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A big campy action movie ride

  • Mewd
  • 06/08/2007 08:01 PM
The Burning Grail is not a game you should go into for the story. It's dialogue is bland and unremarkable (although servicable), the plot is riddled with holes and the motivations of many characters don't make any sense. The anti-racism message of the game, while being well meaning, doesn't manage to come across as poignant when the protagonist changes views suddenly in a hard to swallow scene. The story does manage to be completely functional and sets the stage for an otherwise enjoyable game. The game is quite fun in a big, dopey action movie kind of way.

I will, however, give the author props for the introduction. Which manages to effectively set the tone for the game without saying a single word. This is praiseworthy when so many of its RPG Maker peers ramble endlessly to set up context.

The Burning Grail is seeming inspired by the setting of the classic PC game Fallout and the mechanics of Riviera: The Promised Land for gameboy advance. The world is a post-apocalyptic wasteland, where the surviving humans hunt down nearly helpless mutants with savage prejudice.

Following after Riviera, you cannot actually explore maps. You choose directions or objects to interact with, but otherwise the dungeon crawling is on rails. This is not such a bad thing, as each individual typically has more significance this way, and are above average in design.

Combat forces you to manage a stock of weapons, which work as items. You can use each item only ones, and this creates tension to keep a stock of useful weapons. Exploring the maps thoroughly is encouraged. Finding caches of extra weapons is pivitol to your survival.

Thankfully the game is short and leniar enough that your weapon cache never becomes an overbearing issue. The tension of making sure you gather enough weapons to proceed is nice. Managing your weapons, trying to use up mediocre ones and saving the useful ones, makes the battle engine MUCH more interesting than your typical level grind.

You 'level up' by spending skill points you get from defeating enemies. Managing what to invest in is a fun feature, although really the best thing to do is just invest into the speed boost as early as possible.

Graphically, the game is a little wonky. Maps are well designed. The character sprites are largely edits, a lot of which look really awkward, but they work well enough. The use of pictures in the game are more glaringly out of place. The game does well with its graphics considering how limited the RM resource community is with a setting like this.

Most of the music in the game is very tinny. They're ripped from various places, but sound muffled, as if they were a recording of a recording. It's not too distracting, might even add to the tone of the game a little bit, but the contrast to some of the songs that are MP3 quality is very drastic.

I enjoyed Burning Grail more than I expected. Its story and message are nothing new and hardly well done, but the taut combat style and leniar progression make for a fun ride.

On a final note, I recommend playing the game on Easy mode. Which has generously been provided. Normal mode is savage and unforgiving, while easy is enjoyably challenging without being too frustrating. There is no incentive to play on normal mode except gamer pride. Either way, the game's balance is pretty good, even if a lot of it hinges on how well you spend your skill points.