Indie Review: Fortune Summoners: Secret Of The Elemental Stone
Fortune Summoners is a hybrid of sidescrolling finesse and RPG action which provides both frenetic fun for the player and a challenging RPG which won't hold your hand for long.
- Worth The Time?Yes, but only if you're into JRPGs, sidescrollers and the like.
- Things LovedI loved the cutesy visuals, well defined RPG system, the fast paced nature of the battles and the old school JRPG feel of the story.
- Things HatedI disliked the clumsy jumping controls, the lack of save points at crucial areas in dungeons and questionable support for gamepads.
- RecommendationIf you enjoyed sidescrollers like Castlevania and RPGs like Tales of Phantasia and Recettear, then this is for you.
- Name: Fortune Summoners: Secret Of The Elemental Stone
- Genre: Indie, RPG, Sidescroller
- Players: 1
- Multiplayer: None
- Platforms: Steam
- Developer: Lizsoft Game Studios
- Publisher: Carpe Fulgur LLC
- Price: $19.99 (R150)
- Reviewed On: PC
We must always be wary of what lies underneath cute exteriors. Just because something is cute and cuddly doesn’t mean it isn’t hardcore and can rip the lashes right out of your eyelids. That pretty much sums up the experience of Fortune Summoners. It’s a game which at first seems right at home in typical JRPG cuteness with basic gameplay, but is every part as deceiving as the sum of its cuteness. The cuteness of the visuals is only a mere facade. What lies beneath is a challenging little gem from the developers at Lizsoft, and was published by Carpe Fulgur. Carpe Fulgur, an indie JRPG publisher, previously attracted the attention of western audiences with their RPG hit Recettear: An Item Shop’s Tale.
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Fortune Summoners is a hybrid of side-scrolling finesse and RPG action which provides both frenetic fun for the player and a challenging RPG which won’t hold your hand for long. Most of the game is spent journeying across the wilderness fighting monsters and exploring dungeons for loot and Elemental Stones. What are Elemental Stones you may ask? Well, the game’s tagline is based around Elemental Stones which are imbued with the power of an Elemental Spirit, like fire, water, earth and wind. These Elemental Stones grant the user the ability to use “magic”. The story is set in the land of Scotsholm where centuries have passed since the creation of the first Elemental Stones. Elemental Stones are now mass produced and are commonly used amongst all the people of Scotsholm.
In the game, you play as a young girl named Arche Plumfield who has moved with her parents into a new town called Tonkiness. Here, Arche attends Minase-Ratis Magic School. However, she lacks an Elemental Stone and so cannot participate in class. Yet she is quite skilled with a blunt sword which becomes of greater use in battles. So she sets off on a quest to find an Elemental Stone with her newfound friends: Stella Mayberk (a fire mage with a pompous attitude), Sana Poanet (a kind-hearted white mage) and Chiffon an innocent bunny-like creature with wind powers. What follows is a great adventure.
Gameplay-wise Fortune Summoners falls into two specific genres, namely JRPGs and side-scrollers combining the two into an effective combination, with some added puzzle elements. Basically, you utilise three basic characters in the game. You actively control one character whilst the remaining two are CPU controlled. Arche bears the brunt of physical attacks and uses her sword to mow down enemies in a flurry of combos that can be initiated with either your controller, or keyboard. This is really up to your preference. As you level Arche and the other girls up; so to are their skills and abilities levelled up. As you progress you unlock more combos for Arche to slash through with at enemies. Sana fulfils the role of healer within the party and can also provide water-based and ice-based attacks as an offensive counter-measure effective against both ground and air units. Stella on the other hand is more of an offensive mage than Sana and can take on a greater number of enemies than her, as Sana is more typically the support character in the arrangement. Battles in Fortune Summoners are fast paced and all over the place. You can jump from platform to platform in typical side-scrolling tradition dodging and thwarting the attacks of enemies whilst also dealing damage.
The RPG elements come into play when having to utilise more potent attacks as is the case with magic-based attacks like elemental fire attacks and ice-based shards which Sana can shoot from the sky. Managing your party’s mana and levelling them up accordingly, and not messing up are vitally important in Fortune Summoners. In Arche’s case, using the right combo can help to defeat the right enemy at the right time whilst not letting the two mages take damage. You have to constantly work out what move needs to be made carefully. This is part of Fortune Summoner’s RPG appeal which works well with the side-scrolling combat. Typically the game gives you access to the standard RPG menu where equipment can be equipped, new weapons can be chosen and magic spells can be chosen as preferences for the mages. From there, you can set out how you want to deal with combat situations which can vary from dungeon to dungeon depending on the enemy type you encounter. Enemies can range from simple slimes, to bats, to skeletons and even dragons. Add to this, a variety of intriguing puzzles in each dungeon and you have quite the variety. Puzzles are challenging in their own way as they usually require that the player use all of the abilities of party members to solve the conundrum set before them.
Aesthetically, the game clearly draws you in with cute sprite-based character models and bright colourful backgrounds which belie the true RPG nature of the game. The visuals work well and help to disguise the initial simplicity one presumes of Fortune Summoners. The sprites themselves are rendered exquisitely in up-scaled HD resolutions. The music is also very infectious, and when battles are at the ready the Final Fantasy-esque music of bygone days can be heard pumping in the background. But the game does have some faults which do need to be noted.
In the game, the controls can be clumsy at times with Arche and company having delayed reactions, and movement in turn becomes uncoordinated as enemies swoop and dash through your attacks. Movement issues extend to simple things like jumping which is a super human feat for all the girls in the party. All the girls can somehow jump up a cliff with a Superman-esque single-bound. In turn, this makes some of the platforming sections even more challenging and you’ll have to be prepared to die in combat as you can easily fall to your death without intending to. Other simple movements like dashing with characters were problematic on gamepads, with most attempts resulting in a change of the selected character. This I found to be infuriating when in the middle of dungeon and whilst attempting to dash along the platforms you mistakenly change characters, and fall to your death.
Inclusively, Fortune Summoners severely lacks save points in dungeons which whilst hardcore for some may be infuriatingly rage-inducing for others. I thought that the game lacked a major amount of incentive for dungeon crawling as loot was sparse in the huge dungeons, and poison traps were left in their wake. Battles became problematic as well. The AI for your party members in the game tends to be simplistic. As a result, you have to constantly change between characters when you may favour one character over another. But this could be more an issue with the level of difficulty than anything.
Overall, Fortune Summoners is a good title. The game itself has a fair amount of flaws, but simultaneously has some very positive points which might attract many JRPG and RPG fans. The game is indeed challenging and is well worth the suggested price. However, I can’t help thinking that Recettear: An Item Shop’s Tale is a far better game selling at roughly the same price, and does something more original than Fortune Summoners. Yet if you’re looking for a side-scrolling RPG fix then you can’t go wrong with Fortune Summoners.