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C'est magnifique.

  • Frogge
  • 10/03/2020 02:33 PM
  • 1660 views

Phileas's Mirror by Kenetec
Length: ~3 hours



Relevant. ACAB.


Phileas's Mirror is a game I've been pretty excited for. To be fair, that's something I can say about most games that look straight out of the 2000s, of the good ol' lawless days of rips and the golden age of rpg maker 2003. Needless to say, Phileas's Mirror may be new, but it's a nostalgia ride. Sort of. I can only assume, because I wasn't actually around in the rpg maker community until like 2014. But regardless!

The game is french in origin, and you can sort of tell english is not the developer's first language from the name of the game alone (Edit: Apparently not. I thought it would be Phileas' Mirror rather than Phileas's Mirror, but it seems Phileas's is actually correct. I'm totally keeping in the segue, though). Luckily, even though the translation is a little rough around the edges sometimes, it's still perfectly solid in english. If anything, the translation is much better than the translation on some popular japanese translated games I've seen, and everything is understandable, so you can easily forgive some errors here and there. Especially since the game is pretty great, and it had me hooked enough that I wasn't even stopping to take note of most errors like I usually do. In fact, I was so hooked that I only took one note in my review document; there's a cave where you can interact with spiders, and they make the spider sound effect from Minecraft, which was funny. Hell yeah for Steve Minecraft in Smash, by the way.

The premise of Phileas's Mirror is that you play as a very ordinary man who is one day visited by a supernatural entity who takes him on an adventure through a beautiful fantasy, and a nightmare. It does start off pretty slow, it took me a little under an hour to even actually get to the main premise of the game, but to be fair I was being very thorough with exploration. That is something pretty cool about Phileas's Mirror, that it lets you kind of play at your own pace. Where you're supposed to go or who you are supposed to talk to is often marked with arrows, so you can skip straight to the story or explore everything, which is what I did, and is also what I recommend. The game isn't too long, and you definitely don't want to miss out on some of the flavor text. It also applies the same design philosophy into the gameplay, where when you're not exploring, you're often facing various different minigame-ish segments. You're generally not pressured into doing well at said minigames, rather you are allowed to play as terribly as you like and the only challenge is the one you set for yourself. It's good, because some of them are actually really difficult, especially one involving navigating a maze while you are drugged, that the game luckily allows you to skip if you're having too much trouble (I was).

The minigames themselves are all pretty decent. Exploration is really the bulk of the game, but they keep things nice and varied. The only part I wasn't really a fan of was a battle segment that went on for quite a while. It wasn't even hard, just tedious, repetitive, and really dragged. In terms of the story, it makes sense that it would, but it doesn't really make for fun gameplay. Otherwise, I was engaged the entire time and never got bored. I did have to take a short break after the maze section because I was having trouble adjusting back to the controls, but that was about it. Otherwise, I played through the entire thing in one sitting.


Ah, I see we both like using spinning crystals as save points.


I wasn't only engaged thanks to the gameplay, though, I was also very engaged by the game's various individual scenerios. The story overall is pretty great, but more on that later. For now, I'd like to point out that Phileas's Mirror puts a ton of effort into its cutscenes. It's a very cinematic game with scenes that often rival even the best parts of The Longing Ribbon. Not only that, but the scenes themselves are often creative and fun - from parachuting off a rooftop to running through an endless, ever-shifting hallway, from exploring entire climates inside an apartment building to diving to the bottom of the ocean in a subway, Phileas's Mirror is filled with awesome, memorable parts that work very well together to create a cohesive whole.

It's hard to talk about its cinematics and scenes without going into the graphics as well, of course. I probably don't need to tell you how gorgeous this game looks, and you can probably see for yourself in pretty much every screenshot. The mapping is top notch, and the atmosphere is on point. Anything bad I could say about the game's graphics would only be a tiny nitpick in a world that otherwise looks so incredibly beautiful. A lot of different resources are mixed and mashed together, but they never clash with each other. The light effects and overlays are subtle enough that they are almost never distracting, but add a lot to the experience. Character animations look pretty nice, and while I believe most of them are just taken from the internet, their presence in the game is still something to praise. How many other rpg maker games do you know where you can watch dudes wank? No, I will not elaborate. I think I got the point across, that the game is a joy to look at, and is my pick for the eye candy misao so far. Possibly a bunch of misaos, in fact, but let's not get ahead of ourselves.


