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Interesting story, battles never boring, but a few flaws

Review for "Devil Theory: Alpha"

200+ MB is a whopping download for most on RM.net, but Devil Theory: Alpha has a lot going for it that is definitely worth a look. With a little trimming to file size, this could get to be a popular project. I'll break it down by section:

Graphics - 6.5/10

RMVX isn't the maker I work with, so I'm not experienced enough to say what was custom and what was RTP, but it was consistent and fit the scenes well enough. Some areas clearly had a lot of thought put into them (e.g. the towns especially, Dolce and Sol look very nicely done and contrast with each other). Other areas were not so well thought out, and just served as straight paths to make the trip from one place to another longer and more boring. The first room of the skeleton dungeon is a good example of this.

No huge graphical flaws or parts that seemed particularly out of place. Monster graphics looked good, battle animations were pretty standard, light effects were present and complimentary in most scenes. So this gets a decent score.

Gameplay - 7.5/10

This game uses an interesting mechanic to get around the button-mashing tedium. Instead of getting put back in a queue with enemies after an action, the lone heroine may continue to attack again and again while only enemies have to wait to strike. The obvious advantage this gives the player is counter-balanced with hordes of enemies that attack every turn. This allows the player to attack and defend at opportune moments.

That said, the amount of variety in the skill set seemed to be lacking. The only skills I ever used were disable (of great importance while tackling massive hordes) and those super skills that require no VP (the creator's substitute for MP). The attack down and defense down abilities yielded no tangible result and I couldn't really notice a significant difference in the elemental attacks, so I stuck with fire the entire time. Even the Critical Hit was only slightly more effective than normal attacks. So while it suffered at this point, at least the battles were fast-paced and I wasn't bored.

The random battles with touch encounters included was probably a little much. I'd probably prefer a completely touch encounter system, perhaps with different colored enemies to represent relative difficulty. As it was, there wasn't a single random encounter that I wasn't able to escape from on the first try, so the game was mostly touch encounter for me anyway. I was actually able to avoid a lot of fighting completely, for a reason I'll discuss in Custom Systems.

Story - 6.5/10

Rebecca is a well-defined character and I was interested in her past and future. Gabe was sort of all over the place and I felt his character was less consistent, serving mostly to guide Rebecca's development. The use of Rebecca as the narrator in the present talking about her past (the game, as far as the player is concerned) was an interesting device that allowed the player to get into Rebecca's head.

Often the player is directed to a seemingly pointless fetch-quest, which I hate, but the story elements in-between kept me interested. I found a lot of what NPCs had to say quite uninteresting, but I liked Rebecca enough (and her cryptic relationship with Lynn) to give this a decent score.

Music - 8/10 (provisional)

Yes, the music was great and suited the scenes perfectly. There was a theme for every emotion and it enhanced the story. But there is no excuse for a 200 MB file and most of the music is responsible. There were some instances were additional music was not necessary, for example, there doesn't have to be a different tune for both touch encounters and random encounters. Also, these two MP3s don't need to be different for each and every area. Making your game 200 MB is like putting up a wall between you and potential players.

Custom Systems - 6/10

I really wanted to give this a higher score, because what really kept me playing was the ability to generate items and craft weapons and armor to be synthesized. I really enjoyed being able to make new stuff out of the materials I had gathered. The problem is that there seemed to be no difference in the effect of synthesizing a fire necklace or a mystic wand. I just got more max VP. Was there a difference? There really should have been. This system is much less cool if there is no difference, and if there is one, the player should know it.

Also, so many materials were readily available, that I never really had to battle much. Synthesize a sword for attack. Boots for defense. Armor for more HP. Etc. And materials can be found in rocks and barrels that regenerate themselves, so it made ridiculously easy by the end. Also, the chance of failure of synthesizing pissed me off more than anything. Since you can save anywhere, everyone will do exactly what I did: save and restart until success. The same goes for barrels: save and restart until you get the element you need.

My suggestions:

1.) Make save only at inns and save points.
2.) Make materials more rare and 100% chance of success while synthesizing.
3.) Make sure there is a difference between synthesizing a flame sword and lighting sword and make sure the player knows what that is.

This alone would make your score an 8. But it would be 10 if you implemented number 4:

4.) Make a crafting item for skills

Just as you can generate items and craft weapons and armor, I would love to see a skill system like this. As it was leveling up, I got so many random skills at once that didn't do me any good, I hardly used any but the three I mentioned. But if I could craft skills, not only would I care enough to use them effectively, it would also allow for character customization.

Difficulty - ???

Game was almost prohibitively difficult at the beginning. I barely made it to town and was aching to stay at an inn, only to find it costs 800 credit to restore myself to full health. This problem eventually becomes trivial because a.) I collected way to many potions to ever need a full heal again, and b.) I had so much cash from converting my mountains of raw materials.

Overall: 6/10

Everything I've said before about covers it. This has a good deal of potential, so keep working at it. And please, cut the size in half at least.

Also, I was unable to talk to the guy across the counter at the tool shop. Was he important?