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Gate of Nightmares Hands-On Preview: A New Fantasy Tale by Hiro Mashima

The first closed beta test of Square Enix’s Gate of Nightmares mobile RPG was held between July 1 to 12. Follow QooApp to have a sneak peek at the game system before it officially comes out!

A Fantasy Tale Woven by Hiro Mashima & Jin Fujisawa

Created by Rave and Fairy Tail manga author Hiro Mashima, the character design of Gate of Nightmares won’t let you down. Though the characters find similarities with those Mashima has created for his previous work,  the well-written story of Jin Fujisawa successfully transforms them into unique adventurers.

The 3D graphics in stories and battles may not be the best among smartphone games, but Square Enix ensures its quality reaches the standard. Not to mention that it can still capture the essence of Mashima’s illustrations.

Gate of Nightmares is set in a fantasy world with swords and magic. The story follows Emma, ​​a Nightwalker who confronts monsters known as the Nightmare, and Azel, a boy whose existence attracts these monsters. While Emma joins Azel to build their own guild, they get caught up in an unexpected incident that endangers the entire kingdom.

The fully-voiced story is written by Dragon Quest IX: Sentinels of the Starry Skies and Dragon Quest X Online scenario writer Jin Fujisawa, so you can expect a massive fantasy story filled with joy and humor. Thanks to the energetic characters who have distinctive personalities, you won’t get bored. Though only two chapters are available in the CBT, it is amusing enough for players to yearn more.

▼3D animation & illustration will be available from time to time in the main story

3D Action Battle System with Great Potentials

Gate of Nightmares may be an RPG, but action elements are also added to the battle system. Players are able to build a team of three and switch characters during battles whenever they want. Like many RPGs, there are three attributes: Heat, Earth, and Sea. Attacking an enemy with an advantageous attribute increases the damage dealt.

The basic operation is simple: move your characters with the virtual pad on the left side of the screen, and tap the attack icon on the right side. You can hold the attack icon for combo attacks and more damage can be dealt with when the combo increases. A dodge icon is also available to avoid the enemies’ attack.

Weapons and actions differ depending on the characters, so you can fight freely with your favorite play style. Accumulate the gauge with combo attacks and activate the powerful ultimate skills with 3D cutscenes.

One key feature of the system is to equip Nightmare with your characters. Nightmares can either fight with you on the field or unleash special attacks/ buffs. You can summon Nightmares or activate their skills (such as generating a shock wave and create buffs) when you tap their icon. There are 4 types of nightmares; Attacker, Healer, Supporter, and Tank. Combining the skills of the characters, a wide range of strategies can be utilized.

▼ Some of the Nightmare will fight with you on the battlefield, while some bring buffs

Switching characters during battles can activate the switch skills and deal damage to your enemies. As the Switch Skills bring special effects such as lowering the enemies’ status, the timing of switching characters becomes crucial.

Also when you attack an enemy or switch Nightwalkers, you can accumulate the gauge of “Remrias Link” (レムリアスリンク). Activate the “Remrias Link” largely reduces the cool time for switching characters, and you can activate the skills of all Nightmares.

Fighting Boss is fun

At early stages, you can go through the battles smoothly with the auto-play function, but when it came to fighting strong enemies, you couldn’t win unless you used the character and nightmare skills properly. Challenge comes first when the first boss appears in chapter 2 of the main story. Known as one of the five strongest fighters in the kingdom, Sion is a swift enemy with fierce fire attacks. It’s rather important to read his attack patterns, dodge attacks, and find the right timing to unleash skills, or you won’t be able to defeat him within time.

Challenging a boss is fun when you really have to move around the map to dodge attacks and find his weakness. But the malfunction of the auto-aiming system makes it hard to hit your enemies. There are moments when I unleash the characters’ Ultimate Skills but it attacks in a totally different direction. It is also hard to track enemies’ attacks from behind when changing camera angle is not an option.

▼Apart from the main and daily quests, there is also an Arena for you to challenge other players.

Merge Nightmare for New Species

Collecting and merging Nightmares are probably the most attractive features of this game. Players will be able to merge two Nightmares and create a brand new Nightmare. Since there is a variety of merging recipes available in the game, you can try different combinations to create a powerful nightmare that goes well with the character.

There are 7 grades of Nightmares. Grade 1 and 2 can be obtained in Quests, but not the Nightmares with higher grades. Combining grade 1 and 2 Nightmares can make grade 3, and combining grade 3 Nightmares make grade 4, and so on. Though it takes time to create powerful monsters, hardship is an irresistible element for training enthusiasts.

The game has a Hashtag Skill system for both characters and nightmares. This is something like passive skills that only activate if you equip Nightmares to Nightwalkers that have the same hashtags. Increasing the rank of the Nightwalkers can unlock more hashtags. Combining the same Nightmares can also increase their rank and unlock more hashtags.

In terms of training, you can level up your Nightwalkers by gaining experience points in battles. Materials are needed to unlock the rank cap of the characters. You can also equip more Nightmares to Nightwalkers with a higher rank. Since the Hashtag Skill can be inherited from one nightmare to another, you can create an exclusive companion for the Nightwalker.

Obtaining an SSR character is not difficult when it can be obtained from Gacha, Scout and Shop. Scout and Shop allow players to exchange the desired characters with materials collected from daily quests. But time and effort are needed to get the character’s soul (repeat characters) for awakening. All in all, it is still a more favorable system compared to other gacha games.

Final Thoughts

To be honest, I didn’t have much expectation before I played. But Gate of Nightmare shows potential with an action battle system that is differentiated from smartphone games that rely heavily on autoplay. Merging monsters (Nightmare) is not something new but it certainly brings depth to the nurturing system. Collaborating with Hiro Mashima successfully draws attention to this game. But whether you are a fan of Mashima or not, the game itself is fun.

As I’ve mentioned before, the auto-aiming system of this game is a mess and I really hope they adjust it before its official launch. It seems that the game doesn’t offer much content apart from the main quest and Arena (PvP), but who knows maybe there are events to get rare Nightmares in the future.

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(C) Hiro Mashima (C) KODANSHA
(C) SQUARE ENIX CO., LTD. All Rights Reserved.
(C) Hiro Mashima (C) KODANSHA
(C) SQUARE ENIX CO., LTD. All Rights Reserved.

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