Haha Metroid.


And while we're on the topic of the game's presentation, let's take a short moment to talk about the soundtrack as well. Almost all of the music is ripped from other games or copyrighted songs, I believe, which I only found out during the credits, but it wasn't a huge shock since the music often feels very professional. The music and sounds compliment the graphics particularly well, with a lot of areas having some banging tunes that add to the exploration greatly. I'm not very knowledgeable on music, as I tend to mention on every review, so I can't really go into it in any more detail than that, but my ears certainly had a pleasant time.

But enough beating around the bush, it's time I finally talk more about the story. And unsurprisingly, like the rest of the game, it's pretty great. It did take me a while to get into it, mostly because for about the first hour or so the dialogue between characters is often pretty unconvincing, but once Phileas actually shows up, it starts to get much better from there. I do think the weakest part of the writing is the characters, who have their moments, but often don't speak very realistically or have much chemistry with each other, but the rest of the writing makes up for it. There's some genuine depth to this one, which is not something that's never been done in rpg maker, but is still kind of rare to see. I already mentioned that the game has a lot of great individual scenes, and it has a lot of scenes that get you thinking as well. Especially in the last third of the game there's some heavy stuff that's being dealt with. It goes into various themes and ideas that kind of tie back into a central narrative of whether you are truly living life to its best. That's hopefully not a spoiler to say, since the first few lines of the game make it obvious enough with the main character having a monologue to himself about how if what he has is all there is to life and such. Once Phileas actually shows up, we get two seperate looks into his life, one in a much more optimistic light, and one in a much more pessimistic one. It's clever that the game starts off with the optimism first, showing you that there is beauty and hope in life, especially towards the end of that segment of the game where there's a scene about the purpose of each living thing in a more grand scheme, before it takes it away you right after and drops you right into full on nihilism. So let's delve into some spoilers shall we?


The baby, Loic. I'm talking about the baby. It's HUGE!


I think the last few lines of Phileas's Mirror sum it up perfectly. It's two very different looks into the life of this protagonist, who I'm pretty sure is meant to be a stand-in for players. What you do with what the game has shown you is up to you, just like the protagonist. You can use what you see here to change your outlook on life, or you could simply keep living the same life. Phileas's Mirror doesn't really say anything, it instead lets you pick what you want to take away from it. In the end, it's up to both you and Loic to pick their own destiny going forward.


I really enjoyed my time with Phileas's Mirror, and I can definitely see myself replaying it in the future. I think it's really solid all around, with a good story, beautiful graphics, nice soundtrack, and fun gameplay. I can absolutely recommend it, and I'm giving it four and a half naked RTP pirates out of five.




Trump really let himself go. Even moreso than usual!

Posts

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Great review for what looks like a great game! The author also made Les Aventures de l'Iris Noir, pity that I never played it but I remember I downloaded that game months ago.. .I am really curious, more than before to try this one, I'm just worried for that battle segment mentioned...
Frogge
I wanna marry ALL the boys!! And Donna is a meanc
18309
author=TheRpgmakerAddict
Great review for what looks like a great game! The author also made Les Aventures de l'Iris Noir, pity that I never played it but I remember I downloaded that game months ago.. .I am really curious, more than before to try this one, I'm just worried for that battle segment mentioned...


I wasn't aware they had other games, but I'm definitely interested now! Also I wouldn't worry about the battle segment, it's just like a five minute thing that kind of drags but isn't awful by any means. Maybe if you die and have to replay it, but I doubt that would be an issue because it's really easy.
Woaw!
Thanks a lot for your detailed review! I am really honored! :D

Let me answers a few things.

Phileas's Mirror may be new, but it's a nostalgia ride. Sort of. I can only assume, because I wasn't actually around in the rpg maker community until like 2014. But regardless!
Correct. :)
I discovered RPG Maker around 2003/2004 and I was the most active between 2006/2010.
So I learned everything with RM2003 and by trying to mimic what the best creator were doing during that time.

