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The First Hour Deserved That Misao

  • Frogge
  • 12/30/2019 11:35 AM

The Longing Ribbon by Gibmaker
Length: ~5 hours (dropped)

It pains me to say that I didn't finish The Longing Ribbon. This is probably my fourth or fifth time picking this game up now, and this time I was dead set on actually finishing it by whatever means necessary. And for once, I got further than I ever did on preceding playthroughs, but I just couldn't see the game to the end. The Longing Ribbon is a game that starts off great in every aspect, and deteriorates rapidly with every chapter, and the saddest part is that I somewhat wish I never did see the game past the point I got to on said preceding playthroughs.

Do let it be known that I did see The Longing Ribbon to the end, just not myself. The point where I snapped and finally decided to stop was in chapter 7, about 5 hours into the game and roughly 80% done with it from the looks of it. So you can't really say I didn't give the game a fair chance, I saw a good majority of the thing and I actually did watch what happens after the point I stopped on a let's play. Needless to say, while I always try to make sure I see a game to the end, preferably even 100% completion before writing a review, I feel comfortable enough giving The Longing Ribbon a review without finishing it, at least not finishing it myself. Still, though, consider this a review of the first 5 hours rather than the full thing if you will, but the issues I had with this game definitely seem to have kept up after the point I left off so I don't really regret my decision at all.

My story with The Longing Ribbon predates all the way back to when I first started playing rpg maker games, so you can imagine that it has a special place in my heart. Back then, and on pretty much every single playthrough, the furthest I'd been able to get was up to the first battle of the game. Said battle takes place somewhere between the first 40-60 minutes of the game. And the reason I dropped it was quite simple, really - I couldn't figure out how to beat this battle no matter what I did. On each and every single playthrough I thought I must be severely misunderstanding what to do because I just couldn't get past this battle. I got to maybe attack twice, maybe heal once on basically every attempt but no matter what I did the boss was way too overpowered. Now I figured maybe I had to have my stats upgraded to be able to beat this boss, which is kinda stupid for the first battle of a game, the first battle that is usually a tutorial or something really easy for the player to figure out how the battles work with an extremely minimal chance of dying, but I digress. However, what this playthrough taught me is that stats were definitely not the issue, because I made sure to check every painting and every sink, yet I did just about as well with the boss as I did on all my previous attempts.

But I was determined. As I said, I was dead set on getting past this boss that has taunted me for years, preventing me from seeing the rest of a game that intrigued me very much up until that point. So I did what all great games do - I cheated. I went into rpg maker 2000 and I made it so that the boss died in one hit. And finally I got past the obstacle that took me years to get over by a completely valid and fair method.

I wish I never did.

Perfect visual representation of the absolute mess of a game that is about to follow, provided to you none other by the game itself.

Let's rewind a bit.

To me, one of my favorite parts of all rpg maker horror games tends to be the intro. Surprisingly, a lot them tend to share the common pattern of having really great first few minutes that really stick with you for a while. The Longing Ribbon is no exception. In fact, I can say that for the entirity of the game up until the point where I got stuck on each playthrough that I talked about. Everything from the sinister bed in the pagan circle to the car crash on the side of the road and the gates opening as you get to the mansion, I think The Longing Ribbon is filled with memorable moments. And really, I think that best atmosphere misao was well deserved for the first few chapters of the game. Heck, even the later parts that I hated had their really strong atmospheric moments.

I genuinely don't have any major problems with the first hour or so of this game. In fact, I think this game would have been damn near perfect if it ended around chapter 3 or so. I wouldn't have even minded if you never found out what was happening in the house. Weird shit went down, the characters ran. The first three chapters already had a good amount of implication as to what was going on and you could certainly fill in the gaps yourself if it did end on chapter 3. Beyond that point is when the game starts to feel really lackluster and basically ruins the entire thing.

I'll start off with the less significant reason as to why, but don't be fooled, it's still a major reason why - the story. It isn't necessarily terrible, but I feel like every turn taken after the first hour is kinda for the worse. Any sense of mystery is thrown out the window, exposition becomes very common in the dialogue, it tries to tackle a sort of cosmic-religious plot that it never really quite handles particularly well, the characters who were previously interesting lose any sense of intrigue that they had, and it would be an understatement to say that the game gets... weird.

Cool effect! Weird story. You lost me.

