When you venture into battle you want companions at your side whom you can trust, but for the protagonist of Covenant of Solitude, that isn't always an option.

Fort - for that is his name - has the blood of the genies coursing through his veins, and that means he can communicate with bloodthirsty monsters, many of which are just as intimidating as the foes he has to fight.

During the game's opening scenes, this talent lands Fort in hot water, as he unwittingly summons several monsters to deal with the encroaching forces of an evil Empire - and gets one of his dearest friends killed in the process.

Thus begins an epic quest of retribution and revenge, with Fort forming contracts with a menagerie of beasts in order to achieve his goal.

Role up

Covenant of Solitude is yet another Japanese RPG to add to the ranks already swelled to bursting point by publisher Kemco. It has all the usual hallmarks, such as turn-based combat, 2D visuals, anime-style characters, and a massive, sprawling adventure which encompasses a vibrant fantasy world.

Fort and his companions move from location to location, speaking to other characters, purchasing items, and increasing their prowess by gaining experience in battle. Combat occurs at random during exploration sequences, and in battle you can select from a host of options, including attacks, magic or using restorative items.

Another unfortunate hallmark that Covenant of Solitude shares with many other JRPGs is its rather clumsy English translation. Although the vast majority of the dialogue in the game is perfectly understandable, there are a few awkward lines thrown in which impact the drama in quite a negative fashion.

Monster mash

Even so, this isn't enough to prevent the game from providing many hours of entertainment. It's arguably one of the best-looking games we've seen from Kemco so far, and is also blessed with a decent soundtrack.

Ultimately, it all depends how much you love games of this type - Covenant of Solitude owes a massive debt to the 16-bit RPGs of yesteryear, and has clearly been crafted to evoke pangs of nostalgia from veteran players. However, for once, such misty-eyed emotion is well-placed.

This is well worth a look if you're an Android-owning Final Fantasy fan looking for a fresh challenge.