• Add Review
  • Subscribe
  • Nominate
  • Submit Media
  • RSS

We wants it... We needs it... But how do we get it?

Life Precious by mtarzaim is a relatively short adventure RPG made with RPG Maker VX. It was originally created using RPG Maker VX Ace Lite and has stayed within the narrow restrictions of this engine. It is set in a fantasy victorian age- alike world where expeditions to foreign countries have become a new and exciting source of wealth. The player controls a young woman named Lilaverna Estelan (Lila for short) on her adventures, exploring and raiding ancient ruins for treasure. Accompanied by her childhood friend Rami who organizes her expedition and functions as the voice of reason, the slightly careless Lila embarks on a dangerous journey that proves to be about more than treasure alone. It is also a mission to follow the traces of her father, who frequently left his family for the thrill of treasure hunting, which ultimately became his demise. Lila wishes to understand her father's motives for not being there for her when she was a child by experiencing his profession herself, and his obsession with the abstract concept of an adventurer's highest goal: Finding the greatest treasure of all, their own personal "Life Precious".
The largest portions of the game consist of Lila's expeditions inside the ancient ruins she intends to raid. The player moves her through these increasingly difficult ruins - which are guarded by incredibly dense militia and full of traps - on the lookout for gold, valuable artifacts and her father's lost belongings. Being completely defenseless except for a speed boost that can be activated every so often, the player will have to rely on quick reflexes and a good memory to survive in the ruins.



She doesn't have only money on her mind.


The Good (Positive qualities that justify an increase of score):
- Considering the restrictions of the VX Ace Lite engine, Life Precious really manages to accomplish a lot with its limited ressources. There is an unexpected variety of settings, minigames and little puzzles (including a very neat minecart travelling game and a well-designed water platform puzzle). Once you get the hang of it and get used to Lila's (seemingly) frustratingly slow walking speed, the game has a lot of potential for enjoyable gameplay.
- The essential concept behind the game is a very good one, especially when taking some of the clever features into account. The collected amount of wealth (gained by collecting miscellaneous treasure), artifacts and pieces of Lila's father's diary all influence the game, but there is one more important resource to manage. The individual ruins as well as the game as a whole need to be completed within a set amount of time. It is possible to buy items the player missed, and you can play bonus games to collect additional gold, but this comes at the price of losing precious time - which you may need in the end.
- Suprisingly, for such a short game Life Precious' writing is well thought out and produces very memorable characters. Lila's backstory and personality are slowly revealed through pieces of her father's notebook as well as her humourous and teasing arguments with Rami, and she turns out to be an and interesting and believable character. The game also features multiple endings that depend on the player's accomplishments.
- The game mainly consists of RTP assets which are generally used well, although it contains some very beatiful custom resources as well. In its relative simplicity, the game's design is generally appealing and conveys its atmosphere very well (I liked the intro and ending scene in particular)



Travelling Minecraft style!


The Bad (Minor issues and nuisances that usually only decrease the score if they come in large numbers):
- Life Precious is originally a French game that has been translated into English. Sadly, while the game's writing is of high quality in principle, the translation contains many mistakes and can make it difficult to read and understand the text.
- Considering time is of such a great importance for the game, it is a striking design flaw that the timer keeps counting while the menu in dungeons is opened.
- Walking around in dungeons will sometimes grant the player random "loot" which increases wealth. While not a bad idea in principle, the value of these random treasures varies so widely that it makes the benefits a bit too luck-based.
- Speaking with Rami between exploration does not only result in funny and story-relevant dialogue, but also serves as "Tutorials" for the next dungeon - which is a good idea. Unfortunately, it is not possible to reread Rami's tips, which can be a real pain in case you forget some valueable piece of information.
- Although there is enough variety in gameplay to make every dungeon feel at least somewhat unique, some aspects can be slightly repetetive gameplay (especially the traps, which just seem to be everywhere)



Oh, guards... why are you so unbelievably easy to outsmart?
(To be fair, there even is sort of an explanation for it in-game.)



The Ugly (Major problems or very frustrating aspects that lead to a decrease of score):
- The one true problem of Life Precious, however, is this: It is bug-ridden. Very bug-ridden. There are instances where the controls and events mess each other up, enemies move through walls or completely disappear, the player dies on entering a new location, cutscenes trigger in the wrong order, the timer does not properly react, etc.
While this does not exactly make the game unplayable, it tends to make the potentially enjoyable experience very frustrating at times and leave the player feeling helpless.


