Septerra Core: Legacy of The Creator
The designers of Septerra Core have clearly spent a lot of time playing the Final Fantasy games. They must have liked them too, because this game wears its influences on its digital shirt like a large shiny badge. There's nothing wrong with that, up to a point, all the greatest games have drawn their inspirations from old classics, but this one quite simply takes the p*ss. The anime-style characters, the turn-based combat (complete with energy bar, which must be full to perform the strongest attacks), the slowly unfolding plot with token love interest, the OTT animations for spell effects, all of it is very, very reminiscent of Final Fantasy, sometimes to the point where it is almost laughable.
Is this a bad thing? Well, it depends how you look at it. It's one thing to take an established series and improve upon it. It's quite another to rip it off shamelessly and make it worse. Septerra Core falls soundly into the latter category of imitate 'em ups. The visuals are crisp and clear, but lack the panache of FPs beautifully-drawn backgrounds and character animations. The cut-scenes are passable, but nowhere near as good as the breathtaking interludes in FF (some people are happy to play ffjust to get to the next cut-scene. Sad? You wouldn't say that if you'd seen them). Admittedly, it was never going to be easy to emulate one of the most famous RPGs of all time, but if you're going to do it, do it right, right?
Going Through The Motions
Oespite its lack of innovation, Septerra Core proves to be perfectly playable, and at times even quite enjoyable. A typical mission consists of entering the defined quest area, disposing of bad types, flicking switches, pulling levers, finding 'key' items, and buggering off to the next mission to do exactly the same thing all over again. This may sound dull on paper, but in practice it can be quite fun. You are never left in any doubt as to what you should be doing next or where your next mission is, and the battles, although derivative, can prove quite challenging (particularly in the first quarter of the game). There are many side-quests, which are not particularly exciting, but are handy for levelling-up your characters if the current main-quest area proves too difficult for your team. Towns and villages are liberally scattered throughout the game world and in this department SC shines: all the locations in the game are densely populated with people you can talk to in order to further the plot, and places you can go to buy new weapons, armour, and magic items.
There are, however, a few major minus-points worth mentioning. The character-movement interface is utterly awful. All too often your main character (Maya) will get stuck in the play area and much messing-about with the mouse ensues to get her out. Other members in the group often get in her way too, so pacing up and down the environment until they move out of the way is common practice. Also, the first half of the game is very linear. You can't explore the game world freely until you get your own ship late in the game (this is also true of FF, but at least FF has glorious FMV to keep you interested until the game itself opens up). So, Septerra Core tries to beat Final Fantasy at its own game and fails, but proves to be mildly entertaining nonetheless. A hint to SCs developers: next time, try harder.
Download Septerra Core: Legacy of The Creator
- PC compatible
- Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP
Since the destruction of her village when she was very young, Maya has lived a fairly simple life. Unfortunately, things aren’t going to stay that way. One of her friends has become involved in smuggling weapons and once Maya finds out what is going on, she tries to stop him and quickly gets caught up in the mess he’s made. Striving to set things right, she leaves her home and soon becomes the central figure in a quest to stop a world-destroying war.
Septerra is a world where seven World Shells orbit a living computer core. From the power-hungry Chosen who live on the outer shell to those who haunt the dark of the inner shells, all the inhabitants know the legends that speak of keys that can unlock the power of the core. Now Maya, a junk scavenger surviving on refuse dumped from above, has been pushed into a quest to stop the war that threatens to destroy everything she knows. Soon her fight to save her people becomes a race to unravel the secrets of Septerra and reveal the legacy found in the Core. Will it be you who ultimately discovers the true nature of the world? Or will your journey to the core end in an ignominious death?
Gameplay, Controls, Interface
As Septerra Core’s storyline unfolds, you will find yourself enmeshed in an increasingly complex plot that has many surprise twists and turns. Along the way a cast of characters ranging from a loyal robotic dog and his Mohawk-sporting creator to elite guardsmen and a rebellious cyborg teenager join Maya on her quest. Each character brings different skills, all of which will be needed to complete the quest and unlock the core. At several points throughout the game you will be given the chance to select which three characters from your possible party will be "active." Only the currently active characters are available to solve puzzles and fight, so choosing which to include in each section of the game is vital to success.
