Ah, Iris Online. Once again, another MMORPG where a leading king screwed up really bad, and leaves you to clean up the mess. The three playable races in Iris Online band together to fight against this evil, and you've just been recruited to fight for the good cause!
Iris Online is created by Eyasoft, the company that brought Luna Plus, Legend of Edda, and the upcoming beat-em-up, Project D'Light. Iris Online maintains the cutesy anime-style graphics from Luna, and throwing in a unique tarot card system.
Iris has three playable races - Elves (Magic/Ranged), Hybrids (DPS), and Humans (Balanced). Each race is locked to two different job trees (ie. Elves to Rangers and Sages), so you're pretty much locked on a particular race if you want to play a certain role in your party. Combat in Iris online is standard fare - WASD to move/point-and-click, tab to target an enemy, and use your skills to defeat them. I strongly recommend new players to go through the beginning tutorial - it will give you a good feel of the system and basics needed to get you most of the beginning maps of the game!
In addition to your normal class, you can take on the role of a Card Master, Alchemist or Chef! Each of these jobs produces their own sets of items, and has their own advantages and disadvantages. I picked up Alchemy for my character, and the NPC helpfully provided me a starter scroll and ingredients for making HP pots. You learn new recipes by picking up scrolls from random monster drops (Chef drops are plentiful - I've yet to receive any Alchemist scrolls), or by simply purchasing them from the NPC using "Coins" - a secondary currency in the game.
-Tarot Cards and Transformation Cards-
The game also presents its signature "Tarot Card" system. As you progress through the monsters, they sometimes drop Major Arcana cards (hi Persona fans) that you add to your Collection Book. Of course, if you have the cash, you can simply buy the major Arcana cards (and Spread cards) from the Card NPC. Fill up your book with all 22 cards, and you can start "divining" your own fate. Depending on the Spread card you used during divination, the buff (and visual bling) you gain at the end changes.
The game also grants you titles via quests and game progress - these are not only cosmetic, they also add various stats to your character! For example, the Terminus Guard title I have here adds 10 to all my stats!
Here's where it gets interesting - this game also has a monster transformation card system. Throughout the game, monsters may drop special transformation cards that allow you to take on the form and skills of said monster. Some skills prove incredibly useful in certain situations - and another plus of transforming into a monster is that you can simply waltz past aggro enemies OF THE SAME TYPE and they won't bother you one bit. Downside is, you won't be able to use your own innate skills while transformed.
Worried about running out of quests in Iris? Not to worry - Iris online has a TON of quests. There are so many quests, it is almost impossible to run out of them (Kotarou approves). The balance between gaining levels and questing is almost perfect - you'll find yourself leveling frequently the more you take on quests, and more quests unlock as you gain levels. Of course, this slows down slightly as the grind increases at higher levels.
Iris Online is definitely a good game - reinforced by communicative staff. Itís always great to see the GMs take initiative in talking to the players, and that earns it yet another star. My only complaint about the game is the fairly steep prices in the Cash Shop (2k gPotatoes for a costume!), and the fairly annoying gold spammers in town. Verdict: If you like anime-style games, you can't go wrong with Iris. Just remember to bring a few friends, because Instance dungeons are not forgiving to "Play Alone" style gamers!