Conclusion:
I had thought of giving Life Precious a rating of 3 or even 3.5 stars, since it is not perfect but has a lot for it that makes it a good game. However, I ultimately decided against giving a rating, for despite the game's large potential, I can not honestly recommend playing it in its current state. What Life Precious needs in order to become the truly enjoyable game it could be (apart from a better translation), is testing and bug-fixing. Lots of testing and lots of bug-fixing.
I think this game would be worth the effort of working on it again, and if the creator manages to iron out the flaws, I would be happy to change my rating.

Posts

Pages: 1
NeverSilent
Got any Dexreth amulets?
6299
That's good to know, thanks. I find it impressing how much thought you put into the consequences of each ending.

Well, it's your game after all, so it's your decision what to do with it. Either way, I hope to see more games made by you in the future.
mtarzaim
Criticizing more, making less...
1761
author=NeverSilent
...
While I think some sort of indicator within the game itself would have addressed the matter more elegantly,...


There are, sort of...
At several points in the story, it's hinted the player has a limited time (he gets different cutscenes with Rami depending if he succeed in less that 6 minutes per ruins), should get gold (especially given the prices asked by the merchant) and find Lila's father whereabouts in priority.
But overall, I wanted the game to react to the playstyle of the player. If he's greedy, ignore the threats to Rami or waste too much time, he will get some results accordingly.

Could you maybe tell me how many different endings there actually are and how they can be achieved?

There are... several. They combine with each others to create a personnal ending to the player.
Basically:
- Get less than 10 000 gold, and Lila will be too poor to fulfil her wishes
- Failing to possess the five diary main page, and Lila will continue on the path of her father, instead of building her own.
- Failing to get the five artifacts in less than 30 minutes (6 minutes per ruins), and she looses Rami. Without his (indefectible) support, she will live a short, lonely life.

The worst ending is Lila choosing to continue pursuing her father's shadow through adventures. Without the loot from the ruins, she ends up in debt, without enough resources to assure herself a minimum of safety during her travels. Being alone, she get more and more risks to fund her next journey. She finally disappears in some remote location, with no one to mourn her, in complete anonymity.

The best ending is Lila giving up a life of reckless adventures (5 pages), and choosing the life of a writer. She marries Rami, and, with the generous loot from the ruins, become a worldfamous writer while Rami builds a worldclass publisher.
There's an epilogue at the end of the artbook, describing this particular fate and why she chose to write adventures instead of living them herself.

Other endings are inbetween (poor writer, famous adventurer, loved wife, etc.).

That reason is not that I want to deprive you of attention or Makerscore.


Oh come on!
We're all makerscorewhores!!!! ;)

Again, I really want to encourage you to go and put some more work into this game to fix its weak points. You would be doing me, yourself and all potential players a huge favour.

I put several weeks in trying to iron things the best I could (the water level was a nightmare). I'm afraid I will mess even more if I get into it now, since I've probably forgotten all the tricks I made to make it somehow work...

That or I'm a lazy piece of fat. :x

Good luck with any future projects.

Thanks!!!

PS:
I ran out of time before I could finish the last ruins.

You should have reload the "auto"save.
There're two shortcuts in this one (one in the middle, and the other at... the beginning! Just think of the raft as a ladder ;) ).
NeverSilent
Got any Dexreth amulets?
6299
Thank you for your response, I'm glad you liked the review. I actually had planned to review this game for a long time, I just never got around to it before.

I was indeed positively surprised about the quality of the writing. You did a good job on that.

author=mtarzaim
Custom resources?!
I.. don't remember any worth of quoting. Maybe the pictures or the backgrounds?..
Oh well, thanks anyway. :)


Yes, exactly. There was this very neat floating effect for the pictures at the end which I thought was simple but brilliant. (I got a bad ending, by the way, I ran out of time before I could finish the last ruins.)

author=mtarzaim
Or read the walkthrough within the game directory.


I actually completely overlooked that. While I think some sort of indicator within the game itself would have addressed the matter more elegantly, not having noticed the walkthrough was a huge mistake on my part. I apologize - and I edited the review accordingly.
Could you maybe tell me how many different endings there actually are and how they can be achieved? I'm the type of player who would want to see and experience all of them (not only the "best" one).

author=mtarzaim
author=NeverSilent
- The one true problem of Life Precious, however, is this: It is bug-ridden.
That much?


