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Gets the Job Done. Fairly Well.

Warning: I have yet to complete the game. I'd say I've about crossed the halfway point though; I will most likely revise this review upon completion of the game.

Overview: This is actually a game I played quite a few years ago and is rather reminiscent of my childhood with RPG Maker; one of the games that got me hooked. I am playing this game for what is probably the 3rd time now. Of course, memory fails me so replaying it is a refreshing experience. This is a game of a much older era; it was before the storm of "originality" and fancy systems (though it has some of its own). This was when the bar was much lower for a good game but so few ever met the bar. So, here's what's up in the game.

Story: The story is rather reminiscent of the older more simplistic days of RPG Maker back when originality wasn't the driving force and cliches lacked a stigma on them. As per cliche, you are a criminal escaping a jail guided by a mysterious force. You end up joining and assisting a rebellion force. Sounds familiar? Felt familiar while playing it too.

The Bad: The major problem with the story though, wasn't its lack of originality nor its stuffing of cliches everywhere. Though those did surely detract somewhat. The much larger inherent problem was the predictability of the story. I was easily able to predict much of the story and the bits I mispredicted or didn't bother trying to predict didn't surprise me in any way. For example, Julia's big ol' secret and fear... Wasn't all that surprising. One could say it was effective foreshadowing; I see it as ineffective attempts at plot twists. Simply put, the story was rather predictable.

The Good: The story did have some merits though; the characters were for the most part, believable to an extent. They never really moved out of character. Like real people, they followed patterns and speech styles which they didn't break away from. The individual characters were probably the most well done part of the game. The other part was that the story was fluid. It didn't have jarring transitions and awkward movements between the stories of characters; the transitions weren't amazing or especially nice in any way, but... It did what it set out to do.

Overall: I'd give this a 6.5/10


Aesthetics: Simply put, graphics aren't my thing. I'm not a sucker for great mapping nor amazing soundtracks. I enjoy them as much as anyone but it's not a large bearing on my overall scoring nor is it something I review well since my artistic ability is... Terrible to put it nicely.

The bad: Nothing much really; the worst part was that some of the facesets and sprites held different artistic styles. It was only largely noticeable in the facesets and since only one was visible at any given time, it didn't really detract from the atmosphere. The sprites, while of different artistic styles, were of the similar tall pixelated little guys that were everywhere else. The only other problem was that my guys were midgets fighting amazoness knight that cover half my screen in terms of their height. And spiders that could probably eat my whole party and then some. But most RPG maker games have that issue.

One other MAJOR problem was sometimes, the length of the animations and artstyle. The art style for many of the skills (Prismatic Eye, Sever, etc.) REALLY did NOT meet the cartoony art style of RM2K3. It looked really out of place; furthermore, the animations were extremely long on top of the really slow battle system of RM2k3. That led to a rather less enjoyable experience.

The Good: Everything clicked; the music fit, the animations fit, etc. There wasn't anything so far out that it detracted from the atmosphere and where things were put, they made sense. The music, the mapping, everything fit in with each other. At least, well enough for me not to notice. The animations made sense (ignoring the fact that the sword I'm supposedly swinging is even larger than the spider that could eat my whole party) and the sounds were timed right. And the maker also added some very well done effects which really fit in and added to the atmosphere; fog was the most well done. It added a gloomy and mysterious atmosphere which was perfect the areas the fog covered:



Overall: Just a couple of minor complaints; gets the job done but nothing spectacular so I give it a 6/10.

Gameplay: Whenever I do a review, this holds the greatest bearing on my scoring; I'm playing a game for the game. The game's skill system was really pleasing; I love a game with good customization and the ability to allocate skill points to reflect the situation and boss upcoming was perfect. Even before I start the pros/cons, I must admit I thoroughly enjoy this system. Nonetheless, every game has their ups and downs.


Our favorite blackmage is back!

The Bad: I hate, hate, hate, hate, hate battles of attrition. I'm not sure I emphasized that enough; i HATE battles of attrition. What I mean by battles of attrition are bosses which are basically normal enemies (maybe an extra minor irrelevant gimmick or 2) with boosted stats. All I'm doing is a battle of stamina; attack, heal, attack, heal.

