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There's something strange in the garden...

"Two strangers sat in a garden" is a short crazy game, made by Frogge for the Theme Roulette 2 event, with the word prompt being "Sherbet" and the image prompt being a botanical garden. The final result is a weird mess, and I think it's quite difficult to review it... but I will try.

Story
This is a love story between He and She. He, a man, has a simple quest: his mother asked him to find a wife, so he's looking for a partner! He will soon meet She, but don't be mistaken: this is just the beginning of an epic story, because our two protagonists will be involved in several misadventures on different planets, they will be separated and then brought together over the years, they will face adversities, meet some helpful characters, but they will also face off against their sworn enemy and nemesis... Jeffrey Dahmer. No, really!

Despite the weirdness of the setting (for example space and time make no sense, as we move between planets and dimensions, and decades and centuries pass between the different chapters, making the story similar to an epic tale!), as the author stated, the game is simply a satire on Hollywood' s idea of relationships and romance. You can clearly realize this fact playing the game: the lovers meet and then they break their relationship for futile/dumb reasons, only to return together. They face opponents that are totally evil and have no good qualities at all, but in the end the Power of Love wins and saves the day. Of course!

If the bizarre scenarios and situations would have been changed into a more coherent and normal setting, the plot would still make sense, because in the end this is just a classical love story that it make use of many typical tropes: for example the (apparently) defeated hero learns a life lesson from the useful advice of the spirit a dead relative (of course!), and immediately after his defeat he returns stronger than ever to save his damsel. This is a classic scene already seen one thousand times, but I admit that the dumb situations and weirdness improve the experience making the whole adventure more funny and original.


Ok, this perfectly sums my opinion about this game

Graphics and Music
Frogge used sprites and images from various sources including some Rtp, the final result is that charsets, facesets and maps are... let's call them "bizarre": for example most facesets make no sense, while the ones that are recognizable do not match at all the corresponding charset (Dahmer, for example, has the faceset of a tiger,no matter if his body is human or if he's a ghost). Other examples? He is a bearded man with a loincloth, his mother is represented by a golem, and She is... well a strange being that I cannot define!

The maps are small, and appear to represent some kind of trippy landscapes, some of these complete with moving backgrounds. Navigating these maps can sometimes be confusing, as you have to understand which is the correct action that will advance the story (you can interact with everything, usually with humorous and useless results), but my advice is to interact with everything and everyone, and you will not have problems finishing the game (maps aren't big and the story is totally linear, and there is no risk to be stuck in some parts).

Music is surprisingly good! I liked a lot the choice of melodies and musics for this game! I think they are perfectly fitting the different (weird) moments and (crazy) events. I also appreciate that these songs are not the usual ripped themes from Final Fantasy, already used in one million of other rpgmaker games, and I am happy to listen to something different, while playing something different from the usual games!

Gameplay
The game is a linear story, you just move, open doors, listen to dialogues, and so on. Nothing complex, no inventory or party management, no combat, and no puzzles. To tell the truth there is a sort of simple puzzle you have to solve to progress the game at a certain point, but it's quite easy if you read carefully the dialogues. For the most part the game is a sort of visual novel with many humorous moments and strange situations.

The Verdict
Two Strangers sat in a Garden is just a short and easy story driven adventure, but if you like trippy games, you can probably relax and enjoy this wild story. I did, as I wasn't expecting a serious, complex or long game at all.
What I found a short game (Frogge wrote that the lenght of the game is ten minutes... well no, I played for almost 30~40 minutes, I am pretty sure, anyway it's still less than an hour), funny and dumb story with quirky characters (the protagonists may be stupid, but clearly all the other beings they meet are even dumber!). Not to mention the surreal setting and maps (it takes some inspiration and creativity to create these little worlds!). I did not encounter typos or bugs, so I cannot complain!

What I liked most of the game is the abrupt and disturbing ending, really brutal, that closed the game sending me to the desktop immediately after a terribly dark final sequence (if it was intentional, and I am pretty sure it was, it's quite brilliant, as it ends the game with a surprise that hits you like a sudden slap in the face!).

Two Strangers sat in a Garden isn't for everyone, but all that matters is that it was relaxing, short and entertaining experience, and since I had fun it deserves a 3/5, no less!
Oh and I guess that the title refers to the two protagonists, because despite the adventures they face together, they are in fact two strangers. Anyway somebody corrects me if I am wrong!

