Are you riding a gryphon?
I think so, yeah. That's part of the fun of Zodiac: Orcanon Odyssey. Swooping through the sky on your trusty steed. It takes the place of the standard JRPG stomp through dungeons. Fly into an ominous looking smoky circle and you start a fight.
I like fighting
I know, I've met you. The fights are the other big part of Zodiac. They're reasonably standard turn-based affairs - the sort of thing you might see in a Final Fantasy game, but there are a few twists that add an extra layer of tactical nuance.Ooooh, nuance, good word
Thanks. Your attacks appear in a wheel, and they have different attributes. Some do huge damage, but leave you vulnerable for a couple of turns. Others break your enemy's defences, and mean you can do more damage to them with your next attack.
Sounds pretty clever
It's pretty clever, yeah, but it's not without its problems. You need to remember which moves do what, as there's not much indication on their icons about what effects they create. That's multiplied when you get more characters in your party.
Hmmm, yeah that does sound a bit annoying
It's not a game-breaker, and it doesn't detract from some of the other intricacies of the combat. You can find out what strengths and weaknesses your foes possess and act accordingly, and picking which ones to take out first changes the way battles play out. It's pretty cool stuff.
Okay, I'm guessing there's levelling up and all that business too
There is, but it's a pretty streamlined system. You can change roles the deeper you get into the game, and your characters only have a couple of equipment slots - one for a weapon and one for armour. It forces you to think in battle rather than just cramming better equipment onto your characters.
Cool. Anything else I should know?
Well, obviously the game looks and sounds stunning, and it's brilliantly optimised for touchscreen devices as well. Everything is controlled with taps and swipes, and it works really well. This is a genre perfectly suited to mobile.
Okay sounds good, any problems?
There are a few, namely with the slightly obfuscatory way the game reveals its mechanics. The story rolls along at a decent pace, but it's pretty standard stuff all told. And despite the innovations, you can't shake the feeling you're playing another pretty standard JRPG.
A guarded recommendation then?
Yeah. If you're looking for a JRPG to fill your time then there's a lot here to like, but despite the polish and the smattering of new ideas, you'll have seen a lot of what's here numerous times before.