Yes, that much. Sorry to say it.

author=mtarzaim
author=NeverSilent
I ultimately decided against giving a rating
You should give one.


I hope you will understand that I'm not going to do that. While I won't pretend my review style is perfect, I do take reviewing very seriously. I put quite a lot of thought into this and decided to leave out the final score for a reason. That reason is not that I want to deprive you of attention or Makerscore. It is because the game's potential clashes so violently with its overall bugginess that a rating just seems inappropriate. To me, in the current situation any score - no matter how high or low - would simply feel like a lie.

Again, I really want to encourage you to go and put some more work into this game to fix its weak points. You would be doing me, yourself and all potential players a huge favour.

Good luck with any future projects.
mtarzaim
Criticizing more, making less...
1761
Woohoo!!! A review!!!! I gave up all hope long time ago.

Let's look at it more closely... :3

author=NeverSilent
- Considering the restrictions of the VX Ace Lite engine, Life Precious really manages to accomplish a lot with its limited ressources.
THANKS!
Most players ignore the constraints of the Lite engine (20 maps, no script or common event, restricted database, ten events per map).

author=NeverSilent
- The essential concept behind the game is a very good one...
I didn't want to pull another FF-like game. So I tried to do something more action-oriented without heavy scripting. Playtime managment was a good path to explore.

author=NeverSilent
- Suprisingly, for such a short game Life Precious' writing is well thought out and produces very memorable characters.
YES!!!! THANK YOU DEAR REVIEWER!!!!
That's basically the sole point I consider worth of attention. Since I couldn't count on the engine to get a fine-tuned gameplay or an epic journey, story and backstory was the only thing I could polish to compensate.


author=NeverSilent
- The game mainly consists of RTP assets which are generally used well, although it contains some very beatiful custom resources as well.
Custom resources?!
I.. don't remember any worth of quoting. Maybe the pictures or the backgrounds?..
Oh well, thanks anyway. :)

author=NeverSilent
- Seeing how part of the replay value of Life Precious depends on the multiple endings, it is quite unfortunate that it is never made entirely clear what exactly causes the respective endings to occur
Go get the artbook. Or read the walkthrough within the game directory.
There's a part about what is really needed to get the best ending (10 000 gold, all artifacts, under 30 minutes, all five main pages of the diary).

the translation contains many mistakes and can make it difficult to read and understand the text.
I've no real excuses for that. Sorry... :(


- Considering time is of such a great importance for the game, it is a striking design flaw that the timer keeps counting while the menu in dungeons is opened.
There's nothing much to do within the menu. So the player shouldn't waste his time looking at it.
The issue here is I cannot pause the timer with the Lite engine. Either it runs or it stops... And if it stops, I cannot make it run again at the same time.

the value of these random treasures varies so widely that it makes the benefits a bit too luck-based.
It helps the player to gather more gold without wasting time in minigames. During the runs I've done, I could get the best ending just with the treasures in the ruins + the random loot.

Unfortunately, it is not possible to reread Rami's tips, which can be a real pain in case you forget some valueable piece of information.
There are not that valuable...
Since you can use the savegame to redo any ruin at will (one run to explore fully, one run to optimize), I thought it was enough. And the event managment was already a nightmare as it was...

slightly repetetive gameplay (especially the traps, which just seem to be everywhere)
Yes and no.
Most traps are indicated by skeletons. In the end, since Lila goes into less and less explored ruins, traps become less obvious. It's to keep the player on its toes, just like a real Indianna Jones would feel while wandering in some old temples (btw, did you notice the cameos to the movies? :3 ).


author=NeverSilent
- The one true problem of Life Precious, however, is this: It is bug-ridden.
That much?
There's some wall-passing soldiers. But it's more a immersion issue than a real gamebreaker...
The problem is, I reuse lots of events in the same map (ten events limitation per map). Given how the player progresses, there are unforeseen interactions. Generally when a player move to another part of the map while one of the soldier hasn't gone back to its intial position. Couldn't find a way to prevent that...


author=NeverSilent
leave the player feeling helpless.
Sorry about that.

author=NeverSilent
I ultimately decided against giving a rating
You should give one. May it be 1 or 5, it will attract attention (moar drama!!!).
It's up to the maker to make its project as good as possible. If he considered its game good enough to be released, then he must accept the harsh reality of the gam mak world. :p

COME AT ME, BROS!!!!
Pages: 1