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An enjoyable demo, but it needs a little polish!

  • Miracle
  • 07/06/2012 05:59 PM
  • 370 views


Hey guys! Miracle here. Right now I'll be reviewing Breach : Awakening by Killer Wolf for the NaGaDeMo Review Drive. As you can see from the screenshots, this game features a unique twist on the Visual aspect by recreating a first-person perspective through the clever manipulation of pictures. Will the gameplay suffer as a result? Let's see by taking a quick look at some pros and cons.

The Pros
• Unique perspective, again the faux first-person rather than the typical 3/4ths view.
• Creative and interesting battle system. Guess what. It's actually good.
• Customizable party members in the form of recruitable enemies.

The Cons
• Stale, monochrome graphics throughout the demo.
• Rough gameplay mechanics. They could really use some refining.
• Lots and lots of walking. The mechanics contribute to this.



Perhaps the game's biggest draw is the first-person perspective. You have the option to move only forward or backwards, but you can turn from side to side as well. I don't know if it was just my computer but I had to jam the keys in order to get it to work properly. It takes some getting used to, but it proves to be (mostly) functional. The perspective can be confusing, at first. Most of the doors look the same, so it can be difficult to tell which door you entered through. Sometimes when I went into a corner, the screen would show only two of the four perspectives (despite them not showing I was still able to move) but it was uncommon and didn't really hamper me that much.

Even though the perspective is the immediate draw, I found that, by far, the most entertaining aspect of the game was it's battle system. Shortly after you gain control of the Main Character, you gain an ally in the form of a demon. In fact, virtually every demon that you can encounter can be recruited (or 'captured') to fight alongside, provided they be sufficiently weakened. This redeems the gameplay dramatically because the diversity of the party keeps things fresh, also party customization is just plain cool. :D

Sometimes, after a battle, you can choose a bonus such as extra EXP, or restoration of HP or MP. The EXP bonus was great at first, but once you pass Level ~4 it became nowhere near as attractive as an HP/MP restoration. Maybe you could increase the EXP bonus with each level? 25/1700 EXP just isn't worth it.



Unfortunately there really isn't much that I can say about the Audio. This game is very conservative when it comes to the use of sound. For example, the Title Screen has no music. I don't think there are any menu sound effects either. Overall, the music I heard was used appropriately. There's the standard battle theme paired with the RTP boss music. Really I think I can remember about two or three tracks that played.

I would encourage you to use sounds for things since they can really immerse you into the environment. A simple sound for opening an office door, or maybe some keystrokes when you use the computer. I think that they would add a lot. However, I can't really say that any sounds were egregiously bad, so good job, I guess! :D



Because it's so difficult to recreate such a perspective, this game ends up recycling lots and lots of graphics. It was totally awesome to see first-person rooms at first, but seeing the same grey walls, floor and ceiling absolutely everywhere made the experience dull very quickly. There is little variety in doors, which can lead to lots of confusion as to which room is which. The menu will provide you with a map, which is vital for navigating because everything looks exactly the same. This is something that could be (somewhat) remedied by variety.

I appreciate how difficult it is to create graphics but everything is so uniform that it becomes a chore to navigate through areas. Maybe you could add a few pipes in the walls, or a vending machine that was mentioned (it could sell you Red Energy, maybe!) Just something to help players identify where they are. Even a small sign above doors would help!

I would say that the graphics are consistent, although some of them do stick out. One small gripe is that you'll show the images of actors on a x1 scale, but on a x2 background. Also, some of the doors had painfully obvious seams to the background.


Really?


Another feature that would dramatically improve gameplay would be an on-screen mini-map. I don't know how difficult it would be for you to implement but it would be much more convenient than having to open the menu every four seconds. Here's a mockup I made :


This would not only help players navigate through the abundant generic hallways that comprise this game, it would also help keep things on a smaller scale. Honestly I felt like I was in that maze-screensaver sometimes.



This game has lots of potential. It already sets itself apart from other 2k3 games through general gameplay changes, but that doesn't mean it's perfect. I think that the biggest thing that you could do to help this game is implement a mini-map to help make navigation a little more bearable. The story was a little underdeveloped (this is only a demo, after all) but everything I read seemed to be interesting, maybe a tad clichéd. Despite the rough gameplay, the battle system alone provided enough entertainment to keep this game interesting.

