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Jumping with Rocks and Conclusions

  • Muninn
  • 07/18/2012 09:13 PM
Shards of Xar is an RPGMaker VX game created by ShadowShaw. At the present time, the game is only available as a ~45 minute demo.

Selland has recently joined the Aralonian military, and must go through training. During training, he uncovers a sinister plot involving demons, and must work to prevent that plot.

Story: Unrefined, but containing potential
From the beginning, Shards of Xar is a little clunky in the narrative department. The game opens up with a series of scenes, over which a narration talks about how there are rumours of demons appearing in the land of Aralon. We then take control of Selland, an aspiring young soldier who has just joined the military and must now undergo training. (In Aralon, rather than being the process of being taught how to fight, "Training" seems to mean being taken out into the wild and being told to kill things, only to have most threats be eliminated by the instructor sent with you. Really, a closer word might be "Evaluation").

The story also features a startling number of conclusion-jumps that don't really hold up: At one point, characters decide that another person must be an assassin because they had daggers.

Presentation: Decent
The music in Shards of Xar was good in a few places and decent in others. Graphically, the game was okay. Maps contained a neat little system where some aspects of the scenery could be interacted with: You could jump across rocks, push boulders, climb vines, etc.

One thing that I thought was a nice touch at first was the little window that told you how far away from the next level each character was after each battle, until I realized that the system was glitched: If a character was currently level 3, it would show the amount of experience needed to advance from level 3 to level 4, rather than from the character's current experience level to level 4.

Gameplay: Needs balancing
Battles in Shards of Xar take place in a side-view turn-based battle system. Battles can have anywhere from 1-4 enemies (at least from what I could see), and the demo provides you with three party members throughout the game, although you never are given control of more than two of them at the same time. Characters are healed completely at save points and upon leveling up.

Combat at level 1 consists of mashing attack, as that's the only option given to you. You learn a skill at level 2, but I still found myself mashing attack because there were no enemies strong enough to make me feel justified in spending MP for a little bit of extra damage. The only enemy I ever encountered in the game that actually made me feel challenged was the last boss of the demo. Everything else was too weak to pose any real threat, especially with the free healing every time a character levels up. (This applies especially to the beginning part of the game, where the Instructor accompanying you is is two levels higher and gets two attacks per round, resulting in her killing off every enemy regardless of what you try to do).

Final Verdict: A Good effort, but needs a little straightening out
If there were more challenge to the combat, more options in battle (or more reasons to use the existing options), and if the story were smoothed out a bit so it didn't seem quite as choppy, I think that Shards of Xar has the potential to become a rather good game.