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A Game in defiance of the principles of good game design

  • Muninn
  • 07/11/2012 02:44 PM
  • 308 views
ShadowSong: Episode One is an RPGMaker XP game by Shillishous. The exact status of the game is somewhat vague; The game page data says "Complete", the game page description says "beta", and the version I played was most definitely something in the alpha phase of development.

Summary
Some children have gone missing after being attacked by monsters. Rescue them.
Then go fight an evil demon.

Story: Simple at first, disjointed at the end (possibly unintentionally?)
The story of Shadowsong starts out rather basic: You are Shill, an experienced warrior living with a bunch of children. When the children get kidnapped by monsters, you must rescue them. Quite simple.

Somehow, this leads to you fighting an evil demon king. I'm not sure how, which I'll talk more about in a later section.

Presentation: Unacceptable
Graphics quality isn't really bad, nor is music, likely because both use RTP resources. The control scheme is odd ("Enter" seems to be the only button for "Accept" at some points, but I thought I remembered pressing "Z" and having it do something at some point)

The maps are absolutely atrocious. Each map consists of a square the size of the screen (fair enough). Travel between maps is accomplished by standing on a tile on the edge of the screen, facing outward, and pressing "accept". While I prefer maps that automatically move the character to the next map upon reaching the edge, this is also a passable design choice. What is not passable is the decision to have maps be almost completely open (meaning that the entire border of the map contains squares that the player can walk on), but only having one specific square that the player must find in order to progress.

Map progression is also problematic. After the first screen of the game, the player progress north to a field with a fence to the north and some trees along the sides. For now, we'll call this the "Hub". The first time the player enter the Hub, the only way to progress is to the left. After progressing through that sequence of screens, the player returns to the Hub. Returning is not accomplished by walking back through the two screens the player just traversed, as one might expect, but instead by touching a mushroom. It is impossible to walk back to a screen that you have already left.

The second time the player is at the Hub, they must go right, instead. Note that the last time they were here, attempting to go right would result in nothing happening. The maps are blatantly railroading the player into following a sequence, even when there's no real reason why they shouldn't be able to walk right the first time. This sequence is much the same: follow two screens, touch a mushroom, except this mushroom is activated by standing on it and pressing enter, as opposed to just touching it like the previous one.
The third time the player is at the Hub, they go up, into a cave. Aside from being depressingly linear, this cave at least is easier to follow as a result of having walls where you can't go. Exiting the cave (via a magic portal this time, as opposed to a mushroom) returns the player to the Hub, except there is now no place to go because none of the tiles send the player anywhere.

At this point, I would conclude that the game was finished. Since I was only 15 minutes in, and the game had come with two save files with playtimes of one and two hours, I decided to load those instead. The first put me on a winter map with a single tree and no way to leave. The second put me right before the final boss, although I have no idea what sequence of events lead from "Saving children" to "Battling Demons".

Gameplay: In need of much refinement
It was the final cave before I finally found an enemy that I couldn't kill in one hit. Enemies dealt damage equal to about 8% of my starting health, but that quickly became irrelevant as my health increased, and there's free healing every time a child is rescued anyway. Part of this may be my fault, as the second path had a field of on-touch goblin encounters who drop potions, give much more experience than they should relative to how difficult they are to kill, and who don't disappear after being fought. (The Goblins also drop gold, but this is irrelevant because I never found a place where I could spend it).

The only enemy that poses much of a threat is the final boss, and even that fight can be trivialized by spamming Shill's "Feint Attack", which has a decent chance of stunning the boss. (The save file provides enough potions and SP-restoratives that running out of health or SP is a non-issue)

Final Verdict: Needs much work
Shadowsong is a game which I cannot see as currently complete by any stretch of imagination. I see that Shillishou is currently working on a sequel, but it seems to me that work on that should instead be postponed, with the time instead being spent on the completion of the first game.

Posts

Pages: 1
This game is awful, I'm sorry. It feels like no effort what so ever was put into it, thus I 100% agree with this review and the other review. You really should do one of two things, take this project down and re-think it.....ALOT, or scrap it all together in favor of something new.

These reviews you got were tough yes, but certainly not mean. You should at least show some respect to the fact that they were written and comment off of them. To me, it seems like you can't handle critique at all and you just avoid discussing any negative comments.
Thank you for your post Jparker, despite how unrevised it was. If you took the time to research the status of the game, including the reasons for why I put it onto RMN in the first place, maybe you'd understand that all feedback is taken into account and I have already given return feedback to people who offer it. The game was put in place to allow space for the more professional production I am currently editing, though this game is still updated every week or so. Good luck next time,

-Shill
author=Shillishous
The game was put in place to allow space for the more professional production I am currently editing, though this game is still updated every week or so. Good luck next time,

-Shill


What does that even mean?
author=Clyve
author=Shillishous
The game was put in place to allow space for the more professional production I am currently editing, though this game is still updated every week or so. Good luck next time,

-Shill
What does that even mean?


I simply mean it would be a little curious if a game titled Shadowsong 2 came out when there were no records of a first game :)
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