Following closely in the footsteps of predecessors can always be a double-edged sword. It can result in quality content but also suffer from a lack of uniqueness. Viola: The Heroine’s Melody takes a lot of gameplay aspects from many classic games while adding enough new ideas and charm and that it becomes a welcome and fresh experience.

This game at its core is an RPG and the way to traverse the world is 2D platforming. The RPG mechanics and character growth, equipment, and turn-based battles aren’t as deep as Final Fantasy or Dragon Age, but they still allow for a lot of strategy and important choices. The platforming is actually a little bit better than I expected, the areas to explore are surprisingly large and some simple mechanics make traversal feel just challenging enough to not be boring. Both these parts of the core gameplay aren’t revolutionary or profound, however, they are well crafted, taking inspiration from great games of the past. There are also musical inputs for different moments like The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time that add to the musical theme of the game.

The game mechanic that makes this Viola stand out is that every attack and special ability is performed through a short musical sequence. Basically, the player will have to input things on a small “Guitar Hero like” track in order to have that move succeed. This could become annoying and very tedious, but the variety of different inputs, their length, and randomness keeps things fresh. Most importantly, a character’s attack or special ability will do more damage or healing the better you perform the inputs. It is a straightforward mechanic and makes every battle engaging. I’m sure it’s been done before, but it’s done smartly and makes combat far more active than most turn-based games.

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