Posts

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Frogge
"nothing can beat the power of gay"?
11774
Woah, how the hell did I miss this for a month??? Thanks so much for the review, and I'm sorry I somehow didn't notice that the game got a review, and a really well written one at that! Thanks so much for giving Two Strangers a go, and I'm really glad you enjoyed it. I'm hoping to do a remake of it eventually with better visuals, but more importantly, I'm hoping to do a full length RPG playing out very similarly to Two Strangers' nonsensical but lighthearted tone based on dreams, so any feedback on the game really helps me get a better idea of what worked and what didn't to make that one much better.

The only thing I feel bad taking credit for (well, except the music since it was all taken from youtube, I basically looked up royalty free lo-fi music. I'm ashamed to admit I've never played a single Final Fantasy game, so taking music from them is a bit out of the question for me) is the title of the game. I named it back when the story of the game was kind of different to what it ended up being (He and She were originally meant to meet in a garden, hence the name) but I ended up being too lazy to change it.
author=Frogge
Woah, how the hell did I miss this for a month??? Thanks so much for the review, and I'm sorry I somehow didn't notice that the game got a review, and a really well written one at that!

Hey thanks A LOT! Well written? I have to resubmit this review at least three times (!) because... well english is not my native language, and the autocorrect kept messing words! Lol

author=Frogge
I'm hoping to do a full length RPG playing out very similarly to Two Strangers' nonsensical but lighthearted tone based on dreams, so any feedback on the game really helps me get a better idea of what worked and what didn't to make that one much better.

I hope you will still use Rmk2003 because I love this graphic style. The charsets, the facesets... I've a soft spot for Rmk2000/2003.

author=Frogge
well, except the music since it was all taken from youtube, I basically looked up royalty free lo-fi music. I'm ashamed to admit I've never played a single Final Fantasy game, so taking music from them is a bit out of the question for me

I seldom talk about the music in my review because I'm not an expert, and as a player, I personally find it less important compared to other aspects like graphics and gameplay. But in this case I liked a lot the choice of music because it was original and fit the genre.
(I mentioned Final Fantasy, but there are also other games like Magna Carta and Ragnarok Online that have some classic themes I heard in various Rmk games, check "Wanna be Free!!", but also "The key to singing the praises of victory" from Valkyrie Profile, that is a nice battle fanfare! These are classical jrpg themes!).

author=Frogge
I named it back when the story of the game was kind of different to what it ended up being (He and She were originally meant to meet in a garden, hence the name) but I ended up being too lazy to change it.

Well at a certain point, near the end, there is a garden... anyway it's ok as it is.
But hey, Frogge, I will say it again: the ending. That is pure GENIUS.
Frogge
"nothing can beat the power of gay"?
11774
I don’t know about the english, but it was certainly a really well articulated review with great points.

I think the full length rpg would be made in ace, but I’d certainly be using 2k3 graphics. 2k3 has a few things that makes me reluctant to use it, but the graphical style is certainly my favorite as well.

And I’m glad you like the ending so much! Sending the player straight to the deskop for the creeps was certainly intentional, so I’m glad it worked so well. Thanks for taking notice!
author=Frogge
I don’t know about the english, but it was certainly a really well articulated review with great points.

Yay Great! This is the feedback I was looking for. Reviewing this game was not easy since 1) I'm no experienced maker, 2) it's not a typical Rmkgame with combat and dungeon delving, 3) there are no reviews... so I could have written just lots of gibberish!

author=Frogge
I think the full length rpg would be made in ace, but I’d certainly be using 2k3 graphics. 2k3 has a few things that makes me reluctant to use it, but the graphical style is certainly my favorite as well.

I should learn to use 2k3 to make something short and silly, since I already fiddle with it and I've tons of sprites, resourcers and ideas. But sadly no time!
But yes, I was talking about the graphic style.

author=Frogge
And I’m glad you like the ending so much! Sending the player straight to the deskop for the creeps was certainly intentional, so I’m glad it worked so well. Thanks for taking notice!

Well, also the sudden shift of mood of the ending screens was noted. It was like a giant middle finger. Loved it, it was like the end of Wanted (the comic, not the movie!). And despite all the weirdness, the story was somewhat familiar...
Frogge
"nothing can beat the power of gay"?
11774
I’d love to see you do something in 2k3! I hope you can find the time to learn it eventually :D
author=Frogge
I’d love to see you do something in 2k3!


Believe it or not, I am going to release something in 1-2 weeks. I am struggling a bit with combat and battlers but...hm ok.
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