Have you ever played a game and wondered what it would be like if you actually exist in the game? All the actions, wonders, and abilities you could experience in the game would be from your own two hands. You could explore the endless depths of the world as you please and if you want to match it up to a game, dying is not permanent to player characters. You’re not just existing as being the controller of the main character, but to delve into the world of the game itself and exist as if you belonged. Unfortunately, technology hasn’t advanced far enough to create that alternate universe. However, there is one game that I believe does a good job replicating that with the limitations of MMO gaming.
Mabinogi is a free to play MMORPG developed by the company devCat Studio and published by Nexon. The game was first released back in June 22, 2004 in South Korea and was later released in various countries afterwards. It calls itself “a fantasy life” in the title of the game and compared to many other MMORPGs, it seems to live up to that expectation. In the game, you are a Milletian – a person who came from a different world outside of the main world Erinn. Milletians see the passage of time in the world of Erinn much more differently than those of the inhabitants of Erinn (Tuatha de Danaans). A full day is 36 minutes in our time, and a full year is exactly 1 week. Not only that, when a Milletian is reborn, they can change up their looks and gender at any point.
[Mabinogi Character Customization Screen]
That isn’t all the game offers to make it a “fantasy life”. Unlike many other MMORPGs such as Neverwinter, World of Warcraft, Guild Wars, and more, the game mechanics are rather unique. Many games have you set your character choose a class with specific skills. In Final Fantasy XIV, you can switch between classes rather than being permanently set to one class. You can even transfer certain skills from one class to another the more you level up. Mabinogi, however, does not really have any set classes. You simply learn your skills via books, talking to people, or equipping certain equipment and gather up AP (ability points) to learn the skills. You then train up those skills in order to rank them up further and further. In other words, you can be an excellent melee fighter, a hybrid of melee and magic, or you could just simply train up your life skills – skills that allow you to craft or gather items. The only limits in gathering skills are those that are limited to a specific race (Elves – “Hide” skill, Giants – “Stomp” skill).
[A small portion of skills you can get in Mabinogi]
The highlight of this game besides the game mechanics would have to be the mainstream quests. These are story quests that revolve around your character as the ‘hero’ of the world. Although each player gets these quests, the actual story itself only focuses on the specific Milletian (the player) as the main character. There are no CG movie cutscenes like in other games unfortunately, but it’s not necessarily static scenes either. Instead, there are some times where the game switches over pictures depicting a scene followed by text. Some of these scenes are only viewed by the player and not even the Milletian knows about them. These story quests were released alongside with major patches called Generations and as of the latest quest (Generation 19 or G19 for short), the game takes focus on all that the Milletian has done in all of the past generation quests and throw out all the painful reality back at you. One scene to bring attention to is a quest where you have to aid the guards outside the city of Taillteann against these strange mutated monsters. Normally, the player is more or less invincible and can do considerable amount of damage to any enemy. However, due to a previous encounter of one of the antagonists of that specific generation, the Milletian’s skills and abilities acquired through the story (transformation of Paladin/Dark Knight/Falcon/Savage Beast as well as Goddess Powers) have all been weakened. The once strong, loyal, dependable Milletian the people of Erinn have been relying on this entire time has been reduced to nothing more than a simple human/elf/giant who is just as weak and pathetic as any other human/elf/giant, causing the guards to fall into despair as they could do nothing against these monsters.
[The banner icon for the Generation 3 Season 4 Update]
All in all, it’s not a perfect game nor is it the ultimate game that could replicate an alternate reality. The graphics itself are very dated and could very well use a reboot. The battle system itself had a steep learning curve and you had to depend on timing and paying attention to the enemy to figure out what skill they used. Nexon NA has a nasty reputation of unnecessarily long replies to customer service. Many people focus more on getting rich and using their money to buy in-game items as well as ranking up their skills. To many people, this is nothing more than a game with unique mechanics and gameplay that you don’t see in any other MMORPG. Those who have seen the anime Sword Art Online find a similarity between the anime and this game (they also had cross over events, including an SAO event).
[Two cross over events that happened in NA Mabinogi]
[Top: Hatsune Miku x Mabinogi]
[ Bottom: Sword Art Online x Mabinogi]
For a free to play game, it’s very well made in its time but not managed very well. I’ve heard people saying that the game that’s more like an alternate reality is the game Archeage. However, that game itself is a pay to play game (and rather pricy as well) so I was unable to experience whether or not that could be true. Although it has its pros and cons, Mabinogi definitely lives up to its reputation as a “Fantasy Life” game just like how it advertises itself. To learn more about Mabinogi, visit their website at http://mabinogi.nexon.net/ and check out the fan made Wikipedia page at http://wiki.mabinogiworld.com/view/Wiki_Home .