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Blooming Heck!

  • Frogge
  • 06/05/2019 08:58 PM
  • 890 views

Villnoire by Little Wing Guy
Length: ~15 hours


Hello everyone welcome to my Youtube channel and today we're playing Theia the Cri- Wait.
*puts on glasses, squints, and reads*
We're playing Villnoire? Wait, what do you mean this game released right after Theia and I'm gonna have to choose one of them to play first? That's like trying to decide if you'd like your arm or your leg chopped off first. Wait, that makes it sound like playing the games is something I don't wanna do, lemme try that again. That's like trying to choose between anal and oral. Nope, too kinky. Oh well, Villnoire it is. It's shorter and doesn't have multiple endings so much less intimidating than starting Theia, so might aswell.


"Shoutout to the game that's gonna compete with me for all the misaos."


Anyway, Villnoire, here we go. Just for the record, I'm going into this 99% blind, the only thing I've seen being the screenshots. I had not read the description and I've not played the demo. So, the game starts off with these bullies pushing our main character down into some dangerous deep area. Oh, I see what this game will be about. It's about Emilia growing up from a bullied little girl to a stro- oh, nevermind, we rescued a blond dude and now he's the protagonist. Oh, poor Emilia. She didn't speak, she was bullied and she's a teenager. She had all the features needed to be a JRPG protag, but I guess we're doing Lukas instead.

Anyway, on that note, this game's really well written. Like, it's really, REALLY well written, you guys. Pretty much any negatives I would point out in this area would be nitpicks that do not ruin the writing by any means. The only big nitpick that stuck out to me was that it would have been nice if Emilia's bullies became more relevant to the story. They're built up really well in the intro with an aura of mystery and dread surrounding them as they push Emilia, but one of them only appears two more times and the other only appears once in the entire game, in all cases just as NPCs, and not plot relevant ones either. Anyway, with my only nitpick on the writing out the way, it's time to talk about the positives. And believe me, there's a ton.

Lil Wing does an amazing job in pretty much every aspect of the writing. The dialogue is extremely well done, always feeling realistic and never obnoxious. The characters are so great. While most games have characters I either like because they're genuinely fun/funny or characters I like because they have really well written arcs, Villnoire actually combines both. The characters are already really entertaining no matter what they're doing, and it's great that pretty much all party members get some sort of arc. I like how their arcs can connect and overlap at times too, like how Zach, Lukas and Brice's subplot. Speaking of Zach, jesus he's the fucking best. There literally isn't a single sentence constructed by Zach that I didn't absolutely love. He's pretty much the comedy relief of the group, but he also has one of the more depressing character arcs. Well, I suppose the only character I wasn't a big fan of was Brice. His character arc was great, but I just don't think we got to watch him interact with the group as much as I would have wanted, at least not in the way that other characters have interacted with each other giving them an inseperable group dynamic that made me not want to see them apart at any point in the game. Brice not being in the party was just... whatever. Huh, I guess the bully subplot wasn't my only nitpick with the writing after all, Brice is too. And... actually, I guess I lied, I do have another nitpick, but a much tinier one. I suppose this is not an issue with the writing itself, but rather the way it's presented. I feel like each box of dialogue has too many pauses in it sometimes. It pauses after every sentence, I'm fairly sure, which makes sense, but in boxes with more sentences, it becomes really obvious. Another issue is that cutscenes go on for really, really long times, and when there's nothing interesting happening, it's easy to sometimes lose track of what you're reading and just blankly start proceeding through textboxes without actually taking in any information. There were only a couple instances in the entire game of this, though, so again, just a nitpick.

Oh, there is a part to Brice that I actually like, and it's his relationship with Lukas. To be completely honest with you, I probably would not care for their relationship if it wasn't thanks to another piece of media - The MCU. Yeah, the thing I like here is that Lukas and Brice are basically Steve and Bucky. Right down to the covert gay tension, even. Vivian even makes a joke at some point about how he thought Lukas and Brice were into each other. Hey, Bucky, Brice, they even sound similar. And Brice even starts out as an ally to the evil side at first too. Okay, it's canon, I shall henceworth refer to Brice as Bucky.


Ha, thought you could slip one past me. Yeah, I know, Lil Wing, I know you used this exact joke in Swan Song too. I've got my eye on you.


