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Previous Sweet Middleground releases:
Sweet Middleground
Sweet Middleground 2 ~the birthday cake~
Sweet Middleground 3 ~the lost keys~
Sweet Middleground 4 ~the sand castle~
(note: these previous releases aren't action games)

Sweet Middleground 5 ~the cave~ is a mix between
a slice of life visual novel, and an action/puzzle game.


(posterization results from .gif export, no posterization in-game I hope)

Two versions are available:
one including the full story, and best played after the first 4 games in the series;
and one containing the action game only, and playable by anyone regardless of previous releases.

If you're already up to date with the Sweet Middleground series,
please start reading from "PLOT" onward.

If you simply envision trying the action game,
please start reading from "GAMEPLAY" onward.

____________________________________________________________________
PLOT


Antigone is back home during summer vacation, and her demeanor has changed, her flusters come easily.

Pressured by her parents, she invites Vincent for a few days. Rapidly, anecdotes from the past emerge...
As well as astonishing lucid dreams, in which the two youths venture through a dungeon-like cave, and that Antigone perfectly remembers while awake.

The story relies on Antigone's memories, and thus is more fun if read after the previous Sweet Middleground games. It's otherwise simple enough, and made to fit the gameplay and color the exploration, rather than the other way around.


For those who just want to go through the story, or have trouble with real-time gameplay, an Easy difficulty mode making it possible to blitz through most danger is included.

True to the series, the game frequently features hand-animated portraits. In fact, my attempt at optimizing them failed, and with all the hair movement and blushing variations... They constitute half of the project's data size. Sorry for that.

The standard version of the game alternates between (unskippable) story and gameplay, connecting them together, and is the only version with portraits.
Here it is: https://rpgmaker.net/games/12704/downloads/12968/
Estimated playtime for this version: 2 to 10 hours


(blur is due to recording, actual game looks normal)
(also SPOILERS of the previous games)

____________________________________________________________________
GAMEPLAY


The game plays as a top-down action game, married to the usual tile-based puzzle gameplay of the series.

You control Antigone and Vincent in alternance.
Antigone can wield a flashlight, move blocks, enter/leave maps, or heal; while
Vincent can wield weapons to defeat foes, and tank hits.


The puzzle aspect of the game is kept to its fundamentals: move blocks to make your way through, or to keep danger away.
The complexity resides instead in fighting monsters that are mixed with, and fit, the puzzles to solve. In Normal difficulty, this can be challenging.


The game has limited ARPG elements, but there is EXP gain and stats purchase, which means that solving a problem by grinding is always an option.
Additionally, the Easy difficult mode can be activated at any time to make positioning much more forgiving.

The ~action only~ version of the game gets rid of the story and portraits, and directly brings you to uninterrupted gameplay with only straightforward instructions.
Here it is: https://rpgmaker.net/games/12704/downloads/12980/
Estimated playtime for this version: 1 to 8 hours


(blur is due to recording, actual game looks normal)
____________________________________________________________________

CONTENT WARNING:
- blood, although only on the map
- wide variations in overall luminosity

Latest Blog

Game update, and [spoiler] puzzle solution.

The game has been updated with the following changes:
- the blue and red monsters respawn less quickly

- added initial Normal/Easy mode toggling
- damage received is now more than halved in Easy mode
- corrected little kiss tutorial glitch

And here is a solution for the main puzzle, in the dark cave full of trolleys:

Posts

Pages: 1
Marrend
Guardian of the Description Thread
20691
When I saw this gamepage, I recalled that I have only played the fourth installment of this series. This issue has now been rectified, and looking forward to the continuation!
author=Marrend
When I saw this gamepage, I recalled that I have only played the fourth installment of this series. This issue has now been rectified, and looking forward to the continuation!

Wow, nice. Thoroughly appreciated~
All is going well right now, I should be way ahead of schedule.
Woah I was not expecting an action game sequel for this series! Looks great so far!
Looking forward to playing this!! :)
author=eevee93
Woah I was not expecting an action game sequel for this series! Looks great so far!
Looking forward to playing this!! :)

Still on my quest towards varying the secondary gameplay of the series =D
The playtesting has already started, too. Still going smoothly.
Marrend
Guardian of the Description Thread
20691
I'm maybe an hour into the game, and...


...I've found the "sword" and the "polearm". I've got a funny feeling that the piece of wood that blocks the next (last?) section of the dungeon can be removed via an "axe", but, I'm not sure what form that kinda of weapon might take in this kind of game.

Also...


...I'm finding some of the enemies quite tough. The "blue lips" enemy that respawn were pretty bad with their ranged attack. The clicker-bugs that I meet in the next section are nasty as hell, though. Like, I'm calling them "clicker-bugs" because of the sound taking damage makes in this game, and their rate of dealing damage seems pretty damned high. I can kinda manage them, but, they are certainly making the puzzle-solving in that area a bit more stressful than it probably should.


Like, I'm being the terrible player that's running this game through Ace to have access to the debug menu, and then used it to give myself +2 in each of the purchasable stats in an attempt to make things a bit easier on me. Not sure if it is!


*Edit: I just wanna add how cute and heartwarming the healing mechanic is. I certainly appreciate it more during less stressful moments. More than this, I will not say.

@Marrend:

You're right, the wood thing requires another weapon to destroy it~

I haven't had the luxury of much playtesting yet, so I might adjust the difficulty, but it is supposed to be challenging in Normal, really. Don't hesitate to switch to Easy (although I don't mind you using the rvdata2 either).

The clickers are dangerous, you're not supposed to fight them head on. The polearm has more range that they do, and you can move obstacles.

And I was all happy when I found this idea of a healing kiss mechanic =D


Thanks for the detailed feedback. If you can't get through the game, don't hesitate to drop it until I make it easier, if necessary.
Marrend
Guardian of the Description Thread
20691
@Zorga:

That's... an interesting point. The game certainly mentions how there's a "Normal" and "Easy" difficulty mode, and how certain things work differently between those modes. The question I must then pose is how does one go about actually changing difficulty modes? There's no option on the title screen, though, I might not expect one there to begin with. There's no option I can see from the workshop/upgrade screen. Good work on that, forgot to mention that last time. As for the in-game pause menu, there is only the option to save, or close the game. Which, itself, can either quit the game altogether, or return to the title screen.

@Marrend
Now I'm worried, because I mentioned how to change the game difficulty not once,
but twice ='D. I must have a problem with putting important info right within the attention drop intervals.
Go to the bedroom, and move Vincent's mattress.
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