I think that Killer Wolf has done really well on this so far. I mean, this genre isn't really my thing but I still really like this game. This game has lots to offer, and I hope to see it completed in the future. :D

One more thing :
-- Glitches --
• When exiting the map, the screen will stay dark until the menu is called.
• If you open all of the cell doors before meeting Fenris, he will still walk you through your first battle.
• Sometimes it displays only two out of four perspectives, usually when in a corner.
• 'Scan' doesn't always work on Ke$ha Kasha

-- Typos --
• When meeting Fenris : "Some of my brothers and sisters aren't as nice as I am. They would just as soon eat you as talk to you... or werse. (*worse)"
• During Level-Up : "Lucas, HLevel (*Level) 2 up!"
• After defeating Kasha : "We'll meet again, Whelp. Its (*It's) a promise!"
• Items such as 'Talon', as well as the Skill 'Contain' are lacking descriptions.
• "Summon Occulus" description reads "Summon Occulus to your side!", other summons merely say "Summon the demon to your side!"

-- Resources --
These are just little things that I made. Use them, if you'd like! If you need help with any graphics, I'd be happy to lend a hand. :)

The facesets were really inconsistent. I just framed them all for you xD


The two doors that stick out. Sorry, but I couldn't make the perspective images D:

Posts

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Thank you very much for the review! I'm glad you had an overall positive experience with the game, and I really appreciate the faceset resources you contributed.

I know that encountering an enemy immediately after going through a door could cause some black screen issues in the past, but the map one is new for me.

I double checked both builds I have, trying to see if I screwed up exiting the map when I moved it from a keybind to a menu option. The screen tint and delay are still in the event, and it works correct on my system, so I'm not sure what was causing it.

I like your placement of the mini-map. Originally, the console bar on the right was going to be used for commands. I moved them to a dialog box during testing and sort of forgot to move them back. Then, I got into using it as a progress indicator, showing the number of keycards that were collected. I should have no problem sticking a mini-map in there. The top section will just show the keycards for the current area/floor instead of the whole complex. That should give me the extra pictures I need for the map function.

I have a few other wall types in the game's resources folder, but I liked the cleaner look of the main tiles I used here. I'd planned to include the drink machine, but I just wasn't happy with my graphics for it yet. The area in the upper right, where you overhear a passcode from the Kobolds, is supposed to be the break room for the floor. I planned to have the drink machine, a pool table, and some other things, but the submission deadline was looming and nothing was looking right.

I am concerned about some of the performance issues. I haven't been able to replicate the problem of some wall surfaces not showing up. I figured there wouldn't be too many issues, since I'm developing the game on an old 3.2 ghz pc with an antique 5 series Nvidia graphics card.

However, I do know that some newer graphics cards do not perform well in the 320x240 resolution range. When I tried another "show picture" heavy game on a pc with a better card, it was virtually unplayable.

For people with newer graphics cards (pretty much everybody at this point!), running the game full screen, and switching the resolution with F5 might improve performance.

One last thing. The math behind the exp bonus is based on a score for the relative difficulty of the encounter. The "bank" option was supposed to allow players to stock up multipliers by earning bonuses in multiple battles in a row, which would let them gain a LOT of exp. However, running from a fight or losing a summon would set the bank back to zero, so it was kind of like gambling. I found an error I'd made that caused the stored bonus variable to reset under the wrong conditions. I'm going to do some retooling of that section before my next release.
author=KW
Thank you very much for the review! I'm glad you had an overall positive experience with the game, and I really appreciate the faceset resources you contributed.
Hey it's no problem :)

I know that encountering an enemy immediately after going through a door could cause some black screen issues in the past, but the map one is new for me.
Really? that's odd because it happened literally every time I used the map. It was nothing gamebreaking, just thought I would bring it up :D

I should have no problem sticking a mini-map in there. The top section will just show the keycards for the current area/floor instead of the whole complex. That should give me the extra pictures I need for the map function.
I'm so glad! Now the game is perfect. haha

