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Why we need Nemoral 2

  • Cap_H
  • 12/31/2018 08:56 AM

Nemoral is a very polished game. It being created in Game Maker gives it an edge over RM games in terms of smooth movement and slick UI (It's possible to make slick UI in RPG Maker, but it takes way more time). On the other hand the engine is far more difficult to learn and use on a basic level. So, the only thing, which matters is that the game feels and plays well.
One thing I mentioned before even playing the game is that it manages to keep nostalgic esthetic of older makers, while dropping the clunky look. This is mostly due to pixel movement. In modern RM engines, there are scripts for that, but they always feel little fishy. There's just something about camera movement in RM games, which does make free movement look weird, like a less restricted grid. Maybe it's the way different engines process animation?
Anyway, Nemoral gives you a sense of precision, which isn't achievable in RM.

And I find a subtle difference in the way Nemoral in comparison to RM horror games handles light. This might be just because Darken uses a good overlay, but It feels more alive, detailed and fitting than lighting in some of the most sophisticated RM games like To The Moon and It's in its own league, when compared to games the graphic style of resources is reminiscent of. In newer Makers lighting effects often look artificial, too realistic. Older engines can't ever make them look so natural because of their other restrictions.
As for the graphics itself, they're all custom and good looking. They're not bright eye-candy graphics, which would win Darker any major attention, but they look good and work really well within the genre of horror. Muddy graphics are ideal for the genre. Most horror games are dark and bright colours could ruin the atmosphere by stealing our attention.
Nemoral's palette is shifted in red. This manages to keep us on the same page, focused on the game and its very primitive task of killing all the minions.
Mapping on the other hands is wee bland. Maps don't stand out in general and I find the work with details a wee bit arbitrary. I think the mansion doesn't feel like an actual place. It's a generic mansion with few specific rooms. Mapping of individual rooms isn't bad but It could be tighter. Individual rooms could be more specific.

Again, the mansion being little vague isn't necessary all bad in this case. It let's us get lost and only find ourselves after entering one of the more recognizable places such as kitchen and garden.

The third major edge over RM games is action. The game has a benefit of fluid pixel movement and controls adjusted it. Controls are little bit wonky and once you aim your gun, you can't turn around with it. The restriction adds up to friction. This way the combat reminds me of clunky classics of survival horror games on the og Playstation. More so of Resident Evil than Silent Hill (full disclosure, I have played neither). Resident Evil also takes part in a mansion and it relies on a little heavy-handed combat, which makes movement management a crucial part of the game. CGRundertow's video review of Silent Hill 2 explains the difference between the two survival horror defining franchises rather well in this simple sentence:

Resident Evil is more about shooting the bad guys, Silent Hill 2 is more intellectual with the puzzles and mysteries you must solve.

In this regard, Nemoral is 100% more the former.

Yesterday, I was thinking about why I stuck with Nemoral and why I really wanted to finish it. It's certainly an addictive game. I couldn't find the reason why first. The story and characters certainly left me unaffected. I didn't care about my character, about lost children and I certainly didn't care about the other detective. I guess I wanted to know more about mystery at first but that reveals itself rather quickly. There are some nice hints like the mirror, which click together after finding an obvious information (the number of minions). This means at least one narrative techniques works well. The protagonist recording her thoughts on a tape recorder brings up new information in an uniformed form and it helped me to stay within the game, still being thrilled and not taking a break after a cutscene. The only dialogue is at the start of the game, after that we have to manage with these notes only, which are little reminiscent of Silent Hill's poetic descriptions.
MakioKuta summarized strengths of Darken's approach to survivor horrors well in her comment on Kryopolis:
The atmosphere is what really drew me in for this entry. The graphics, sound, and even just the floating text tutorials all came together to make a wonderfully tight package. It's a shame it's so short, I'd have love to have played longer!

The game left me hungry for more. I enjoy the combat and the way it stresses me out. I wanted to explore every corner of the mansion and find all the secrets it hides. I hope Kryopolis will be that one day. Or another Darken's project. I very much enjoy his recent works and the way they work with survival horror and restricted colour palettes.
I also like how they use Darken's past experience with RPG Maker and build upon it to be better games. He's an inspiration for me in that regard.
Nemoral gets four stars, because there's so much left to be desired in terms of originality and narration, but I think it's a game worth your attention, especially if you like the genre.


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Very honored to have a review for this! Yeah I think you definitely nailed the part about how the RM influence and the GameMaker engine has sort of combined to create a both of best worlds situation. It lead to a series of interesting choices throughout development for sure. A long time ago I made an argument as to why you shouldn't make ABSes in RPGMaker, and this subconsciously became a living/breathing argument for that.

I should mention most of the graphics weren't custom but from White Screw Shop however there was a ton of editing done to the colors and charset animations (the monster was original). The preset chipsets saved a lot of time but they ultimately have the issue of not being able to invent anything unique landmark wise. Fun fact, the maps were first made in RM2003 then ported into GM, but I've since been using the built in tileset editor with GM more now.

I plan for my next project to have a better narrative and something more substantial as those seem to be the main complaints throughout both of my games so far. But the formula for the level design and how the enemies play into it seem to be a success.
Wow, I didn't recognize this is White Screw. I got it associated with Lighthearted, slightly sentimental tone. It's interesting to see them being used in a moodier game.
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