After much deliberation, during my vacation I finally decided to purchase a game that I’d had on my Steam wishlist for a while. Loren The Amazon Princess. An Indie RPG, it promised a deep & immersive, old-school experience for gamers who were tired of watered down RPGs. As I found both the idea behind the game’s plot & the promises intriguing, I decided to check it out.
As the title suggests, our main hero is Loren, an Amazon princess who rushes off on a quest to find her mother, the Queen, who has disappeared. What starts as a simple quest quickly becomes something bigger as Loren gets dragged into a war between elves & humans, stumbles across a blade that proclaims her as the gods’ chosen hero, & learns of a plot by an ancient demon. However, you aren’t Loren. You’re her servant. A slave. Either as Saren (a human male) or Elenor (an elf female), you follow Loren on her quest, protecting her from evil plots & her own naivety about the outside world. And maybe even make your own path in the world.
Loren has been described as a mix of visual novel & RPG, which I think is an accurate way to describe the gameplay. On the one hand, there are a lot role-playing opportunities. In addition to selecting a basic character build, you get to choose your background & class. There are also opportunities to pick responses that shape your character’s personality & influence romance options. The combat is tactical turn-based. The battlefield takes place on a 2×3 grid, where you can have up to six allies. The front row is for melee fighters who deal the heaviest direct damage while also protecting the back row, where archers & mages work best by attacking at a distance. Certain attacks can also incur status (like Weakened, Fear, Frozen) that can be taken advantage of.
If you’re unfamiliar with this form of combat, I recommend checking out the Armor Game “Monster Den,” which uses the same system. It’s free, & you can see if this style works for you.
Narrative: It’s been a long time since I’ve found any story, let alone a game story, as compelling as this. Originally, I was just going to test out the game for a bit, & six hours later I had to stop because I was getting a headache. I really like the idea of you not actually playing as the “chosen one,” but being a hero in your own right. It’s interesting to see the progression of relationships in the game. You start as just a slave (a valued slave, but a slave nonetheless) & your interactions with Loren in the beginning reinforce that. But things change throughout the story. The same is true for your interactions with the other characters. Everything progresses nicely. I also liked that the game doesn’t begin with you trying to fight a demon, but rather builds up to it in a very natural way. The other characters are predictable but intriguing in their own way, & offer a nice variety of personalities. And even though the story is told primarily through dialogue boxes, it’s very well-written. There was one point in particular near the end where I was glued to my screen, imagining the scene unfold before me. I also thought the game did a good job of offering the player choices. The story unfolds differently based on your decisions. For example, in Act 1 there’s an option to distract the guards & escape to elven territory or try to escape from jail. Whichever you picks alters the story greatly. You also have a wide variety of romance options to suit everyone’s tastes. That was another impressive aspect, that as your “Affection” with a character grows, you unlock extra scenes that show the growing relationship. Overall, it’s a great story that has good pacing, good characters & good writing. Score: 5
Mechanics: Although the combat is slow, which is typical of turn-based games, I thought the added strategy of the grid system made it a bit more interesting. You have to examine enemies’ weakness & use your allies skills accordingly. This also makes it important to balance your party. There were several portions where your party gets split up, so it’s important to vary your strategies & not leave one party member weaker than the others. But really, other than the combat & narrative aspects, there isn’t much else to do in the game. It’s very story-focused, which it claims to be. You can travel to different areas as you please, but aside from advancing the story or gaining fame in a town (which lowers to cost of items), there isn’t anything to do. Eventually the game offers character quests if you’ve talked to your party enough, but those still follow the same formula. Score: 3
Aesthetics: Unfortunately, the music was mostly forgettable. It wasn’t bad, but there were only a few pieces that really stuck out. The combat music is the worst offender, with I think only two looping tracks. The graphics are that of a visual novel, meaning most “cutscenes” involve reading dialogue boxes with the relevant character standing in their given pose with changing expressions to match the scene. That being said, the visuals are quite nice. But there are some scenes that have their own images, I just wish there were more for the major scenes. However, I feel I have to emphasize the importance of the narrative & the player’s imagination. Because there was one scene, where the romance was reaching its end, that even though all I had was some text & an image of a moonlit forest, I could “see” the scene as plain as day. Also, I didn’t know this until I was doing some research, but apparently the Steam version is a censored version. There’s a workaround if you buy from Steam, but the developer’s site has the uncensored version. However, the developer has assured that no scenes were removed from the game. The only difference between the versions is a bit more fan-service all around (i.e. more cleavage & bare chests on both genders). Score: 4
Replay Value: High. Between class choices, romance choices, story choices & dialogue choices, Loren has a high replay value. It doesn’t hurt that beating the game for the first time unlocks a Cheat mode that lets you breeze through the combat to experience the story. Score: 5
Overall Score: 4
Final Word: If you’re looking for an RPG that’s story & character driven, & you don’t mind reading, Loren the Amazon Princess is a great game. The visual novel style & slow combat might not appeal to everyone, however.
Title: Loren the Amazon Princess
Console: PC, iOS & Android
Developer: Winter Wolves
Publisher: Winter Wolves
Release Date: April 30, 2012