be further strengthened by infusing lesser weapons into it. If you do this early enough, it’s entirely possible to end up very much overpowered, and the only time I lost was in an optional dungeon, where the levels of the monsters were very much higher than in the main game.
Difficulty wise and Antiquia Lost seems to be a lot lower than similar games in the KEMCO archive. Right up until the last boss, who was admittedly a touch harder, I breezed through the game, rarely even having to heal my guys before they downed the enemies. Another returning feature that seems to have plagued KEMCO recently are the walking controls, which are very imprecise and can lead to some difficulties in walking through dungeons where the floor is covered in spikes. The controls just do not allow for the close control required to allow the party to get by unscathed. This then leads to the party beginning the next fight with only one HP, and if the fights were harder, that might cause issues.
There are lots of things to partake in outside of combat this time around as well. Growing beans into fruits to boost characters stats, feeding gems to Lunaria, who doesn’t level up like normal people but instead has her stats raised by consuming gems, the aforementioned weapon refining mini games, not to mention the arenas that can be challenged. There’s a fair amount to get involved in.
All in all though, Antiquia Lost on Xbox One is one of KEMCO’s more successful attempts at an RPG, with a good story and a more forgiving feel to the combat. This is a game I can recommend to the KEMCO faithful and newcomers alike, as it is just good fun to play.