Anyway, getting sidetracked here. Hey, did I mention this game's humour is really good? This game's humour is really good. Okay, we jump back to Lukas in his private home. He meets a mysterious but friendly woman who gives her a letter claiming it's from the mayor. He opens the letter only to find, what's this - why, it's blank! (Well, at least the game tells you that it is, the sprite actually very clearly has writing on it) How mysterious. Don't worry, it'll all make sense later, because that's another thing this game is amazing at doing. The story starts off simple making you feel like you know what's going on, but there's a lot of reveals later on that reshape everything prior. Some of these are pretty predictable, particularly the twist with Kyra, but they're written so well you don't really care. Hell, the twist with Kyra is even kinda followed up with "yeah, we knew, we were just ignoring the truth to make you feel better." Either way, though, I really enjoyed the several twists and turns.

I'm pretty happy with the game's core story too. Luckily, no case of four crystals or evil overlords here. The game is about a war between two races, and the goal is not to win the war, but rather bring an end to it in the name of peace. The war is between humans and druids, with humans very clearly winning against the druids, forcing their kind to live in hiding. The game's villian is the leader of humans, granted I'm not sure if he pretty much rules the entire planet of Villnoire or if Villnoire is meant to be more like a continent, considering it's a very small world and it loops on the world map, so I assume he does actually rule the entire humankind. Anyway, this dude wants to mass genocide all the druids. He's basically Hitler, right down to brainwashing his people with propaganda and lies into hating the druids alongside him so no one stands up against his actions. Inchor City's residents have very uncomfortable dialogue to read, but in a good way, letting you see just how horrible this villian is. They even have classes in this city that teach children about how dangerous druids are and how they should be feared when humans are doing all the murder and torture.

You can rest assured, though, I don't get the impression that Villnoire is trying to make a political statement on racism, even though it largely plays into the theme. Rather, Villnoire is about peace, and how anger and revenge can let you achieve your goals, but peace can permanently fix the problem and put an end to the cycle of hate. It's pretty damn good if you ask me.


No caption needed. God I love Zach.


Something you will notice immediately before even playing the game is that Villnoire looks gorgeous. It's an incredibly well done game visually, not only thanks to the amazing pixels of First Seed, but also accompanied by some absolutely dope ass mapping, quite unsurprising for Lil Wing. Every map in this game looks top notch. There's a lot of creative uses of the tiles here too. Light and dark grass is used in forests to give the impression of light shining through the trees. The water being see through and having all that seaweed and rocks underneath is such a nice little touch that makes pools of water way more interesting than they are in most other games using the same tiles. I love the little panaroma in the caves with the lights shimmering from below, it works much better than just a solid black. Even though I'm not too big on the faces, I think that's just down to me not being a huge fan of the style rather than the faces themselves being badly done. My only other issue here is the world map, which looks really samey, and I often found myself getting the islands confused while travelling. A good idea might have been to shake things up a little with some recolors. Like the grass around Lahan Village being darker would have made it easier to identify, or perhaps some little desert decorations around Sekmet. Yes, I did check, there's plenty of space on the world map tileset to allow for edits and recolors, so while I don't think most of my other nitpicks are actually worth fixing on Lil Wing's end, I do highly suggest a future update add some color to the worldmap.

Visuals are not the only great part of Villnoire, however, as the sound design is also top notch. I'm not only talking about the music itself here, although the soundtrack itself is pretty amazing and getting my misao vote for summoner of sounds for sure, but even to the sound effects. (Though, kind of weird how the final boss doesn't have his own seperate music? That's a shame, the final boss song is usually my favorite in almost every game, so sad it's just the normal boss theme)

And there's no better place to see both visuals and sound design combined in Villnoire than its cutscenes. If there was a most cinematic game misao, Villnoire would be my number one pick no questions asked. The way the characters move around during cutscenes and the little sounds they make seriously add so much to said cutscenes, which is good because they are, you know, quite lengthy. I'd go as far as to say I would probably lose track of what's going on twice as much if cutscenes didn't have so much cinematic polish to them. It's a good lesson to learn - perhaps it's a good idea to keep players engaged by keeping visual and sound design interesting.


LOOK AT THESE LITTLE POSES. I LOVE MY LITTLE WEIRDOS AND THEIR CUTE ASS POSES.


Believe it or not, while Villnoire goes all the way up to 15 hours in length, I would say that most of that length is not actually due to gameplay like in most other jrpg games, but rather the story. In fact, Villnoire is pretty simplistic when it comes to the gameplay.

