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This game's a mammoth, but there's a lot I'd like to see improved in the sequel.

  • Decky
  • 02/04/2014 09:59 AM
  • 4093 views
I'll start off by saying that I'm an idiot: I played this game for 12 hours and didn't take a single screenshot. Oh well. This will be a fairly succinct review for a fairly lengthy project.

Actually, "fairly" lengthy doesn't even begin to describe it. I put 12 hours into the game and only got to Lindblum; I could see this game being 30+ hours EASILY. UPRC's dedication to this project is commendable, and his love for Final Fantasy shows through with this epic.

With that said, it could be better; UPRC is already taking a lot of steps to make sure the sequel - Blackmoon Prophecy 2 - becomes one of the elite RM games!

Story
BP's story is a little more in-depth than its source material (FF1-6). The story is more in line with the intricacies of FF9 or 12. There are four kingdoms, each with an elemental crystal, but there is quite the dynamic between them. Branch, your home kingdom, is in the center of it all. There are malicious forces out to seize the power of the crystals in Ex-Death fashion. There are plenty of other antagonists: the question is, are they all linked by a sinister plot? Three overworlds later, you'll have a nasty foe to conquer! Then there's the question of the oft-rumored Blackmoon Prophecy itself, causing one group of antagonists to challenge our ragtag band of heroes due to fears of such a prophecy coming to fruition. There's plenty of intrigue to go around!

The story is intricate and well crafted, but there are some flaws with its execution. First of all, none of the characters really hooked me, with the exception of Vera - and she tends to be a little too clingy at times. Many of them were either underdeveloped or developed too late for my liking. That's not to say that these are shallow characters: they are given some depth and development, but some of it either comes across as forced or just not in my preferred style. The White Mage is a great example. Her emo nature is beyond annoying to me, and it's kind of forced at me...and party members try to help her in a rather forced manner. (I guess "forced" is the word of the hour.) Other characters just feel like they check off their respective box on the "Final Fantasy tropes" list.

This ties into my issue with the pacing. The characters take a while to get going, and I see a lot of inconsistencies in their development and personality - a testament to this game's very long development cycle. Vahn is also a bland main character who is overshadowed by the other dragoons (especially the fantastic Hans). The story's pacing itself is also a bit of a mixed bag: the huge amount of town hopping between the Fire and Wind Crystals has its share of intrigue and scenes, but ultimately it feels like filler.

I also felt that there were some missed opportunities for characterization, and some of these missed opportunities were jarring. For instance, there is a rather sympathetic dragon boss about 3 hours into the game. When Hans and Vahn defeat it, the dragon has a rather tragic and understandable monologue - perfect fodder for reflection or at least some sort of conversation. What do they say?

Not a word.

This issue is common with bosses and various other cutscenes. I feel that the game's story misses some great opportunities and overdoes things in the wrong places and at the wrong times.

I am going hard on this story, but that's because it didn't really grip me; I admired its scope, though, and felt it was competent enough to carry me through more than 12 hours of gameplay. I played FF4-6 and felt the same about those games (with the exception of some of 6's characters). It's competent and well crafted - and there are a few legitimately awesome characters and evil monologues - but overall it's not my favorite story in the world.

I also felt that some of the exposition was kind of forced on me. I had this same issue with games like Carlsev Saga: writing exposition is damn hard, and it does come across as a little awkward in this game. It's issue mostly with the early game, though - the dialogue and exposition improve over the course of the game.

I have to give this category a few bonus points because I am almost certain that the characters will get a lot better as the game progresses. It's a Final Fantasy title, after all.

Presentation
Essentially perfect, with a few exceptions. First of all, the cave visuals get really monotonous over time. A few more palette swaps and some various doodads to differentiate the areas would've been great. With that said, the maps are all well made, even striking at times.

The same goes for the music: well chosen, but some of the tracks get really repetitive (e.g. the cave and town music). The sound effects are perfect.

