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"Team Losers" proves it's name is an oxymoron name yet again

  • Marrend
  • 09/07/2011 12:01 PM
Game Title: Atherion
Engine: RPG Maker VX
Status at review: Completed

While I want to eventually play all the Summer Game event entries, this one piqued my interest most. Why? To put it simply, it was because the team that made Averice was behind it.
As "Team Losers" has indicated that the game will have expanded content later on, note that this is a review of the 2011 Summer Games Event version of the game.

I suppose I could post screenshots of the astoundingly beautiful graphics that the game has (Full respect to Kirsanna!), but the "Images" tab, and the character introduction blogs, has this game covered. Or, I could just post the Alaria image:

As if this game doesn't have enough Alaria images.
Oh, who am I trying to kid?

The majority of the pieces used in this game are from NewGrounds. They are woven together for an excellent listening experience, despite being from differing authors that may not have had this game in mind. There is also a piece from Rei- that works very well for the situation that it arises in.
On a personal note, I enjoy listening to "Ozarka is the Devil" most, followed by "Forest of the Damned" and "Rose at Meridiem".

Players take the role of Edan, a new student of A.R.C. (I can't precisely remember what that acronym stands for, but it could mean Arcane Research Center). At first, he is tasked to just find a tutor. Circumstances allow Edan to make his own decision (I get the impression that students are normally assigned tutors), and decides that he wants Flynn (who he innocently mistakes as a "famous" guy). Flynn, who wants nothing to do with him, tries to pass him on to his "old friend" Alaria.
What follows is a trip into the first dungeon of the game. The in-game explanation of this area, and the monsters that are fought, is a tad over my head (Perhaps, though, I was being distracted by the looks of the place), but to say that the dungeon areas fits the theme of surrealism for my way of thinking.

There's a bit of exploration (The school is awesome.), some treasure-hunting (Gotta get the shiny!), and, of course, combat.
Combat-wise, if you've ever played Grandia, things should be fairly familiar, though there is a twist on the general idea. Even if one has not played Grandia, the in-game explanations for it's workings (like Flynn's) are humorously awesome.
Anyway, to make a long story short, the game uses something akin to an ATB system, but certain abilities have a "charge time". Being hit during this time delays the use of the skill. If the "charge bar" (for lack of a better term) depletes, the action is canceled. There's currently no real way of knowing which skill has a "charge time", but there's indications that a future release will fix this.
Another thing that I find odd is that characters gain experience (or something akin to it), and gain levels. However, I cannot, for the life of me, find where the "EXP" or "LEVEL" fields are on the character's status screen.

I'm not seeing an "EXP" or "LEVEL" field here, but my concentration might be elsewhere.

Overall entertainment:
I managed to beat the game my first time around in about two hours without much grinding. As I mentioned before, some of the plot-points were a tad over my head (which could have been the point), but I had an enjoyable experience nonetheless.
The fact that "Team Losers" is planning on expanding the content of this game after the Summer Games event concludes is an exciting possibility onto itself.

Even if this game doesn't win the Summer Games event (by some miracle), I believe that this game is good enough to be featured.


Side note on ratings (since there is/was/will be somewhat of a spate on what rating means what between each user):
1/5 -> Terrible. Forget about hitting an audience. The game is so bug-ridden, or otherwise unplayable, that what entertainment can be found in the game has a hard time coming to the surface.

2/5 -> Bad but playable. I had a poor experience with the game. When played by a player the game actually caters to, it would serve it's purpose.

3/5 -> Average. A solid experience, but snags somewhere along the line cause it to be held back from being "good".

4/5 -> Good. I enjoyed the experience, and have no qualms supporting it if was considered for a featured game (if it wasn't featured already).

5/5 -> Excellent. Among the paragons of gaming experiences, and instant feature material in my humble opinion (if it wasn't featured already).


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Circumstance penalty for being the bard.
I think someone might have a crush....

Thanks for the review! Yeah, the UI didn't include everything it should have (it doesn't show money either, although there's no use for money at this point in the game) and those things will definitely be added in later.

Interestingly enough, Anaryu put most of the battle system together without having ever played Grandia!

I'm glad you liked the music. There is actually a hilariously awesome story behind the song that plays in the Institute (called "Awesome Sauce"), but that is a tale for another time.
EXP and Level weren't visible (though on my list at the time!) - they are now but that doesn't do this version any good sadly.

If you don't mind a post about what you didn't like (or a PM is great too) and what you thought needed more work or was off or distracting or detracting, etc.

Having directions on what to improve/fix is my main focus, since we are putting a lot of work into the post-contest remake of this already, and the sooner I know what to improve the sooner I can reap benefits from it!
Guardian of the Description Thread
There's money in this game? Maybe I didn't notice it because, as noted, there aren't exactly many opportunities to use it.

Pinpointing details that I didn't like about this game, or what was distracting about it, is difficult at best. This review is based on my first experience with the game, so I obviously missed details due to the fact that I was playing it fresh. Simply playing it again might clean out a few points of confusion, but if I had to list what I didn't understand, or thought was distracting, here goes:

* The explanation of the Aether and the Raythe. Admittedly, I was entranced with my first time in the Aether, and it's surreal look. I barely skimmed the details that Flynn was relaying. That mistake made whatever future references to the Aether, and the Raythe's connection to it, harder to understand. That I didn't bother to attempt getting Flynn's explanation again is purely my fault.

* Spoilers ahoy!
Ephiram's story. I knew this story was important, but maybe I should have written something down. In any event, I could not understand, for the life of me, what, exactly happened. Even after meeting him as a final boss. Maybe, when grilling Flynn, he was being too evasive (which fits his character), or perhaps some other circumstance was happening, but I'm just generally confused about how he got to be what he became.
In the end, I only really know that something happened to Ephiram, the Fire Spirit, Flynn, and the the master guy that actually did die.

Circumstance penalty for being the bard.
* Spoilers

Response to Marrend's spoilers:

You are correct. There are a lot of things regarding that particular chain of events that weren't as clear as they could have been.

The most obvious reason is that we were just running out of time at the end.

Another reason is that Anaryu and I both wrote two completely different versions of what happened to Ephrian. The version currently in the game is sort of an amalgam of both versions, and thus there are some inconsistencies. However, some of it was left intentionally vague (as a sequel hook). For instance, Ephrian's story conflicts with Alaria's version of events in the concert hall. Was Flynn lying to protect his friend? Or is something else going on here? The role of Flynn's master and the Phoenix will be expounded on in latter installments.

In other words, hopefully your questions will be answered when this game continues. =)

Guardian of the Description Thread
That's a very nifty idea, Solitayre. I like it!
I definitely wanted to try this one out, but if a newer and better version is on its way (due to time constraints and a general lack of motivation) I'll wait for that. Glad to hear it's off to a great start though.
Confusion over this content means I'll be rewriting those scenes!

I'll probably simplify the explanations a bit and expand more later, and make a few things more clear in the final fight's intro scene.
Just finished it and I really loved it!
Hope you guys either expand the game or make a sequel!
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