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This Was Made in a Month. Let That Sink In. (Pun Very Much Intended)

  • Frogge
  • 02/10/2019 11:08 PM
  • 327 views

Abyssal Shine: Nevermelt by Fomar0153 and Indra
Length: ~5 hours



Hey! In the background! That's me! Hello! There's two of me on screen right now!


We're all familiar with the IGMC at this point. It's that one contest where everybody joins in and does their hardest to release the absolute best they can, only to lose to the anime art game. Abyssal Shine for the IGMC, so of course, one would expect it to be a somewhat unpolished, short product. I mean, IGMC games are meant to be an hour at most, right? Boy, you're really fucking wrong. You see, after some talking with the man himself, Fomar, he's told me that they made another one of their projects, Sunken Spire for the IGMC as well. That game is 10 hours long. They made a 10 hour game in a month. And I'm still struggling to release my 10 minute long game after years. Anyway, enough about me being an absolute failure, let's look at some accomplishments! Of other people! Abyssal Shine is extremely well made for the timespan it was made in, and while it's not the perfect game, it comes close. I mean, nothing's perfect, as they as.

I played Abyssal Shine because I was looking for precisely the sort of setting it has. A game that looks like it's some good fun in the sun, a tropical setting, lighthearted, and I was actually stuck trying to decide between this game and Paradise Blue. Guess which one I went for in the end? Anyway, Abyssal Shine takes place in an archipelago of sorts, but the majority of the second half actually takes place underground. It's kind of unfortunate because I was really enjoying the first half's vibrant beach setting a whole lot more, but I suppose some variety in the areas is pretty much necessary to keep the player hooked. Besides, every area looks absolutely gorgeous regardless.

Oh yeah, did I mention? I hate how most MV games look, and even if I can find a couple that look decent, I can hardly ever find MV games that look absolutely gorgeous. Abyssal Shine looks absolutely gorgeous. I suppose that's to be expected of Indra, who I believe did most of the maps present, and did a really fucking good job at it. I never walked into a single room thinking "eww this looks ugly," but rather found myself constantly going "holy shit this area looks so good." The art is also adorable as balls. I think Makio usually does the art for Indra and Fomar's games, but I don't see their name on the game page, so I will assume the art was actually done by Indra herself this time around? Regardless of the artist, though, I'm absolutely in love with this style (and proud that Muffle compared it to mine on discord). All the different emotions really add a lot to the game, and it's accompanied by some really good cinematics too.

Most of Abyssal Shine's cutscenes are very well done, surprisingly so for a game made in a month (then again, this game is full of surprised for a game made in a month), with character animations feeling very fluid. I especially love the common theme of the blonde haired lady knocking everbody down. I'm calling her blonde haired lady for now because you get to name her and I forgot her default name. Anyway, the visuals aren't just limited to the maps and art either. I actually really like the windowskin that's like half corals and everything, and I also appreciate the font is large and easy to read. The light effects are surprisingly well done, but I think it's just that MV has way better light effect scripts than ace did because I've been noticing that most MV games that use light effect scripts look a gazillion times better than games that used Khas' script for ace.


Hufflepuffs are particularly good finders! .......Okay, that's a lie, I literally had to ask for help with multiple sidequests where I couldn't find something.


But let's rewind a bit, because gorgeous visuals isn't the only thing about Abyssal Shine there is to praise here. Immediately as you launch the game, I'm extremely happy that the game not only offers you a difficulty setting, but better yet, also lets you adjust how many steps on average you can take before battles. Also great that you can change it later on, because while the default step count of 40 worked pretty well for the first few dungeons, it became extremely annoying once you got to the caves, so I just ended up amping it all the way up to 99, which was absolutely better. These areas are very large and get grindy very quickly, not to mention I had to backtrack multiple times, but once I backtracked all the way to the beginning, I found that 99 was a bit too much for early areas where I could walk through the entire map without running into a single enemy. I actually played the game on the normal difficulty and never ended up switching while playing. The game's really not that hard. I actually only died once or twice during my entire playthrough on normal mode. While normal mode is definetly on the easier side (considering I suck at rpg games), I did not find myself getting put to sleep by repetitive easy battles either, so I don't think it was poorly balanced by any means. If you enjoy being challenged, though, I highly suggest going for hard mode instead.