I had a few gripes with the presentation - mostly related to glitches and whatnot. There are some passability issues with beds, sprite cutoffs in secret passages, and so forth. I also find it awkward how you can walk over doors (but I think this was in the early FFs as well, so I can understand such an oversight). Some of the town paths are a little too narrow, forcing me to wait for NPCs to pass (this happened a little too often for my taste).

Overall, though, UPRC did a good job delivering that classic Final Fantasy feel.

Gameplay
As a Final Fantasy title, the gameplay in this game impressively emulates early titles in the series, with a few glaring exceptions.

I won't really get into the nuts and bolts too much: it's fast-paced ATB (thanks to a recent patch) and the combat is very simple. There are some summons and throwing items, and everyone has access to magic (albeit in weakened forms that almost seem useless at times). The black mage and white mage have an overpowered Focus skill that makes MP a non-issue: I love it! Resource management can get old after a while.

First of all, the difficulty is astronomically low. This is one of the easiest games I've played, and I think that's mostly the fault of RPG Maker 2003. The initial ATB system was really slow, so UPRC added a patch to compensate. Unfortunately, this means that characters can act 2-3 times before an enemy, and the enemies weren't rebalanced to compensate. The only trouble I had with the combat was the rare enemy that randomly did 400 magic damage early on - a balancing issue, but it's made less severe by the relative ease of the game.

The simplicity of this game works against it because it's so long. The item upgrade system, while an interesting idea, isn't really executed well in my book. Each upgrader only has two items and you might not even be able to purchase the initial item to upgrade at that point in the game - either it was six towns in the past or you haven't reached the area yet. Second, there just aren't enough options available at each upgrader - I had a ton of monster drops by 12 hours in, and they weren't worth selling as loot. I wanted to put them to good use! For instance, I wish I could've modified some of my weapons to give them elemental properties, or perhaps crafted great items from scratch such as the Running Shoes.

Second, the caves and dungeons, while generally serviceable, get a little tiresome after a while. Some dungeons have nice wrinkles, such as the trap-filled Pyramid and the character-centric Cave of Dreams, but most areas are boring caves or shrines. Even areas like the mountain with the poisonous flowers and vents tend to get on my nerves due to the random nature of the traps. I also felt the block-pushing puzzles were kind of unintuitive: more work could've been done with the brief puzzles and dungeon design, especially in a game of this length.

I love the balance between the party characters: nobody feels useless, and only one character feels overpowered (Vera). Thankfully, Vera is also the best permanent playable character by far, so she's worth keeping around on two fronts. I also enjoyed the blue mage until the black mage started getting X-Magic (area-of-effect spells similar to the initial blue magic). The issue is that the battles are rather bland. The only strategy in combat is determining elemental weakness, and working around enemies that have a resistance to your strongest skills or elemental attacks. Everything else is a cakewalk, and there aren't really any interesting systems or gimmicks (like in FF5, 6, and 8) to help balance this out.

So if I'm being hard on this, why did I still enjoy this game and play it for 12+ hours without it feeling like a chore? I didn't even run from many battles, despite the high encounter rate. Hell, I was easily overleveled by the time I reached Lindblum, with 100k gold and level 20-21 characters.

Even with all these gripes, the game feels good and it has some charm. Maybe it's the scope of the game - the fact that I was eager to see what was next, even while slogging through all the simplistic battles that bring me back to games I've already played a bunch of times. It could've also been all the neat side areas and secret passages. Who knows?

Nostalgia triumphs, I guess!

It also helps that there are a bunch of cool optional features, such as the battle arena, auction house, etc. Most of these are implemented well, given 2k3's limited nature. I especially enjoyed the battle arena because it allowed me to press my luck against increasingly difficult monsters that I wouldn't be facing until halfway through the game.