(even though I've been referring to it as Phileas's Mirror as it is what the game is officially called, I am aware that the grammatically correct version would be Phileas' Mirror)
Are you sure about that ?
Here is the rule I found : https://www.thepunctuationguide.com/apostrophe.html
"The general rule is that the possessive of a singular noun is formed by adding an apostrophe and s, whether the singular noun ends in s or not."
Tom Jones’s first album
Jesus’s disciples


it's still perfectly solid in english.
Ok, glad to read that. :)
I was a bit afraid about how the game could be welcomed by native English people.

The only part I wasn't really a fan of was a battle segment that went on for quite a while.
I balanced the battles at the end of the development, I can surely improve this part.

because for about the first hour or so the dialogue between characters is often pretty unconvincing
Hmmm unfortunatly I can imagine a lot of details and nuances were lost in the translation. :/

The author also made Les Aventures de l'Iris Noir, pity that I never played it but I remember I downloaded that game months ago..
Oh please, this is a game from 2007, I was young, it's uncomplete and pretty crappy on a lot of aspects.
You should not play it. :F
Frogge
I wanna marry ALL the boys!! And Donna is a meanc
18309
author=Kenetec
Woaw!
Thanks a lot for your detailed review! I am really honored! :D


I'm glad! It's always nice to hear when devs appreciate the detail ^^

author=Kenetec
I discovered RPG Maker around 2003/2004 and I was the most active between 2006/2010.
So I learned everything with RM2003 and by trying to mimic what the best creator were doing during that time.


That's really cool, actually. I try to mimic older stuff a lot of the time as well, and it's always nice to see other people who have a fondness of past styles who incorporate it in new ways. I really like the use of resources for newer engines mixed in, for example. It's a great blend of what's both new and old and I think it worked wonders in the game.

author=Kenetec
Are you sure about that ?
Here is the rule I found : https://www.thepunctuationguide.com/apostrophe.html
"The general rule is that the possessive of a singular noun is formed by adding an apostrophe and s, whether the singular noun ends in s or not."
Tom Jones’s first album
Jesus’s disciples


Now that you mention it, now I'm actually not sure. I'm not a native English speaker myself, so maybe it works both ways? Google seems to think both Jesus's Disciples and Jesus' Disciples are correct. In any case, though, I might as well remove that part from the review since you seem to be the correct one, haha. Sorry for not doing my research before pointing it out.

author=Kenetec
Hmmm unfortunatly I can imagine a lot of details and nuances were lost in the translation. :/


That is a possibility, though I think it's moreso that I wasn't really convinced by the way the characters interacted. I guess it's sort of hard to judge without actual acting, but the way they spoke to each other often felt sort of detached if that makes sense? Like I did not fully get the impression that Amelie and Raphael were close to Loic at the start, and they sort of felt like impersonations of the ways real people talked rather than actual people. Again, minor thing, and I wouldn't worry too much about it. When I point out things like this in my reviews it's generally not to say the game needs that aspect improved or fixed, but moreso so that the developers can take notes of what they might want to look into in their future projects. As I said, the writing got better as the game went on, and the fact that some of it was lost in translation is more than possible.
unity
You're magical to me.
12226
author=Frogge
author=Kenetec
Are you sure about that ?
Here is the rule I found : https://www.thepunctuationguide.com/apostrophe.html
"The general rule is that the possessive of a singular noun is formed by adding an apostrophe and s, whether the singular noun ends in s or not."
Tom Jones’s first album
Jesus’s disciples


Now that you mention it, now I'm actually not sure. I'm not a native English speaker myself, so maybe it works both ways? Google seems to think both Jesus's Disciples and Jesus' Disciples are correct. In any case, though, I might as well remove that part from the review since you seem to be the correct one, haha. Sorry for not doing my research before pointing it out.


Phileas's Mirror is correct. You omit the s only when the possessor is plural. Say the mirror was owned by multiple monks. Then it would be Monks' Mirror, not Monks's Mirror. But since Phileas is assumed singular, it's Phileas's Mirror. English is needlessly complicated with rules XD

That said, if you had called it Phileas' Mirror, I don't know if anyone would have minded/called you on it, but it's always nice to be correct XD :DDD
Frogge
I wanna marry ALL the boys!! And Donna is a meanc
18309
author=unity
English is needlessly complicated with rules XD


you can say that again ;_;
unity
You're magical to me.
12226
True, true.
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