Lord of Magna: Maiden Heaven is a swan song for Neverland, who also developed the Lufia and Rune Factory games. It almost never came into fruition due to the company filing for bankruptcy and closing after Rune Factory 4 was released. Fortunately, the development team was hired by Marvelous, allowing them to finish this game. Let’s see how it turned out in the midst of all that upheaval.
The story centers around Luchs Eduard (you can change his first name), a innkeeper living on the outskirts of town. The inn hasn’t had any actual guests since its inception, so he supports himself by gathering crystals from a nearby cave to sell. During one routine trip into said cave, he finds a girl encased in crystal and mobs of fiends who attack him. Said girl saves him, but it turns out she doesn’t remember much else besides her name. Luchs decides to let her stay in the inn and help her recover her memories. As you might expect from the title, more girls with differing degrees of amnesia also join the party. The characters follow general tropes, like the unlucky childhood friend, tomboy, genius, and so on. The plot also has some tropes you might recognize after playing enough JRPGs, but it was still entertaining to watch it unfold. The localization is pretty solid, and I didn’t see much in the way of typos other than one near the end (“I’m gonna put and end to all of this”). There’s different dialogue when examining things in inn that changes each chapter that provide a bit of insight into the characters’ quirks as more come to the inn. I’d specifically walk around examining everything at the start of each chapter just to see how the descriptions would change, and I thought it was a nice touch. Each girl has three HEART events, which are only available in certain chapters and overlap with each other. To get an ending with a girl you don’t even need to unlock all three HEART events, just the third one (Charlotte even has one you need to do to advance the story).
The overall color scheme is mostly bright, which fits with the general mood of the game. The character portraits are nicely drawn and even have little animations, though they’re static otherwise. The character sprites are chibi 3D models, which are adorable and expressive, but perhaps not to everyone’s tastes. Enemy models are somewhat varied (the windup teddy bears never failed to amuse me), but there are palate swaps with larger enemies spawning mobs of smaller versions of themselves.I noticed some momentary pauses during enemy turns (I didn’t notice as much during my turns), but not enough to impede overall combat flow. You can zoom in or out, though I left it zoomed out because I preferred to see more of the field. There’s little icons over head to indicate who to talk to for story progression or for HEART events, so it’s easy to see who you have to talk to so you can progress (or want to unlock someone’s HEART event). However, sometimes they were a bit hard to see against light backgrounds, and there was one time I started a HEART event unintentionally because I was running around talking to everyone and failed to note the heart over her head.
The soundtrack is nice and complements the overall tone of the game well. There were times I’d just sit for a moment and listen to the music int he background (like this one). The final boss themes were particularly catchy and appropriately epic. The voice acting is generally fine, but they only come in snippets during battles, and only certain lines are voiced in dialogue. The battle quotes can get a bit repetitive since there’s not a lot of them per character (I certainly heard “Efficiency is a fine companion to visual presentation” enough times to have it drilled in my head). Though I suppose reading the entries about >picking voices for each character colored my view a bit (I like the insight into the localization process entries like those provide). A neat little detail is that if you press any button at the right time to go past the main menu while a character is saying the title of the game, they will comment (i.e. Luchs will say “um, I haven’t finished saying the title yet”, and Charlotte will go “Oh, hi Master!”).
Battles and story events make up the bulk of gameplay. You can only wander around freely in the inn; other places are accessed via map menus and just have free battles (each labelled with what level the enemies therein are). In battles, characters can move freely within a circle (kind of like the Shining Force games or something like Phantom Brave and Makai Kingdom) and have a set attack range. Large enemies summons smaller enemies that can be dispatched in one hit and will keep summoning more until you take out said large enemies. You can engage in a sort of bowling combat with smaller enemies, as when you hit one (or however many you manage to hit at once), they fly back and knock down other small enemies they collide into. Knocking down 10 or more enemies nets that character another turn. Every action (attacks, using items) takes up an AP point, and you can accumulate more AP points by ending turns without doing anything. So it’s mainly a matter of weighing the benefits of attacking more often or waiting until you have the AP to pull off a larger attack. In addition, as characters kill enemies, they gain Tension, which essentially lets them pull off really strong attacks (or other strong support skills). Completing HEART events unlocks higher tension levels for that character, and more tension levels means more abilities.
There’s no equipment to manage, only skill chips that confer stat boosts or (obviously) skills. Each skill chip takes up a certain amount of memory, and everyone has a set amount of memory (though I never came close to reaching that limit). While Luchs himself is no powerhouse, being but a simple innkeeper, he does get some helpful support spells that lets him fill the role of white mage so the girls can focus on doling out damage. I usually made sure he had at least enough AP to cast his AOE healing spell (let’s just say that saw a lot of use). You can also get buffs with baths (yes, really). Each character and enemy also has an element, which are all strong/weak to each other (except Void, which is neutral). Flame and Frost are strong to each other and Earth, but weak to Heaven. Heaven is weak against Earth, while Earth is weak against Flame and Frost. If that’s too confusing (or if a visual would be easier to understand), you can also look at this elemental chart. In addition to possible fanservicey portraits, baths give different bonuses depending on which salts you use, such as more HP or more items/money dropped.
You can change difficulty levels at any time except during battles and battle prep screen. If you lose a battle you can retry battles while keeping all experience and crystals earned. I wish you could adjust the difficulty on the battle prep screen when retrying a battle, though the ability to save anywhere mitigates this somewhat. Large enemies are HP sponges, which can make battles a bit long. In addition only large enemies give experience, so unless you’re setting up for a combo focusing on whittling down large enemies is generally more efficient. There’s diminishing returns on experience after a certain point until you go to a map with higher level enemies. I played on normal for most of the game and was able to get through most of the battles without much grinding. However, I ran into a difficulty spike towards end of game with boss that can OHKO my party members (fortunately usually only one, two at most at a time, but still) by inflicting five digits of damage when everyone had a max HP total of four digits. I ended up switching to easy after butting heads with the brick wall that was that aforementioned boss.
In NG+ you carry over all viewed HEART events, two characters’ stats (the character you got an ending with is locked in automatically), five items, and any
achievements earned. While the basic story events and progression remain the same, there’s some different scenes towards the end of the game depending on which girl you’ve bonded closest to. There is also filling out the achievement list for the completionists out there. Getting to those parts you haven’t seen before is expedited somewhat by the fast forward option. There’s also a Streetpass farm wherein things grow and eventually turn into an item you can collect though I never managed to actually Streetpass anyone with this game, alas. Overall, this is more a straight SRPG than a Rune Factory game (there’s no real management aspects), but I still enjoyed my time with the game. I’m kind of sad there’ll likely never be a followup, but I’m glad this was finished and released.
Short Attention Span Summary:
Lord of Magna: Maiden Heaven serves as a good sendoff for Neverland. It does play to some tropes, but going through the plot was still enjoyable. While the battles can get a big long due to big enemies sporting a lot of HP, it can be fun to pull off a combo that sends a lot of small enemies toppling over like bowling pins. The soundtrack is rather nice to listen to, and the presentation is bright and colorful. I enjoyed playing through the game, and it’s too bad a sequel is unlikely.