• Add Review
  • Subscribe
  • Nominate
  • Submit Media
  • RSS

Don't be a wimp, play it without the cheats!

For some reason this game has gotten a reputation for having combat that's so difficult and/or tedious that its creator decided to implement cheats where you can turn the combat off entirely and just wander through the game enjoying its atmosphere. I can understand this, to some extent. The game's leveling and combat mechanics are... different, to say the least. And not exactly well-explained to you in-game, either. So... in case you aren't aware, like, if you happen to see this review before anyone else's (that'll be a first!) it goes like this... you gain health points by examining paintings, and magic points by examining (filled) bookshelves. Or was it the other way around? In any case, assuming you're gonna go into this game as it was intended, no cheats, no BS, just no-holds-barred BADASSERY, if you want any chance of making it through this game examine EVERY painting and bookshelf that you possibly can. Not all of them will yield results, but you know you'll have found the right one when either you get a close-up of a painting or a quote from a book. You'll be returning to the same areas multiple times but these reset so never stop examining everything! Oh yeah, and the sinks too. This is where you can upgrade a number of things, from defense, attack power, gaining abilities, or even upgrading your health and MP there too (don't waste it on that - the paintings and bookshelves will suffice - also, hint: max out your agility, you'll thank me later). So why do paintings, books, and sinks give you upgrades? Well, uhhh, hrrmmm, because... MONKEY CHEESE. No really, this aspect is never actually explained. The only thing I can see is that if you go into your menu there's something where if you enter it you'll randomly see a painting or a line of text. All of these are also the very paintings and texts in the game that give you upgrades, only difference is, in the menu it credits the artist/writer. Which is why it's annoying that it's random what you get. I would LOVE to be able to just scan through all the text and find out the people they're attributed to. Alas, your best bet is to constantly click and hope the random generator gets them all without too many repeats but I refuse to subject myself to that, thank you.

So you have your stats, now what about combat? Combat here is merely an obstacle, as winning a battle yields no rewards but the ability to keep going. Combat is thankfully very brisk. No need to transition to another map, enemies pop in, you attack back to back until the other side is dead. Combat is fairly basic, you have regular attacks and some magic and that's it. Battles can also take a toll on your health and if you're with a party member, if ANY one in the party dies it's game over no matter what. Also, in areas where you get into random encounters, those random encounters are fairly frequent. Good news though, you automatically heal after every single battle! Also, because there are no items to use, magic used will regenerate gradually in every battle, so for tougher fights you have to be fairly tactical. The enemies you contend with will primarily consist of bats and... furniture. Yeah, cabinets, drawers, stools, lamps, you heard me. You also get to fight a killer piano too, so you finally can, by proxy, fulfill your childhood fantasy of killing that damned Mario 64 piano that scarred you for life! I would say about roughly under half the game consists of battles, and the rest exploring and puzzle-solving (puzzles aren't TOO difficult, but are clever enough to get you thinking - unfortunately, if you're deaf or hard of hearing in some way there is one particular puzzle that is sort of a big "F YOU" that requires you to match the notes on a piano to the sounds of some doors to know where to progress - music/pitch and color-related puzzles - no, no! Bad game designer, bad! Know better next time!) so if it's sounds bothersome enough that you don't want to be engaged too much into combat but also don't want to rely on cheats you should be good to go as long as you know exactly what you're doing.

Another point of contention: save points. Use them once and they're gone for good, so be careful when you use them!

