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A challenging RPG fit for a prince (or king)

Story (5/5):
The opening of Star Stealing Prince almost sounds like some light-hearted fairytale (and the intro CG is a book), at least until the part that mentions the citizens of Sabine will share feelings with Prince Snowe, making the whole kingdom look like a rather disturbing hivemind. Snowe then goes on a seemingly innocent journey to free the girl in the tower, but he ends up learning several awful truths about his kingdom, his parents, and himself. Worse yet, the facade of the peaceful kingdom breaks apart due to Snowe’s recklessness and he soon finds himself distrusted by all and saddled with the responsibility of leading a kingdom in a barely livable popsicle of an island.

I like how the setting and tone seems so relaxing and humorous (especially in the case of the Snowmen), only for the dark side of the kingdom to blindside both Snowe and the player. At the same time, a lot of the humor, witty dialogue, and heartwarming moments remain after the truth is revealed, such as how Snowe manages to rally the citizens, the memory items, how he and Erio form an awkward team in two of the dungeons, Snowe addressing why he doesn’t want to talk about his “sleeping problem,” and how Richard consoles him at the end of the game. It gives me the feeling that Snowe and his friends will eventually get a happy ending despite everything they’ve been through.

Note that this game is part of a series with short stories and a web novel. This additional lore helps flesh out the characters, especially the main antagonists of the game who originally had a great deal of mystery surrounding their motivations. These stories make it easier to understand why the optional boss is insane and desperate to escape his prison, why the fourth boss is so paranoid, and why the final boss is so vengeful. The recent versions of the game also have easter eggs connecting the plot of the game to the other works in the series, which I thought was a nice touch to ensure continuity.

Gameplay (4.5/5):
While many RPGs don’t allow much room for players to try sticking status effects on bosses, this game mandates that the player weaken the bosses as much as possible. If anything, I consider them buffed when they’re not debuffed, just to get myself into a more cautious mentality. If they’re actually buffed, I defend like my player characters’ virtual lives depend on it. Better yet, bosses will actually account for certain debuffs like blind and silence in their AI, causing them to change their attack patterns much like the player would. Additionally, many spells carry status effects like wet, frazzle, and burn, which can interact with elemental damage in interesting ways, such as how wet characters are temporarily weak to lightning. This also discourages blind spamming of skills, since an enemy that is already burned will take less damage from additional fire spells. The elemental weakness system also adds insult to injury by potentially stunning a character that’s hit with their weakness, though bosses tend to be more resistant to that effect than enemies. Still, it’s a useful mechanic if you can get the stun to proc and potentially decimate the enemy before they can get too many turns. This can be a tricky battle system to understand, but it did teach me to make better use of buffs and debuffs in other video games.

Equipment doesn’t always boil down to just stats thanks to the IP system. Some gear provides a skill that consumes the wearer’s IP gauge, which fills as the character takes damage. These skills can compensate for deficiencies in the wearer’s skillset, but they cannot be permanently learned, so the player may have to pass up on statistically stronger gear if they’re depending on a specific skill.

I still have some complaints about the interface, such as how buffs and debuffs are displayed. For some reason, enemies will only display about four of their buffs/debuffs, making it hard for me to figure out if I need to reapply a debuff, which is especially bad for bosses that take advantage of their multiple actions to make their states expire quickly. Similarly, player characters don’t show all their buffs at once and instead their buff/debuff display will cycle through all their states.

Additionally, I think the money and junk item drops from monsters didn’t increase fast enough as the game progressed, at least compared to the EXP gains. Additionally, the drop rate for consumables seems to be lower for later enemies. Though to be fair, I often overestimate how many consumable items I actually need to survive.

Graphics (4.5/5):
The custom graphics in the game, such as some of the boss sprites, blend in really well with RTP from all of the Ruby-based RPG Makers, to the point where I couldn’t tell which was custom and which was not. I especially like how over-the-top and symbolic some of the boss sprites are, such as the final boss’s cape of pure rage.

The face sprites all point to the right, which is quite unusual for most games in general. However, as a nice touch, they change based on the characters’ moods, which is evident when Snowe suffers from insomnia and if he recovers from it. Additionally, the citizens all seem to have different faces, except for the golem soldiers and librarians who are all cloned according to the story.

The maps all use lighting effects that are realistic for their locations (ex. The Sepulcher’s outside is glaringly bright while caves have less visibility even with the lantern) and some maps also have fog effects due to being in the clouds. This gives the maps a more professional feel than in RPGs that use the same effects in every map.

One thing I dislike is the way enemy maps sprites, which usually look like glowing white balls, can sometimes camouflage themselves into the color of the floor or the fog, though this may have been intentional to make players stay alert. Additionally, it seems inconsistent that some of the enemies in the Sepulcher castle have angel sprites, yet the ones near the hedge maze are the usual balls. I would have preferred that all the enemy map sprites resemble a guaranteed member of their battle lineup, which certainly would be more intimidating depending on the enemy.

Overall (4.5/5): Star Stealing Prince is a gem with a difficult/fair battle system, polished maps, and a well written dark (but not too dark) fairytale-like story. Despite being a free game, it matches and surpasses many commercial RPG Maker games in terms of quality.

Posts

Pages: 1
StevieRayBones
I refuse to grind with monsters I've just met for money.
265
Sounds like an awesome story
Pages: 1