Unfortunately, that was what the bosses were in Everlong. I'd just block the respective element of the boss (water for the big squid, fire for the liquid flame, etc. etc.) and begin my barrage of attacks. The battles were simplistic, the nice fancy attacks with the status ailments? Worthless. In fact, often, my normal attacks could end up doing more damage because they could critical! Atrocious.

To make things worse in boss battles, often, using the element effective against the boss (water against fire, lightning against water, etc.) resulted in a counterattack that could easily bring my caster to critical health! Sure, a boss or 2 where I have to mediate offense and defense is nice, but punishing me for being clever enough to know what element to use? That is, again, atrocious.

Then, the skills. First off, skill progression is really slow. Getting the next skill in the chain takes forever with most of your beginning characters; only Vetu really breaks the chain, opening a large variety of skills available from the start with you to choose which elements you gain. Most characters have a couple of chains which start off with like 1000 skill points to gain the first skill in the chain. You start with less than 50. Yeah. Then, you eventually (I do mean eventually, it takes a while) get up to 100. It's not necessarily terrible but your skill builds are very linear at the start though the tutorial suggests otherwise. Later on, variety becomes available but, again, not by much.

Moving on, I noted earlier that skills are often overshadowed by attacks with criticals. Which is okay I guess since skills give status ailments but another problem is those status ailments often fail! Even on regular enemies! On bosses, they just don't work (to my experience).

Now, I have to say, kudos on giving the skill progression; stronger versions of skills becomes available as you level up. However, your stats have almost NO bearing on the damage dealt! I give a black mage 50-ish more int than earlier, and he still deals around 300 damage with a skill. What the hell? In fact, he tends to deal less than the physical attackers which is, again, atrocious since he is limited in mana but the physical attacks can just attack. Yes, the limited casters tend to be weaker than physical attackers; the exception being foes with weaknesses. Oh wait. Heh. They counter you more often than not. It gets better: the crowd control skills (hit all enemies) are also much stronger for physical attackers (though I do admit they are much more costly). Still, mages are just gimped (and if you had seen the cost of Tinctures, the mana restoring item). Physical attackers (screw physical skills too) are where it's at. Healers are the exception; they are the only casters you'll ever really need. Oh yeah, weapons only have any real bearing on physical attackers. So, if you're like me, and love getting that JUST RIGHT equipment balance for maximal stats and whatnot with the JUST RIGHT side effects... This game may not be for you.

Speaking of equipment, comes my next MAJOR qualm with this game. Speed. I understand, respect, and love the concept of losing speed with heavier equipment. But... Wow. When you have 30 speed, losing 4 speed makes you a snail. And the RM2K3 system is really slow in battle as is (one major reason I usually don't play rpg maker 2003 games). So, when you compound that with double digit speeds that just keep getting reduced by armor, it's bad. So, I opted out of armor. I took off my helmets, and shields, and you know what? Offense is the best defense; the additional speed let me kill mobs before I got hit so I was just fine. Yeah. It seemed kinda wrong to me too. Not only that, I also found myself using older equipment for extended periods of time. Mithril was a godsend. Its defense is decent and it weights NOTHING; I may end up using mithril to the end of the game. That's how amazing it was. The most valuable items are the ones that boost speed (an item called Zoom Boots is the first available to you) and they are a GODSEND. My most valuable characters (healers and heavy physical attackers) were always immediately equipped with speed boost items. That's how important speed is, and it is sorely lacking. The worst part being that even stripped of good armor and with speed boosting equipment, the enemies were still sometimes faster than me. The number of nice pieces of equipment I went through hell and back to get (through side puzzles and the like) are innumerable; and yet I didn't equip them because of weight. Personal game choice? Maybe, but it did seem more efficient to me.

One last little item relevant thing: Gold is plentiful. I never lacked it. It is infinitely available. (Too bad it's also kind of useless with all that heavy equipment you don't want)

The Good: Yeah, the BAD section was really long but this is a really big game and the game is actually well done.

Skill Progression was done really well. As you level up, you get stronger versions of the skills you have; and they cost more MP in relation to the max MP you have. So no skill is ever useless and you can never use a skill 500 times. The skills may be somewhat repetitive but it's always rewarding to see a new status effect or animation to reflect the hardwork you've done.

