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Lita the Vampire Slayer

Ara Fell is a traditional RPG made by Badluck in RPG Maker 2003 and is something of a forgotten legend in the RPG Maker community. Though it remained incomplete for many years, Badluck has returned to the community to finally put this project behind him and prepare it for a commercial release on Steam, so I found it only fitting to give an updated review for this new release. For full disclosure, I was also involved in the testing of the most recent builds of this project.

Ara Fell is the tale of Lita LeCotta, a cute sixteen year old girl in the village of Aloria in a land floating high in the sky. Lita is a fairly typical teenage girl, running errands for her neighbors, practicing archery with her father, arguing with her not-boyfriend Adrian, and being divinely selected as a prophesied vampire slayer who will save the world from destruction.

After learning that she is destined to be the slayer and fight the forces of darkness, Lita initially wants nothing to do with prophecies or divine power, but unfortunately for her, destiny knows where she lives.

Some guys have all the luck.

What follows is a charming and lighthearted series of adventures as Lita travels across the land of Ara Fell searching for artifacts that will aid her in her quest to slay the vampires. The game takes more from magical girl anime and Buffy the Vampire Slayer than any darker horror works despite the presence of vampires, and although the game can get violent at times it focuses more on being cute and pretty.

And boy, is this game pretty. Mapped out with the Refmap tile assets, the world of Ara Fell is spellbinding, and even a decade after its initial release it's hard to think of many games that are its equal in pure aesthetics. It can get a bit visually busy at times but most of the time I personally think it looks great. Everything is so vibrant and feels very alive.

The game plays out mostly as a traditional RPG with a few opportunities to engage in optional side quests scattered throughout the game, but more of the plot is focused on the relationships of Lita and her companions. Lita herself is a cheerful and ultimately very likable character even if she's prone to being a bit of a brat at times and doesn't seem to make a particularly great legendary heroine. She is ultimately still a confused child and we get to see her in a lot of moments of vulnerability, but she always bounces back. Her allies include her love interest Adrian, a powerful if ill-tempered sorceress named Seri Kesu, and Doren, a bard who seems to know a little too much. The party has an interesting dynamic with the budding romance between Lita and Adrian being very cute and innocent while Doren and Seri Kesu have more of an adult relationship with adult concerns. Both stories are told well if a bit predictably. I found the game's primary villain a little too enigmatic and mysterious to truly get a bead on, and the overarching story of fighting vampires and collecting artifacts is mostly a framing device to move the party from location to location, but at least there's plenty to see along the way.

So pretty.

The level and set piece design of the game is very sharp with a variety of options laid out for you. Lita is a very dynamic character, able to jump, swim, crawl, and eventually even fly in order to navigate the game world, and all of these abilities are employed liberally throughout the game to add some simple but welcome interactions with the game world. While many of the dungeons wind up just being mazes, a few use environment and logic puzzles to great effect. Dungeons are also frequently punctuated by little conversations between the characters to keep the player invested in what's happening. dungeons also have a great sense of 'place' with really heavy atmosphere. When you're crawling around in a vampire's lair you can feel the oppressiveness hanging in the air around you, and it's not every day you'll explore caverns pocked with rifts out into the open sky.

Combat is better now than in earlier versions of the game but still feels a little janky and lacks in strong feedback for many things, such as status effects. Most of this is due to the inherent eccentricities of RPG Maker 2003 and there's unfortunately no real way around this, but battles can overall feel a little lacking. Combat is mostly a default turn-based affair but when faced with vampires a little extra flair is thrown in where after taking enough damage they'll enter a state where they cannot be hurt further but Lita can power up one of a variety of special moves to finish them off forever, which is a nice touch.

The first half of the game is very easy but things can get really mean in the second half. The game does allow you to allocate stat points at level up, and while it can be tempting to go all in on agility or become a pure attack machine (and these strategies can work early in the game) you'll run into problems later if you don't develop your defense and health when the real monsters start showing up. Fortunately you can reallocate your stat points at any time if you messed up. Finally, the game helpfully provides a 'story mode' which allows you to win any battle without trying, which you can use if you just want to enjoy the game's story, environments, and puzzles.

Even for as old as it is, Ara Fell is still an impressive game. It's writing, design and aesthetics make for a very enjoyable adventure, and while the combat can be problematic the game is nice enough to let you skip it entirely if you feel so inclined and just play it as a puzzle and exploration game. Depending on what you're looking for in RPGs you can adjust your expectations accordingly as this game doesn't offer particularly robust or impressive combat mechanics, but for players who like story, pretty visuals or puzzles, this game likely has something to offer.

Looks like somebody made fun of Lita's height again.


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I'm glad you enjoyed it! And thanks again for taking the time to help out with the beta testing. Hopefully some of the issues with the game being too easy early on will get ironed out, but I'm pleased to read that it seemed to scale to an appropriate level of difficulty later on.
Huh? I don't remember those areas (the demo I played ended just after leaving the cave ruins). Did you get an exclusive, or bonus version of the demo by any chance?
Circumstance penalty for being the bard.
Huh? I don't remember those areas (the demo I played ended just after leaving the cave ruins). Did you get an exclusive, or bonus version of the demo by any chance?

Yes, I was a beta tester for the game.
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