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Suggestions for the remake!

  • Gibmaker
  • 02/28/2011 09:58 PM
  • 2865 views
Obtained: Potatos!

At the time of this review the remake is still in progress. So, considering there are all ready six other reviews and they cover most of my own reactions to this game, I figgered it would be helpful to craft this review in terms of what specifically can be improved for the new version.

First I should say that I played on Normal, found almost all the characters, and got the good ending. The sexy one with Telia no less. SO THERE.

A New Day Dawns

The game's central gimmick is the fact that you play through ten days in the village, and the ending of the game is approached by passing time rather than traversing territory. I knew this from reading reviews beforehand, and there is an ominous comment in the introduction referencing "ten days," but once into the game the day limit fades into the background and if I didn't all ready know better I'd have wondered if the "ten days" warning was just a throwaway comment.

I think the problem is that each day lacks a distinct character, and we never see the world at night, or at any time other than full daylight. Nights actually exist in this game, since actual, bona fide, time-really-exists days are supposed to be passing, but the inn-staying events are presented just like in any other game, with the screen just fading out and in on an identical scene, and you step back out into, essentially, the exact same conditions that you just left.

I appreciated the gradual changes to the weather, but they were TOO gradual. In the real world, consecutive days can be completely different in their weather and character, and it would be more exciting to re-explore the village over and over if every day presented a completely new face to the world, rather than just being a LITTLE darker and chillier than the last. Why not mix up the map music as well between days? It would also make individual days more memorable, and of course it would reinforce that fact that each time to sleep you ARE in fact leaving one day behind and entering another.

And in fact, if you forget which day you're on (as I did) there's no way to ever find out again, except by heading back to bed and seeing if the final encounter happens this time. Why not have it say somewhere, explicitly, "Day 3 of 10"?

You "Aspect" me to learn all this?

I appreciated the attempt to use unconventional character aspects like "Bravery" and "Logic". I was also impressed with the huge number of equipables K&C crafted for this game, and they broke down the assumption that adventurers would only be ever interested in blades and armor. For example, there is a special class of weapon (orbs) that specifically deals magical damage. You can also equip items like ropes and books, which adds to the sense that you are scavenging this abandonned village for whatever supplies are at hand, although it's a little questionable how some of these items would actually be wielded in combat. (Chess set, anyone?)

The problem with this system is the complexity. I suffered information overload when trying to equip my characters, and considering how often new equipment was thrown at me, I probably passed up some of the best items out of exhaustion at trying to evaluate them. I personally have very little patience when it comes to RPG bookkeeping, and I hate having to tinker around with equipables to make sure everything is optimum, so this part of the game was painful.

Grappling with the complex character aspects isn't even the end of it, as damage is split into "physical" and "magical" brackets, with enemies reacting differently to one or the other. AND you have elemental damage/weaknesses to contend with.

I think it's great that K&C are trying to mix things up so that you have more to think about than "Does this sword do more damage than that sword?" But there are several major issues that make it frustrating:

1) The aspect system, the relevance of elemental damage, and the many other considerations are not effectively communicated to the player. I loved and appreciated the in-game help codex, but it's just not enough. Gamers are lazy and often full of beer when playing games. (Okay maybe that's just me.) Gamers aren't patient enough to read an entire rule book before jumping into things. (It's no longer the 1990s.) I'd suggest, at the very least, adding occasional in-game dialogs that remind you about complications you may have forgotten. Like, "You entered an ice dimension! Why not check your pack for a fire weapon?"

2) In practice, the effect of character aspects is almost always overshadowed by the basic damage rating of weapons and elemental weaknesses. And many equipables bypass the aspect system entirely and just affect specific dependant stats anyway. If I am expected to learn a whole new aspect system, I expect it to be much more relevant to play than this one actually is. Force players to improve Tenacity in order to improve a character's action speed, instead of just tossing out SPD++ items!