Conclusion
I was torn between giving this game a 3 and a 4. On the one hand, it's quite well made; I was able to play it for 12 hours and have a good time doing so (that's more than I can say about my recent attempt to replay Final Fantasy XIII-2!). On the other hand, it just feels a little too simplistic and the story elements just don't suck me in. I think a few custom systems, such as Steal or Blue Magic Learning, would have gone a long way. I ultimately needed a lot more to do.

To sum it up, the sheer amount of content and scope of this game were enough to make up for an experience that I felt was nostalgic, but lacking a little something. I have huge respect for the creator for making this massive game, but I also feel that he has the right to hear honest feedback for his next project! Consequently, I can't blind myself with nostalgia/respect and issue an inflated rating. If the source material has flaws and the game emulates the source material without removing all of the flaws, then I still have to take those into account.

This game is easily recommended for any Final Fantasy fan or RPG fan who hasn't played a bunch of RM games, but this is not really for people who prefer games like Shin Megami Tensei or Xenosaga. It knows its target audience and clearly delivers on that front. Good work on the whole, UPRC!

Story: 3/5
Gameplay: 3.25/5
Presentation: 4.5/5
Fun Factor: 4.25/5
Overall: 3.75/5

Posts

Pages: 1
Good review, Deckiller. But there's a small typo in the last paragraph. recommended, not rcommended.



WTB Your Motivation: 3500 Makerscore
UPRC
Exciting, but ultimately pointless.
7380
Overall, a good review!

The problem with the story is that a lot of it was being worked on when I was still... 18 or 19? I think? That was long before I started pressing myself to do the best I could, I think. A lot of sequences, like the Surt bit, will be tinkered with in my next update because I know that A LOT of complaints come from the early game's dialogue and pacing.

Also, typo!
Even with all these gripes, the game feels good and is has some charm


Definitely liked several of your points, and this will help with the next update for sure. LPs and reviews have been great sources of feedback. Keep it all coming, guys. :)
Corfaisus
"It's frustrating because - as much as Corf is otherwise an irredeemable person - his 2k/3 mapping is on point." ~ psy_wombats
7419
Deckiller
I have to give this category a few bonus points because I am almost certain that the characters will get a lot better as the game progresses.

I recommend you finish the game while keeping your eye on Malacore.

Deckiller
Essentially perfect, with a few exceptions. First of all, the cave visuals get really monotonous over time.

Or at least make it to the Underworld.
At least wait until you get the latter parts of the game, Deckiller, that’s when this game gets crazy good! I don’t think playing it for only the first twelve hours does this game justice.

But, man, you sure have outdone yourself in the past week. You plan on doing anymore reviews before the contest closes?

And I’m glad to see that you’re a Vera user too. Vera kicks so much ass in this game. :)
author=Addit
I’m glad to see that you’re a Vera user too. Vera kicks so much ass in this game. :)
I need to draw fanart of her.

But, honestly, we have to remember that super-long games can produce the stockholm effect.
The game does get better, but not to ungodly levels.
Then there's the fact that long rm games are starting to be frowned upon, in a day where everyone is busy.

I know I can't put 15+ hours into all y'all bitches' games. And I WANT to... but I'm also a gam' dev too. :(
UPRC
Exciting, but ultimately pointless.
7380
author=Clareain_Christopher
I know I can't put 15+ hours into all y'all bitches' games. And I WANT to... but I'm also a gam' dev too. :(


And then comes life OUTSIDE of RPG Maker. Bah.
author=UPRC
author=Clareain_Christopher
I know I can't put 15+ hours into all y'all bitches' games. And I WANT to... but I'm also a gam' dev too. :(
And then comes life OUTSIDE of RPG Maker. Bah.
Life outside rpg maker not including work? Wahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh~

My life in gif form.
Corfaisus
"It's frustrating because - as much as Corf is otherwise an irredeemable person - his 2k/3 mapping is on point." ~ psy_wombats
7419
author=Clareain_Christopher
The game does get better, but not to ungodly levels.


We can share our Tower of Babil stories.
Pages: 1