While most lengthier rpgs like this have tons of elements and battle features, Villnoire keeps it simple. In fact, there are only three elements in this game, Light, Dark and Neutral. Liberty wasn't a fan of this, but I personally really liked this minimalist approach to the elements. The enemies even had their names above them so you could tell their element and attack accordingly. No guessing games trying to figure out what an enemy would be weak to, it's all in the name! Other major battling features include the AP system, only being able to choose three party members and switching between them at save spots and the overflow system. The AP system is basically a skill tree of sorts. You have a set amount of AP points to spend and each skill requires a set amount. You equip the skills by spending that amount on it. You can then remove that skill to get your AP points back if you so desire too. You gain AP points upon levelling up so as you get stronger you become able to equip skills that require a higher amount of AP points as well as being able to equip more skills in general. In fact, equipping a duo of skills can sometimes even give you an extra boost like an attack boost or an immunity to a specific state. The party switching is pretty self explanatory. Sometimes you're forced to play with a specific party, other times you get to choose. My only problem here is that it can make equipment a pain in the ass to distribute among party members, but I think it's a fair trade for the freedom in building your party. That being said, the amount of party members isn't actually that high (quality over quantity, they're really likeable like I said!), and party members don't have too many skills individually, so it just boils down to switching party members when one passes out in a dungeon so you don't have to waste healing items and sometimes switching party members for bosses.

That being said, the game's on the easy side for sure. There was only one boss in the game that I died to multiple times, and most others I didn't die to even once. It's a good thing, though, because jesus are the cutscenes before boss fights really long. Even the penultimate boss against murderous blondie didn't give me too much trouble and my party was made up of Brice, Reymos and Vivian, a party that by all means sucks absolute ass (I thought picking a team for Lukas meant I wouldn't be using the others at all in that dungeon, but turns out they just go with Brice instead and you have to switch between them, so I just abandoned my most useless party members and then they ended up becoming their own party of suckingness).

What about overflow you ask? Don't worry about overflow - I literally never used it once in the entire game. (Sorry, Lil Wing, most of the overflow skills were either defensive or for healing when all I wanted was an attack that would just beat the shit out of enemies)

Villnoire also places a large emphasis on exploration. Upon finding a chest, the game tells you how many more chests are in that area, a feature I think was just perfect. It actually lets you know if you missed any chests and lets you go looking for them. Hell, you even get extra rewards for finding all chests in each area. Lil Wing has joked about how easy his chests are to find on the gamepage, and yeah, I would say that a good majority is just hiding in plain sight and is only hidden behind some enemies, but there's a few really well hidden ones too. The one in the port of the first island behind a building took me at least a good 10 minutes to find. Towns are filled with npcs who can actually give you really useful information and lore, and exploring towns even rewards you with the clown Quizzer and a long fetch quest that spans across the entire game, bringing to mind Link's Awakening, only it's way less annoying here. Quizzer is a shapeshifting clown who you find in each time, and he asks you a question, giving you a reward if you suceed. There's no penalty for failing either. Quizzer himself is such a fun character. His final apperance in particular was downright hilarious, but also kinda emotional. You really grow attached to all the little things in Villnoire and there's some genuine impact to the end of each individual aspect of the game in the final areas. Anyway, so what does Quizzer ask you? Trivia about the game? Trivia about real life? No, he actually asks you to name other games on RMN. No, I'm not joking. Villnoire has so many references to other rpg maker games. Like, so many. What's kind of adorable, though, is that these rpg maker games are books within the Villnoire universe. Even if you're not from the site, checking bookshelves around town usually gives you the name of the book which you can then use to answer Quizzer. There was just one out of place question for Quizzer, a single question where the question was not actually asking you to name a game from RMN but rather was actual trivia about the game, which is when he asked you the old name of the Druid hideout. I thought this was weird, why have just ONE question that's different from all the rest? If it was a half and a half thing where some questions were game trivia and others were rmn titles trivia, I feel like it would make sense. Then again, the answer is "Tunnels of Doom" and there is a game on rmn called "Tunnels of Doom RM2K" so maybe it was a reference and I'm just being dumb.


Unrelated picture to break up the text.


Only one weird thing with the towns - the NPCs NEVER change their dialogue. Like after you stay overnight in the coast city and the desert city, the next day the NPCs just return to their exact spot and say the same things? I do kinda of wish NPC dialogue changed over time. Hell, even right after an attack on the druid base, the NPCs just say the exact same things. Guess all those deaths just didn't phase you guys at all.

And another BIG issue I had with gameplay was that you can't actually run from any encounters at all. Sure, you can dodge them on the map, but some are nearly impossible to dodge and not being able to run from them can get really annoying. In the sewers and mansion in particular, enemies are sometimes placed too close to map entrances so they charge at you IMMEDIATELY as you enter a map. In the final dungeon I had to leave every room immediately after entering to see beforehand if something would charge at me and I could prepare. I hope Lil Wing decides to add the run button in there for future players.