Now don't get me wrong, I'm always in for horror games and movies taking weird and unexpected turns but with The Longing Ribbon it just feels so shoehorned in that it feels like a completely different game that does not fit the atmosphere built up by the introduction of the game at all. In fact, dare I say, this game kind of stops being a horror game after the first hour or so in favor of becoming a fantasy about two dragons fighting in a bizarre pocket dimension where young people become involuntarily entangled while a villain tries to use the evil dragon for their own benefit. If that description reminds you of anything; yes, that is literally the plot of a pokemon movie.

The writing in The Longing Ribbon is never particularly outstanding, with even in the first hour or so it being fairly generic, but at least it managed to keep your interest and never felt poorly written. Wherever the writing fell short, the atmosphere was there to help cover it up. So when the later parts of the game largely focus on throwing you in these bizarre glitched out environments that barely fit into the story it really does feel like it no longer has that element of mystery and atmosphere that was so captivating in the first hour.

And since we're on the topic of environments, let's talk a little about how the game looks. It is a bit hit or miss, but when it's at its low points I definitely felt like my criticisms were more nitpicks than actual issues unlike the other aspects of the game. The mapping is great sometimes, a bit bland or messy other times, but it gets the job done. I'm completely fine with the game using RTP, which Gib himself actually brings up in a secret room that I'll talk about later, and I think with some slightly better mapping this game could have genuinely looked great. It doesn't look bad as it is, I'd just say it looks more good than great.

Love the mansion map. Could've done without the inconsistent wall height, but love it regardless.

As per usual the soundtrack is not something I'm qualified to comment on by any means. As I mention in every review, I don't really get music at all. For what it's worth, the game had this one nice intense horror track. It was a bit overused across the game and some instances where it was used felt kind of unnecessary because nothing particularly intense was happening, but as I said about the visuals anything I'd have to say here would be more of a nitpick than a serious complaint. For what it's worth, I think The Longing Ribbon has a perfectly servicable usage of sound and music.

But enough tiptoeing around my main point, the game was ruined for me by primarily one thing - the very thing that made me stop every single playthrough - the gameplay. Unlike many other rpg maker horror games, The Longing Ribbon actually IS an rpg, one with battles, stats, skills, basically the whole bunch. When you're not battling something, the gameplay isn't particularly bad. The puzzles are not always quite up to par (maybe it's just a personal thing, but as someone who has zero knowledge of music as I said, I just find puzzles that rely on knowing piano keys, which there are two of in this game, to be pretty damn unfair). I think just as with everything else in the first hour, the gameplay was very well designed until it no longer was. Having almost all of the mansion open to you at once was pretty damn cool, which makes it all the more depressing that the game puts you in these very linear and forgettable distorted versions of the mansion for the late game areas. What was originally a very generic setting that was fun to explore thanks to its layout and open ended nature quickly becomes a boring linear slog to simply get to the end of each area later on. To be fair on the game, though, it probably wouldn't have been too bad had it not been for the battles. Because the battles are single handedly the worst aspect of this game.

If you've read any of my reviews on pretty much any game I've reviewed that has battles before, you'll know that I'm not much of a traditional RPG guy. I just find turn based battles to not be for me, but in most games I don't mind sitting through them too much. In fact, while I generally don't enjoy normal encounters as I just wanna explore unbothered, I do find boss battles to be pretty fun. Unfortunately, The Longing Ribbon is a game that didn't just have a few battles I disliked, it was a game where every single battle I disliked. The battle system is kept simplistic in favor of doing a fully evented chrono trigger style one, but not only did I find it to be kind of unpolished, I also found it to be to the game's disadvantage. Every battle kind of feels the same and whenever one shows up I found myself groaning and going "This again?"

Normal encounters are fairly easy, but they are boring as hell, which makes it super painful when they constantly show up. This game has tons of unavoidable encounters with troops that simply feel like they are padding my gameplay time rather than actually providing a challenge. If you make a stupid mistake and forget to heal, though, dying sends you waaaay back in most scenerios because save points are scarce in The Longing Ribbon. Often times you'll end up needing to replay fairly lengthy cutscenes or having to traverse a boring area filled with the same boring encounters all over again. I originally got around this by going into the game files and giving myself more save points and also added in my dear friend Jeremy the Bush who has helped me in A Quest for Heroes RPG as well by giving me full heals when I needed them the most. In the case of The Longing Ribbon, though, since you heal after each battle I ended up giving myself an increase in max HP instead.

Jeremy my friend you save me again.

Unfortunately, however, it really didn't help too much. Even with maxed out stats, I found most boss battles to be pretty much impossible. Like, was that just me? Do I just suck? Did nobody else struggle with these boss battles at all?

