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Just Like the Name, the Gam a Gem
- 02/04/2019 03:30 PM
- 222 views
Rubi by Ocean
Length: ~20 minutes
As it turns out, the colors I use for my review banners for the name of the game and developer actually fit pretty much perfectly with Rubi, a pastel little action rpg by Ocean, apparently made in three days. I've recently been keeping up a streak of reviewing nostalgia games with how Homage and Age of Deliverance were both games I played many years ago. Rubi is a sort of similar case in that I gave this one a quick go a while back. However, it's also a unique case in that I never actually got past the intro on my initial playthrough. Not due to anything being wrong with the game, of course, I just realized pretty quickly that I wasn't actually in the mood to play anything and dropped this and didn't return to it afterwards. So unlike the previous two reviews, I'm actually going to be experiencing the vast majority of this game for the first time.
Rubi is a very cute game. It has a childlike wonder to it, and any sort of slightly mature theme you may find in other games is completely missing. Even when you fight enemies, you're just saving them from a sort of ice curse by defeating them, so they're happy about getting beat up. There's a minor glimpse of more mature themes in the intro with how Rubi's mother seems to be worried for her because she talks to herself (she's actually talking to spirits, they just don't see it), but it's not really expanded upon. The game had the potential to be a much darker, artistic experience about a girl no one understands because she can see things others do not. But two things. One, we already have an mind bogglingly good stop motion animation movie that explores that concept amazingly, and two, Rubi isn't about that. Rubi is a lighthearted, fun experience.
And here we see Ocean expressing his personal demons in his art.
A lot of this shines through in Ocean's writing. Honestly, the dude's like an angel. He's super nice to everyone as a person, and you can really tell easily that this game was written by him. It's got his classic cutesy, maybe a bit weaboo, but unique style in pretty much every line of dialogue, pretty accurate to how he is as a person. It's not that common to see a developer put so much of themself into their games, and playing Rubi honestly feels like just having a conversation with its developer.
The humour, if you can call it that, is pretty hit and miss. It's kind of hard to call anything in Rubi a joke, but I don't think they were meant to be funny as much as they were just meant to be cute and make you smile, and that's where it succeeds. A few of the worldplay jokes here and there aren't too bad either, and while I never found myself laughing, I still enjoyed reading pretty much every line of dialogue. I think "feel-good" is the perfect way to describe this game's writing. I do genuinely like the ending a lot, as the "twist" connecting the villian and Rubi is pretty neat, and very wholesome.
Also, there's near constant mention of food. You know it wouldn't be an Ocean game otherwise.
And the other thing that makes pretty much every Ocean game stand out, with Rubi being no exception, is the gorgeous pixel art. I've never played the mana games so I can't tell you how much of Rubi is rips and how much of it is Ocean's original works, but the game absolutely looks adorable. The mapping's pretty good, the human town in particular being easily the best one in the game. I'm particularly fond of the beachside setting, and Ocean obviously is too, considering that's where the majority of his games take place, and also from the fact that his name is, you know, Ocean. The colors are very bright and cheery, a perfect fit for the game. Just one weird thing here is that even though the screenshots on the game page seem to show Rubi having a talking image, she didn't actually have one for me. I don't know why this was the case, and I assumed I may have downloaded the wrong version, but I double checked to see if I had the right download and there only seems to be one, and I only downloaded it today so it's definetly the most recent upload.
The view's great up here!
I had my minor issues with the gameplay, but nothing too bad. The action battle system's pretty great and has the potential to really be extended further for a full game. I genuinely enjoyed fighting every enemy and took my time to do so. The game even rewards you with items for it, which is always appreciated! My issue here is that Rubi's controls can be a bit wonky. She can only face left and right during battle, which isn't so bad on its own, but sometimes instead of turning around, she just walks backwards, and at other times she actually turns. Most of the times I took damage in the game were actually because of this, as I tried to turn around an enemy and attack them but Rubi ended up walking backwards and attacking in the wrong direction instead. Another slightly weird thing here is a sort of visual thing, and it's that Rubi's sprite looks like she attacks in an arc, yet you can only actually damage enemies right in front of you. It feels weird to watch the staff's blow animation go over an enemy diagonal to me but not actually deal any damage.
The game's also a bit unpolished, which I suppose should pretty much be expected of a game made in three days. I came across a couple passability bugs, and Rubi's head also ended up getting cut off by a few cliff edges that were set to be above player. The cutscenes play out a bit abruptly sometimes, such as how the first enemy you fight pretty much just teleports away after you talk to it.
Rubi is a pretty fun little experience for the timespan it was made in, and while it's a very simple game that doesn't have much else to offer beyond its cute nature and a decent ABS system, it's still worth a go considering how short it is. I give Rubi three and a half candies out of five.
Well, this pretty much confirms that Rubi isn't an Ocean self insert. Ocean would NEVER say no to food!
Thanks for the review! Haha, might need to dial back on the food talks, I didn't even recall putting much food dialogue... but glad you enjoyed! And yeah... the moonwalking will def need to be fixed when I eventually update this.