The game starts off with you getting washed off a ship and finding yourself saved by the afromentioned blonde lady, at which point you get to name the both of them. As for what I named them, the main character is Jontron and the blonde lady is Netflix. You get your third party member before the end of the intro, who I named Sasuke (a name which I later found out actually fit him unbelievably well) and a fourth party member about a quarter through the game who I named Tumblr~~. Yes, wigglies included. Anyway, I have to give praise to the characters here for honestly being really well written. They have a lot of chemistry among the group and nearly every exchange they have is great. The game's a lot more lighthearted than it is full on comedic, but there's a good share of humorous moments scattered throughout.

Jontron is a happy go lucky guy who's not the brightest, but gets along with people. He's kind of husbando material because dang he hot. But I shall not be biased by the fact that there's a hot guy in this game and give it a higher score like usual. Mainly because RMN doesn't allow you to give games 6/5. Anyway, then we have Netflix, who's the strong independent woman who need no man, but while that's sort of become a cliche in itself over the years, she's written really well in a way that it's not like she's trying to be a rebel big tiddy goth gf, but more of just a natural badass. She's a shark hunter! Oh yeah, the classes in this game are actually very cool by the way. None of your usual warriors, mages, healers et cetera are present (though I'd have really appreciated some healing skills, but oh well), rather focusing on more unique and original classes. Anyway, before I get sidetracked further, the other character is Tumblr, who you meet in the caves. She's a sassy, posh drama queen, and I figured that joining in so much later than the other characters wouldn't give her much time to shine, but she really does. She abyssal shines, in fact (ha!), and while she's mostly just kind of annoying at first, it doesn't take long before I started to enjoy her contribution to the group. The only thing about her I really hate is how she is in battle. She's... kind of useless, for the most point. It takes like three hits at most to take her out and none of her skills really do that much damage. However, she does have a skill that exposes how much HP enemies have, which can actually become really really handy during bosses. She's not too bad for dealing some additional damage here and there either, even if she's nowhere near as strong as the other three party members. Now you might be wondering why I skipped Sasuke, who joins the part way before Tumblr does. That's because fuck Sasuke.


I think I speak for everyone when I say this. Sasuke, shut the fuck up.


While the characters are excellent, the story's actually a bit more simplistic. It's not a particularly unique or mindblowingly good one, but it's not bad at all either. The premise may not be catchy enough, but the writing sure is. As I already said, the game's generally very lighthearted, but all the lore and worldbuilding feels very rich. I've already mentioned how great all the characters are, and it actually even includes the shopkeeper who I didn't talk about at all. They're a sort of humanoid jellyfish (yes, they, the character is canonically non-binary, something for you LGBT fans out there!) and actually end up saving the main cast's asses a good couple times. There's even a kind of sily twist involving them at the ending. It's not a super big reveal or anything, but it's still pretty clever and actually explains how the shopkeeper seems to be able to show up all over the place.

I only had one complaint about the ending, which is how abrupt the ending sort of was. It's not a bad ending by any means, much better than a lot of others I've seen, and I gotta say my heart lowkey melted when Netflix sent Jontron a gift on the ship, but the issue here is that the climax is surprisingly tame. Not only is the final boss laughably easy, the game sort of sets itself up like that boss was just a fakeout and a real final boss is gonna show up any second. I was fully embracing myself for a twist villian (who I initially suspected would be the red cloaked master dude) but as it turns out, no, the final boss is the final boss and the fight with him really does not have that much impact at all. The moment afterwards also feels a bit too short for its own good with the temple coming crushing down, but the moment is sort of ruined when the characters just immediately stop in place and accept their fate until the ex machina moment. The build up to the climax allowed for so much potential, but in the end, it simply ended up being okay.

