Imaginary Range

Posted by Dan Mousavi On June - 15 - 2011

Square Enix just released a new kind of manga/game hybrid in the Android market and after playing the first episode, I’m absolutely hooked on the concept.
The story starts in a variation of Paris, you follow a guy named Cid and his partner Ciela, who have a device called PAD that let’s them imagine stuff and create it out of thin air. They fight monsters that someone else imagined up and travel through different worlds. In the first part, they fight a huge monster at the Eiffel Tower and meet another group of people, that can also imagine up stuff. The whole story feels like the first chapter in a Manga series and will hopefully make more sense further down the road, but the first chapter is more focused in showing you the concept instead of developing a solid background story.

The graphic novel has a very nice style and would be worth reading by itself, this is no cheap production and I would recommend to check it out even without the rest of the game. There is also a nice soundtrack, as you could expect from a studio that is famous for their attention to music.

While you are reading the manga and listening to the sound, you keep a lookout for things in the frame that you could take with you, there are hidden faces of a hideous version of a Moogle, that you will meet at the end of the chapter. If you circle these things in, you collect them. You also collect things like posters or shapes in the world, a few frames later you can then use them to spark your imagination.

And then there are minigames, in some you direct objects like in the many flight control games, in others you play a variation of Puzzle Bobble, a hidden object game or it’s a sliding puzzle, or a rotation puzzle etc.pp. The minigames feel like a best of from the most successful minigames on smartphones. But they are all done pretty well and don’t drag on all too long.

After you played through the chapter, you can unlock additional art and even that has gameplay, you buy scratch tickets with the coins you collected during your reading and hope that you have three points. You also unlock the developers commentary that explains some more of the background.

The first chapter is available for free and more are hopefully underway as in-app purchases. I have to admit that while this game is something completely different from Square Enix, it is probably my favorite smartphone game from them so far. As a avid Manga reader I’m happy to see such a big studio from Japan trying out something new with the medium and for me, this is the first game with in app purchases where I can’t wait to spent more money for more content.

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