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A cycle of goodness in this killer app

"Balmung Cycle" concerns a group of people headed by Blitz Ymir, a stoic einheri, who has been enlisted by the god Loki to carry out a task of taking down an ethereal but nefarious heretic. The bare-bones of the plot, as you can see, is simple. The classic good versus evil. What forms the muscle of it is all the Norse mythological references Magi has researched and implemented into it. For someone who has played their share of generic RPG Maker games, I found this refreshing, especially one that has been chewed-up and re-hashed as the medieval genre.

However, I believe it could've been executed better. While the plot was interesting, cutscenes soon became too didactic and ran on for way too long until I was just bashing the Spacebar button to get through all the dialogue. As for the characters, there were none that I truly loved. Blitz's lack of humour made him a proper foil and 'straight man' to the drunk Alrick and the sassy Elm. While I understand why people would hate these two, I thought their comic relief brought a certain welcoming lightness to the plot. Characters I would've liked to see more developed: Loki, Skuld and the henchmen, Vali and Kvasir.

The level design is something to be commended, especially in the Phantasmagician Manor and the Yggdrasil Spring. Playing this, I can see the amount of pre-planning and thought that went into the designs of these dungeons. While I hardly used the maps, they were a great addition also. In the dungeons, enemies would appear in the form of wandering encounters. But even then, I felt the battling was too much. Magi can cut down on those. When you destroyed all the enemies in an area, you would be granted an "Odin's Triumph", an item which purpose is never revealed. I've collected two in all, but did not feel the need to get the rest since I didn't know what they did!

The battles themselves were done very well, though, with several systems in place to make you avoid button-mashing. One of these is the "Divine Favor", where special conditions are given to a battle for certain rewards or limitations. An example would be that guarding in some battles allows you to recover life, and using no items may supply you with a reward. Another aspect is the assignment of weapon types, which range from Force, Pierce, Disrupt and Astral. Spells are also assigned these types, and they can be purchased in the form of "logia" at item shops. When you purchase one spell, the entire party gets it! But there's a catch! A party member MUST be equipped with a complementary weapon type to use the spell! For example, a Force weapon cannot use a Pierce spell. This can either be a nice challenge or a goddamn source of frustration. For example, the only cure spell of the game "Puria" is assigned a Pierce status. When I was in the mountains, the strongest weapons for each character were either "Force" or "Astral", so naturally I equipped them with those and sold my Pierce weapons. So I had to make it through that entire goddamn mountain without a cure spell! But maybe that's my own foolishness without acknowledging the game universe's rules. I would ask Magi to design a character that sells items in these areas, like Neko in Secret of Mana, for people as stubborn as me.

Another aspect of the battles is the Adrenaline system, which allows you to gain one Adrenaline point per attack. You can then use these points to perform special skills. However, Blitz's skills were pretty much useless (except for Study, which cost no points) and I barely ever used Skuld's skills. Alrick's skills were pretty good, though, especially that Point Black Shot, heh heh. If you gained more than six Adrenaline points, you can perform a HYPER ATTACK, which inflicts so much damage on an enemy it'll leave your head spinning. This is immensely satisfying to perform on a boss. The game also includes a duel system that is slightly unfair and a bit unnecessary. But I can appreciate the work that went into it and I wouldn't fuss about it being there as I'm a big fan of mini-games and deviations from standard RPG Maker gameplay.

By playing this game, you can tell Magi probably kept loads of notes, as the beginning is loaded with Chekhov's Guns (probably not using this term right...), chests and people you can refer to when you get to later on in the game for extra goodies. Giving all the villagers their own names was a nice touch too, though this didn't help make them any more memorable than the average NPC. But thankfully, this game is much more memorable than many other RPG Maker games.

This review may highlight too much the unfavourable aspects of Balmung Cycle for me, but the truth remains that this is a very good game. The graphical consistency is there. The fitting musical score is there. But Balmung goes the extra mile with all its research, design and planning to give you a nice experience in an in-depth world and Magi's reworking of Norse mythology. And for that, this gets the "KILLER APP' stamp from me.

Posts

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The fact remains that I find it ironic.
Solitayre
Circumstance penalty for being the bard.
18257
If you read my comment you'll notice I actually agreed with the review and wasn't complaining, just noting it seemed odd while simultaneously pointing out that it isn't important compared to what he actually wrote.

Also, this site has pretty basic standards for reviews since they are all written by amateurs. Most of my reviews are also terrible.
I find it ironic that Solitayre is complaining about review content/score differences.

This isn't a bad review, it just doesn't go into enough detail.

EDIT: Wow, TFT said something funny...

EDIT2:

If you ever see a review you think is terrible, let someone on the staff know about it.