Eventually I got so sick of that I ended up going into the game files and removing the battles as a whole to just proceed with the story. That in itself proved to be a challenge as The Longing Ribbon's game files are rather untidy, but I suppose Gib didn't really plan ahead for the fact that anyone would be messing around with the game files. Or did he? The Longing Ribbon actually has a couple secret rooms that you can only access through the game files, at least as far as I can tell. My favorite is one where you can talk to Gib himself. Fun!

It's nice to see that Gibmaker is aware.

It really does pain me to give The Longing Ribbon a mostly negative review, it really does. As I said, this game holds a special place in my heart for being among the first rpg maker horror games I've played. The first hour absolutely had me filled with joy as I went through the scenes I felt so nostalgic for once again and got to explore the mansion all over, but I really don't think the rest of it lived up.

I do have an idea of how I wish The Longing Ribbon went instead of the way it did. I don't know how much my idea of what I wanted the game to be matters, especially when the several extremely positive reviews of this game show that it was probably fine for most people as it is, but I do want to discuss it here anyway because it lets me mention the one other aspect of the game I wanted to talk about. Throughout The Longing Ribbon, you are often allowed to choose what your character says. There's usually a positive option, a negative option, and a silly smartass option. Unfortunately, whichever ones you choose never matter a particular lot. Even the dialogue that follows right after the choice almost never changes depending on what you picked, with only a few exceptions, but a very small minority none the less. I don't necessarily mind that this is the route Gib went with for The Longing Ribbon as it is, because due to it being a fairly lengthy game I wouldn't really want to replay it to see story branches anyway. That's where my suggestion comes in. I think The Longing Ribbon would have been a so much better game if it was much, much shorter, but actually had a few different branching routes and endings. Each ending could reveal another piece of the story while the high points of the first hour or so of the game are maintained.

Regardless, though, it is what it is. If the frustrating battles didn't drag the game down for me severely, I think the overall story would have been kind of average and at times kinda bad with some highlights as well, but it would have overall been a lot more enjoyable.


Oh - apparently there's actually a cheat to skip any battle in the game. Nevermind. Guess this entire review is useless. I suppose that's what I get for not reading the file clearly labelled "readme." Yeah, uhh, make sure you play this game with battle skips turned on. Trust me on this one.

I give The Longing Ribbon two and a half batshit crazy trees out of five.

Telltale ain't got nothing on this.


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I hate RPG Maker because of what it has done to me
Oh my. I agree the story is silly, it was a Long Ago First Project. But thank you for (trying to) persist and thanks for the review :)
I wanna marry ALL the boys!! And Donna is a meanc
No problem man, I really hope nothing in this review came across too harsh. As I said I really tried to be positive with this one because certain aspects of it are just so well done.
I'm sad that, To This Day, The Long Ribbon remains the one and only RPG Maker horror game to satisfy my Actually Looking For An Horror RPG itch.
Whenever I see a game that's tagged as "Horror RPG" (read: every single horror game made in RPG Maker) I already shudder in agony and anticipation of that bland find-a-key gameplay. Where's ma Parasite Eves? The Longing Ribbon is the closest I get to that, with a cool protagonist to boot (I love Jeannine...)

But it IS poorly executed in a lot of ways, I may be too protective of it. It'll always hold a dear place to me. I really would love for someone to take the setup of this game and recreate it.

The simple chrono trigger-esque battles are wonderful... In potential, in excecution they never really go anywhere (I still love them because I love me janky early 2k CBSes)
Having basically the same setup executed a bit more elegantly and well plannedly could be SUCH a FUN game! And one that is horror! AND!!! RPG!!!!!!!! The FIRST HORROR RPG IN 18 YEARS?! I don't know. Anyway.

I love The Longing Ribbon but for the sole fact that it is the only option I have if I want to play an horror RPG and it is not parasite eve or koudelka I will forever rate it probably higher than it would deserve otherwise.

I'm basically pleading to yall to make more of this...

Gib youre still active remake this game with the awesome RM2k3 maniacs patch why thank u sell it n steam i will buy official merchandise

anyway great review frojè also i bet you expected you'd summon me by writing this
I played this game a long, long time ago. And I don't remember much of it. But I do remember it was the only game (not RPGMaker game, not RPG - only GAME) that made me feel "this is too scary, I can't play it anymore" EVER. So that's something. The rest of it doesn't really matter in light of that. That's what I think.
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