3) Combat is not frequent enough to warrant learning about new equipment just by trying it out, especially considering the frequency that new equipment is thrown at you. I'd guess that the ratio of equipment pickups to enemy encounters (assuming you are avoiding most of the optional enemies) is 3:1.

4) And am I not mistaken in suspecting that many parts of this system are broken anyway? True story: I replaced Telia's "Double Bow" with the "Goddess Bow" because the stats were generally higher. It routinely did 1 HP damage to enemies. I never figured out why. There was no mention of an elemental specialization or anything. THE GODDESS BOW IS A TRAP.

The Stuff:Story ratio

The story in V&V is quite minimal, and it looks like the designers' desire to create a variety of enemies and items quickly exploded beyond the limitations of their premise and setting. The choice of enemies, locations and items should all reflect the specific environment that the player is in and the plot elements at work there. K&C have committed this game to take place within a single location over a very short time span, but the designs have an anything-goes style to them.

The early enemies seem to make sense, such as the presence of looters in the village's abandonned houses. It adds to the story and the atmosphere. But more advanced enemies -- presumably demonic entities as per the invasion -- tend to have completely arbitrary designs. Like anthro-rhinos in pope hats. Considering the village is being slowly overrun by a Lovecraftian demonic force, the enemy designs should be themed appropriately but these guys just seem ... random.

This is especially true for boss monsters. According to the tvtropes page, many of them are actually shout-outs to other games, but gosh, I didn't know that. I was just bewildered by most of them. What are they? Why are they there? And most importantly -- why am I risking my life to kill them??

Presumably these are minions of D'kothos, so it's reasonable that I would want to kill them to weaken the invasion. Except for the fact that, like so much of the game, they are completely optional, and it makes no difference to the story whether you fight them or not. Bosses should be the most plot-charged enemies in the game!

I say that killing the bosses should pre-emptively weaken the final boss (or something) so that it's in the player's best interest to take on at least some of them. This way they would still be optional, as K&C want them to be, but more relevant than just being fleshy treasure drops.

This issue also applies to items. I praised the large variety of equipables in this game, but if anything the variety seemed actually TOO VAST for the scope of this game, in a way that makes their inclusion unbelievable. Remember, the whole game happens in ONE VILLAGE. You get so much loot in this game that you're clearly meant to be selling a lot of it off, but when I find a weapon with an epic name like "Vorpal Desperado," it seems wrong to treat it as vendor fodder. But that's exactly what it is; there isn't even an explanation as to why it happens to have such an epic name. There are so many epic-named weapons in this little backwoods village that I have to wonder if there was some kind of epic-name singularity going on along with the invasion.

I hope it's possible to infuse more individual plot and meaning into every part of this game, since there is a LOT of potential for it. Even something like, "I AM WRITING THIS AS I LAY DYING. TAKE THIS SWORD. IT IS VERY POWERFUL. UNTIL YOU FIND SOMETHING BETTER, THEN JUST SELL IT."

The Prophet is actually Kenneth Oppel

I found the five diaries and the Telgium on the first five days. As fast as possible, in other words. After that there was nothing to do but blunder around for the rest of the game and see what changed from day to day. It's good that the developers give several days' "grace" for finding each of the essential clues, but it sucks that the urgency of the quest suddenly stops as soon as I got that book and I could pretty much just wait out the rest of the game. Why not add extra non-essential objectives for players who get the Telgium early that improve your chances at the end or allow for an extra-good ending?

The extra objectives could even be quests given to you by your party members on specific days. This would be a more interesting way to learn about them than just by talking. It's more of an incentive to talk to them too.

I hated the battles!

Just kidding. Unlike some, I liked battles in this game. I agree that they are time-consuming affairs, since your standard attack power will probably never get above thirty, but this forces you to use strategies other than just spamming the attack command. And since the encounter system is very tame, you can always choose when to enter a battle, which justifies the effort it takes to fight them.

Everything negative I had to say about equipables doesn't apply to character abilities. Just about every character had a few abilities that were very useful, and I also liked the unconventional way you find them, by checking random objects that ... I don't know ... release ... knowledge.

