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Tragic.

This was a very difficult review to write. Normally I try to be as constructive and supportive of peoples’ projects as possible, but there is simply no way of mincing words with this one. Never before have I encountered a project in such dire need of revision. Never have I encountered anything in any medium of fiction that offended my sensibilities as much as this project did. Let us take an in-depth look at exactly what has gone wrong and see if this project can be saved, or if it is even worth saving.

The game opens with our protagonist, a goth/emo teen named Chris pining away in exile, lamenting the fact that he has betrayed his friends in some manner and lost everything he ever cared about. A few moments later he is confronted by two women from his past, one who desperately needs his help, and one who seems hell-bent on destroying him. The game then leaps back into what I assumed was the past to see what lead Chris to this horrible chain of events.

Also; vampires.

Balance 0.5/5:

Battles are utterly atrocious in this game. You’ll spend most of the fighting in the demo alone with Chris, who starts off with no special abilities whatsoever. Money, equipment and healing items are hard to come by, and the leveling curve is very high. In other words, what you see is what you get for a very long time, unless you spend a lot of time grinding/leveling. Even then, you’re not going to see much of a statistical difference and you do not learn any skills by leveling. Simply put, leveling up in this game is a big waste of time but you’re going to have to do it anyway if you want to live.

Aside from the rats you encounter very early on, enemies tend to hit very hard (often for a quarter of your HP in a single hit) and are often faster than you are. Since enemies take two to three hits to kill and you’re likely to miss often, you’re going to sustain a lot of damage in every fight, and likely to be out of healing items in very short order. If you encounter a group of more than one enemy, you can just forget it.

Near the later parts of the demo you’ll finally got some extra teammates, which goes a long way towards making combat a lot more reasonable, but it never becomes any more interesting. You’ll also be able to gain new abilities based on…zodiac spirits of some sort, but the exact nature of these abilities are not explored during the demo.

Level Design 1.5/5:

The problems in this category stem not from horrible design choices but seemingly more from a lack of experience. All of the maps are much larger than necessary, mostly empty, and very aesthetically unappealing. While the game world begins in a bit of a sci-fi dystopia that should look worn and used, most of the maps simply suffer from poor design. It’s simply amateurish and not something to be too upset over, but it is something that could use some work. I suggest checking out screenshot threads and following some of their advice to improve your mapping skills.

As for the actual gameplay elements, dungeons feature a sort of “head’s up” icon that appears over your PC’s head in certain places to inform you when you can interact with objects. The problem is that these only really tend to appear in places like treasure chests and ladders, things the player was definitely already going to examine anyway. This leaves this useful-sounding idea rendered mostly pointless. There were also minigames, featuring an action based battle system of sorts, but these features were very buggy and I needed to use the editor in order to pass these areas.

Characters 0/5:

This is very difficult for me to say, but as far as I was concerned, none of the characters in this game had any redeeming qualities whatsoever. That is a very harsh thing to say, I know, so I am going to go into great detail as to why this was. We shall start with the main character.
The poor, poor main character.

He was just shaving, HONEST.



Somewhere, deep inside there is a likeable character, struggling to get out, I saw glimpses of him occasionally, but it just…didn’t happen. Instead I was stuck with an irritating, clumsy protagonist who does not manage to be endearing in the way he was obviously meant to. A great deal of his characterization is his obvious attraction to his close friend, Laura, and his inability to communicate his feelings for her. EXCEPT that it is clear from his thought process that he knows exactly what he wants, but rather than fearing to say them, he actively chooses not to. When the character is consciously choosing to be miserable and then spends the next five minutes in game angsting about why he is unhappy, it is extremely hard to have any sympathy, and the thinly-veiled implications that he was actually cutting himself at various points in the story was more obnoxious than anything else.

As for the rest of the characters, none of them are worth looking at twice. The script is exceedingly poor, dialogue often feels awkward, unnatural, is littered with spelling and grammar errors and flavored with an overabundance of toilet humor and incredibly vulgar dialogue. I do not know why so many people choose to “enhance” their scripts with a plethora of needless obscenities. It does not make the dialogue more “mature,” if anything it has the exact opposite effect, making it sound like it was written by a mopey teenager who has never read a piece of decent literature in his life. (Yes, there are exceptions to this but this game is most assuredly not one of them.)

My advice to you, the developer: learn how people talk. Learn how friends talk to each other. Learn how couples talk to each other. Read, learn, grow as a writer, and strongly, strongly consider revising every piece of dialogue in the entire game , because this script just isn’t working for you as is.