Personally, I would go about improving it this way. Of course, it's not my game, and the developers absolutely don't need to have me telling them how to write their stories, but it might at least give an idea on how the climax could be improved. First off, I'd replace the music, it feels way too much like a normal enemy encounter song to fit the final boss mood. I'd make it so that upon defeating the what's-his-name robot, you find out it was protecting the ice macguffin thing from the red cloaked master, and he comes in with his troops thanking you for getting rid of the enemy for him. It's cliche, I know, but it adds more tension than simply having you fight the robodude. Anyway, next up your party goes to oppose not only your master, but your allies who you just discovered knew of his intentions all along. However, the temple is coming crashing down on you with the robodude down, and the master plans to leave you to die while he makes his getaway with the ice macguffin. He takes it and leaves, but of course, the heroes won't go down without a fight, and now they must defeat the master and his troops all the while the entire place crumbles apart under their feet. You first face his troops as you make your way up the stairwell that lead to the final boss' room, and then at the very top, you finally catch the master and stop him in his tracks. The place continues to crumble apart, and the temple soon starts to go downwards and crashes into the abyss below, shrouding everything in darkness. We know the abyss has the effect to corrupt things and make them stronger. You can probably tell where I'm going with this - it's the master who becomes even stronger by the power of the abyss, and now, in the true final fight against him, you get one final heal and save and face him off in the dangerous depths.

Again, this is just how I would go about doing it, and this isn't the exact way it needs to be done, but I think it would add a lot more tension to the final act and make it a lot more memorable.



I think I speak for everyone when I say this. Sasuke, shut the fuck up. You dumb incel.


I've already mentioned this multiple times, but Abyssal Shrine is actually surprisingly well polished for the time constraints it was made in, especially for the cutscenes, mapping and art. The gameplay in general is very well balanced and has a lot of good design choices scattered throughout. The way secrets are hidden with the little pointer arrows is a great system that really rewards you for exploring every nook and cranny, and there's a LOT to find here. I'm amazed that they somehow even had time to do sidequests alongside the main story that gets you an extra epilogue scene. Some of the sidequests can get a bit too back and forth-y, and the turtle one in particular literally made me wanna die, but I guess they're only sidequests after all, so you absolutely don't have to do them. Minor complaint is that the jellyfish dude (dude in a nonbinary way. I call females dude too. I call everyone dude. Suck it up) actually does not start to sell stronger healing items near the end, and most of her wares become pretty useless. This wasn't a huge issue for me since I only ended up needing to restock for the final boss and didn't even end up having to use what I bought, but I can see that this could be incredibly annoying if I was playing in hard mode. My only other issue here is that the game, as well polished as it is, it's also pretty unpolished, if that makes sense.

I came across loads of bugs during the second half of the game. Passability bugs in the caves, for one, but also a pretty major one that repeats a few cutscenes if you backtrack and then come back to the narrow maze area. Luckily, it did not break the game, but I ended up having to watch the cutscene with Netflix getting injured three times in total because I had to backtrack to the caves twice after getting to the ice pyramid. The orb puzzles in the last area are really cool, but when they shatter the ice wall, it almost feels like some animations and sound effects were supposed to go there but it was forgotten about because the thing just goes down silently and disappears. Also, whatever this is!


Oh! Okay!


However, while it had a fair share of issues here and there, I think Abyssal Shine is still an absolutely gorgeous, well written game with decent gameplay filled with good design decisions I wish other rpg maker games would adapt too.
The climax is very disappointing, and that's the only thing that brings it down strongly for me. I can look past the bugs pretty easily, but I really do wish the ending was better. Even so, though, I don't think the flaws particularly stop Abyssal Shine from being an amazing experience. I was looking for a fun tropical game, and while that's not exactly what this game's second half was, I still genuinely loved playing it. Now I know for sure that I have to give Fommy and Indra's other games a go too. Expect a review for almost all of them from me eventually.