Moving around is pretty straightforward: you click the mouse or use the arrow keys to move your characters to the desired location -- holding the shift key while moving lets you run. When you can interact with objects or people on the screen, the mouse cursor will change to indicate whether clicking will examine, pick up or talk to the item or character. There is also a top-down map view that is used to move between the adventure areas on each world shell.
When speaking with Non-Player Characters (NPCs) in the game you can have each active member of your party talk. Different NPCs will react differently to each party member, so it’s important to keep the attitudes and prejudices of your party members and the NPCs in mind before you start talking or things may go badly. There are also several places throughout the game where only one member of your party can pry the information you need out of a character.
Like any RPG, combat plays an important part in Septerra Core. You can often sneak or run by enemies to avoid a fight, but once the fight starts you’re locked into a combat stance where the characters can’t move around. There is an option to have your party flee the combat, but it doesn’t always work and in some cases, such as the major nasties, it will never work.
Each character has a three-part "power" bar that slowly fills as the battle is fought. As any of the three levels of the power bar fill you can click on a character to have him or her perform an action or attack the enemy. Once one section is filled you can use most items, cast magic spells, or attack with your weakest weapons. Letting the power bar fill to the second or third section allows for deadlier attack options. Essentially, the longer you wait to take action, the deadlier and more powerful the action will be.
Each character can use items such as healing vials on any other character in the fight -- if used on a friend they have a positive effect, used on a enemy they are deadly. In some of the battles where you are faced with odds of two or three to one, it can be very helpful to use a major "heal all" vial on an enemy -- their ranks can be quickly and easily cut down to size.
The array of weaponry in the game is huge. Ranging from classic swordplay to high tech laser weapons, there are dozens of options available. The characters each have a base weapon they will use for most attacks (Maya starts with a machine gun), but you can purchase add-ons ranging from grenades to napalm that will expand your arsenal and make your party a deadly team able to take on the toughest bad guys.
The magic system is very easy to use, but allows for complex effects when done correctly. As you play through the game you will collect Fate Cards which have the power to tap energy from the planet's core. Each card casts a single spell, but up to three cards can be combined to create more complex and powerful spells. For example, a "Barrier" card casts a simple protective shield around the selected character, but combine it with the "Water" and "All" cards and you get a powerful water barrier that will protect all the members of your party.
Between sections the story is fleshed out with cut scenes that are sometimes driven by the game engine and other times are rendered video clips. The cinematic sequences all build the character depth -- this is one game where there is no black and white. Characters who seem to be villains may turn out to be allies, while others you thought were true friends may betray you. I found myself getting caught up in the game’s story and playing much later into the night than I had planned.
Septerra Core includes a wealth of rich backgrounds and fluid character animations that help bring the game world to life. Whenever you talk with characters in the game you get fully animated headshots that have a style reminiscent of Japanese animation. One nit-pick I have is the relatively small number of NPC faces -- characters who look very different on the adventure screen use the same character animations while talking, with slight modifications to hair or eye color. It’s not a big complaint, but I would have liked to have seen more variety. I did find the limitation of 640x480 for the screen size to be annoying. In many areas this severely limited the field of vision, occasionally making it impossible to steer clear of a combat situation where, if the screen size had allowed for a larger view, it could have been avoided.
The sound effects and voice work in Septerra Core are top-notch. I like the acting for all the characters in the game -- the voices selected all matched the personalities perfectly. The effects for weapons are also great, ranging from the clang and clatter of swordplay and the rat-a-tat of machine guns in combat to the whistling wind and rainfall of the environmental background; they all fit together into a package that works well. Add to that a musical score that is rich and varied and you have a game that is as nice to listen to as it is fun to play.
Windows 95/98, Pentium 200, 32 MB RAM, & a 4X CD-ROM drive (12X recommended).
Septerra Core is currently my favorite pick for RPG games -- it’s one of the very few worthy titles in the genre this year. Its simpler interface doesn’t offer the detailed character development options of some titles, but I like getting into the game quickly without getting bogged down in the details of character stats. The story starts out a little slow, but it gets much better fairly quickly and in the end is a lot of fun to play. I highly recommend Septerra Core to all RPG fans -- and with its rich plot it is probably worth a look for adventure fans as well.