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And the Horniest Review on RMN Award Goes To...

  • Frogge
  • 02/03/2019 06:03 PM

Homage by Raoul589
Length: ~4.5 hours

Back when I was first introduced to rpg maker, it was actually through the horror genre. The first ever rpg maker game I played was Misao (yes I know Misao is a wolf rpg editor game but shush). I enjoyed it a whole lot, and I began looking for more, leading me to the likes of Mad Father, The Crooked Man, Ib, The Witch's House, you know, the really mainstream rpg horror stuff. For a while, maybe up to a year, I only played horror rpg maker games, but then I decided to broaden my horizons. I don't know why I chose Homage, but in the end, I did, and it was actually the first ever non horror rpg maker game I have played (either that or Fey, I honestly don't remember which). I enjoyed both games so much that I literally made an rmn account just to comment on both. Years later, here I am, an active member of the site who's basically here on a daily basis, almost has 10k makerscore, and is well known for never finishing the shit he starts. So if y'all wanna blame something for my existance on rmn... here you go, here's the game that started it all.

Anyway, on my initial playthrough of Homage, I genuinely loved it. I thought it was easily a five star game. Of course, as the years have passed, my standarts have changed, and it became way harder to impress me. In the meantime, I've been meaning to replay this game for a long time to see if I would still like it today.

And honestly, I'm really happy to say that, yes, this is still easily one of my favorite games on rmn.

Weird fetish, but you're hot, so sure, I can roll with this.

To most, Homage may simply look like a generic RTP game, and you might be wondering to yourself, why the heck would I ever actually want to play this? I would say the biggest selling point of this game is probably actually the battles. It's really rare for me to enjoy battling in an rpg (yes I see the irony), but Homage genuinely left me wanting to fight every enemy I came across. Every time I got a new skill, I immediately got hyped to go try it out on some troops and started looking for some. I only ran from a battle once in the entire game, whereas most rpgs leave me running from 70% of all battles, especially those with random encounters like Homage. If you know me, you probably know how much I hate random encounters with a passion, but I genuinely did not mind them at all in Homage. As I mentioned, enemies are already fight as they are, and encounter rates are kept fairly low, so you don't have to worry about having to fight something every step of the way. The rooms that could have easily been very annoying with encounters luckily choose to get rid of them (basically all puzzle rooms) which really helps.

Homage has an action battle system, and the really really impressive part of it is that I believe the entire thing is actually evented. Upon my initial playthrough, I assumed it must have been a script, but now that I've gotten better at rpg maker, I'm fairly sure it's just some really clever use of variables and shit. Considering VX had scripts, it's rare to see someone put so much effort into eventing a custom battle system the way one would usually do with the likes of 2k and 2k3 that did not have scripts by default. And it works really well! The battle system is very responsive and casting spells is always fun. The way you do it is by holding down space, inputting a specific directional pad combo, and then letting go of space to cast that spell. It takes a while to get used to it, but it's not that hard to use once you do. It's a bit more challenging in later bosses when they're a lot faster and you won't have much time to actually cast anything before getting hit. It's definetly not impossible, though. On the contrary... it's actually kind of really easy.

The transfur fans are losing their shit.

Here's the thing that might be bad news for some people - Homage is very, very easy. It's kind of ironic seeing as my oldest comment on RMN is actually me commeting "some battles are a bit too hard" on this game, but that's not the case at all. I'm gonna assume young me was an idiot who tried to fight every boss with just the thunder and fireball skills. On the contrary, now I actually had absolutely no trouble for most of the game. I died once or twice to most bosses, sure, but otherwise there wasn't a single normal enemy troop that ever gave me trouble. The final boss is the only battle where I had to use all my skills (which, fair enough, it is the final boss) but other than that I mostly just used thunder, fireball, slime and flying sword, occasionally just shaking it up for the bosses or using the slowing down skill on more agile enemies.

I know there's a hard mode you unlock after beating regular mode, but I currently have no plans to replay the game just for it. As I said, I don't mind battles being really easy, but if you don't like that, I suggest steering clear, or getting a hard mode save from someone who's beat the game.

One other really impressive thing here is the replayability, though. Your character has three stats that you can grow after levelling up, or with items. These are your power, agility and defense. I mostly focused on power, but somehow ended up having the same defense as my offence, even though I almost never upgraded it after levelling up. I guess it was probably the items or equipment. I have no idea what agility actually did, nor did I ever bother upgrading it. Maybe how fast your mana regenerates? I legit don't know, but I didn't really end up needing it anyway, I guess. You also get to learn one of three new skills after beating each boss, and I genuinely had a hard time picking every single time. I can definetly see myself replaying this game again sometime in the future to try out different skills and builds (you can't substitute for skills you didn't choose later on, so pick carefully), which I normally wouldn't do with any other rpg. But in action based on where all skills are actually visible on the field and give you new attack patterns, I think replayability is much greater than a turn based game where I just go for whatever skill could kill the enemies quickest.

Oh my, such dominant men! Please tell me there's an orgy scene after this.

I'll tell you what isn't so easy, though, and that's the puzzles. While most rpg games I've played just throw in some filler puzzles in dungeons to keep you occupied, and they can usually be solved very easily, Homage is different. Every dungeon actually has a puzzle gimmick that it places large focus on, to the point where I would go as far as to call Homage a 50% puzzle game. And they're genuinely pretty damn challenging. Even the boulder puzzles, the puzzles that have been done to death in every rpg were handled in such a way here that I was left scratching my head with every single one. So much so to the point that... I got kind of tired. Honestly, I can't blame the game for having challenging puzzles, but having so many of them thrown at me in a row sometimes left me kind of frustrated, and while doing the puzzles was the only time I ever felt like putting the game down. The final dungeon in particular had my least favorite puzzles in the entire game, where you have to get some flame spirits to stand on smoke to put out a fire? It doesn't make much sense when you describe it, I know. Blue spirits mimic your moves while orange spirits go in the opposite way you went to (ex: they go right if you go left, think of those shy guys from Link's Awakening). My favorites were probably actually the statue transformation puzzles in the cave, but those were also the easiest, so that explains why I guess.

