Come to think of it, Terminator-style robot apocalypses are a fairly rare thing in JRPGs. Teenage do-gooders Effat and Harty are apparently out to keep that a truism, running off to thwart a gaggle of mean machines lest their world fall victim to the Eve of the Genesis (Out Now, $2.99 Sale). It’s too bad their motive amounts to little more than youthful curiosity and bravado, and the rest of the cast doesn’t fare much better; lacking dynamic personalities like some of those found in last month’s Alphadia, Kemco’s latest falls behind in the story department for its simplicity. However, one can’t deny how cleanly Eve’s script came across the translation barrier. When we finally get to a standout drama in Kemco’s RPG lineup, I tell you, this company will be a force to be reckoned with in the iOS RPG library — their translation team’s attention to detail is impeccable.

Like its plot, Eve’s gameplay will fall flat in the minds of RPG fans looking for something innovative. You know the drill already: lots of dungeon plundering and equipment to sift through; random battles; turn-based combat with your usual assortment of one-off regular attacks, special skills and items. Like Alphadia before it, Eve tempts the player to rely on an auto-battling function to make those first few hours of leveling bearable.

If you’re willing to sink a few thoroughly average hours in to begin with, Eve does start giving back, however! This is thanks to a well-implemented skill system that gives the player real incentive to explore. The four heroes may gain stat increases upon leveling up, but their repertoire of special moves is entirely up to the player, who purchases skills from shops and expends precious gems upgrading them. Taking that detour through an optional dungeon or probing walls for hidden passages is entirely worth the extra upgrade gems the effort will turn up. Skills can be transformed in really interesting ways: I was thoroughly impressed when I managed to duplicate a high level Ice spell, flip its element to Fire so I wouldn’t have to upgrade a Fire spell from scratch, and then upgrade it to an even more devastating spell, all in the same menu screen. While the player characters fall into relatively clear-cut classes – swordsman, gunner, mage, lancer – there is considerable overlap in the skills and spells each may equip.

Diehard genre fans will also appreciate all the little optimizations the developers pumped into this one. While Eve asks the player to save manually, a backup auto-save system records his or her progress regularly; Effat and Harty are even courteous enough to prompt a save before bosses appear! The character management menu has safeguards to prevent the player from wasting healing items, while a handy auto-equip function instantly slaps the latest and greatest gear on the heroes. Eve lets the player explore at normal speed or make the game pick up the pace, so he or she can zip through towns and dungeons at a nice clip.

Eve presents the player with an area minimap a few hours in, so don’t sweat the fact that it’s missing at first — now, if it would only work in dungeons and not only in open areas! Dungeon minimaps would sure come in handy for backtracking and picking up missed treasure chests once the player has found some needed key later on. Eve’s virtual D-pad could also use some touch area expansion in updates. It is oh, so small, and the slivers of screen area devoted to each directional key will have the player missing the D-pad from time to time.

Eve’s field and dungeon sprites are almost as tiny as Symphony of Eternity’s but far more crisp and Retina-worthy. Overworld environments have a definite tiled feel to them; battle backgrounds, by contrast, are often beautiful to behold. Character animations in battle are unfortunately limited, and the soundtrack does its job without standing out. There’s little question that Eve will occupy the amount of time its premium price tag would demand at least!

iFanzine Verdict: Eve of the Genesis falls short of Kemco’s previous JRPG offerings in lacking a truly compelling story or a gameplay mechanic that reaches out and grabs the player from the beginning. However, if you’re a diehard genre fan and you stick with it a few hours, you won’t be disappointed by a neat skill system that becomes the game’s main draw once the adventure kicks into full gear. Retro JRPG fans who don’t need a brilliant story are definitely advised to check into this one while it’s on sale.