This is one area in which the complexity of the combat system was enjoyable. When the enemies all decide to throw on mirrors that reflect physical damage, for example, it was fun (in a panicky, hate-filled way) to try and puzzle out what measures I could take to remove or bypass the mirrors.

Some boss enemy graphics are pixelated enlargements of regular enemy graphics.

Aww. Come on.

This holiday season, don't let otherworldly, outer-space dimensions entered by touching a household mirror be the elephant in the room.

So, you pass through mirrors to enter a weird, glass-floored mirror version of the world floating in space.

NO ONE SEEMS TO CARE.

Not even a, "Hey, what happened?"

Not even a, "Is it safe to be passing through mirrors into strange glass-floored worlds floating in space?"

And not even a, "You see, this ties into the story because --"

You'd think the existence of these mirror dimensions would play an integral part in the mystery of what happened to the villagers, so their discovery should come with a LITTLE more fanfare.

This label should have an asterisk

Considering how many traits are affected by equipables, the vendor screens are uninformtive.



The Prophet is Stephanie Meyers

Whenever I had Marlowe translate something and the result was just text, I reloaded the game so as to not waste a feat. I think you should be guaranteed something material with every translation, considering you're using up a precious feat to do it. AND, how about free text on the side with all of them? :3

I am happy for the bonus dungeons discovered by translating. It is a much better reward than just items. Some developers might have settled for just items, but no. It's an entire extra place to explore, that the player might have missed entirely. This really added to the sense that the game was full of secrets, that there were lots of monster-filled dimensions hidden just below the surface, and that it was worth my time to check stuff out.

Bladders not included

I liked the method of using food to heal your party between battles, although late in the game a meal would consist of 20 loaves of bread, 8 potatos, 8 fish, 15 walnuts, and 3 cherries (because that's all the cherries I had left).

Has a stray object in your home become a portal into some sort of monster-filled alternate dimension with a symbolic theme, suggesting a strong history behind the object and, potentially, a fate for the people who used it? If so, you don't need to suffer in silence. Speak up. Spread the word. Break the silence.

"WHOA, HOLD ON. WHAT THE EFF. THIS BARREL SENDS US TO A LAVA FILLED HELLHOLE. WHY? WHY DOES THIS HAPPEN? WELL, HERE ARE MY IDEAS ON THIS SUBJECT."

No one says this.

Lots to do on cat planet!

I was rewarded for trying things out in this game. I never thought I would use Alphonse's Amenities feat since it was never unreasonable to just walk back to the inn to shop, but then I did use it once, and discovered that weird mask that he only sells if you use a feat to open his shop. And it wasn't just a throwaway item either, since it teaches him a skill when you buy it. GOOD WORK FOR REWARDING PLAYERS WHO TRY OUT THE FEATS, K&C.

* Final Thought *

I agree with the reviewers who say that the game is too complex for its own good. The imaginative custom systems would be at home in a much larger game that provides a much larger variety of situations in which to test out your characters, considering how much work you can put into outfitting them. But I can tell that K&C are committed to centering the entire game around the one village, so they have to find other ways to make sure that players can enjoy the fruits of learning the custom systems.

For the remake, C&K should concentrate on making the character aspects more relevant to your performance and trimming down the number of extraneous details that players have to deal with in combat, as well as adding a more involved system for training players. I also suggest making the enemy and item designs better reflect the demon-invaded village scenario.

My rating: 3.5 / 5

My Party builds
Regular battles: Wanderer, Marlowe, Ox, Elena
Boss battles: Wanderer, Marlowe, Telia, Lyla

Most valued feats
3) Marlowe's Translate. There are only seven spots in the game to use it (that I found??) but they're all worth checking out because the results are unpredictable. This is the only way to open up two of the dungeons.
2) Elena's Hunter's Trap. Save it for boss battles.
1) Ox's Gather. The best way to get large numbers of useful items, including Seraphim Whiteleaf, the only item that revives knocked-out characters. THANK YOU for having this item restore 100 EN as well, instead of being the usual revive item that leaves revived characters with only 1 or 2 EN, and just enough time to get hit and knocked out again before they can be healed.
Honourable mention: Telia's Unlock. Most of the other characters' feats are more important, but at the outset of the game she is your only party member (if you accepted her) so this is the only way to make use of your feats.

