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Sacred Reviews: Umbral, Astral Dreamers


I'll admit, I find myself a bit mixed on reviewing "Umbral, Astral Dreamers" for several reasons. For starters, this review can hardly be considered topical considering the 2018 Indie Game Maker Contest has come and passed well over a year ago. So, it feels a bit weird to be drawing attention to a project that's been left to be forgotten by the sands of time at this point. And secondly, I really don't like reviewing demos. After all, a game can radically shift in terms of direction between the demo stage and the completed project. A good example of this is "Malice" a game that went through such a tumultuous development cycle its a miracle it ever saw release.

To make matters worse, a lot of games that reach the demo stage on this site are never finished. One of the better examples of this is "Ellie Starling's Very Long Walk". While a demo was released back in August of 2015 to much acclaim. Even I was excited at the potential of a solid RPG Maker project centered around a magical girl. After all, I grew up with shows like "Sailor Moon" on the Toonami block back in the day. Jeez, even nhubi was looking forward to this game's full release in order to review it. Sadly, "Ellie Starling's Very Long Walk" apparently hit some kind of snag and was never finished.


I'll admit its a bit hard to review the story aspects of a demo. After all, what we get in "Umbral, Astral Dreamers" is largely meant to serve as setup work for Aysel's grand adventure. And as far as laying the ground work goes. I'd say "Umbral, Astral Dreamers" does a solid job in making the player interested in what's going to happen next.


"Umbral, Astral Dreamers" is a puzzle game that relies on effectively using Aysel's ability to stop time in order to solve puzzles and defeat bosses. Of course, you'll also run across a few other types of puzzles over the course of the demo, but a lot of the puzzles are built around Aysel's ability which is a good thing in my opinion. After all, if your going to give your main character a unique gift like that you should definitely incorporate it into the bulk of the puzzles.


On the graphical side of things the game definitely strives for a somewhat unique look with the inclusion of custom character sprites and character portraits. A decision that really helps in giving "Umbral, Astral Dreamers" a unique feel. Especially in comparison to a lot of other RPG Maker games I've played over the years. And it really helps in understanding why this game did so well in the people's vote in the 2018 Indie Game Maker Contest.


While, I won't be granting "Umbral, Astral Dreamers" with a rating because of it's demo status. It's hard to deny that this demo leaves with me a lot of hope for the finished product. Though, I'm not really expecting to see a finished build for this game. After all, it doesn't look like kato-san's actively working on this game anymore.