Game Reviews

Inotia 3: Children of Carnia

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Inotia 3: Children of Carnia

Tastes change. Things that were unpleasant as a kid often become enjoyable as an adult. I wouldn't touch broccoli with a ten-foot pole when I was younger, but now it finds its way into dinner every so often.

Games are similar. What passed for entertainment several years ago doesn't always cut it today. Level-grinding role-playing was all the rage more than a decade ago, but the genre has since moved forward.

Inotia 3: Children of Carnia sticks to old conventions rather than getting with the times, catering to the role-playing tastes of last decade with its uninspired storytelling, missions that play out like chores, and slapdash iPad support.

Role-playing reprisal

You've played this game before - as the unlikely, youthful hero whose destiny involves saving the world from an ancient evil, you traipse the land killing enemies with sword and magic. It's a cliche story with predictable settings, although to be fair Inotia 3 isn't alone in sticking with convention in this regard.

In spite of this, there's charm in the colourful graphics and cheery music. The adorable sprite characters, simple soundtrack, and pleasantly typical environments are sure invoke a sense of nostalgia. It doesn't hurt that the quest is a lengthy one, so you can be sure you're getting good value.

More disappointing are the wafer-thin characters and poorly written dialogue. It's easy to swallow a familiar story, yet the one-dimensional characters make it difficult to care at all about what happens outside of combat. Main hero Lucio, for example, is so narrowly focused on his crush on party member Ameli that the game feels more like an episode of Glee than a quest to save the world.

Part of the problem is the dialogue, which not only is stiff and unnatural, but also riddled with mistakes. Characters speak too formally, which often gives their interactions an unnatural quality. Worse still, there are plenty of errors in the text from misspellings to awkward word choices.

Chores list

While it's possible to put up with a less-than-perfect translation, warming up to the gameplay is another matter. Instead of abandoning tedious item fetch quests which dominated the previous two instalments, Inotia 3 continues to embrace them. In fact, your very first mission is to kill a bunch of enemies in order to collect the items they drop.

This sort of rote design does nothing to energise the experience: wandering a forest hunting bears that randomly drop bear tongues isn't fun. Some story-critical missions double-down on item quests asking you to seek out several different items - as if searching for five copies of three different items is somehow more enjoyable.

Options for equipping your characters - you're able to manage up to three in your party at any given time - and developing their abilities via a simple skill tree are decent, although without compelling missions to keep you playing there's little reason to invest much time tinkering with your party.

One size doesn't fit all

Joining the aforementioned shortcomings are numerous minor annoyances. There's the mediocre virtual D-pad, which should be replaced by a contextual analogue stick. The menus are often slow to respond, particularly the skill menu.

On iPad, these issues are proportionally worse. As a result of enlarging the iPhone and iPod touch version without any optimisation, the graphics are horribly pixelated and the interface is completely wrong. The D-pad, for instance, covers an obscene amount of the screen because Com2uS up-scaled the game without any consideration for the result.

Inotia 3 generally feels halfhearted, as though it's going through the motions and not paying careful attention to detail. It appeals to old tastes, but won't satisfy the craving for something more polished and progressive.

Inotia 3: Children of Carnia

Inotia 3: Children of Carnia is competent and unexciting, a by-the-numbers level-grinding game that lacks the polish and energy of its betters
Tracy Erickson
Tracy Erickson
Manning our editorial outpost in America, Tracy comes with years of expertise at mashing a keyboard. When he's not out painting the town red, he jets across the home of the brave, covering press events under the Pocket Gamer banner.