Story 1/5:

The narrative of this game “borrows” heavily from A Blurred Line; you’ll begin at a climactic moment in the story only to be flung back in time, after which your protagonist must race to a destination complete with choosing to take a bus or walking through several blocks of dangerous territory. A short while later he’ll be chased by government agents and injure his leg in a fall, reducing his walking speed. Also, you’ll meet a character named Lys. Such blatant “borrowing” form another RM game, to say nothing of one of the most famous and well-known RM games ever made, grated on me heavily and detracted from my enjoyment.

Aside from these borrowed elements, the game suffers from severe narrative flaws. The initial intro manages to be fairly interesting, and if the game had picked up right from there I dare say I’d have been highly invested in what was going on. Unfortunately we were flung back in time to a much less interesting series of events and watching the protagonist angst. By the time action started happening again I had long since lost my ability to care.

The game’s pacing is very odd, it often lapses into extended flashbacks for no reason and with little warning, and a few times I was confused about whether I was in the present or the past….wasn’t I already in the past anyway? I lost track. The game also features an abundance of long and slow cutscenes, which might be acceptable if the dialogue wasn’t so juvenile and pedestrian.

Music and Sound 3/5:

Rather than ripping midis from popular games, this project used midi versions of many popular songs, seemingly mostly from the eighties. It is an interesting stylistic choice that fits well with the modern feel of the game, and one of the very few design choices in this game I actually liked. A rather awkward-sounding concert sequences with poor audio quality near the end of the demo went a long way towards making me dislike even this aspect, however.

Overall 0.5/5:

It pains me to be the messenger, but this project is a mess, a nearly incomprehensible tangle of half-ideas, dragged down by atrocious dialogue and almost no redeeming qualities. It would take nothing short of a truly Herculean effort to turn this project into something acceptable, as nearly every aspect of the game requires a huge amount of work. As a release something entry, it is likely some aspects of this project were rushed, but even considering this fact, this project is in very poor shape. It seems this game has quite a few dedicated fans, so for their sake I hope this project continues, but I also hope that it is in nothing resembling its current form.

Posts

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I agree wholeheartedly with the review. One particular issue which really bugged me was the almost mysoginistic way the main character behaved towards women. There's one moment early on where the character calls someone a whore after she is mildly rude to him. A main character who can barely breathe without saying bitch or whore is not endearing. Also the relentlessly self-pitying protagonist is intolerable. RPG narratives are invariably high drama. Someone moping over a crush and memories of bullying in high school in an epic story is just bizarre.
Solitayre
Circumstance penalty for being the bard.
18062
You are correct, Budapest, and this misogyny is not limited to the main character at all. The protagonist's girlfriend is clearly simply a one-dimensional cutout who exists solely to do and say horrible things and torment the protagonist without any seeming thought or rationale behind it. The portrayal of women in general in the entire narrative is less than amiable.

That said, a timid character who was bullied in school finally growing a spine and making a stand can be a very rewarding story arc, but that hardly seems to be what has happened here. Thanks for your comments.
Amazing. You just wrote the best review for my game that I have seen on RMN so far.
I completely agree :)
Mysogyny, profuse profanity, a long, draining storyline, big, empty maps.
Why?
Because I enjoy it. I enjoy making a project that is completely flawed in every way and I will continue to do so. I need not explain why I am doing this because it would be a waste of time.
The QUESTION is... Despite the fact it is obvious the main characters feelings for each other are strong... Despite the predictibility of the developing story because of it's "borrowing from ABL"... The REAL question is...
"Where is this going? Why is he making these ridiculous and obvious ploys?"
I will never say.

Solitayre
Circumstance penalty for being the bard.
18062
Hey, I'm not here to judge.

Well, technically, as a reviewer I am entirely here to judge, but you know what I mean.

Thanks for being cool about it, I wasn't trying to be a jerk or anything.
Max McGee
with sorrow down past the fence
9219
How long did you play this game?
Solitayre
Circumstance penalty for being the bard.
18062
Until the end. =)
Fuck, goddamnit! All bitches are whores!

-Tabris
chana
(Socrates would certainly not contadict me!)
1584
Double post, sorry
chana
(Socrates would certainly not contadict me!)
1584
With this kind of review, you destroy all creativity in the rpg game making world, 2 or 3 more like that and all you will have on this site are remakes of Final Fantasy, Mario and Zelda, and all games will looks like clones.
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