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Why is Alex doing this?

  • rabitZ
  • 10/07/2011 10:37 AM
  • 1713 views
I played this game after posting in the Review just one Game topic.
Glancing at the screenshot, one can easily tell it's a RM2K RTP adventure.
That fact, in and of itself, tends to not bother me much.
So, can Corfaisus instill this game with enough personality to become memorable?
We shall see...

Graphics/Mapping: 4/5
Let's start with the good. I have to say the mapping in this game is probably the best use I have ever seen of the RM2K RTP.
Caves and valleys feel natural, with good use of decorations.
Dungeon environments are cleverly designed, with passageways and various rooms, often finding the right size, not too small, not too big of a dungeon.
Charsets, Facesets, Monster Battlers are all standard RTP (and some similar styled resources), nothing out of place here.

Music: 2.5/5
All standard RTP, as far as I can tell. No particular tune caught my attention, for better or worse.

Gameplay: 1.5/5
Ok, time for the ugly! In another review of mine, I noted that one of the biggest factors that make me not enjoy games is random battles.
And yes, you guessed correctly: Tales of Zilmurik 1 not only does feature random battles, but the encounter rate is INSANELY high. Oftentimes, an enemy fight would spawn just ONE step after finishing the previous one.

The battles themselves seem to be adequately balanced, and characters had your standard assortment of RPG skills: single-damage, elemental damage, healing, status recovery. However, having to fight so many encounters makes one develop a growing frustration.

Frustration.

But it doesn't end here. There is also a great variety of puzzles. The author obviously went through a lot of effort to implement different challenges for the player. If you can think of it, it's probably in the game: rock sliding puzzles, switch puzzles, even a variation of the "lights-out" puzzle. Most of them serve their purpose adequately, but there are a few ones that are basically infuriating. There are a couple that come to mind: in one you have to memorize the order in which 8 statues glow, and repeat afterwards. You have to do this 4 times, and if you mess up one time. You have to start all over again. In the other, you have 20 seconds to activate 3 switchs and open 1 chest. But the time is basically too short. I was screaming out in frustration after finally managing to succed barely in the 73th try.

Story: 2/5
This seems to be the foundation of an epic storyline. Arguments between gods. Chaos castles and Kings riding airships leading armies.

Basically, it goes like this:
The god of Chaos has begun raising an army to assault the human denizens of the world. Why he does this is, at the beginning, unknown.

And one figure will become the center of all this...
RTP Alex.

Why do you even care, Alex?


When I realized Alex was the main character, and that he WAS NAMED ALEX, it didn't bother me at all. But the main problem in my opinion, is not that stories like these have been told many times before.
It's that it quickly became evident that the one thing this game lacks is CHARACTER and PERSONALITY.
The plot seemed epic enough, but the characters were really bland.
After having played the game to completion, I still don't know why Alex went forward with his life of adventuring.
I still don't know why did my party members joined with me.
What were the motivations and desires of my PCs?
Why does Alex insist on braving such perils and foes? He doesn't show the slightest bit of personality. He just does things because they need to be done.
And all 3 of our characters are like this. They all talk similarly, with a grandiose dialogue that makes me hard to find distinct personalities in them.

Some tropes found in the game:
- Random Encounters: A LOT... UGH.
- Get on the Boat
- Now Where was I Going Again?: Maybe it was just me.

Conclusion
I really wanted to like this game. At first sight, it meets a lot of the points I like in amateur RPGs: a medieval fantasy story, optional dungeons, interesting plot. However, the negatives (high rate for random encounters and some annoying puzzles) were so frustrating that they shadowed the positives (good mapping and nice exploration), and the game didn't give me enough motivation to really like it (interesting personalities in its characters, mainly).

To the author, my main suggestions for future games are:
- Lose the random battles
- Strive to imbue your characters with personalities, flaws, motivations and traits. I know it's hard. I have trouble with this myself in my projects.

So, this is an average RPG, not too long.
The only way I can recommend it to people is if they are suckers for punishment and want to play a RM2K game as standard as they come.

I thank Corfaisus for his help at points where I became stuck, and hope to see if he can produce another game which will show us more of him, a game that will carry his mark. He seems to have the skills necessary.

Final Score: 2.5/5

Posts

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Corfaisus
"It's frustrating because - as much as Corf is otherwise an irredeemable person - his 2k/3 mapping is on point." ~ psy_wombats
7419
I appreciate you taking the time to play the game and write the review, and it definitely gives me plenty to think about.

About the puzzles, in some places I tried not to just fill the game with ice sliding/rock pushing/switch pressing puzzles, but clearly some of the effort was in vain when it became too frustrating (though that was sort of my intention when you reach Chaos' Domain). I'll be putting in work to see what other kind of puzzles I can implement without stressing out as much as I did while trying to piece together the elaborate mine cart puzzle that lead to the Rune Key so that progress still gets done without risking the loss of fans.

I also set the random encounter rate to 35 on all maps in the hopes that it wouldn't be a battle per step, but due to how the system manages the encounter rate you'll occasionally run into this sort of situation no matter what the number is set to. This will be changed in all future games by way of an event per map that handles "random" encounters in a more acceptable and solid way. I will set variables that both set the number of steps taken to encounter a battle (a solid 30 or so) and what sort of battle it will be. That way my mapping won't have to be compromised to keep players from becoming stuck behind an army of touch encounters.

Despite how you may have felt, I went out of my way to make sure every crack in the storyline within the small time-frame between the beginning of the series and the second game was filled, and considering how little (none at all) storyline or motivation there was outside of "go here, do that" in the original version, I feel I succeeded. I also made sure to give plenty of background information, both in world events and character interactions, that can be referenced to throughout the series which was the most important part of this game. Characterization on the other hand fell flat as that's something that I definitely lack experience with and something I need to work on.

I know that the game is near completely default, but I didn't want to have to stray that far from the original and would have been completely unnecessary as the default balances everything out adequately enough and I'm sure seriously cut down on the time spent and the inevitable loss of motivation throughout the development process. But you can be sure I'll be putting in significantly more effort in moving away from the default monster/hero/item stats/names throughout the series.
This seems much different than the version I played a year and a half ago... perhaps I'll give it another go.
rabitZ
amusing tassadar, your taste in companionship grows ever more inexplicable
1296
Sorry if made it look like all is bad with the game. That is not the case.

And for the record, I did not take points off for RTPness.
I admit that, because of my frustration with the random battles, I did not explore most of the optional areas.

The plot is epic and interesting enough. My main gripe is with the characters. Sometimes I felt like they all talked in the same way.
I believe you only need to make them distinct enough to greatly improve this series.
rabitZ
amusing tassadar, your taste in companionship grows ever more inexplicable
1296
Also, I realize this is the beginning of a series. That is cool.
I also have not played the original version, but I am sure this is an improvement.

The most frustrating puzzle of all was the one where you had 20 seconds to retrieve the stone key. 25 might be more adequate in my opinion. Most of the other puzzles were interesting.
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