In general, though, Homage is a game with surprisingly good gameplay for an rpg maker title. Kind of ironic that both non horror rpg maker games I've played had action battle systems. Setting me up for some stupid false hope just for it to get shattered by the overwhelming majority of turn based garbage later, smh.

With gameplay out of the way, I'd say the other great part of this game is probably the story. Homage is actually a very well written game. It's about the magical stick thing that I already forgot the name of, and how everyone's after it because it's super powerful or whatever. Super cliche, I know, but here's the kind of Black Mirror-y twist to it - the staff is bound to whoever picked it up, and the only way for it to pass to someone else is if you kill the current owner. Of course, our protagonist happens to get their hands on the staff after the previous owner dies in front of their eyes, so now he's being chased after by an evil lord who wants to kill him for the staff. This ends tension in a cool way, because you know that even if you defeat the lord, you're still gonna be bound to the stick and people will chase after you your entire life, trying to kill you. This is explored pretty well in the green haired dude's backstory, the previous owner of the staff before the main character (who got the staff from a dead old man at an inn himself during the intro, a cool way to set up the cycle) as you watch his life unfold as he is constantly chased after and how he has to drag his wife into his shit because they just can't get a rest. With the main character, not as much. While I think most of the story is really excellent, I think the ending is very abrupt and doesn't really tie up a lot of loose ends. What happened to the blue haired lad who the main character was in love with? That was the one that left me wondering the most. I think the ending felt a bit rushed, like up until that point the developer spent a ton of effort on this project, but then got impatient after the final boss like "yes i'm finally done let's just whip up a quick ending and release this already." It's a shame, because the climax was genuinely pretty good with the stormy clouds and snow and everything, but it ends up being a classic case of the setup being much better than the payoff. It's like sex, you orgas- okay, you know what, I'll stop there.

Why the hell are you even sleeping on the sand? You have a horse carriage on the worldmap. I'm sure that would be a whole lot more comfortable.

I had one other minor issue with the story, that being that I felt a lot of characters went somewhat underdeveloped. Most of them appear in four to five scenes at most, some even just one (like the elf doctor lady at the desert village or the old woman who... pretty much dies instantly). Even Oskul, who's probably one of the most important characters gets a maximum amount of about 6-7 scenes. The gamepage literally advertises this game with "no filler," but I think the game could benefit from being extended a little to give some characters more screentime and character development. Even the main character, who's the only character you're gonna see for longer than a total sum of 30 minutes (obviously, he's the main character) is kind of a really plain and boring dude. I enjoy the setup here a lot, but I feel that it could be even better if the characters were.

That being said, ironically enough when I first played this game I lowkey had a crush on Oskul. I didn't use rpg maker myself at the time, I believe, so I didn't know he was just Elmer from the RTP and thought he was pretty friggin hot. Or I did and still found him hot anyway. I've gotten over that stupid crush, though. I'm crushing on others now, like Eric, the generic bandit dude, or the red haired lumberjack dude! Okay, yeah, my tastes in men are still shitty as fuck.

I'll tell you what about this game isn't as great though, that would be the visuals. Homage uses RTP graphics, which on its own isn't that bad. There's plenty of really good looking RTP games I've seen. The issue here is that a lot of the maps range from being okay to hideous. Luckily, the majority is in the okay section, but the sour apples are there for sure. Towns in particular are probably the worst looking maps in the game, mainly due to the fact that the developer, for some reason, chose to make 90% of the houses weird 1 tile wide rectangles, which implies on its own that the houses are actually a wall anyway, but also leaves no space for any variety in them.

The fuck went wrong with this carpet? Someone put it out of its misery.

There were other visual issues I had scattered around. For one, the main character's face is inconsistent with all the RTP faces. The evil dude's face has weird blackness behind it, and a lot of the time the faces don't even actually match the sprites.

I will give credit to one thing here, though, and that's how cinematic the cutscenes in this game actually are. I'm genuinely very impressed how much effort went into the visual polish in them with how every action generally seems to be animated. They play out very naturally, and this is something I've seen a lot of rpg maker titles struggle with in recent years, so I'll give the developer a big pat on the back for it. Some things in particular I was beyond impressed with, such as the cutscene where the main character is steering the ship and you actually see it get tilted on the worldmap.

I can tell a lot of heart and soul went into making Homage, and it really shows. From the custom battle system to the great cutscenes, there's genuinely effort put into this. And it really pays off because the end product is a really good game. I had my issues with the story, and the visuals are not the best, but neither one of those things particularly ruined this for me. I can definetly see why I was so nostalgic about this, and even after all these years, my rating's only dropped from five stars to four and a half (very impressive considering some 4 star games dropped to 2). I know saying "don't judge a book by its cover" is a stupid term, but if you can get past the generic rtp look you see in the screenshots, there's genuinely an excellent product here, and I highly recommend Homage to anyone. I do hope the developer decides to pull a The Witch's House on us and come back years after its release with a major graphical overhaul with story extensions, because I feel like it has the potential to be five star game if it did.

I give Homage four a half viagra packs out of five.

Stop being so dominant, you're giving me a boner!