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No more Lonely (Vince) Heart...

PART 1 - Attention: what follows is an outdated (11/03/2021) review of Lonely League Demo. For the review of the complete game just skip this part. Ok?

Hello, and welcome to my first review of a demo... ok this is not exactly true, but it's the first time I make a review knowing that I will probably have to update it later (dunno when... later!).

Lonely League is a game made by Calunio and so far exist as a three battles (or levels) demo, plus some story told in a comic-like fashion. Let's start from the most peculiar aspect, the aestetics: the game has two kind of visuals the first ones use characters that look more realistic, taking edits from several beat 'em up games from Street Fighters, to King of Fighters, World Heroes and Art of Fighting. While there are some slight style dissonances, they look good since all these belongs to a modern setting, so they fit perfectly the modern urban world in which the story is set. And that's rather original in my opinion, the edits are also well made and give the characters a personal identity.
Then there is the second style that use the traditional POP horror city charsets and assets, that create a belivable modern urban world, thanks to a really good mapping and setting of the scenes. I like how the story segments and the battle encounters use both these styles, and sprites and charsets really match their characters. The comic-style cutscenes and the animated attacks of this game really give a dynamism to the adventure, despite being this a turn based game.

Well... No shit Sherlock! (Pleaaaaase heal me Joe!)

And now let's speak of the combat encounters: there are three levels in this game and these are three mandatory battle scenes that can be solved in various ways, I mean that not always beating everyone is the answer. Also it's possible to interact with some items on the battlefield to receive advantages, anyway I won't spoil the fun of discovery, try and experiment.
Each character has a move action and an interaction during his round. Yes, interaction isn't always an attack, because you can intimidate enemies or recruit bystanders, use items of the scenarios and so on. There's a percentage of probability for each task, that depends on the character's skills and equipment (you level up after each encounter and you get to spend points to improve the abilities, the nice part is that you get some points even if you fail the battle, so you can re-try it with a stronger team after the defeat).
Most encounters see few opponents fighting a larger group of enemies, so it's a highly strategic game, things are also more difficult in the beginning when you have a single weak character that may be one-shotted by some stronger opponents, but do not get frustrated because thanks to the levelling possibility mentioned before, to the use of some strategy (some characters possess abilities like for example healing) and with little luck it's possible to prevail.

It's a painful world... and looks like Vince (that was savagely mauled by a couple of bad guys earlier) is not the only one to suffer!

The reward, besides progressing and earning advancement points, is to witness a story segment that is often interactive. You get to choose some actions and answers, and guess what? Your decision matters: an aggressive answer may upgrade the attack of your character, while a more diplomatic approach let you improve his charisma.
But who is "he"?

In Lonely League we play as Vince Heart, a young tough guy with a problem: he needs money and a lot of them, for a medical operation and treatment. Unluckily he is not a rich guy, and due to his he will find himself in many dangerous situations. Anyway he is a brave young man, but even if his adventure starts as a mundane story of a brawler, soon it will involve strange experiments, aliens and superheroes (I bet you already noticed the big Batman here on the left)! Oh oh, not your usual fantasy game but a bizarre modern adventure.
I won't tell you more except for the presence of two kind of playable characters: the temporary ones that appear in some scenarios only, and the permanent party members that will join Vince's team, and will be upgradeable like him... well more or less, since each character is different and has different upgrades available.

Battles become more and more complex as we make friends and enemies. Speaking about friends, do you think our friend Cal will hit a lady? (Spoiler: he did and he knocked out her with a single punch!)

But of course this this is just an appetizer (took me exactly one hour to complete), we do not know what will happen next, if the game will become less linear and if there will be puzzles and minigames, but for now we have two awesome things:

1 - a simple (at least in the beginning) but well made.turn based system that requires strategy and team management but also experimenting with the surroundings.
2 - an original storyline illustrated in a comic book style that gives a cinematic look to the game. It's stylish, but also introduces some interesting characters that made me wonder what will happen next.

There's no doubt that the developer, Calunio, is a great storyteller when it comes to narrate urban atories and characters (see also Alvorada Do Mal, Dungeoneer or even Therapist), but there's also a talent in using a game enginen to develop a really unique enjoyable gameplay (again Dungeoneer and Therapist are both examples of this originality).
Anyway don't expect that other aspects are overlooked: mapping is extremely well done, the soundtrack is amazing (it made me listen to songs I did not know, and now I love), and a lot of edits, custom parts ad additional details give character to this product. I hope this will turn out into a masterpiece, because there are too few games with a modern setting, too few turn based strategic games, and too few games with references to comics. We need them! And I'd play more and more battles again.
So? I hope this will be completed next year, I'll be here waiting for it.
I have spoken! What will happen? What will be my rating when the game will be completed? See that in the next issue of... Lonely League!

How It Started

How It's Going

PART 2: here's the review of the complete game that will focus mainly on the gameplay aspect of the Loney League!

After so much time, I'm back! I do not want to tell anything more about the story, since when talking about the demo already gave out some informations about the plot. What I can tell is that Vince's adventure is a journey that not only will show him getting stronger and facing more and more dangerous challenges, but also his friends, that are already superheroes, will be tested. The adventure involves lots of different characters from different sources, from the X-men to the Street Fighters, from Jessica Rabbit to... Lady Gaga! Yes, play and see, it's a really complex but captivating epic adventure!

As mentioned in the demo review, the game itself consists in a linear series of turn based battle scenarios, each with a different objective that not always is about defeating every opponent: sometimes you have to eliminate a particular target, sometimes you have to rescue someone, and sometimes you have to escape. In many cases there will be items that can turn out to be useful, and people that can provide assistance. Compared to the demo here things will become much more complex, requiring lots of strategy and attention to the main objectives of each mission (that often mention one particular unit you cannot lose!).