Also I wish you could go faster on the worldmap. Okay NOW I'm done.

So all things considered, is Villnoire a perfect game? Is everything bad about it only a nitpick, and otherwise it's a masterpiece? Almost, but unfortunately, it does have one major flaw that brings it down from being a masterpiece to just being absolutely amazing. The issue here is that Villnoire... is too vanilla. Villnoire is like New Super Mario Bros - it's excellent, but follows a formula. This is especially clear in the worldbuilding where you'll notice most areas are just the same cookiecutter ones you find in other rpgs. Sure, the mechanics may be unique, like the thirst mechanic in the desert, but in the end, the game's dungeons basically boil down to forest, mountain, desert, snow, marshland, sewers, mansion. I do like that the final area is basically just a mansion in perfect daylight rather than some dark dimension or something, but for the rest of the areas, you've probably seen them done to death already. I wish the game got a bit more creative with them. I say this knowing that the approperiate resources would exist to allow for it in the first seed tilesets. The story is excellent, like I said, but it's not something that's not been touched upon before. The writing fortunately saves it, but even so, it's not a particularly unique setting or concept. I don't think this is something about Villnoire that can actually be fixed, but if Lil Wing does decide to do another game in the future, I hope he takes a couple more creative liberties.


Might be a bit hard for her to do that, you know.


So the final verdict? Villnoire is a bit of a cookiecutter jrpg. The story isn't about four crystals, thank god, but it's still fairly formulaic. That being said, it does the best of what it can with that formula. The writing is top notch, the presentation is stunningly good, it's such a well polished product, and the gameplay, while fairly minimalist, is still really fun despite minor issues here and there.

Is Villnoire worth playing? Hell yeah it is. Please play this game. And nominate it for a misao or two. Don't let Theia take all of them. (Sorry, Theia, I'm sure you're amazing, I just don't think it's very fair for any one game to win more than 2-3 misaos <3)

I give Villnoire four and a half adorable dorks being jumpy out of five.


Posts

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Great review. Villnoire was already on my "play list", but now I'm looking forward to playing it even more. I never thought I would see a JRPG that combines two of my most favorite features (a way to know how many unopened treasure chests are left and getting an extra reward for opening all of them).
Yes, Really good review. I agree with almost everything(and i choosed to play this before Theia me too!).
The characters have so much expressions, it`s wonderful too see one of them take a seat on a log. For an example. I`m not so far into the game, but i agree toally with Frogge :This is a "must"play for everyone that likes this sort of games. It`s so beautiful and every detail is perfect. Hmm, maybe i should make an review too. My thougt was just to say that this review is really good done(and the game it self) .
Well done Frogge, and of course: Little wing guy.
Frogge
"nothing can beat the power of gay"?
10717
Thanks you two, I'm glad you like the review!
Thanks so much for this Frogge! I'm really grateful you took the time to not only play the game, but leave such a detailed and thoughtful review as well. Villnoire is a game I'm immensely proud of, because it achieves everything that I set out to do. I really don't think I can disagree with any of the nitpicks or criticisms you did raise. I think no matter how hard any of us try to please everyone, we all end up making our own perfect RPG - that's what Villnoire is to me, an embodiment of what I look for in other games.

There is a huge amount of things I could address and make excuses for but I'll just touch upon a couple of ones:

You can rest assured, though, I don't get the impression that Villnoire is trying to make a political statement on racism, even though it largely plays into the theme. Rather, Villnoire is about peace, and how anger and revenge can let you achieve your goals, but peace can permanently fix the problem and put an end to the cycle of hate.

I'm so glad this came across, because this is exactly what I was going for! I didn't want to be heavy handed, or try to beat people over the head with it. I'm a total pacifist but I made sure to try and explore the story from all angles. The main two themes of Villnoire are two things really close to my heart: discrimination and grief. This game draws a lot of my own real life experience put into a fantasy setting. Some dialogue from NPCs are things people have actually said to me, but with the word gay exchanged for Druid (a girl once asked me if I had tried not being gay and that just always stayed me with). I think the reason why you liked the characters is because all characters core personality represents a different stage of grief. Losing family members over the years means I've sort of been all these characters at some point in my life, so I relate and write dialogue from their perspective. Even though it's a simple story on paper, it's so personal to me that I wanted to do it justice (I hope I did).

Hell, even right after an attack on the druid base, the NPCs just say the exact same things. Guess all those deaths just didn't phase you guys at all.

I 100% agree that I could have changed up the dialogue more. However, I'd say at least half of the NPCs at Branca change their dialogue after this section. This was the only place where I knew I had to do it. Perhaps you just missed those guys, or I didn't vary it enough.

