The first thing I’d like to touch upon is the engaging gameplay. Think Guitar Hero, but more complex; directional arrows will fall from the screen and you must match them at the bottom, to the beat of the song. But where it becomes more complicated is that there’s “three screens” – one for offense (casting spells, which lowers your opponents health, heals you, etc.), one for mana (which is the resources for spells), and defense (in which you counter your opponent’s attacks; if you match the arrows, you don’t take damage, but if you don’t, you take damage equal to what the arrow is worth). This leads to a very fun experience, because you must decide on the fly if you want to cast X spell at that time, while managing mana and seeing if you want to finish that spell, or negate the damage incoming to you, etc. The spell must be finished completely, without mistake, to be cast; if you mess up one note, it doesn’t do anything, so the more rewarding the spell, the more difficult to pull off. I am not ashamed to admit that I had to shelf my “best” healing spell for a moderate heal because I could never pull it off. The game is at its best when you’re on equal terms with your opponent, having to juggle mana, spells, and defense. Unfortunately, the difficulty isn’t always there, and I’ve been able to literally completely ignore defense and just go for mana and spells. This is okay when the enemy is essentially a “gear check”, so to speak, but it happened more than I’d like. The game has seven floors (perhaps more, I’m currently on floor six of a stated seven), and each floor has a “special power” (that is designed to hinder you) for each fight: for the sixth floor, for example, you can’t see the screens you’re not currently selecting. Another power is that you’re unable to switch screens until the timer is expired, so you better make sure you’re on the defensive screen, or you’re going to be taking a lot of damage.
I would like to note that I was very surprised at how well the (controller, never tested the keyboard) controls worked; I was swapping screens and hitting notes effortlessly, and I can count the amount of times I was disoriented / confused on my hand.
Being a rhythm game, the music is important, and Sequence delivers. I’d like to note that I enjoy it so much I’ll be throwing the tracks on my iPod for repeated listening. Said tracks are varied so it’s not just the same type of music, although I do wish there was more variety when you’re grinding; hearing the same song all the time on the same enemy did kind of get on my nerves. But, still, they’re good songs, so I don’t mind much. For each song, the tempo dictates how the notes are going to hit you: if it’s a slow song, there’ll be fewer notes, but they’ll count for more, while the opposite is true for frantic music.
While the story does exist, it’s not very engaging. I am – as I’m sure a lot of others are – tired of the main character waking up and not knowing what’s going on / amnesia / what-have-you. The dialog between the main character and your ally is often amusing (they’ve had discussions which includes ♥♥♥♥♥, “…like a Disney without hidden sexual innuendo, they were missing something”, etc.) that I’ve forgiven the absence of the story. And, without spoilers, the dialog made me care for the plot development about two-thirds of the way through the game, so the plot is a lot better than most games in this genre.
My largest complaint is the grinding required to advance in the story. I am at heart an RPG-enthusiast, so I really don’t mind grinding – usually I enjoy it. Sequence, however, doesn’t pull grinding off very well, though. The game employs a crafting element to the game, which is required to use to advance. You can craft items such as permanent health increases, items that disable the hindering “special powers” that each floor uses against you, and, most importantly, key items that allow you to challenge the boss for that specific floor. To get these specific items, you must defeat certain enemies, and upon defeating them, you have a percentage chance to get one of three items that they carry. This wouldn’t be so bad, except you must often get a 25% drop from multiple enemies, and this quickly becomes annoying when they pose no threat to you. Without said grinding, however, the game would be at least half as long, so I don’t mind it too much…but enough to complain about it. ;)
Another small complaint is the difficulty curve. In the beginning, it was about perfect for me and my difficulty setting (I chose the default “normal” difficulty), since I wasn’t fully aware of how to time the notes and how the game worked, etc. Then floors two through five didn’t give me many problems…and then the sixth floor is kicking my ♥♥♥. I feel like they’re trying to prolong the game with unnecessarily high “gear checks” at this point. This would be more forgivable if said difficulty curve was more spread out and not super noticeable after having a very easy time previously.
Overall, I am very impressed with this gem of a game that I paid $1 for (among two other solid games). In fact, I like it so much that I played five straight hours of it one day, and am planning on putting all of the songs on my iPod to listen to later.
While there are some small flaws in my eyes, the positives far outweigh the negatives.
TL:DR = 8.5/10;
Pro = Gameplay is very fun, music is great, fun dialog.
Con = Unnecessarily long, RNG-reliant grinding, spiked difficulty curve.
[I played this game offline; I have eight hours logged as of posting.]