It’s time to pop open our browser and try out a cute little browser-based game called Serenia Fantasy by Koramgame—the same people who brought us the ultra-cute 3D free-to-play Spirit Tales. For its case SF is a game all about a 2D fantasy-esque RPG with nostalgic graphics that fit nicely into a sort of 16-bit motif (very pixelated but quaint).
When I first came to the game I was greeted with a quickly loading screen and the ability to pick my character right off the bat. It runs like many free-to-play client-based MMOs with its own chat, running around to fight in the fields, an autopilot mechanism, and a lot of adorable characters.
Follow along below to see how I did and what I discovered while playing and see if you’re interested in stomping on some slimes in the fields or fighting off bears.
Graphics and Sound: Cute musical scores, mediocre sound in game, with 16-bit looking graphics
I’m going to ding this game a little here because the sound is sub-standard for most games in this market. Although, I should point out that browser-based games do function off being very lightweight and sound/music can take up a lot of space and therefore require a lot of corner-cutting and compression. So it’s not entirely bad that I don’t like the limited sound here.
The town music is cute and light hearted, very fantasy-setting oriented. The only problem is that the music is on a very short loop and as a result it quickly becomes a little bit aggravating—even with the variety of flute and strings mixed into the cute little score. I did end up muting it after a while, but I do like that the game developers had some good music.
The general character sounds are really not that great but I don’t expect too much from a browser-based game. The problem comes that they’re highly repetitive and a little bit silly when it comes down to the end of it. Attacks have a very limited number of sounds—for example with my ranger character, I would listen to her use her primary attack or her secondary attack, and hear it hit, over-and-over again.
On my screen the graphics are somewhat small, and feel almost 16-bit. They’re very sprite oriented and muted colors. It looks a lot like a slightly better textured version of Harvest Moon—there’s even a windmill near the water in the opening town spinning away gaily. Characters are very tiny (even on the full version) and I cannot use the browser to easily zoom in. However, the words themselves and the UI are not so small as to be difficult to use.
The pixelated graphics are actually well thought through in how they look and the motif. They are reminiscent of now-emulated games from the 90s and part of this is because it’s cheaper and faster to send this type of graphics across the web—it’s also a very particular and charming design that gives it an almost-retro look that many players will probably enjoy.
The enemies may not have that many animations, but they don’t need them: after all how many ways can a slime move, turn, or attack—same goes with bears, bees, etc. The sprites get reused a bit, and this is reflected in the lack of character customization from the get-go.
I’d say that the graphics don’t look that fine or detailed, but the motif itself works well with this lower-apparent quality just fine.
Gameplay: It plays like most sprite-based 2D fantasy styled MMORPGs just with auto-kill-the-world
Three classes Warrior, Ranger, Mage. No character aesthetic choices so it’s impossible to customize from the outset except for gender.
From the outset, it looks like Serenia Fantasy is a standard click-to-move 2D fantasy browser-based game with strong MMORPG elements. Other players wander around (some of whom look exactly like me) and I take quests from NPCs who need me to do things for the small riverside hamlet that I spawn into. These tasks mostly involve me wielding my bow for kingdom and profit.
“Go kill some pudding slime in Slime Plain.” Well, at least Slime Plain is easy to find—by following out the village from the quest giver and into the wild world. I had my bow equipped in the first sixty seconds and they’re already throwing me to the wolves—I mean, to the slimes. The slimes fell to my bow with relative ease (although some of them turned into lesser slimes that I also needed to put down) and next I was put onto slaughtering baby boars.
Who knew that wildlife exploded into confetti matching their sprite’s colors when they die.
Left-clicking autoattacks with the primary weapon and there’s a set of number keys for other skills to be used in combat. Pretty standard UI setup.
All quests also have an autopathing feature allowing easily finding the killing ground or the NPC who gave the quest by clicking on names and locations given in quest descriptions on the sidebar.
