Hybrid: Eternal Whisper mirrors the performance of an electric hybrid car. While you're able to zip around town on electric power, there's no avoiding the exhaust that puffs out from the back. A convoluted story clouds Hybrid, but its electrifying combat system keeps it running.
With the world of Platina on the brink of destruction, you are called to arms as the young silver-haired boy Grey. A legion of Dark Spirits has returned from antiquity to dismantle the world and Grey is caught up in the desperate struggle to stymie the plan.
In the wait for the fabled Guardian prophesied to dispatch the Dark Spirits, Grey is advised only to try holding off the forces of evil, but he finds himself leading the effort to save Platina.
Grey's epic mission takes him across two parallel worlds that play stage to more than 70 combat scenarios. Side-scrolling battles occur in real-time, instigated from either of the two world maps.
Through the course of the lengthy adventure, Grey acquires half a dozen different magical attacks triggered by hand-drawn gestures. Supporting you is a protective deity named Fairy that can be summoned to block enemy blows or fry them in an impressive lightning storm that fills the screen.
Joining these are Soulblade strikes that chain off of magical attacks, launching opponents into the air for a one-two slash with Grey's sword. On top of that, you have basic sword attacks that come in two flavours - standard and reverse - distinct in the way in which Grey grips the weapon.
There's a lot going on. The intricacies of combat ensure an enormous amount of depth. Rather than feeling as though you're mashing your fingers to the screen without rhyme or reason, you're engaged in a multifarious combat system that is as entertaining as it is varied. No question about it, you won't be bored.
This complexity is unfortunately shared by the game's plot. Hybrid constantly bombards you with new characters, events, and history. Instead of delivering variety, it fatigues you with the task of working out what's actually happening.
Just when you think you've wrapped your head around it, another bizarre layer gets peeled back. An unrevealed enemy conspiring with the Dark Spirits comes forward and has to be defeated, mystical priests randomly appear, spirits relay emotional secrets via whispering, and the unusual laws binding the two parallel worlds together bend not just reality but your mind.
So much information is constantly being fed to you that Hybrid forgets to thoroughly explore its main plotline and characters. So much time is expended on bringing in new characters and events that not enough remains to flesh out the motives of the protagonist and his ever-growing entourage.
Of course, this says a lot about how Hybrid contributes to portable role-playing. To criticise it for such complexity is to praise it for containing depth.
More discrete shortcomings are to be pointed out, though. Gestures used to cast magic occasionally don't register with the game, which leaves you vulnerable to attack. The difficulty varies dramatically. One battle can be completely easily, while the next has to be fought tooth and nail.
The game generally skews toward the harder end of the difficulty spectrum, though it never fully crosses the line of aggravation.
Despite these failings, Hybrid succeeds as a portable role-playing game by virtue of its structure. The complexities of the story surrender the spotlight to the battle system, which suits mobile play well with short 3-4 minute incursions. It ultimately matters little how the plot unfolds because it's all about the combat in this highly creative, deep game.