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Simplicity done pretty well

  • sbester
  • 07/10/2012 05:52 PM

This game gained my attention some time last year, as I found Marrend’s blogs pretty interesting at the time and was curious about the universe surrounding Matsumori Days. The titles were interesting, so that helped, and I am always curious to try games from members who are constant posters on RMN. I have not played Matsumori Days yet (Arbiters is, as it says on the main page, a prequel to that game), and I have been purposely waiting to try this one out first for the sake of chronology. It turned out to be retty much spot on with what I expected/hoped it would be.

Plot and Dialogue 2/5
The plot gradually reveals itself throughout the course of the game, and so I will do my best to avoid spoilers here. The game begins with Sataro, the main protagonist, who is attempting to become an Adept for the third time (which is, as one of his teachers says, unheard of). Without revealing too much, something happens that really makes you feel bad for Sataro, and he ends up out on his own for the first time. That’s is pretty much where the journey begins.

I actually didn’t mind the slow moving plot, as Marrend does an admirable job setting up the atmosphere. My big complaint is the characters.

A) They all seem to speak in the same manner, a sort of over-the-top formal speech that sometimes comes off as awkward or insincere. It is difficult to point out specific personality traits because of this, and it really deters the game from drawing you in the way you want it too.
B) Sataro is a dick. That’s pretty much his only recognizable trait that differs from Mina, who seems pretty nice. Even though you feel bad for Sataro after a beginning incident, you still don’t get to like him very much.
C) There is very little in terms of character development on an individual level. In terms of their relationships, there is some progression, but it is sometimes difficult to really care given how little we know about them or their backgrounds.

That said, the spelling and grammar issues aren’t nearly as heavy as most other RM games I’ve played, and Marrend is not afraid to exercise vocabulary. I was also grabbed by the fact that the cutscenes weren’t too long or overdone, and it’s a pretty easy story to get into due to the steady nature of its gameplay.

Graphics 1.5/5
This is the game’s biggest downfall. It really is standard VX fare, and nothing really grabs your attention. I was also bothered by some of the sprite choices, like the witch teacher whose sprite looks like some teenaged punk dude.

The layouts are fairly plain and small as well, offering not much in the way of exploration or variety. I will say this, however, the fact that everything was so cramped and simple did make up for the slow player movement (a problem that all VX games seem to have). If you can learn to deal with the sandboxy world and linear gameplay, it isn’t such a bother in the grand scheme of things.

Sound and Music 4/5
Sound effects were pretty well used throughout. Nothing too flashy, but nothing annoying or out of place either.

I really liked some of the music, especially the regular battle music. It made getting through some of those grinding battles much easier, and some of the dungeon music had me tapping along too. There’s a steady mix from some popular RPGs in there, so some of it should be recognizable.

Gameplay 3.5/5
The gameplay is very straight forward. Visit a town, go through a dungeon. For a game of such simplicity, it really works well here.

Each character has their own set of skills, and while some enemies are alarmingly powerful, you always seem to have the right tools in your arsenal to get past them. While the game does require some grinding, you can do so at your leisure, and you level up so quickly (pretty much every battle, if not, every other battle) that it is never too much of a bother. You’re never far from a recovery point or an INN either, so that’s great. However, some bosses become a little too difficult if you haven’t done any real grinding at all, so beware. I would suggest that Marrend made the knight boss a bit easier, as he’s a huge jump ahead of the previous boss battle and it doesn’t seem to make much sense (considering they are a minute apart). I also didn’t like having to fight him twice, it was really unnecessary and I had exhausted all of my resources after beating him once.

The big problem with the battles is that regular attacks are wildly unbalanced, and upgrading your weapons is basically pointless. You’re only going to be using your most powerful magics because of this, which means you’ll want to go to an INN after every battle to recover your mp. Speaking of useless items, most of the items in this game are simply that. This could be easily remedied once Marrend has some time to iron out the kinks (it’s still a freshly completed game). It would also be nice to see locations with differing inventories every now and then, since in its current state, it’s a rarity to come across better armour.

What else can I say about gameplay? Well, it would be nice to have a few chests or something thrown in throughout. The dungeons are so straight forward and linear, it would be nice to have something to do (other than encounter enemies) during a romp. Again, this is something that could be built upon for a future release.

Lasting Impressons 3.5/5
This is a new category for my reviews, mostly meant to help tally the score easier and to expand on my overall experience. For all its shortcomings, this was a pretty decent play through. I normally hate VX games, but this one held my attention long enough for me to set that aside. It also has the potential to be better, with a few adjustments here and there.

While there’s nothing that makes it exceptionally unique or captivatingly addictive, it indulges in its simple design and embraces being exactly what it is: a decent VX game.

Overall 14.5/25 (3 out of 5 stars)

If you’re in the mood for a casual RPG romp, I definitely recommend this. I will be playing Matsumori Days in the future, so I feel justified in my scoring.


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One thing I forgot to mention is that you can save anywhere in the game, which is definitely a good thing for the type of gameplay it has.
Guardian of the Description Thread
This is a pretty decent assessment of the game, actually. I wouldn't have taken points off from the fact that the mapping was RTP, though there were a few maps that I, personally, thought were more questionable than others. Mainly, the maps of Okubo Mountains.

I think the idea that this game was supposed to have this concept of Mina telling a story (This game's story!) to Masako, probably had an effect of which characters I wanted to "showcase" more. So, while Sataro might be the main character, it could be argued that Mina is the more central/important one.
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