In fact, there are only three elements in this game, Light, Dark and Neutral. Liberty wasn't a fan of this, but I personally really liked this minimalist approach to the elements.

When I was designing the game initially, I had every element under the sun, you name it and it was in here. It was overwhelming, and I realised that everything is either weak or resistance to something - even if I only had two elements, that core principle would still be true. Doing so little elements was an experiment, but I think it worked considering the size of the game. If this was some 40 hour RPG, then no way would I have gone for that approach, but I think I just about manage get away with it for a game of this size.

Then again, the answer is "Tunnels of Doom" and there is a game on rmn called "Tunnels of Doom RM2K" so maybe it was a reference and I'm just being dumb.

One of my original testers was a chap called Waxius, and his game is Tunnels of Doom so it was a reference to his game! I don't really have any answer for why this one is sightly different, but some of the other answers can be obtained from talking to NPCs as well as books (Evoker and Vermilion).

Though, kind of weird how the final boss doesn't have his own seperate music? That's a shame, the final boss song is usually my favorite in almost every game, so sad it's just the normal boss theme

I actually paid for someone to make this original soundtrack for me. He was a lovely guy, with very reasonable prices, so it didn't cost a bomb. As the soundtrack grew and grew, I had to carefully consider how many tracks I needed, and I just couldn't bring myself to pay for a song that would be used once. I totally get the expectation, so I hope it's not too much of a let down!

Thanks again. I'm more chuffed than you could ever believe. I always said to myself, as long as this games gets around 3.5 or higher then it's worth someone's time to play it, and it was worth my time to make it.
Frogge
"nothing can beat the power of gay"?
10717
Oh, these are actually some very good justifications! And I wanna confirm that those nitpicks did not affect the score for me at all, they were tiny things. My main complaint that brought it down from a 5 to 4.5 was that last point about it being a bit too vanilla, but otherwise, I'm perfectly happy to look over everything.

author=Little Wing Guy
Some dialogue from NPCs are things people have actually said to me, but with the word gay exchanged for Druid (a girl once asked me if I had tried not being gay and that just always stayed me with).


That line actually did give me a pretty good chuckle. Most of the discriminant dialogue in Inchor City was pretty damn realistic, so this is actually not too surprising.

author=Little Wing Guy
I think the reason why you liked the characters is because all characters core personality represents a different stage of grief.


Oh shit - I didn't even realize this! That's super cool, actually, I'm ashamed of myself for missing it.

author=Little Wing Guy
I 100% agree that I could have changed up the dialogue more. However, I'd say at least half of the NPCs at Branca change their dialogue after this section. This was the only place where I knew I had to do it. Perhaps you just missed those guys, or I didn't vary it enough.


Ah, yeah, I must have missed them. After talking to a few NPCs and seeing they said the same things I didn't bother talking to every single one since none of the other towns prior changed dialogue over time.

author=Little Wing Guy
One of my original testers was a chap called Waxius, and his game is Tunnels of Doom so it was a reference to his game! I don't really have any answer for why this one is sightly different, but some of the other answers can be obtained from talking to NPCs as well as books (Evoker and Vermilion).


Okay, that makes sense now! Thanks for clarifying, feel free to ignore my point on that since it is a game after all.

author=Little Wing Guy
I actually paid for someone to make this original soundtrack for me. He was a lovely guy, with very reasonable prices, so it didn't cost a bomb. As the soundtrack grew and grew, I had to carefully consider how many tracks I needed, and I just couldn't bring myself to pay for a song that would be used once. I totally get the expectation, so I hope it's not too much of a let down!


Oh, makes sense! Again, only time it ever struck out to me was the final boss, but otherwise the soundtrack is really good anyway, so I don't mind that much!

I'm glad you enjoyed the review as well! Thank you very much for making this game - it was truly a great experience!
Wait a second - Lita Lecotta’s in this thing, from Ara Fell? What??? :O

(Okay, it’s not actually Lita Lecotta – but still!)

I didn’t have much interest in trying this out until I saw that cameo with her in it and read some of the dialogue - and now it’s got me all curious and stuff… Might be something that I might look into later for a potential future review.

- Good job there, Frogge! You have done your job well and have convinced me to give Villnoire a try (…well, whenever I happen to have some more free time on my hands, that is.)
Frogge
"nothing can beat the power of gay"?
10717
I figured you’d be all over this, so I’m happy I could change your mind! It actually reminded me of Ara Fell to me in a lot of ways too, besides the cameo, so I think you’ll enjoy this a lot!
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