I give Abyssal Shine five Sasukes getting choked out of five.


~~Perfection~~

Posts

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Fomar0153
Makerscore is a structural weakness.
11396
I can assure you, animations and sound effects for the ice puzzles were annoying, they were removed.

Really glad you enjoyed the game and thank you for the review. We actually finished a couple days before the deadline and sent the game out to testers. We planned to add to the ending stuff but ended up having to redo the original beach current mazes due to the testers finding those maps lagged badly once the project was encrypted. So we didn’t have time to polish the ending.

Also how did you find the other puzzle dungeons? The current mazes and the colour maze. I guess we had a lot of mazes.

Thanks again for the review, it was a great read.
Frogge
"nothing can beat the power of gay"?
10411
author=Fomar0153
I can assure you, animations and sound effects for the ice puzzles were annoying, they were removed.


I can't tell if I like a complete lack of sound effects better than annoying sound effects for sure, but I'll take your word for it.

author=Fomar0153
Really glad you enjoyed the game and thank you for the review. We actually finished a couple days before the deadline and sent the game out to testers. We planned to add to the ending stuff but ended up having to redo the original beach current mazes due to the testers finding those maps lagged badly once the project was encrypted. So we didn’t have time to polish the ending.


I assumed that was the case and the ending had to be a bit rushed. It's a shame, but eh, it was made in a month, and it's alredy 5 hours long, what are you gonna do about it?

author=Fomar0153
Also how did you find the other puzzle dungeons? The current mazes and the colour maze. I guess we had a lot of mazes.


I liked them, I guess. They were well designed. I'm not a huge puzzle fan so I'm not particularly obsessed with them, but I can appreciate the effort that went into making them. I didn't even consider the currents much of a puzzle, just more of a gimmick. You know, like how each Mario level, especially the newer ones, generally tend to introduce a new mechanic every level and base the level off of that, but they're not really puzzles? Like that.

author=Fomar0153
Thanks again for the review, it was a great read.


You're welcome, and I'm glad it was!
Indra
YOU ARE BEING TOO AGGRO
10221
Tl;DR I had to cut a LOT off the ending. I forget all the details, but basically that's the bad ending, and there was going to be a better one if you finished certain sidequests. Maybe someday *faraway stare*

HOLY SHIT FIVE STARS! Thanks, really. The thing about releasing a game for the IGMC is that unless it BLOWS UP it's really weird about feedback.

We (though maybe it's more me, I'm terrible) suck at scope bloat. Like, in a big way. This time the game wasnt TOO broken, which was the bane of Sunken Spire (the balance had very mixed feedback there). Here, the content suffered because I tried to cram so much in. Some areas really need a lot of streamlining and the plot really needs finishing but that's what you get in a month :T

Thanks for the review, it means a lot to get positive feedback, specially on a game that went durign IGCM "oh it's basically ok nothign special".

(also the art is totally Makio Kuta's. It's just some pre-made face bases fixed and edited, but still her style)
Frogge
"nothing can beat the power of gay"?
10411
Again, kind of sad to hear about the ending, but you guys did what you could. It’s still an amazing game and nothing in paritcular ruins the experience.

As for the IGMC... yeah, as you said on discord, the thing’s basically cursed, but eh, whatchu gonna do about it. I suppose it could boil down to the fact that judges play only the first hour, which while I still thought was great, I can see that if you dropped the game that early you may walk away with the impression that it’s just okay and not amazing.

Thanks for clariftying about Makio. I love their usual art style, but it was also a very nice change to see a more simplistic, somewhat flat and comic-y style in this game. I feel it suit the game perfectly.
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