I am concerned about some of the performance issues. I haven't been able to replicate the problem of some wall surfaces not showing up. I figured there wouldn't be too many issues, since I'm developing the game on an old 3.2 ghz pc with an antique 5 series Nvidia graphics card.
I'm not 100% sure about my graphics card but I always played in 320x240. I shudder to think what it would've been like in full-screen O-o

One last thing. The math behind the exp bonus is based on a score for the relative difficulty of the encounter. The "bank" option was supposed to allow players to stock up multipliers by earning bonuses in multiple battles in a row, which would let them gain a LOT of exp. However, running from a fight or losing a summon would set the bank back to zero, so it was kind of like gambling. I found an error I'd made that caused the stored bonus variable to reset under the wrong conditions. I'm going to do some retooling of that section before my next release.
That's a great idea! So like, banking a bonus would give you a credit, so would the HP/MP restoration be multiplied too? it'd be cool if the bonuses would be upgraded by banking a lot, like you could fully heal your party after banking, say, five bonuses. Or you could give temporary buffs to your party, like being able to absorb/capture demons earlier, or increasing the Sek that you gain after battle.

One other thing I want to add... could you add descriptions to equipment? I know you removed the 'Equipment' option from the menu because demons can't equip, but while the Rusty Knife was pretty self-explanatory, I had absolutely no idea what the Familiar Bracelet was supposed to do o-o Now that I think about it, were those 2 of the 4 hidden items you mentioned?

Is it okay if I ask a couple of questions? I was kind of wondering about these while playing :

• How are energy points gained? It sort of seems like I never ran out.
• How does this game determine how many demons you can capture? Is it Lucas' level?
• I was walking down the corridor with Slimes and the gameframe turned yellow, then back to white when I exited. What does that mean?
• Will absorbing a demon replenish my HP if my MP is full?
• Both the female spirit and K. Mikami's E-Mail mention an 'Aiko', will we find out who he is? (My first thought was that he's a puppy, for some reason. Must be because of Fenris :\)
• Can I make a demon? :D Its name is 'Glass Corpse'. I noticed that you had fire, wind, thunder and earth spells yet no ice spells, so maybe it can fill the void. xD
Monster Graphic :

FaceSet Graphic :


Being glass, it should probably be fragile (low DEF). You don't have to use it, I just thought I'd throw it out there :)

author=Miracle
Now that I think about it, were those 2 of the 4 hidden items you mentioned?


The other two are kind of connected to each other-
Note #1-
This gives a little background (it is written by the guy who you find out was killed when you check the emails on Scott Corea's computer) and points to the location of the other item, and how to use it.

Mini-Disc(Encrypted)-
You can't do anything with it yet, because they are files from a different department and require a secure system to access them.


• How are energy points gained? It sort of seems like I never ran out.


If you mean MP, it is recovered by Charging (1000 sek during Rest), being healed by Faye, Absorbing a Demon that has MP, and the Restore MP bonus after a flawless victory.

• How does this game determine how many demons you can capture? Is it Lucas' level?


It is determined by Lucas's Will stat. Will / 4 rounded down to the nearest whole number. Familiar Bracelet raises Will by 2.

• I was walking down the corridor with Slimes and the gameframe turned yellow, then back to white when I exited. What does that mean?


The Slimes encounter is the third most dangerous fight in the demo. Their acid can inflict damage over time, and they can rip some of the physically weaker Demons to shreds in no time. The color change is to let the player know they are in a little more danger.

If you only saw it as yellow and never red, I know that you were at least level 5 by the time you hit that hallway =)

• Will absorbing a demon replenish my HP if my MP is full?


The HP & MP gained by absorbing demons is equal to that demon's current HP and MP.

• Both the female spirit and K. Mikami's E-Mail mention an 'Aiko', will we find out who he is? (My first thought was that he's a puppy, for some reason. Must be because of Fenris :\)


Aiko is not a puppy. -potential minor spoiler-
It is no coincidence they both mention Aiko. She is Keiko Mikami's daughter. The mention of her in the email is to give the player a hint. The spirit they were talking to at the beginning is Keiko Mikami, and it is little Aiko's picture that is in the locket you have to take to her to get your first passcode.


