Here's something that hasn't happened in a while. I was well into my copy of Kinki no Magna, with the full intent to review it, when word comes along the grapevine that Marvelous and XSEED apparently have plans to localize the game under the title Lord of Magna. So once again I break out the impression templates instead of a review.
Okay, let's start with a question to the readers: do you enjoy pointy-eared elf girls, harem manga hijinks, and reasonably light levels of cheesecake? If so, you can probably skip the rest of this impression, as you'll likely enjoy this game for its visuals and random silliness alone. This is a game that has identified its target demographic well, though it thankfully never reaches the pandering levels of a Compile Heart title. Its style is much closer to the mid-90s harem series than anything in the modern moé movement.
The basic plot revolves around a young man named Lux Edward and the family inn he's been entrusted with. Hardly anyone ever travels to this corner of the world, and the inn hasn't had a visitor in living memory, but it's an Edward family tradition to keep it open and ready for the promised guests to arrive. As it turns out, they appear on Lux's watch: seven pointy-eared sisters with varying levels of plot-induced amnesia. The whys and hows of the game's backstory play out over the course of many chapters, and it's interesting enough despite having more holes than swiss cheese at times. The ending is... something different, to say the least.
Unfortunately, getting to the ending can be a slog. Lord of Magna is inconsistent about when it will allow the player to wander around the inn and do important things like shopping, and when it has the plot barrel on forward without a chance to even check what new items and skills (often very useful if not crucial) may be available. There's an entire chapter-long segment where Lux is told to prepare for battle several times, but he has absolutely no means of purchasing or finding anything.. Each of the pointy-eared ladies has special events to trigger that unlock new and powerful tension skills, but many of these events are mutually exclusive as they force the plot forward immediately upon completion. There is no way for the player to see every scene in fewer than three playthroughs, and this sorely reduces the screen time for any of the heroes or NPCs. This is a game that would be better off with more room for whacky hijinks towards the beginning, the better to play off the varied personalities of the leading ladies.
"...the world could always use more cute pointy-eared elf ladies."
Battles are done in a gridless tactical style, though actual tactics may often be thrown out the window in favor of hack-and-slash-and-repeat. There's actually a wide variety of attack items, some of which are even effective against the final boss, but they cost so much that the player will need to grind a lot in optional missions in order to afford a reasonable number of healing potions or poison bombs. At least the enemies regularly drop semi-useful stuff. As for skills, those require a certain number of action points (stocked whenever you have someone do nothing for a turn) or tension levels (usually gained by killing things). When in the thick of battle, it can be difficult to raise either resource to usable levels, though there are ways around this.
Monsters come in two rankings: Leader and Mook. Leaders have more hit points (sometimes ridiculously more), special skills, and the ability to summon more mooks at the cost of some health. Mooks are only dangerous if they're much higher in level than the heroines, and are mostly good for getting in the way or charging the tension gauge. They also bounce when hit, and can cause other nearby mooks to crash over like lines of dominos. In some of the smaller and more crowded maps, it's more like playing a Musou-tactical mashup, since all the characters have attacks with interesting ranges, and the little monsters tend to go flying every which way.
Graphically, it's a cute game, and there's always a lot of attention to detail, especially in the inn. More and more little items pop up as the game progresses, many of which elicit responses from Lux as he reminisces on his guests' antics (though we never actually see any of the scenes being remembered). Monsters are less varied, with maybe half a dozen sorts of mook, seventeen leader types, some plot characters to fight, and a handful of oddballs that only show up in side-missions. For much of the first six chapters, the player will be facing the same small set of foes over and over again. The hero and heroines all have nice portrait art, which is often given small amounts of animation even on the status screen. Within the game's own engine they're all bobbleheads, but at least they're cute bobbleheads.
The game's soundtrack is also decent, though the voice acting is only used sporadically. The credits include musicians specializing in guitar, oud, and bouzouki for some of the tracks, which provided a nice treat for the ears at least.
I'm still not sure how I'd score this game, though I'm leaning towards a 2.5 on our usual scale. This wasn't a good game — certainly nowhere as good as it could have been — but it wasn't really a bad game either. That's probably damning it with faint praise, but like I said at the beginning, if you're the type to really enjoy the character design choices and plot style, then you'll probably love it anyway. Plus, the world could always use more cute pointy-eared elf ladies.