OK so what is the game about then. Well you're a bunch of ditzy college kids, presumably who end up stuck in the middle of nowhere, except for an oh-so-inviting manor right in front of you. What could possibly go wrong? A lot, actually. Too much to go over here. All I'll say is you end up in the middle of the affairs of the husband, wife, and supposedly ill child of theirs who reside in the mansion, with even deeper, darker forces at work. You might have gotten the impression this is a pretty quirky game based on my description of how you level up in this game and also the kind of enemies you fight, but, believe me, that ain't the half of it. This game delves into realms of absurd I can barely describe. This is all because of the game's odd mixture of gothic horror, cosmic horror, architectural horror (I officially declare that a thing) and a very strange sense of humor. Alright, so, I have to say, the protagonist doesn't have much in the way of a relatable personality whatsoever. There's little in the way of emotions or humanity. Mainly she just makes basic observations or throws in the odd pop culture reference. At many points though you are asked a question are given a choice of three responses. The third response is almost always silly. In one such instance, a choice is "I can't hear you, I have a banana in my ear" (StarTropics reference! :D) to which the other responds with "WHAT YOU SAY?" Then they resume normal conversation. Yeah, that's the kind of game this is. The other characters, that is, the tattered family of the house involved in some dark rites, would seem to be the real focus of the story. The ongoing drama, serious dialogue and plot machinations revolve entirely around them. You're merely an observer, who just happened to arrive at the wrong place at the wrong time. You're just an average teen/20-something, as are your friends, in the middle of something you're not supposed to even be involved in, and all you wanted was some place to stay for the night and then get the hell out but unfortunately because of these circumstances you're unable to escape and must help to stop the Ultimate Evil before you can get out.

Story is loopy as hell, mechanics are too, and I like that about this game. Now, how about things like atmosphere (which this game won a Misao Award for)? Here it does a really good job too. Suitably and convincingly gothic, and all the ways in which the game messes with the environments will throw you off. Good choices of color palettes too, there's color when it's needed, and sepia-toned when that needs to add something too. Then there's the music choices... really good ones at that! There are credits in the Readme file and in the end credits too I think as to what music was used. Though it does use assets from sources I'm not sure were legally cleared or not, I'm not going to harp on this aspect. And I'm unfamiliar with the majority of the music used anyway, so why bother. So... there's that cool little martial industrial-like opening theme that's frequently used through the game, several bits of music and sounds I recognized from System Shock 2 (maybe the thing with sinks was partly inspired by System Shock 2 - in both of these games you have to be careful and think about what you want to upgrade when you're able to arrive at the proper stations to do so), and my favorite piece, a very simple loop but it really gets under your skin - some quiet flutes or some other reed instruments playing a few sustained notes, followed by the sounds of inhalation, repeat loop. Extremely disquieting the way it's used here. I should try and find out again where that was sourced from.

So, it's a game that's not for everyone (unless you're one o' them cheating bastards I GOT MY STINK EYE ON YEW! *patooey!*), so it is surprising that it's been as well-received as it has been. I suppose that's testament to the strengths of the rest of the game (or the strength of cheat codes :P) that people can get past this and know a fine game when they see it. Me, I didn't mind the leveling/combat systems at all, I found it presented a, though minor, good tactical challenge at times. There is only one particular section I can think of where it was tedious, it's an area that wraps around itself and has painting and book upgrade goodies galore, but you have to deal with frequent encounters with evil tables and nightstands to get to them. And they aren't difficult fights either, so it feels like busywork to try and find all of them, in a large, maze-like area where everything looks the same and did I mention that it wraps around itself yet because it DOES. So, I decided, as someone who wishes to aid the player who doesn't want to deal with the tedium and just find the damn paintings and bookcases, I put together a "map" of sorts and circled where every single usable painting and bookcase I could possibly find was located. I don't know if these are all of them or not, but I'm pretty sure that they are considering how much I traversed and how many screencaps and walking around I had to do.

So I present to you, a crude but hopefully helpful result of sheer boredom on my part, a map of where these are all located on the one map in the game I truly dislike for your benefit. Look at it if you want, and in the mean time this is a game I highly recommend you play. Enjoy!


Pages: 1
I hate RPG Maker because of what it has done to me
Thank you for this great review! TBH much of weird humour was from balking on the serious tone because I thought it got a little ridiculous in places, such as the introduction of the bouncing chairs. And that track is actually vocals from weird Ruth Crawford music https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i-aBvniYjP8
Pages: 1