Not only is there autopathing, but clicking on an enemy name in a quest can trigger auto-slaughter. The character will go to the hunting ground and begin to mechanically stalk and butcher the required mobs. In fact, my character is doing that right now to some unfortunate ursines in the game as I write this review. I can hear their screams of horror and anguish as she fills them full of arrows for my delight and enjoyment…
Although I must say that I’m somewhat taken aback by this idea of letting the game play itself for me in my stead. After all, the point of an MMO seems to be that we go into the world and take of its bounty and not have the game itself play on autopilot. I’ve seen a few browser-based games that do this for players (or sell them the ability in the microtransaction store) but I suppose this is a nod to the truly casual players who just want levels and a sense of achievement but don’t want to actually play the underlying grind.
The game also appears to involve “spirit” which allows players to transform themselves into monsters. I was not able to test this aspect.
There are number of events going on at all times that involve players in PvE and PvP experiences. One of them that I saw happened to be a werewolf hunt. Players would be transformed into wolves in a special area where they would have to attack and kill other targets. There’s also a masquerade event where players get transformed into lots of different critters and fight to collect items, the final survivor would receive a reward. Also I saw a “Chicken Run” which appeared to be an escort mission of leading one of the chocobo like “Ostriders” across an area—I didn’t get to play in that one.
In all, I’d say that the basic game that allows players to level up by letting the game play itself is only one component of the overall metagame that involves the events listed above (all of which have level requirements starting at level 15, going to level 40 and 50.)
Freemium: A solid cash shop with costume items, mounts, and some actual equipment
Serenia Fantasy uses a cash shop for monetization that uses Tokens, these can be traded for Kcoins, which are the Koramgame microtransaction currency.
Looking at the opening tab of the cash shop and the currently “hot” items I see: a “Bur’s Blessing,” a Spirit Foot IV, a Gear Transfer Gem [Lv. 60] and another for [Lv. 70-99.] The Bur’s Blessing seems to be some sort of adventuring buff for 38 Tokens—it doesn’t say what the buff is—and the Spirit Food is probably involved in the spirit transformation aspect costs 10 Tokens. The Gear Transfer Gems are used to upgrade equipment it looks like or to “refine” particular higher level equipment items, prices 8 Tokens and 15 Tokens respectively.
Also in the cash shop is several pages of costume pieces for male and female, armors, hair style changes, etc. This is likely popular because the characters themselves are not differentiated very much at all. There’s also quite a few mounts, they run from 180 Tokens to 350 Tokens (only about 5 total mounts available.) There’s also wings in one tab, a BoE equipment piece that has some stats on it for 300 Tokens.
It’s hard to tell how these affect the game mechanics themselves or those competitive PvE and PvP events.
Conclusion: Cute, but it might need a little work on the sound
For the most part Serenia Fantasy wants to be a very lightweight highly casual game to draw in players who know they can play it directly from the browser. In fact, it seems to me that this game will play amazingly well on mobile or a tablet. It’s so lightweight and casual that it could be played at work on breaks in 15 minute increments and it wouldn’t lose much of its charm.
What I really loved is the events-based portions of the game that I didn’t get into. With the autopilot, it would allow players to quickly learn their classes, let their own characters drive through the grind by themselves, and then rapidly put them in position to be part of these competitions. That itself makes Serenia Fantasy worth playing just to see where those go.
The populations in the game seem high enough to meet people and it looks like it has a thriving trading community so it’s easy to see that someone could make a nice group of friends there.
I’ve reviewed KoramGame’s properties before and I like how they run their games so far. Although I’ve only taken a look at Spirit Tales which is cute but client-based; Serenia Fantasy is aiming into a totally different market, but I can see how it might manage to make an impact there with the features that it currently has on hand.
Also: After seeing that guy with crazy armor in the field, it makes me sure that eventually you do get to distinguish yourself from all the other blue-ponytailed rangers running around.