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Shin Megami Tensei en Línea: IMAGINAR

 Page 3: Or, Why You’ll Keep Coming Back For More…

In traditional Megaten form: IMAGINE hinges largely upon player interaction with his/her nakama[j] (demon familiar) allies without straying far from MMORPG fundamentals. This melding of Megaten and MMORPG does not come without a price - this is not your father’s Megami Tensei. From square one, Megaten vets experiencing IMAGINE for the first time will be surprised to see so many full 3D characters on screen and engaging one another freely, each with a stride and personality of its own. Action is fast paced, almost real-time, often frantic, though not especially reaction time critical - and thankfully forgiving of higher latency internet connections. The player is given more direct control than ever. Gone, the turn-based logic of Megaten infancy - but still the old familiar formulas remain key to mastering the speed chess gang-banging stat-driven hack’n’slash tag-teaming button jamming gameplay IMAGINE delivers.

You’ll have your choice of “WASD” controls or mouse clicking your way about open environments. The right mouse key also controls camera angle, while the wheel the camera’s proximity to the player (all of these functions being also mapped to the keyboard.) But for reasoning unbeknownst to all but Lucifer himself, first-person perspective gameplay is not on the menu (for now — we can at least hope.) Targeting is achieved by clicking (though it is also possible to target yourself and nakama with the keyboard.) And your actions by interface clicking or the mashing of hotkeys, sometimes in sequence (or alternatively with the aid of the spacebar and escape keys.)

Seeking Adventurers for 5-Way Free-4-All

Adventuring is party based, with a team leader recruiting up to four other members (and their nakama) for a wopping total of ten player controlled actors in play - an unheard of number by normal Megaten standards, all sharing precious level giving “Exp” (Experience Points.) It is possible for greater numbers to team up in a common goal when confined to the overworld maps. However dungeons are private affairs. Upon a party member’s entrance, only the present party roster may follow. Exiting a dungeon means forfeiting any hope of return. Generally speaking a disconnected player can still enter, or restart within the dungeon floor that they’d left. However changing characters or channels is considered exiting to the dungeon lobby. Points gained inside tend to come in multiples of that offered by the overworld, even more so within the boss’ chamber. There is however no strict reckoning of value from dungeon to dungeon, or even room to room - especially paltry rewards might indicate the dungeon favors a reward of a different variety. In fact dungeon play itself can become an especially elaborate ritual for the most industrious of players, and fortunately IMAGINE delivers a party listing, much like trading lists, that can facilitate more or less anonymous hookups between players favoring one playing style or another (usually catering to more hardcore players.)

Bring Your Freaky Devils

Loot may be divided according to a few different rules presented to the party leader, points however are divided equally - though only after a deduction per each party mate (usually considered very negligible.) And if that was not enough, some pivotal or otherwise special dungeons and quests reward “Bonus Experience” in large sums to the questing player’s party, mates and nakama alike. So it is always a good gesture to share a bounty with as many eager players as can be! If that were not enough many varieties of “incense” may be used to spur along development while in play - incense however is understandably incompatible with Bonus Experience.

And by the transitive law that Exp should translate into Higher Levels, and so in turn ever more power. Lather-rinse-repeat against ever weightier odds - and you’d think all is well and fine in the RPG universe… Oh the climb to level 20 may come quick! But from here IMAGINE thumbs its nose at your father’s level progression formula. In place of a linear progression, IMAGINE favors something resembling that of an ever elongated fractal staircase. Basically each round of ten levels taken as a set appear linear enough, but altogether the levels you’ll be spending the most time on will include the likes of 7s, 8s, and the much dreaded 9s… with 1s, then 0s, being the most easily surmountable (0s most of all.) In fact completing a 9 is roughly equivalent to completing the previous 0 through 5. Following a 9th level the next few levels will seem a honeymoon. And if the 9s were not enough, further impeding your progress is death itself. Upon defeat a percentage of your level progress, but no more, must be surrendered (save for levels 0 to 9 and by the aid of costly items) before returning to play. And because the toll demanded by 9s is so much, the risk of defeat is also that much more. You have a number of options when returning to play, each differing only by circumstance, and each demanding greater sacrifice for greater convenience. Taken all together, some have dubbed this the “hell level” syndrome, but you have the option of looking at it as a challenge or even a small mercy - after all truly it’s just that the intermediary levels are made easier for you. (probably so we will keep coming back for more!)

Don’t miss page 1 of this extended article . . . .

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© yksehtniycul

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