Most reviews submitted to this site are "terrible" compared to any sort of decent review. In fact, most of the reviews I've submitted are terrible.
Ciel
an aristocrat of rpgmaker culture
243
at no point did i say the phenomenon mentioned by solitayre does not occur, i think he didn't understand the discussion because his reply was completely irrelevant!

also i don't think there is a conspiracy because conspiracy requires more than 1 person to be plotting xD
Ciel
an aristocrat of rpgmaker culture
243
at no point did i say the phenomenon mentioned by solitayre does not occur, i think he didn't understand the discussion because his reply was completely irrelevant!

also i don't think there is a conspiracy because conspiracy requires more than 1 person to be plotting xD
As Soli said, we talk about this all the time.

I am sorry to disappoint you ciel, but there is no secret conspiracy against Balmung, and the only reviews I have denied of it have surely been of the '10 words 5/5 lol' variety..
Solitayre
Circumstance penalty for being the bard.
18257
Actually, staff members challenge reviews all the time. If you ever see a review you think is terrible, let someone on the staff know about it.
Ciel
an aristocrat of rpgmaker culture
243
If you want to be technical about it, this review exceeds the site's standards by a lot, but perhaps not my expectations. Still, that is no reason to threaten its purging, and I withdraw that remark.

so basically the initial comment was a kneejerk reaction singling out a balmung review whereas the dozens of reviews that are far inferior to even this review which 'exceeds site standards by a lot' go completely unchallenged by you or any member of the staff

i am glad we 'purged' all these feelings of unease
Well, seems like I got the #shmup brigade on me. Guess that is to be expected.

My intention was not to look like power brokering turd, though the way my comment came out it certainly appears that way, and for that I will apologize. I am not saying you must put in categories, but my primary concern is truly with the presentation of the review, as we get lots of reviews that are long strings of unorganized text that are often denied for incomprehensibility reasons. If you want to be technical about it, this review exceeds the site's standards by a lot, but perhaps not my expectations. Still, that is no reason to threaten its purging, and I withdraw that remark.

That all said, there is room for improvement and I am glad you recognize that.

comment=35492
karsuman just instantly becomes a stick in the mud any time balmung cycle is brought up, you've been warned


Not really. I just do not think it is all that.

comment=35516
whew, i am glad karsuman decided to keep this review! perhaps next time if you added more badly drawn lesbians and mcdonalds cheeseburgers he won't rail you too much about it.


Perhaps you and strangeluv should team up? =)
Ciel
an aristocrat of rpgmaker culture
243
comment=35490
I am keeping this review for now (I do not promise to keep it during one of this site's review purges) but in the future I will expect higher quality ones.


on rmn reviews endure a high level of scrutiny from karsuman so as to ensure that the users get the most accurate and thorough outlook on all rpgmaker games (balmung) before spending their hard-earned megabytes downloading it

TFT
WHOA wow wow. two tails? that is a sexy idea...
368
whew, i am glad karsuman decided to keep this review! perhaps next time if you added more badly drawn lesbians and mcdonalds cheeseburgers he won't rail you too much about it.
Hm, well, by the notes I didn't mean the mythological research but like concerning the dungeon design, enemy profiles and "events" early on in the game, compared to people who just open the maker and start making games willy-nilly. A lot of the complaints I could overlook (though I would urge the maker to look into them) given all the other things I enjoyed.

I pretty much liked the game, though, and I was bordering on giving it 4/5 but I ended up giving it 4.5 because I liked all the ideas for the battles and mini-games. This is my first review here and I might have been a little lenient with the score. But I might be a lenient reviewer overall as I wouldn't have any qualms giving a game like Wilfred the Hero a score of 4.5, or giving a 5 to Last Scenario, Starless Umbra or Rose Chronicles.
Magi
Resident Terrapin
1028
karsuman just instantly becomes a stick in the mud any time balmung cycle is brought up, you've been warned
Solitayre
Circumstance penalty for being the bard.
18257
Reading this review, I see you had many of the same complaints about this game as I did. I didn't like this game the way most everyone else seems to, though I think it is worth playing for some of the dungeon design. I too find your high score somewhat odd compared to what you actually said about the game, but score really isn't that important to me. I'd probably rate this game slightly lower than I did if I were to review it now, but that's just me and doesn't really matter much regardless!
I do not know what you mean by 'notes', but if you are referring to the random references to Norse mythology and the like, I am not sure if I'd describe that as thorough research.

Additionally, there seems to be a dissonance between your actual comments about the game and the score. Do not feel the need to give a game a 4.5 because it is by someone you respect - be honest.

I am keeping this review for now (I do not promise to keep it during one of this site's review purges) but in the future I will expect higher quality ones.
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