Do you want to play a new action based RPG? One with tight, responsive controls, a compelling story and a real drive to push on and see what happens next? Well, I have bad news for you – KEMCO’s latest offering is not the game you’re looking for.
Being the first KEMCO release I’ve played that takes an action based approach, the story promises a lot. Following the exploits of two young people, Kunah, from the Fire Dragon tribe, and Riel who is from the Ice Dragon tribe, it is these two who are sent to the world below by Zeus to find a girl from the Angel Tribe. And yes, it’s just as bonkers as it sounds.
Presented in beautifully realised retro styled graphics that any Super Nintendo would be proud of, Frame: Dragons’ Odyssey certainly looks the part, and the music is suitably stirring, both on the title screen and in-game. The conversations between the characters are presented in the time honoured way, with a nicely drawn picture of the person speaking and their words in a text window. A little more disturbing is that almost every interaction between a boy and a girl ends up in a smutty vicious circle of innuendo that even Sid James would turn his nose up at. Seriously, every single time Kunah talks to a female character, Riel is there with an inappropriate remark, and it gets very old, very fast.
So, good graphics, nice sound, and more smut than you can shake a sword at. But how does the game play? Well, like nothing else I’ve ever played.
Thankfully. There is a map screen where you can select your destination from, and sometimes these seem to be story related, but occasionally locations appear on the map that seem to have nothing to do with what’s happening, like, for instance, Shamrock City. This is a place where all you can do is play some slot machines in a casino. There is no skill involved, and at the end of the spins, it’s impossible to tell if you have won or lost. The whole thing is just a bit dull, to be honest. Still, when you get into locations that you can explore and find monsters to fight, it must get better, right?
Well, no. The combat in Frane is both boring and repetitive, and that’s being kind. The A button sees Kunah attack an enemy, and B sees Riel use her magic to take the fight to the enemy that Kunah currently has highlighted. X uses a special attack when Kunah has built sufficient charge in his Rage meter or whatever it is (any explanation of what is going on is tucked away inside a menu). And this is the pattern for the rest of the exploration screens, right up until you meet a boss. You wander around, tapping A and B, and every now and then use a potion to heal damage that you can’t see yourself taking until you drop dead. The controls are sufficiently fuzzy enough that just walking in a straight line feels like an achievement, whilst avoiding attacks is completely out of the question.
When it comes to using potions though, you’ll find that it’s possible to load them into a quick use slot. However, if you have five potions and want to load them in, you have to load a potion into each slot, not just into the first slot. You can thank me later for that top tip as the game doesn’t tell you.
Boss fights are even more ridiculous. You meet a large creature – one that fills a lot of the screen, and can move faster than you can – so it’s impossible to avoid. Oh, and remember the potions? If you use all the potions and want to open the menu to use something else to heal, you can’t. I’d have loved to have been in the meeting where this was decided: “These enemies are stronger then the cannon fodder we’ve filled the levels with, should we allow the players to heal during the fight?”.”Yes, if they have remembered to preload the quick use slots, otherwise, no. Why would anyone want to use an item in a boss fight?” This makes the boss fights so pad bitingly frustrating that I’ve had to rage quit Frane more than once, if only to save myself from launching the controller across the room. The boss fights feel like victory is far more luck orientated than being able to rely on skill, and even Riel is no help in this situation, so it’s all on Kunah.
So, KEMCO’s foray into the action RPG field with Frame: Dragons’ Odyssey on Xbox One is an unmitigated disaster. It looks ok, but plays so badly that spending time with this game has almost felt like a punishment. The regular fights are dull and uninspiring, whilst the boss fights are arbitrary and rely far too much on luck; that combination ensures there’s just no fun here. The stupid conversations, the ridiculously smutty ‘Carry On’ type dialogue and the general feel of being an unfinished, unpolished piece of software puts the final nail in the coffin.
After taking in a whole host of KEMCO titles over the last few months, it has to be said that I am very disappointed in Frane: Dragons’ Odyssey – it has no redeeming features that allow me to recommend it to anyone.