Sunday, March 31, 2013

Video Game Review: CIMA: The Enemy

Created in 2003 for the Game Boy Advance by Neverland (known for Rune Factory, Rengoku, and Shining Force NEO) and Natsume (known for Harvest Moon, Harvest Moon, and Harvest Moon), CIMA: The Enemy is another sadly obscure game which I would very much love for more people to try out. (I also think more people should use run-on sentences. They're lovely.)

The story of CIMA: The Enemy is pretty unique, set in an interesting world. You play as Ark J, a rookie gate guardian. As a gate guardian your duty is to protect humanity from the CIMA, a race of life force vampires who feed on the emotion of hope. The CIMA abduct humans through dimensional gates, trapping them inside elaborate dungeons where the thought of escape gives the humans hope, which the CIMA feed on... by killing their prisoners at the last possible moment and devouring them.

As a gate guardian your job is to serve as guardian of a community and protect it from the CIMA. On your way to your new town, however, your train and everyone on board is swallowed up by a massive gate. Your job is to travel through the dungeon, find and rescue your fellow human prisoners, and escape the CIMA world alive.

As for gameplay, CIMA works a bit like old-school Zelda - top-down (well, isometric anyway) hack-and-slash with a focus on strategy and some pretty solid puzzle-solving. Each of your fellow prisoners has different skills and abilities which they can use to help you through the dungeon. Some of them, like the stubborn and self-reliant Vanrose, can actually fight alongside you. Others have skills that are useful out of combat, like the children Halley and Emmy who are light enough to cross rickety bridges that would break under an adult's weight, or the blacksmith Doug who can upgrade your attack and defense.

One interesting system which I wish the game developers had done more with is the trust system. The people you're trying to protect here won't automatically trust in your abilities. You have to earn their trust first - you gain a point with them for every few times you protect them by killing a monster near them, and you lose a point whenever they get hit. Once a character's trust in you is above 0 you get access to their crafting menu and the special items they can make for you.

Unfortunately, that's the limit of the trust system. As I said, I really would have liked to see the developers do more with this mechanic. Maybe characters could unlock new skills or strengthen existing skills as their trust in you grows. Perhaps there could also be more ways of gaining trust than just "kill monsters where your allies can see you."

In all, a really good game, I just wish they did more with it.

KR Rating: [4] GOOD

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