If there's anything I've learned after pouring several days of my life into the latest installment of Com2uS's action-rpg Inotia franchise, it's that no amount of Engrish exposure can truly prepare you for that strange moment when a gorgeous brunette clad in diaphanous silks informs a 'pretty boy' of an anti-hero that he is squirting blood.

This awkwardness informs a lot of the dialogue in Inotia 4: Assassin of Berkel [Free / Free]. While relatively free of the grammatical errors that usually plague such games, Inotia 4 has a rather, uh, unique way with words. Here, you'll find imposing-looking orcs declaring that things are "kinda awkward" and villains that order their lackeys to "allure" helpless souls to a nefarious end. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, mind you. Unless you're totally adverse to the idea of peculiar phrasing, the accidental humor actually offers a light-hearted touch to what otherwise feels like a stereotypical jaunt.

The story in Inotia 4: Assassin of Berkel is one built out of familiar tropes. For example, the protagonist's an effeminate-looking but curmudgeonly chap who also happens to be young, gifted at the art of assassination and a member of the Shadow Tribe. His star-crossed love interest? A young woman who bears more than a passing resemblance to Final Fantasy heroines like Rinoa, Garnet and Yuna. Needless to say, this sort of sets the pattern for the rest of the game. Inotia 4 is a little bit of everything you've ever encountered in an RPG from the Orient. There are warring factions, magic, subterfuge, hidden pasts, and even an arrogant stranger with an overpowered weapon. If you were looking for something new, this isn't the KRPG you're looking for.

While I'm not particularly fond of the virtual d-pad utilized here or its periodic lack of responsiveness, the controls are pretty standard fare. It's the interface that bugs me to no end. On top of many smaller issues, the deluge of buttons, character portraits, health bars and mana bars can make it literally impossible to see where you're going. To be fair, it doesn't happen all that often but when it does happen, you'll take painful notice.

From an audiovisual perspective, Inotia 4 is neither particularly impressive nor completely humdrum. An odd mixture of Retina quality elements and retro-looking graphics, the game feels a little older than its actual release date. As for the audio, I'm somewhat on the fence. On one hand, the music isn't too shabby; it's the kind of stuff you would expect from an RPG. On the other hand, the sound effects left something to be desired for.

So, why play Inotia 4? Why go through strange localization and flighty controls? Why endure the storyline you've probably heard a thousand times before? Why did this get a four star as opposed to a plea for you to run away?

Simple. Because it's actually pretty good.

Like a blind date between mostly compatible people, things can begin on a slightly shaky note. However, once momentum has been built, beautiful things can happen. If you have nothing against grindfests (it IS a Korean RPG, after all) and an obsessive-compulsive need to build the perfect party, Inotia 4 will eventually suck you in and keep you there.

The party system, though far from ground-breaking, is rather commendable. One of the things I liked best about it was the fact that while you can only have two party members (in addition to the protagonist) active at any given time, the game not only allows you to keep a stable of six but also ensures that all of them level up in an appropriate manner as you progress through the game. It's a small feature but a clever one. Unlike many other RPGs, you can actually elect to mix and match your selection of humanoid minions without having to first devote extensive amounts of time to their personal developments.

Speaking of party members, they will consist of mercenaries summoned from item drops and, from time to time, the odd plot-generated NPC. Most of your time, however, will be spent with the former. Your mercenaries may belong to any of the six different classes available in the game. They also come with as many item slots as the protagonist, their own set of skills and statistics appropriate to the quality of the item that conjured them. While you're in command of their equipment, you will need to cough up a few crystals if you want to change the rest.

As you can imagine, some of the appeal in the game lies in how you can tailor the composition of your party. Curious as to how pet-wielding classes will do against a stubborn boss? Bring them out and prepare for a crowded rumble. Fancy seeing how well three tanky priests can hold up against the game's dungeons? Go ahead and test out that theory. Nothing will stop you. The level of micromanagement required is also entirely dependent on you. While you can choose to rely on your A.I settings, you can opt to take control of any of your characters at any given time.

Inotia 4 is also a dream come true for those who just HAVE to have the best gear. By and large, there's no shortage of equipment to collect. Random beasts will sporadically drop legendary headgear. Fusion machines will occasionally offer the chance to engage in repeatable quests, quests that will grant you access to recipes for absurdly powerful items. You will also find goodies from boss battles, treasure chests and their spoils, side quests and shady merchants marketing what may or may not be the next best thing. Inotia 4 makes it easy to be covetous and is shameless about rewarding those willing to grind their way towards glory.

You know what the best part of all this is? Your party's appearance will change with every high-priced trinket you acquire.

By the way, I'm impressed with how Com2uS handled one aspect of their IAP system. In Inotia 4, crystals are used for, well, pretty much everything. Have a weapon you really want to make but lack the ingredients for? Pay for its creation with a handful of crystals. Want to resurrect your party instead of restarting from the last saved point? Cough up the crystals. We know you have them in there. While hardly the most unusual approach, Com2uS has made usage of those crystals as enticing as ever. In the grand scheme of things, five crystals is nothing compared to an hour spent scouring the maps for material. You almost find yourself compelled to conform.

