Lord of Magna: Maiden Heaven places players in the boots of a young man who has inherited his family’s inn. After making a solemn vow to his father to maintain the inn and treat customers like family, our hero finds himself down on his luck and facing a grim, uncertain future. One day, while searching a cave for precious crystals – his world’s currency – he has a brush with death in the form of a pack of bloodthirsty monsters. Luckily, he is saved in the nick of time by a mysterious girl named Charlotte, encased in a giant crystal. After the encounter, they become friends and she joins him at the inn, quickly rising from accidental guest to fellow innkeeper. We also learn that, long ago, the ties between humans and gods were severed in this world, lending players some tantalizing clues about the exact identity of the mysterious Charlotte.
Inns and outs
From here, the game plays out like an RPG, with mixtures of simulation and turn-based strategy. Players run the inn and do battle whilst forming relationships and, as the game progresses, meeting up with Charlotte’s kin. Through engaging in dialogue and playing out cut-scenes (which, thankfully, can be skipped if you find yourself having to endure them repeatedly), you’ll form special bonds with different characters; this allows for a lot of replayability, for a single playthrough, will not allow players to form equal bonds with Charlotte and each of her siblings. Your relationships with the characters will determine the story’s outcome, as well as your skills in battle.
Speaking of battle, that is doubtless the focus of here, but disappointingly, the game doesn’t cater much to exploration; most of the action takes places in predefined locations or within the inn itself. There are tantalizing hints of a rich world to explore just beyond the confines of the screen, but it’s never realized to its full potential. It’s a particular pity when the game succeeds so well in getting players interested in the characters and the world they inhabit.
My sister’s keeper
Fortunately, the actual meat of the game is wonderfully satisfying. The combat is turn-based and played from a top-down perspective, though it lacks the grid-style gameplay from other more famous brethren such as the XCOM franchise. Instead, the game takes hints from Valkyria Chronicles and allows players to invoke their characters into a radius of attack and effectively topple their enemies like dominoes. It’s pretty amusing and over-the-top, and serves as a right lark of a contrast to the otherwise calmer, more introspective tone of the rest of the game.
Graphically and stylistically, the entire affair ropes in all the appropriate Japanese tropes and features a cute, colourful chibi-style during actual gameplay, though this is oddly juxtaposed to a more realistic representation of the characters and environments in the cut-scenes. Still, it’s very cute and will definitely illicit a giggle or two, especially with the assorted subtexts and double entendres. Unfortunately, the voice acting is extremely minimal and only appears during interjections, exclamations and battles; it’s not essential but it seems like a bit of a tease not to have the character’s voices fleshed out fully.
Lord of Magna: Maiden Heaven is hardly a classic, but it’s still a charming distraction with some interesting, well fleshed-out characters and scenarios. While it feels a bit shallow in places, you’ll find yourself being immersed in the lives of the protagonists, which gives the game a wonderfully human touch without being a self-absorbed soap opera that takes itself too seriously. Want some light-hearted, feel-good fun? Then get this.