Also, there was no grinding involved in the game. I never needed to. Exploring to get all the treasures easily brought me up to the level I needed to be at for the boss (as well as well equipped for the boss).

Speaking of exploration, one thing I LOVED about this game was that exploration was well rewarded. There was always incentive to move off path to find that shiny piece of armor. Even if there were 3 random encounters along the way and an annoying event encounter from the chest holding the nice armor. All sorts nice explorative options were available.

Moving on were the sidequests. Lots and lots of them. Lots of options available and you can do a lot of sidequests. Optional things were both rewarding and always readily available.

Then there were the puzzles. All sorts of puzzles; at the start of the game, they're really easy and more "meet the requirements" but later on they become tests of reaction speed, timing, and a bit of clever thinking. It wasn't overly frustrating and it was rewarding to do the puzzles (with the option of skipping them always available).

Also, equipment strategy was important. I know I bitched quite a bit regarding equipment and speed but there was a strategic element to it. Then there was guarding against status effects (SILENCE AND BLIND ARE YOUR ENEMIES) and giving status effects to your random encounters as well as guarding against elements. Overall, the game did a good job of providing a lot of equipment options.

Overall: Despite my harping on the flaws, this was a well done game in terms of gameplay; I think battles could've been better explored and there were a lot of minor issues around. However, the out-of-battle experience was great and the overall game was quite enjoyable. I give it a 7.5/10.




Overall: This game has some major flaws, not going to lie. But it has a lot going for it as well. A decent story (enough to get you engaged if not anything more), nice systems (quest menu, skill progression, etc.), and fitting aesthetics make for a good game. While not much really stood out to me, there were elements that did stand out and it made for a good game.

7/10 = 3.5/5

Good game, but not amazing.

Posts

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ummmm, yeah from the point you've gotten to, the combat hasn't gotten that deep yet; you WILL have to use those skills and heavy armor when you get to ... a certain point (I dont want to spoil it) that gets a noticeable difficulty curve, at least I think; bosses get... tough lol but yeah, great review!
Perhaps, but isn't it a define flaw in of itself where we have to wait to think for a game? I'm more used to games that start good and end bad; at least those I have a reason to keep playing at the start.

Nonetheless, RM2k3 doesn't give a large variety of options for exploring battles; I don't expect anyone to go through hundreds of lines of complex eventing to make a unique and awesome boss at all.
Corfaisus
"It's frustrating because - as much as Corf is otherwise an irredeemable person - his 2k/3 mapping is on point." ~ psy_wombats
7345
author=doomed2die
I don't expect anyone to go through hundreds of lines of complex eventing to make a unique and awesome boss at all.

Prepare to be surprised, especially if you plan on getting further than the Forgotten Continent. As a matter of fact, I believe you can recruit someone to your air/ship that can hint you in on most/all of the deeper boss skills that aren't "Firaga - MP Cost: 40 - DMG: 600".
Thanks for writing the review! Since you were so thoughtful and thorough, I thought I'd try to respond to your main points. I agree with pretty much all of your criticism, and would like to give an explanation behind many of the shortcomings.

Story: Everlong definitely has an unoriginal plot, since that wasn't the creative focus and was haphazardly rewritten over time to improve the story slightly. When you don't plan, things become generic and you rely on cliches. I've made some changes over the years and had more in mind, but the plot will never be the game's driving point. As for predictable characters, I had much more on the drawing table in terms of development for each hero. Almost all of that was cut, however, so their individual story-lines are very weak and unsophisticated. I wanted to make them more personally engrossing to compensate for the lack of surprises.

Aesthetics: Many of the sprites and facesets don't match styles as you say, and the monsters are often towering over the hero battlers. Every designer would like consistentcy, but I went for variety which necessiatated mixing and matching. The animations for Keen's skills are different since his abilities are supposed to be illusion magic, but I agree some of them are a little too out there and are more the result of using what was available resource wise. I did limit all the animations to 99 frames or less, however, so they should all execute in a couple seconds. I am aware that for some players their hardware processes the animations at reduced speeds, which would be a pain.

