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  • Frogge
  • 12/30/2019 01:35 PM

The Mall by JustAShyDoge (Pudding)
Length: ~1 hour

The Mall is a game I've been interested in but putting aside for a little while now, so of course secret santa provides me the perfect oppurtunity to finally give it a spin. While MV is certainly my least favorite of any rpg makers, and generally the fact that a game is made in MV is enough to drive me away from it, I've been stressing the fact that I want more malls in rpg maker games for quite the while I've been on rmn now.

Now it's kind of impossible to avoid some bias towards being more positive than you normally would be when your review is a secret santa gift to someone. So to anyone reading this after it's been uploaded to the site, I assure you this time around I've made sure to try to be as unbiased as I can by the fact that this is a gift in the end, and for Pudding I sincerely hope this review does not discourage. My overall impression of the game was definitely positive, and while I do have my fair share of things to comment on, I think this was a terrific attempt from the developer for an event game. You can tell the scope was kept realistic for the timespan and a lot of effort went into it. It feels like an event game, but it feels like a good event game that was neither rushed nor put together sloppily.

Unfortunately, as soon as you open up the game you are greeted with the an extremely major issue that drags down the experience immensely - the title screen options are not centered. This single handedly made me drop the rating I gave the game by half and was easily the worst part of the game. I threw up. It made the baby upstairs cry. We don't even have a baby upstairs. That's how bad it was.

So you'll be happy to hear that my sarcasm and exteremely, life and death important major nitpicks issues stop at the title screen, because the intro's pretty neat. The dialogue in this game is pretty witty, and while never particularly laugh out loud funny, still kept lighthearted and fun. The game knows the simplicity of its premise and doesn't shy away from it, instead focusing on making it entertaining and keeping it light. My only real complaint that has anything to do with the writing would be that I wish your animal companion had more of a character, maybe some dialogue since the mirror realm sort of seems to let animals talk (not really, just the owl, and that's explained in the story, but it would've been a fun idea regardless). Some dialogue in between each floor may have also added a much needed break to the gameplay, even if a brief one. Other than that, I don't really have any issues with the writing.

Here's an excellent example of how the game uses deep symbolism, for what is a mall but a metaphor for the peak consumer culture of capitalism?

The gameplay is a much more prevalent part of The Mall in comparison to the story. You start off the first few minutes with a pretty great puzzle minigame which is both fun and challenging. It does only come up in the intro of the game and is never used again, which is kind of a shame, but I can understand the decision to do that. The gameplay then shifts completely to be battle focused instead, as most of what you'll be doing now is fighting enemies. What's interesting is that you can skip every battle in The Mall if you so desire, because the only ones that are necessary are the bosses. However, it would probably be unwise of you not to fight at least a few enemies as you'll need to level up and get money if you wish to see it to the end. I don't have any problems here, but I do have some feedback, which is that I think it may have been even better if the troops were not randomized so you could pick which ones you wanted to fight specifically. I say you can skip every battle if you want, but I actually ended up fighting every single enemy on the first two floors and fought half of them on the third, and still ended up finding the final boss really challenging. Now I'm no expert on battling centered RPG games, and I certainly don't tend to enjoy them, but that's just a personal preference. For what it's worth, I found The Mall to be pretty well balanced, sometimes a little repetitive in the battles, and at times I felt like I was being stalled for gameplay time rather than challenged, but fans of battle based RPGs are likely to enjoy The Mall as its whole is pretty well designed.

I did find it pretty easy, had basically no trouble at all with any of the three main floor bosses or many troops (except the three wolves), but did get my ass kicked by the final boss a good few times. And if you've been reading my reviews for a while, you probably know by now that whenever I find battles even slightly challenging I tend to go straight into the game files and debuff the boss to die in one hit. As I said, the battling part of RPGs is not really my thing and I'm mostly in for the writing and exploration. And then The Mall made me remember how much I hate MV. Not really the game's fault by any means, I just spent about 10 minutes trying to beat the final boss until I eventually gave in and said I'd decrypt it and debuff the boss. And then I remembered that MV games are an absolute pain in the ass to decrypt. I guess that's a good thing since it prevents theft, but I struggled more with trying to decrypt the game than I did with the boss on preceding attempts, so I just went back to trying to beat the boss legit. And actually did on my second try. Oh, for anyone struggling with it, I've found the best strategy is simply to brute force your way through. I tried playing it safe and focusing on keeping my health high and stats buffed but I always got killed because the boss can not only heal most of its hp WHILE it does almost one-shot damage to your ENTIRE party, but it can also paralyze, confuse and enrage your party members ALL THE WHILE being so fast that it attacks twice before you get to attack. Needless to say, you're gonna want to pray to the RNG gods and kill that mofo before it has the oppurtunity to become a pain in your ass. All things considered, though, it was a pretty good final boss.

The last thing to mention here would be that the game is pretty replayable if you end up enjoying it. You can choose one of four party members at the start as your fourth party member, and they play out pretty differently from each other from what I can tell. I ended up going with snek because... snek. Need I say more. Every time you level up, you can also choose between upgrading specific stats or getting an item, not to mention there is a limited amount of gold in the game so the items you end up using each playthrough may vary vastly.

I don't need to comment on this, the image is self-explanatory.

I suppose the last thing to go over would be the game's visuals. I'm not gonna go into the music since I'm no music expert by a long shot, or even an amateur really. So I've been wanting more malls in rpg maker as I said. Of course, a setting isn't just defined by how it looks, but does this game satisfy? I think so, yeah. It does about as much as it can with mostly RTP graphics, and while it doesn't look particularly gorgeous the mapping and especially the way the shops look makes it pretty decent looking. There is some clash in the faces of the characters and occasionally the tilesets, but it's not too distracting and certainly doesn't take much out of the game. It's a good mall as far as malls go! 9/10, would shop there.

I think The Mall is a pretty neat experience overall. The mall setting is probably the best aspect of it, but it's got some pretty neat writing and gameplay to go along! It's not an outstanding game, but it's more than servicable for an event game. I give this game three good bois out of five, a corgi, husky, beagle, shiba inu and shih tzu respectively.

The other two are chilling out here on their own.


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Still a dumb and shy doggo
Nani!? Sorry for not noticing this and thank you for the review!!
Glad you enjoyed the game, again, thanks for the doggo sprites!
I wanna marry ALL the boys!! And Donna is a meanc
Nani!? Sorry for not noticing this and thank you for the review!!
Glad you enjoyed the game, again, thanks for the doggo sprites!

Oh it's okay, it's been sitting in the queue for a while and only got approved today I think. Glad you enjoyed the review and that you like the doggos!
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