In between all of this, crammed between the good and the bad, nestled between the occasional guilty crystal expenditure, that's where the magic happens. Inotia 4 will have you mashing buttons, switching hot keys, pondering talent points and beating on artillery turtles without so much as a second thought. It will have you gathering ingredients for a powerful new weapon even as you effortlessly transform your glass cannon of a priest into a shield-wielding bastion of power. It will keep you trucking towards the next level, determined to see how your new weapon will do against the latest dungeon or how well your latest collection of party members will hold up. Inotia 4 isn't the most original title out there but it certainly knows which buttons to press.

TouchArcade Rating

StarStarStarStarNone
  • http://twitter.com/Inaba_kun Inaba-kun

    I know this is free, but blocky visuals, crude 4-way movement, and a low frame rate turned me off this in seconds.

    If the SNES could run RPGs at it's native resolution and at 60fps, then I'm sure an iPad 3 can manage the same.

  • Demonskunk

    My biggest problem is that the game is trying to be serious, but looks like a cartoon. The main character sounds like a little girl, and the sound effects are too cartoonish. This level of seriousness would've worked a lot better with inotia 2's style.

    Also the game looks blurry on my iPod 4. They couldn't bother to run the game at a sharp resolution, instead opting to awkwardly blur the sprites, like the original zenonias.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1134582760 Nicole Hunter

      Meh, I think that's a matter of taste.  I'm a fan of the Jrpg genera and all the time there are really cutesy kind of visuals paired with a serious plot of some kind and it doesn't bug me as much.  

  • Basxe

    Inotia 3 was better... But still, Zenonia wtf :p

    • Basxe

      Ftw* xD

  • LeoGe

    I like this game!

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/HNIJFFCMRHTMVKTZRZ2CRRELCU Eugene Hau Han

    The only problem for me is how to defeat that "Dark force of Evil" in the elven Sanctuary...

    • http://www.facebook.com/mohd.najib.165 Mohd Najib

      yes...i also would like to know

      • http://www.facebook.com/michael.espiritu.773 Michael Espiritu

        easy use assain rahul thapar is noob no offense it took me 20 to 30 minutes before i could beat the boss trick is get a assain with continous attack then whist and a flare whist then goto moar front then the circle or cooldown when its 3/4 attack moar then tap whist even if cooldown just life potion for mana i didnt even use health pots easy kill repeat until dark forces of evil is dead

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000988478403 LyrrAd Barredo

      uneed first kill the dark wizard and then go back to Dark Force of Evil. after that u have a quest again and then he have 7 floor . in 1 floor 3room every room have a monster .. okay .. go kill the dark force of evil

    • http://www.facebook.com/rtra.thapar Rahul Thapar

      i spent 2 hours to kill it ...i used my assasin to killt it ..i used continuos slash with poison and b4 the monster attacks i used to run away using invisibility.
      i did this repeatedly for atleast 40 times...
      good luck!

    • Giancarlo Wade

      Depends what class you play. I play a warlock. I jiust ran around spamming smmon bard buff as much as possible and occasionaly spell redemption. I used blood curse to slow the spawns, used my aoes and single target spells to attack spawns and boss, and spammed potions. ONly my archer mercenary died and I didnt ressurect him.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100002449120676 Azri Luqman

    where to find the rest of the LEGENDARY SWORD

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/HNIJFFCMRHTMVKTZRZ2CRRELCU Eugene Hau Han

    Anyone defeated that Dark Force of Evil in Elven Sanctuary??? Please Help!!!

  • https://me.yahoo.com/rekzkarz#a0df5 REkzkaRZ

    Def a great free game, this game is way more fun than I thought it'd be. 
    You can improve your gear, your skills, add party members, etc.  The
    controls are flawed, but work well enough.  My main gripe is the IAP is
    everywhere -- and apparently even if you buy the game it still taunts
    you.  Last point -- the help is non-existant.  It does have a walk-thru
    tutorial, but beyond that -- it's the annoying COM2US forums for you.

    I was looking for how to activate a certain skill & what the bad English meant -- still don't know.

    But basically most skills are defense or attack.  I like the Ranger's pet skill, which gives you a temporary 'pet'.

    Last point -- if you get companions, the really good ones ('legendary')
    will have all the skills, but the others ones can have a bunch.  A
    really good skill 'generic merc skill' is 'more likely to find rare
    merc's, but there's also more likely to drop scrolls, better loot, etc. 
    The general bonuses to attack/defense haven't really helped me much.

    If anyone knows somewhere to find easier to access & absorb notes on this game, post a link here?

    • http://rekzkarz.com/ REkzkaRZ

      I gave up on this game awhile back. Mostly all the grinding missions annoyed the crap out of me.