Gameplay: The bosses in the beginning of the game are designed to be simplistic to try and introduce players to basic concepts like elemental weaknesses. If you're a experienced RPG player, however, it won't be challenging or stimulating until later. I've adjusted the early bosses several times because players either find them too easy or too difficult. Status ailments are too devastating to allow against bosses, though I'd like to work around that and just give them reduced durations or effectiveness. I'm still undecided on the counterattack triggers. I don't want to punish players for using smart tactics and exploiting weaknesses, but it's too easy to defeat powerful enemies otherwise. I need more control over the damage algorithms to address this.

Issues concerning the speed and defense attributes, as well as regular attacks versus skill usage fall under the same category. I totally agree that physical attacks are overpowered. I tried to address this with enemy skills that strip the enchanment Might, lower attack power, or increase physical resistance, but it's a fundamental alogrithm problem. RM2K3 uses an attrocious method to calculate battle speed too, and I absolutely understand every player's frustration with the speed attribute and pace of battles. This is the number one thing I'd like to substitute a different algorithm for. Another engine limitation prevents the Magic attribute from having much effect on skills given the damage range. Likewise, Defense is rather unimportant except versus certain enemy skills with custom formulas like Overpower, or the enemies at the end of the game that have high enough attack values to actually influence the default algorithm significantly.

I wanted to introduce more skills for each hero, both for active use and passive benefits, along with chained combos, but this was unrealistic given engine limitations. A "Scan" skill was also beyond reasonable implementation, despite the need to determine which status ailments effect monsters. Each foe has a number of specific conditions that always work along with immunities. These usually follow a pattern depending on the enemy type (reptile, mammal, aquatic), but only the recruitable tactics NPC reveals these. I planned to include an information section in the custom menu like the Codex from Dragon Age or Mass Effect, but that feature was scratched.

I'm glad you did not experience any sense of grind playing Everlong. That was one of my major goals, since I don't think that's a fun way to spend your time as a player, and constitutes a poor design technique to infalte game length. I've actually had criticism about the lack of sidequests, particularly early in the game, and would like to have included more to make NPCs and locations more interesting and engaging.

In short, all your points are legitimate and something prospective players should keep in mind. Unfortunately many of these problems arise from engine limitations beyond my control. In other cases, they are the result of poor planning or cut material, neither of which I can remedy at this time. If you do manage to complete Everlong, I would be interested in hearing your toughts on the later battle and equipment dynamics, since they're vastly different. Thanks again for the feedback.
Story I'm not of the belief that a mediocre story is in any way, a detriment. In fact, I think you did what may have been intended: Move the game along in a story while focusing more on gameplay aspects. I completely agree.

Aesthetics It's not a massive problem, as noted. I just noted it to be in fair in criticism and to address all major issues.

Gameplay In terms of side-quests, there were VERY few early in the game but that's fine. 100+ sidequests is a dream. :P

I entirely agree that RM2K3's limitations are largely at fault for many of the problems I note in your game. I'm aware of side-scripts which may have extended the functions far enough for you to address some of these issues (or lots and lots of eventing as well) but they weren't out IIRC back when this came out. And you did fairly well considering your limitations.

I did note that the engine was partly at fault (especially noted in the complaints about speed.) In terms of the Magic attribute, the way it was set up, it seemed as though your Mind_f (or whatever they called it way back when lol) was at 1 or 2. That means, essentially, only 10-20% of your Mind actually affects your magical damage output. That is bad :P

I understand the balancing issues behind status effects and weaknesses but for every detriment, there should be return as well. Nonetheless, I'm quite aware of how difficult it is to manage a project of this size. You did well considering your limitations


I'm busy but I'll get around to finishing this... Eventually lol.
chana
(Socrates would certainly not contadict me!)
1584
I very much agree with this review; DJC did the remarkabe feat of completing it, if you know the number of attaching characters, sidequests, towns, villages and cities, puzzles, all of which are good, without forgetting to mention the skill system which is fun, and probably lots of other things, nevertheless, overall it does lack originality and yes, surprises, which make it drag on excessively. Maybe it is too linear? Remains, however an unforgettable experience.
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