How to beat Silent Alex and the Unspeakables
Marlowe. Love him and slashfic him. Use his Frozen Arrest power to try and put the enemies to sleep -- usually it will stall two of the Unspeakables, while one resists the effect. Silent Alex may or may not fall asleep, but he's not actually a big threat without the Unspeakables to buff him. If the one Unspeakable throws up one of those godforsaken mirrors, use the Wanderer's Spiritual Reckoning power to dropkick it, and re-sleep them as they wake up. Pick off the Unspeakables one at a time this way. After that point Alex will be no trouble.

Can you tell I liked Marlowe? Practicing law gives him magic.

You scored: Potatos!

Posts

Pages: 1
Craze
why would i heal when i could equip a morningstar
15240
I will never live down "Potatos." Also, Stephanie Meyers is in this game; Ox talks about Twilight at one point if I recall correctly.

Actual, meaty response to this post will occur tonight. One major thing, though: while I agree with a lot of this review, V&V Remake is so incredibly different in terms of gameplay that I'm not sure much of this applies. :x
Gibmaker
I hate RPG Maker because of what it has done to me
9274
author=Craze
I will never live down "Potatos." Also, Stephanie Meyers is in this game; Ox talks about Twilight at one point if I recall correctly.

Actual, meaty response to this post will occur tonight. One major thing, though: while I agree with a lot of this review, V&V Remake is so incredibly different in terms of gameplay that I'm not sure much of this applies. :x


Ahh, I'm sad if it's no longer relevant. But I hope it's still at least a little useful? Especially about making each day unique since I think that would make it awesome. :3
Craze
why would i heal when i could equip a morningstar
15240
The days stuff is obsolete because you don't explore the village any more. The game is now mission-based, much like Final Fantasy X-2 or SMT: Devil Survivor. Missions available change mostly by day and time (morning, day, evening, night) and show more and more chaotic events.

Stats should be a lot more manageable this time around. They're pretty standard western RPG fare.

In response to a lot of the "why aren't they confused?" stuff, I think it was because the game was not supernatural, but surreal. Also, a lot of the events had gone on for a while - remember the innkeeper being half a year off the date, and Lyla being gone already according to Ox? Mysterious disappearances and happenings had become the norm. You might not expect the mirrors to take you to another dimension, but it's old hat to anybody but you and Telia (who does, in fact, comment on their creepiness). To Elena, for example, it's just another day - and Dison, well, he's already crazy.

Finally, about the lack of stuff to do: all of the missions in this game are optional, but each one has a story and purpose. Story events take up an entire day and are forced; for example, you will always go to the Montfort Catacombs on day five.
So I have to ask again....why is it a "remake" and not a new game?
I guess it's because it has the same story and same characters???
Craze
why would i heal when i could equip a morningstar
15240
I guess a slightly deeper explanation should be given.

Karsuman and I have a universe. V&V's story is the prime example of what happens when the Telgium pops up. If you got an ending in V&V, do you remember the "and it had happened, and it would happen again" part?

Arian Wild, Philadelphia, Harbinger, Visions & Voices...!

V&V is the best, most distilled form of the themes we want in our games; it's kind of like a gateway game/drug to our future projects. As such, now that Karsuman is more used to real game design and I can actually code my way out of a box (kind of), we're remaking the game in our newfound image. It's meant to introduce the player to the cultures and events that take place in this pre-post-apocalyptic world. Pseudo-apocalyptic world? Something like that. Telgium bad. (Side-note: karsu we need to not forget the Wicoadian)

<Versalia> "revision" is not the correct term
<Craze> shut up slut
tardis
is it too late for ironhide facepalm
308
Revisions & Voices
Pages: 1