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Poor roosters, annoying Frogmen

  • NTC3
  • 05/08/2017 09:22 PM
  • 193 views
The Game Demo is a pretty meta title. I stumbled upon it at the same time as The Demo, and decided to just play them both at the same time. Yet, whereas the former is utterly, irredeemably awful, The Game Demo is actually pretty decent, and features the kind of reasonably unique concept I wish others would have done more often.

Aesthetics (art, design and sound)



Pure XP RTP. This no problem, given that it’s both a short game, and that XP RTP is probably the best one anyway. Moreover, it fits surprisingly well with the real-time combat the game is using.

Gameplay



The initial barrier are the strange controls, which are explained on the game page, but not anywhere in the game itself. Basically, while walking and interacting with items stays the same, actions buttons are not A, S, D, as they often tend to be in rmk games, and moreover, Esc does nothing, and will neither get you into the menu, nor let you cancel out of it if you accidentally trigger it. Instead, F is the menu button, while your soldier character slashes in an arc in front of him with a K, and blocks attacks from any directions with a shield by pressing/holding L. Luckily, your first battle is against four roosters, who are really peaceful birds and won’t try attacking you at all until it’s too late for them, so you can get used to these peculiarities without worrying about being pecked to death.

Once this training battle is out, you are let outside, where there are more (RTP) enemy types, and things get interesting. Essentially, melee enemies are never a trouble, because they can be cut down rather quickly, and simply holding down L makes you wholly immune to anything they might throw at you. The bipedal bandit wolves can drag things out because they can defend equally well, and for quite prolonged periods of time, but they go down quickly enough regardless. Ranged enemies, though, are a pain, because your shield will never stop their projectiles. The solution is essentially to try and get them to shoot at you at their maximum range, then quickly leave the firing line and slash at them before they can recharge. However, this is finicky, since there’s no reliable charging-up animation before they shoot, and so avoiding damage can be quite luck-based.



Thankfully, strong ranged enemies are never encountered in-doors, where there’s constrained room for maneuver. Instead, they are found in the random encounters that only spawn outdoors. These consist of one single-screen arena where you are left alongside several enemies, and which you’ll leave either upon defeating them all, or by holding down the escape button (R ) for a little while. I recommend doing the latter should there be a random encounter with one or especially several green frogmen: they can fire icicles at you unpredictably (firing animation appears simultaneously with the shot itself), at decent range, and dealing ~250 damage (when your health is at ~800HP or so). In short, they can kill you very quickly even if you are careful. The ranged enemy is a lot more reasonable to deal with, though, and other encounter types are just quite fun. There’s a pretty good range of them, but they all take place within just one arena map, pictured above. More of these arena maps and sticking with random encounters (as opposed to room battles, which are just less fun, and always respawn in exact same way upon re-entering) would have definitely made the game better. Later on, you also get an AI-controlled archer girl as a follower for a while: she makes combat against ranged enemies much better, and battles become easier in general. In all, the combat itself is fun enough for the duration of the demo, but would have likely gotten boring without getting deeper should this have been developed into a full-length game (which it wasn’t, unfortunately.)

Storyline



It’s mostly reasonably entertaining meta stuff. It knows that you won’t tell a story people will pay attention in something literally called “The Game Demo”, so it just has fun with itself, with a few snappy lines, often punctuated by clearly ludicrous drama chords for good measure. Only the ending disappoints somewhat, as the final conversation goes on for rather too long, dragging things out with a lot of choices that clearly do not change anything and won’t let you avoid the rather lame final boss battle.

Conclusion

While shallow and a little confusing at times, The Game Demo is actually a pretty interesting prototype. While I do not generally like real-time combat much, I am saddened more wasn’t done with this particular concept. Much like Solstice, this is worth checking out if you want to see an alternate, little-used approach to developing your game, but quite skippable on its own merits.