I's important noting that the party members are variable: in some cases you will use all the Loney League, other times you have just one or two party members, but it can happen to control one or more temporary guest character (not to mention that you may also persuade people to join your cause), so learning how the various abilities work (Zatanna's unique spell is extremely useful in the scenario where she assists the team!) will help a lot.

Remember to check the hit percentage, but also the reach or area of some attacks! They can do the difference!

Now, the abilities: after the demo our party members will unlock new classes, each one with different upgrades. It's important remembering that these upgrades are all cumulative, BUT each character may equip only one item (that can give various bonuses to skills or something else like an extra tile of movement), one active skill (things like "heal ally" or "go berserker") and one passive skill (like a bonus to critical attacks or regeneration), so choose them wisely before starting a new scenario! You clearly do not need that Heal Ally skill when heading out solo, for example!

In the end I found the difficulty of the game balanced: in most cases I was able to finish a scenario in three tries, some were instead easier and took me one or two tries. The hardest battles instead took five or even six battles but these were rare cases, three of them in the whole game, and maybe I was unlucky: in some cases I won with a last punch that had a 34% to hit, other times despite a 70% of accuracy I had to hit three times to hit once... and for some weaker characters that can be easily oneshotted (like Lennon) one turn or two may do a great difference!

The hardest parts will probably be the longest scenarios (like the bridge or the park) that offers a longer series of challenges and tasks, and here the Morale, that influeces almost every action, will really become important, meaning that a good strategy will be even more necessary to survive. Learn the opponent attacks and how to avoid (or take advantage of) them!

The game includes some minigames that are pretty simple but can provide permanent additional bonuses!

But the game isn't just about battles and battles: there are many cutscenes and also interactive minigames like puzzles and training sections. These aren't just time wasters but they are actually useful to improve the party memebers. Moreover in some chapters you also get some extra and optional battles (like Crime Fighting, Chess Playing or Scavenging) to obtain more xp and fight new and old opponents (I like how many characters that are apparently secondary returns at later date).

Then two aspects I really loved in the demo and now even more: the music selection is great, from Beatles songs to some real classics like Heart's Barracuda and Lady Gaga's Bad Romance, there is no theme I didn't like. Likewise sounds contains some great classics such as the famous "Get over here!" directly taken from Scorpion in Mortal Kombat. And then the graphics: every character has a charset and a matching detailed "combat" sprite, only problem is maybe that coming from many different sources some characters look a bit too small (like Wolverine) or big, but it's really a minor issue. Mapping is likewise very good, there are many different places, and few of them are also revisited. It's important that the environment intself can also help or hinder friends and foes.

The game not only offers various enemies with different abilities and weaknesses, but also some temporary playable characters with unique skills!

Final Verdict
After playing the demo I restarted from the beginning and guess what? I had an easier time on these segments I've already played, then other levels were harder or easier, I believe that a couple of tries are necessary, not because you really need the "consolation Exp", but rather to understand the level, its pitfalls and how to take advantage of some aspect: for example exploit the friendly fire, use cover to avoid enemies with ranged attacks, and so on. Only gripe is that a level has areas that can hide your party members and opponents but that is used just twice.
I do not mind repeating a level, but I guess this isn't a game for everyone: there's no exploration, story is linear, but what a story is this! Amazing, and the battles themselves, the real game, aren't short of amazing (it's awesome that there's a constant "back and forth" between huge battles and small skirmishes).

In the end this is a really unique game game that does precisely what it aims for, and it does that perfectly, with lots of style. I'm not sure about the difficulty since some parts looked quite easy and others nearly impossible, and I wonder if other players has the same experience (I guess that a lot depends on how you build your team during the course of the game), but I had lots of fun, and I guess that's the most important detail!

PS: MAN those two endings... are... nah I'm speechless, really. Incredible.


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Thank you so much for this review!
I'm happy to know your initial positive impression didn't change after playing the entire thing.

I know the difficulty part has its ups and downs, but it's super hard to balance a game with no levels. I see a trend in modern SRPGs not only to use levels but also level caps so players will always be in the right level in battles, which is, in my opinion, a coward/lazy way to balance things. I put a lot of effort in battles, and though sometimes it may seem unbalanced, I noticed some battles are easy for some players and hard for others, so I guess it's more of a specific build/strategy issue than a general game difficulty thing.

Also, I love your self-insert edits!
Thank you so much for this review!
I'm happy to know your initial positive impression didn't change after playing the entire thing.

I know the difficulty part has its ups and downs, but it's super hard to balance a game with no levels. I see a trend in modern SRPGs not only to use levels but also level caps so players will always be in the right level in battles, which is, in my opinion, a coward/lazy way to balance things. I put a lot of effort in battles, and though sometimes it may seem unbalanced, I noticed some battles are easy for some players and hard for others, so I guess it's more of a specific build/strategy issue than a general game difficulty thing.

Also, I love your self-insert edits!

Concerning the difficulty you will be happy to know that I'm struggling in the endgame part! Not even Mr. Burger (as I like calling him lol) battle was so tough (actually in my 4th try I even humiliated him hitting him with Lennon... that dodged his counterattack!).

I admit I actually missed some nice skills I saw but they were pricey in terms of Xp, I should have done some more grind!

Anyway I should have printed the lyrics of the concert song... I did it purpousely awful! :D

Ahaha concerning the self inserts I originally had a better idea (but no time for tha)t: a comic-like screen (like in game) with the return of "I want game!" but inside Wayne's mansion (at the dinner) with Batman answering "It's already released!". Lol.
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