My turn with a question:
What, if any, bonus option did you get after defeating Kasha?

Also, I like the Glass Corpse idea. Since I establish with Shambling Corpses that some demons can't properly manifest, it makes sense that some of them might animate other objects besides the rapidly dwindling supply of dead bodies. The next area is supposed to have broken glass cylinders anyway, so that type of enemy would be a perfect fit!

It even gives me an idea for a new boss.
The other two are kind of connected to each other-
Oh, those were the other two? I guess I did find all four, then. Although when I found the note, it didn't say anything. It said "There's a note tucked under the keyboard" then ended. I wasn't able to read it by searching again, either.

If you mean MP, it is recovered by Charging (1000 sek during Rest), being healed by Faye, Absorbing a Demon that has MP, and the Restore MP bonus after a flawless victory.
I must have called it by the wrong name. I was actually referring to the resource needed to capture a demon. "This demon requires 860 X to capture, you have 6,500"

Or maybe they're the same? O_O;

The Slimes encounter is the third most dangerous fight in the demo. Their acid can inflict damage over time, and they can rip some of the physically weaker Demons to shreds in no time. The color change is to let the player know they are in a little more danger.

If you only saw it as yellow and never red, I know that you were at least level 5 by the time you hit that hallway =)
I had done a ton of grinding by the time I got there (though not intentionally, like I said I had a bit of trouble navigating :0) but that's a really nice idea. It'd be cool to have a special color when you're approaching a boss, like Kasha. But that might be a little overboard.

The HP & MP gained by absorbing demons is equal to that demon's current HP and MP.
So that explains why I never got any MP from absorbing the Shamblers, iirc they had no magical abilities.

Aiko is not a puppy. -potential minor spoiler-
Aww D: Well that explains why she knew the passcode :\

I thought maybe Maya was Keiko's daughter, but that couldn't be, because she attended high school with Lucas and Keiko's daughter had to be flown in (from Kyoto, presumably)

My turn with a question:
What, if any, bonus option did you get after defeating Kasha?
I can't remember there being a bonus option after Kasha, sorry! There probably was one though, and I almost always chose the EXP bonus.

Also, I like the Glass Corpse idea. Since I establish with Shambling Corpses that some demons can't properly manifest, it makes sense that some of them might animate other objects besides the rapidly dwindling supply of dead bodies. The next area is supposed to have broken glass cylinders anyway, so that type of enemy would be a perfect fit!

It even gives me an idea for a new boss.
Glad you like it. I wonder if that means that the slimes came from chemicals in the lab, and that's why they can spurt acid? wait a minute, does that mean Jack-o-Lanterns are possessed pumpkins!?
It said "There's a note tucked under the keyboard" then ended. I wasn't able to read it by searching again, either.


You can read the note by "using" it from the item menu. I think I'll edit it so that the note's content automatically triggers the first time the player picks it up.

I was actually referring to the resource needed to capture a demon.


Sek/Energy is the "currency" of the game. You gain some after each battle. Demons with higher energy (magic users) generally give you more sek for beating them. Also, the formula for how much it costs to capture a demon takes the difference between their relative strength and Lucas' , which is why some will cost more when you first encounter them.

It'd be cool to have a special color when you're approaching a boss, like Kasha.


I'm actually planning to do this. The only reason it wasn't in the demo is because the Kasha event was, for some reason, a total nightmare. Once I got it to work, every time I tried adding in an extra line, I had to change the entire structure of the event to keep it from messing up. It really needs to be re-done for the next release.

I can't remember there being a bonus option after Kasha, sorry!


Depending on how many turns it took to defeat him, the player can earn a rare item called "Quickener" which can be used to cast haste on the entire party, and several different tiers of stat boosts. The best reward set is: Quickener, a choice of +3 to any stat for the entire party, and 1200 bonus EXP. The most likely reward set is +750 Xp, and +1 to any stat for the entire party. The lowest tier reward is +500 XP and +1 to any of Lucas' stats.
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