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Welcome to D̶e̶a̶d̶ ̶... D̶e̶a̶r̶... Dread Island!

Helloooo!
Finally I was able to play one of the games of the "Swap in 3 Middle With You" 2022 event, and the first one is Isle of Dread by Coelocanth & Marrend, made with RPG Maker MZ.

What is this game about, then? Well let's call it a classic mini (due to the time constraints of the event) party based jrpg adventure with some interesting gimmick (the glyph magic system) that I liked very much, anyway let's start from the beginning, the plot: Saff and Tara are two adventurers that stole from a certain Lord Merton and now they are on a ship, when this is attacked by some mer-men (first combat that serves as a sort of tutorial). Then a Kraken appears and destroys the ship, and later Saff wakes up all alone on a beach with some crates and remains of the ship. Where is Tara? And how can they leave the place?


Whoa, whoa, why so excited? For just a gladius? I know that there aren't many weapons in this game, still it's not Excalibur!

Isle of Dread is a short party-based fantasy scenario in which we have three (yes, three, there is also Cedric, and you will meet him later) different characters, the possibility to save anywhere and anytime and the task to explore a couple of dungeons with random encounters and bosses, some of these are obligatory to finish the game, while others are guardians of glyphs.
Glyphs are basically spells that the characters can equip and cast, they go from the indispensable healing power to various elemental attacks and one deadly non-elemental RAY OF DEATH that I found extremely useful to win, being extremely powerful and with a clearly high mana cost. Winning fights lets the characters earn both experience points to level up AND Ap points to master the glyps equipped: once mastered they can cast the spells without the need to equip the glyph so you can switch to another one (having two characters able to heal is for example extremely useful, if not necessary, to win).

But our adventurers have also TPs that are used to unleash their personal skills and special attacks: Saff can backstab or poison the opponents, while Tara is a more defensive character that act as a tank. Cedric is instead a berserk with some cool skills like the fury that also completely heals him or the cleave multi-attack, but his magical skills and speed are low. In any case on the second level all characters will learn a skill that let them recover all Mana spending some TPs, and that was extremely useful, also adding some more strategy to the game. Consumables and potions are scarce on the Isle of Dread (like equipment and gear) and there is no shop (well, not that they have any money!), so it's important to manage the party carefully, even if there are a couple of places where you can restore (the campfire or at some spots near the water). Oh and remember that defending in combat restores few TPs and Mana!


WHAM! And the harpy is no more! Pity, because harpies in this game look so cute! (uh play this game so you can see them!)

So the game is about exploring, finding items and defeating bosses, anyway remember that you can flee from all non-boss encounters, because I found the random encounters rating quite frequent, anyway it may be me, that chose the wrong order of esploring the three zones from the camp that lead me to do these twice, see later from details. Not that's a bad thing, on the contrary my characters were able to level up and learn useful spells, and my advice is to rely on these, since you will need them to win. And keep these few potions for the most desperate moments, of course! The game difficulty is ok, enemies aren't extremely tough or dangerous if you don't play carelessly, but some bosses will provide some real challenge. The Archdemon was especially tough (for me it was more challenging than the final boss!), and not only you have to face him with two minions (that aren't weak at all!), but also has an attack that inflicts lots of damages! Uhm anyway I won on my first try, even if it took some time to win.

Visuals, from what I believe (I may be wrong, so correct me if needed, please), is all RTPs or some generic graphic pack (probably except for the kraken slide in the beginning) that have a very Rpgmaker XP -like appearance, anyway mapping is good and every asset is used well, I even liked the font used even if during combat some messages are cut, when they reach three lines.

some random thoughts:

- There is a wall that you can climb in the first beach map, instead of using the stairs. I dunno if it is a mapping error or not, I mean it's a part of the rock wall that looks different.
- I like that the Tara's weapons are on the walls outside the cell, but I'm quite sure that some players may forget to take them or just believe that are just decorative parts of the environment.
- Talking to Tokiko the first time spawn the boss on the upper cave, and talking her a second time after killing said boss lets you fight the last boss in the north-west. I tell you this to save you time since I visited both places before meeting Tokiko, needing to go back after exploring both places! Oh and remember that she can give you some very useful potions once in a while!
- The ending is very abrupt and ends in media res, pity because I expecting a short cutscene like the opening, anyway not a problem, it may leave space for a sequel! Still some things are never explained, like the presence of Cedric that went to the island to... well we do not know why and how! OR maybe I missed a dialogue, who knows!


But of course! Oh mind that Tokiko is a central character, you need her help to finish the game!

Final Verdict
Isle of Dread is a good little adventure, very solid and well done, despite leaving some story details unclear, but this is not a problem or something detrimental of my enjoyment. The glyphs system is nice, combat are strategic and fun since there are various options and strategies available, and the difficulty is well balanced, I guess. Pity for the abrupt ending, just a single slide (like the cool kraken one in the beginning) would be enough, anyway I had fun and considering that this was made for the event in a really short time, it's a pretty good little adventure.

Posts

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Marrend
Guardian of the Description Thread
20691
Thanks for playing, and leaving a review!

That wall you could climb. Was it near the Heal Glyph? When I initially playtested coel's first half, I could not figure out why it was there when it didn't seem possible to reach it. I then modified the map so that I could get to it. If the wall by the branch is climbable, it did not occur to me to try climbing it!

There was a feeling, a possibility, of this game evolving into a survivor-craft. So, like, having players deal with the curse, while collecting resources to either build a boat to get off the island, make shelter, craft more/better equipment, etc. However, that's a gameplay loop I'm not particularly interested in.

Though, you have a point about the ending being rather abrupt. It kinda ties in to not wanting to prolong the game with grinding for resources to build (or rebuild?) a boat, but, I might not have considered writing a cut-scene to bring things to an end than, well, just cutting it off at the defeat of the kracken. XD
author=Marrend
Thanks for playing, and leaving a review!

That wall you could climb. Was it near the Heal Glyph? When I initially playtested coel's first half, I could not figure out why it was there when it didn't seem possible to reach it. I then modified the map so that I could get to it. If the wall by the branch is climbable, it did not occur to me to try climbing it!


Yeah yeah, that one. Well not bad just odd since I expected that was an example of "secret passage" similar to others in other maps but I guess it's the only one. Nevermind!

author=Marrend
There was a feeling, a possibility, of this game evolving into a survivor-craft. So, like, having players deal with the curse, while collecting resources to either build a boat to get off the island, make shelter, craft more/better equipment, etc. However, that's a gameplay loop I'm not particularly interested in.


Nah it's fine as it is. I mean _I saw no necessity of those additions just one thing... yeah what you wrote below!

author=Marrend
Though, you have a point about the ending being rather abrupt. It kinda ties in to not wanting to prolong the game with grinding for resources to build (or rebuild?) a boat, but, I might not have considered writing a cut-scene to bring things to an end than, well, just cutting it off at the defeat of the kracken. XD


Uhm, I expected something like finding that the treasure is a huge golden ship or something like that. Or maybe Cedric's relatives to the rescue. Well that's it! lol
The graphics are indeed the XP RTP, with some conversion of the auto tiles. Except for the tree canopies, which are from REFMAP.
author=coelocanth
The graphics are indeed the XP RTP, with some conversion of the auto tiles. Except for the tree canopies, which are from REFMAP.


Nice! Even if admit not my favourite, but I like the final result. I also liked the font used!
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