      The gameplay was ok, but not great. I guess the game is ok for a freemium, glad I didn't put any actual $ into it b/c I would've felt ripped off.

      Last -- wanna grind for hours to find a bag to hold more stuff? Not me... Lots of annoying "pressure to IAP" items like that, but no real "you must IAP to continue" in the game, so I do give them props for that.

      4 star game? That's hard to swallow. I'd say 3.5 stars at the most.

    • http://rekzkarz.com/ REkzkaRZ

      I gave up on this game awhile back. Mostly all the grinding missions annoyed the crap out of me.

      The gameplay was ok, but not great. I guess the game is ok for a freemium, glad I didn't put any actual $ into it b/c I would've felt ripped off.

      Last -- wanna grind for hours to find a bag to hold more stuff? Not me... Lots of annoying "pressure to IAP" items like that, but no real "you must IAP to continue" in the game, so I do give them props for that.

      4 star game? That's hard to swallow. I'd say 3.5 stars at the most.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001495146510 Janette Parra

    How to use armor scrolls?

    • http://www.facebook.com/shoeshi.nguyen Shoe Shi Nguyen

       you hold the scroll and slide it to the armor that you like to increase its level.

  • http://www.facebook.com/shoeshi.nguyen Shoe Shi Nguyen

    To defeat Dark Forces of Evil, you will need: an Assassin that knows Whist...and quite a bit of patience.

    Since the boss is stationary, it wont see you once you whist out and move to bottom of the map.
    Wait till your HP and MP fill up, cast all the buffs you can, move to the boss and just spam skills on him (keep some for whist).
    Once you see your HP goes to 50%, whist out and move back to the bottom again.

    Do it several times and you win.

    you can buy tons of recovery items too to keep your other 2 members alive. They will help you reduce the boss to ~50% HP before you perform dirty tactics on the boss with assassin.

    • Daniel Sebton

      Yes this is the technique that works for every boss in the game

  • http://www.facebook.com/al.dumandan Al Dumandan

    The last boss is easy the problem in the memory stage im stuck inthe 4th floor cause the mobs use alot of magic and theres few equips with magic damge resist

  • http://twitter.com/LightaSnatcha Keith Johnson

    Is there any point buying the plus version? I can't see any difference between the free and paid versions

  • arean4u

    i defeated tindalrose nd the chasers..i did not save the game nd then i died...nw whn i started my game...my main quest is to kill tindalrose bt he is no whr to be found...plz help

  • arean4u

    i defeated tindalrose nd the chasers..i did not save the game nd then i died...nw whn i started my game...my main quest is to kill tindalrose bt he is no whr to be found...plz help

    • http://www.facebook.com/michael.espiritu.773 Michael Espiritu

      then you have to repeat the game that happened to me 2 when i was at noxious sanctum the chapel key i got it but cnat be found

  • myjim

    Tomb of Abyss, ive already defeated the djins but when i came back to Dominique, nothings happen. i need to battle againts Alexander to find a cure for Eara, can't find another way! huhuh help guys :-( 
    akosimyjim@yahoo.com

  • myjim

    this is about the tomb of abyss, ive already defeated the djins but when i came back to dominique, nothings happen.. :-( 
    i need to battle againts Alexander to find a cure for Eara, but i can't find another way :-(

  • Alex Chen

    Anyone know what happens after you beat the tentacle thing in the fifth memory layer? Is that how the game ends?

  • http://profiles.google.com/btyler4606 Brett Tyler

    Max level before you defeat the tentacly evil boss guy is 105. I have dark Knight, Warrior Hero, and Assassin. Going to try but game is force closing when I open it.

    • Alex Chen

      What about after you beat him? I kinda skipped the cutscenes so I'm trying to figure out if kiyan escapes his memory layer and what happens to thr channel. Seems that the story ended a bit abruptly

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000988478403 LyrrAd Barredo

    fvck im stuck on memory quest in 3rd floor =<

  • Xao Thao

    This game is good but i hate how after u beat the evil of darkness the story turns out bad and u have to play this memory part which is freaken long. I never got to see the ending. Any information?

  • Nathan McClelland

    Hey, im a level 14 Warrior and i cant beat the spider queen boss. How do i get more mercenaries to help me and does anyone have any suggestions for what to do?

    • Inotia4 Warrior

      i just find mercenaries from enemies dropping them just go around killing ppl and while i was at it i leveled up to like 20 and my mercenaries too and it was piece of cake hope this helped wasnt much....

  • Olimar Mendoza

    whats next after the 5th memory layer
    ????? plz help..

  • Inotia4 Warrior

    can someone help me plz i went to fight the white head goblin boss but breakfast was getting cold so i turned ipod off and when i came back i restarted from last save and went in to fight him but he wouldnt fight me and the door was open to go to the beacon but cant light the fire because he didnt give me the solar crystal :( plz help!!!!!

Inotia 4 PLUS Reviewed by Cassandra Khaw on . Rating: 4