Released by Koramgame and X-Legend, Spirit Tales is appropriately dubbed “the cutest fantasy game ever!” delivers a lot of simple, cute gameplay for players to transform themselves into child-like people who have animal aspects. Join one of the three southern tribes, the Maned Dragon, the Lunar Fox, or the Gold Kirin as they attempt to thwart an invasion by others from the north. For the longest time the tribes of the south have lived in harmony with everything and everyone including the wildlife.
Wildlife such as dancing mushrooms, daisy bugs, and mockingbirds who have recently gone berserk.
Players get to create themselves a chibi-cute character with animal elements form foxes, cats, lizards etc. and choose between the usual fantasy-themed archetypes to walk through the world. It also includes a simple combat system, easy teaming, and a great deal of crafting and weapon upgrading. All nicely fitting for this free-to-play, fantasy-styled MMORPG with the cuteness dialed up to 11.
Graphics and Sound: Cute, colorful, chibi-esque there’s something for the awww factor
Chibi, chibi everywhere—Spirit Tales is looking to corner the market on sheer cute. The character design is fairly in-depth and allows the player to choose between different sets of ears and tails for each character when they’re created; however, most of them are locked to a particular animal-type by their class. The animal aspect of all the characters in the standard form is set to ears-and-tail; but the full-fledged transform form may look a lot more like a fox or a dragon.
The graphics are reasonable simplistic and cartoony, which fits the chibi characters, and it’s extremely vivid and colorful.
Another thing that I noticed about the environments is that there’s a great deal of curvature to the place that we’re standing (almost as if the place on an extremely small planet to go with the small people.) Navigating around isn’t difficult because the maps are small and the paths of movement are extremely restricted—this leads to a somewhat highly structured themepark-styled MMO with highly linear gameplay.
The game has many sounds from the attack spells, to getting hit, to landing hits. Aiming for the too-cute-for-you, Spirit Tales even makes things like caterpillars feel cute as they die with “Oeww!” squeaks.
I spent a lot of time mowing through squeaking caterpillars, walking mushrooms, and attack daisies that eeped when they went down in gouts of magical flame.
The music is present, but downplayed, it’s more atmosphereic than overwhelming as it is in some games.
Gameplay: Fairly simple gameplay, linear progression, lots of crafting materials everywhere
The graphics are somewhat cartoony, but we already expected this looking at the chibi-animal characters; however, it’s easy to quickly get lost in the game and the story by using the standard MMO UI. Characters are moved using the WASD keys, accompanied by click-to-move, and attacks are engaged via the mouse buttons (often the left-mouse is attack; right-mouse is a spell) and the spell button can be changed with the number keys. Navigation is easy, there’s a great deal of usage of the map to find the next region, autoroute exists, and the minimap is fairly good at identifying where the next quest might take place (or just click the target name in the quest list and it’ll autoroute there…)
Players get to choose between six fairly standard archetypes: Fighter, Shaman, Archer, Warrior, Sorcerer, Assassin. Each pair comes from a specific southern tribe and they also get their own specific animals they’re connected to, for example Shamans seem to have elk and deer involved. They run the gamut from melee DPS (warriors), ranged DPS (archers), magic users such as the sorcerers, and melee slice-and-dice with assassins.
The linearity of gameplay is immediately obvious as each section and region leads onto the next one without pause. Every quest is either kill-more-of-these, collect-more-of-these, or check-this-out; and there’s nothing that seems to provide side quests. The quests follow a distinct narrative that tells the story of the people in the first region who are being invaded by another (all chibi people) and the starting zone is a sunny land that leads to a dark-haunted wood.
The themepark MMO elements and linear gameplay felt alright for the first zone because it’s strongly tied together with a storyline and narrative plot.
Combat is extremely easy. Although it’s possible to get killed by being overwhelmed (or not paying attention) it’s difficult to attract aggro from more than one enemy at a time. As a result, kiting and simply hammering on the buttons may be a common way to approach the beginning—with the way the UI works it’s also unlikely the game will ask players to change tactics mid-fight.
There are a great deal of accolades available to get players to stay in regions they’d otherwise blow through and there’s also rare-spawn boss monsters who appear amidst certain species of creatures. Such as a giant dancing mushroom that gives an accolade when you cut it down to size. Their spawns seem to be somewhat slow; but I was able to chop down two during a one-hour play in the game while picking up the atmosphere.
Freemium: Closed beta, not much here yet
Spirit Tales is a free-to-play MMORPG game and thus will be using a cash shop in order to support themselves. While it’s in closed beta, the items available aren’t a good representation of what might appear there once the game goes into open beta or full-on production.
What we’re probably going to see involves the standard items such as XP-boosters, a horn that allows people to post in the global chat, and items that help them tame pets that they want—something called a Master pet dango for getting level 25+ creatures into their corral.
Overall, it looks like the cash shop will be a source for exceptional and later level benefits (like those 25+ level pets) and mostly cosmetic items.
Conclusion: Cuteness abundant…
No other word for it. Spirit Tales is running entirely on the cuteness gimmick and it does it fairly well. With a leveling system that’s extremely linear, and characters who look like they were popped out of a furry animé chibi factory to catch attention it’ll probably pick up a huge audience just for that factor of the game play.
There’s a strong story to compel players from zone-to-zone, but so far doesn’t seem to be much need to team up—I played almost the entire thing solo. There’s a lot of people chatting in the area chat and I’d helped more than my share know where to find crafting items to upgrade their weapons.
It looks like they plan daily quests, leveling aids, and there’s even PvP involved so Spirit Tales has everything it needs to be a powerful MMO when it goes live.