Imaginary Range from Square Enix is a unique playable story that makes a formidable attempt to marriage sequential story telling with casual gameplay. Although short, and easy, the game elements are interjected within the story of a comic at intervals that help propel the story forward. Like all things Square Enix the artwork is eye catching and undoubtedly worth the App Store price tag of free.
Described by Square Enix as a “full-color comic that includes a selection of mini-games inserted within the flow of the plot [in order to immerse] gamers alongside the cast as they proceed through the story”, Imaginary Range is a pleasant push away from conventional app presentation.
“The project was overseen by Motomu Toriyama, director of FINAL FANTASY® XIII, with Souki Tsukishima, author of the novel Emeth: Ningyo-tsukai no Shima, who wrote the story. The art was handled by Toshiyuki Itahana, character designer for the FINAL FANTASY CRYSTAL CHRONICLES® series.”-SquareEnix.
The mini games in this release are simple, easy, but somehow still effective in achieving an overall cohesiveness. As you read your way through the comic you are encouraged to collect special content, similar to the collectable stickers in a game like Little Big Planet. Collecting special content does, of course, open up even more options that become available as you finish and advance. The mini games consist of picture puzzles and missile shooters and are always quick enough so as not pull your from the story’s plot for too long. While the games might be quick they are also very easy, almost insultingly so, and so the entire experience shouldn’t be expected to last you hours upon hours.
The comic itself is interactive and eye catching with an overly complex storyline. Set in France, as it is attacked by an enigmatic menace, the comic features a cast that can freely jump between reality and the world of dreams. The characters are, of course, slightly more sexualized than necessary and seem to embrace all the drama of their situation with the bit of quirky light heartedness that you would expect from any manga you might be reading. In a recent press release Square Enix described the story with the following statement:
“The nation of France remains in a state of complete chaos after a sudden attack by a giant creature known only as Omega. Cid, a technician and psychotherapy specialist, travels into France and works alongside his friend Ciela to put a stop to the menace. What is Omega after? Why are Cid and Ciela talking about the end of the world as they fight? At the end of a battle that transcends dreams and reality, the world will come closer and closer to the truth.”
The English words appear to have been integrated into the app at a higher resolution than the artwork itself, making the thin crisp lines of the speech bubbles a little jolting compared to the soft lines of the artwork. In some instances the Japanese characters that remain part of the original artwork, alongside the French characters that appear in some settings, make for three languages in a single sequence and small details such as that will either add or take away from your experience, depending upon your position on such an eclectic visual mix.
Imaginary Range from Square Enix is FREE in the App Store for iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch users and a recent post at the Square Enix Blog indicates that an Android version will be available very VERY shortly. With a price tag of free you just can’t lose, but don’t expect much more than an interesting mix of sequential art mediums. In a recent review TouchArcade even went as far as to predict “that Squeenix might be releasing this to give us a taste, then either sell additional “issues” either as separate apps or in-app purchase”. Whatever the case, a beefier more challenging experience from Imaginary Range would only further the structure they have started to build with this comic-game hybrid.
Be sure to check back at the Official Imaginary Range Website for details about the android release.