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Travel to Exotic Places - Meet Interesting People

  • nhubi
  • 12/09/2014 08:22 AM
  • 1057 views
SYMA is an interesting addition to the genre, a mix of futuristic and archaic elements where magic and lore rides comfortably alongside phase cannons and mission briefings. The basic concept is simple. You are a marine, the leader of a squad who is assigned various missions to complete in order to increase your reputation in the sector which in turn will enable you to go on bigger and more challenging missions. You have the ability to choose between 14 different classes for your various squad members and can change them around between missions to add a very detailed customisation element to the game.

As is to be expected in a game of this nature, story isn't a very high priority, this is all about the missions and the various ways you can combine and recombine your skills and classes to achieve a successful mission. This is made very obvious in the complete lack of introduction; you basically start the game being told to enter into a simulation to hone your fighting skills and to choose a class to train in with no indication other than a very brief on screen description as to what those classes entail. This is a kind of sink or swim environment from the get go and does encompass the basic feel of the entire game. In truth the opening dialogue is actually a little insulting, telling you that you are late, you've got a terrible memory and that you are holding pretty much everyone else up. In other words perfect Marine Sergeant language.

After choosing a primary and secondary class you head into the tutorial for the basics of game play, which is simple scouting and random encounters, though you do manage to pick up another squad member along the way. The battles are basic ATB with the wait dynamic turned on, so no real surprises there, one thing that is a little jarring in the battle screen is the fact that your weapons have no effect on the animations or indeed the sound effect used. The basic weapon is a gun but all the animations and sound effects mimic a bladed weapon. It's an oversight that should have been an easy fix, as the gun animation is a pretty standard one in RPGVXA, and indeed variations on it are used in the skill based weapon use, just not in the basic one.

The challenge in this opening tutorial and indeed throughout the whole game is resource management, everything in this game is rationed, from skills to ammunition and you need to make some very strategic choices along the way in order to succeed and make it back to your ship in one piece, and sometimes you don't even get that option.


No second chances, it's that sort of game.

The game is designed to be almost infinitely expandable and whilst it is currently listed as complete the designer has created it in such a way that additional missions can be added at a later date to expand the known universe and to add so other challenges to the player. In addition if you wished to add another layer of challenge to the game as it stands there is also a Hard Mode which enables you to play the same missions but with more challenges presented either in the shape of the enemies you face or the resources you have available. This mode is designed for people who like a real challenge, (read glutton's for punishment) and may make you rage quit on occasion. It isn't that the individual battles themselves are particularly difficult; it is more the process of attrition that will wear you down and make you second guess your strategic choices.

The graphics in the game are a mix of the default and the futuristic tile sets for the ship itself, and the music is almost entirely sourced from the RTP with a few tracks from Aaron Krogh. The battler's however have gone through a bit of custom work to make them more like the chibi player characters, which I do appreciate as I always found it a little disconcerting to be about a foot high in comparison to a carnivorous plant in the forest towering over me at 3 times my height. The proportions are much more realistic in the battles portrayed here.

Battles are the mainstay of the game play, as previously indicated story is not and there are some interesting additions to aid in the strategic elements. The inclusion of the damage calculation display makes it simpler to decide which skills or weapons to use in a given situation and what is mostly likely to be effective against a range of foes, it doesn't make it a cakewalk in any sense but it is a very important weapon in your arsenal. Though having some idea of how damage calculations work within the game engine is uniquely advantageous here. Brady has thoughtfully included a few tutorial NPC's along the way who help explain some of the more esoteric skills and abilities.


Protip, pay attention to this guy.

There is also a bestiary included, though not a scan ability, the bestiary is only useful post battle which means either you have to have a phenomenal memory to remember the information contained within it, or you simply accept that it is just a small bell or whistle to enhance the overall immersion in the game-world.

Just in case you needed it another layer of difficult and a tie-in to the resource management requirement, there are no save points available through the missions, only at the very end of each mission before you take on the mission boss and at the mission hub, the floating space station where the mission briefings are made available and other out of battle operations can be performed. This is actually a bit of a bugbear for me as I find the inflated difficulty imposed by restrictive saves to be somewhat artificial, and given the other strategic elements in the game are fairly well researched and balanced I found the inability to save where required to be more of an annoyance than an element I had to factor into my resource calculations.

The basic mission formation is cyclic, all 8 members of your party go out to combat whatever the latest threat is but only 4 are available to fight at any one time. if you lose a party member during the course of a battle and don't revive them before the end they are removed from your party roster and sent back to the base ship and one of the secondary team steps forward to take their place. In addition to this standard arrangement there are also solo missions that you can undertake to increase your levels. As previously stated all the characters can have both a primary and secondary class and you need to reach level 5 in various combinations of classes before you can unlock SCO's, which offer one shot increases in a selected stat, in exchange for a secondary class slot. It's a good idea to target your various party members to those class combinations early on to take advantage of the SCO system. You can also fly missions in your space shuttle the Esper to take on dogfights with enemy combatants, all of these various mission types help to increase your reputation, the 'currency' as it were of the game, in that the more you have of it the better missions you can go on, but if you need to revive a fallen team member post mission will cost you in rep. The sensible argument being that succeeding in a mission isn't really success if half of your team falls in the process.


Acceptable losses don't appear to be a concept recognised in this game.

As it currently stands there are 10 mission levels, each one opening up other options for increasing your reputation and levels and they in turn allowing for greater flexibility and customisation. The mechanics are fairly well worked out and I can see that this game could conceivably be added to for a very long time, as long as the designer can continue to think of new missions and expansions. For me however without an overarching story on which to hang the missions and mechanics I found myself becoming a little bored. The progression is suited to the type of game this is, and matches what the designer was hoping to achieve, it's just in the end I don't think it fits too well with the type of game I am likely to play more than once. I need more narrative than mission briefings in order to fully enjoy the experience.

That being said, if this sort of hub-based mission specific type of game is something you enjoy then SYMA is a good example of the type and you should find it a great way to spend a few hours.

...and no I have no idea what SYMA stands for, and I tried out a few combinations just for fun, my favourite was South Yorkshire Macrophobic Association but the most appropriate is probably Sector Y Mission Assignment.

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It is kinda amazing how I just discovered this by accident, pondered on making a review, found myself unfitting to do it, since this type of games are not exactly my cup of tea, thought it was a shame that *cough* Project Oscine *cough* has 3times more downloads, same subscribers and is rated 5-stars for some reason gets recognition while this seems to have been forgotten and not even rated and then you come along, as I finished my 3 hour experience with the game and take that burden off me.

Thank you :)

I won't even complain about the rating. While it is true (in my opinion) that this game is universes better than... that other game... it is not your fault that it is over-rated.

For what it is, this is an amazing game. I don't even know how this did not get popular, at least with the target-crowd. So much work was put here...
nhubi
Liberté, égalité, fraternité
11099
Krolan, please go ahead and write one of your own. I really like reading different viewpoints on games that I've played, and just like you this wasn't exactly my cup of tea but I saw, and I imagine given your comment, you saw too the potential in the game and the way it would appeal to those for whom this is their favourite beverage of choice.

In truth this was close to being a 3.5 grade from me, but the artificial feel of the no save option dropped it enough in my opinion to reduce it to a 3, I imagine others would rate it higher, I just found that given the care and dedication the other sections of the game difficulty used, that add-on seemed to detract rather than enhance.

Even if you don't write your own I'm glad you enjoyed the review.
I don't know if you'll read this, Krolan, but...
If anything, I always thought that Project Oscine was underrated. I have never played this game, but based on the review it seems to be just like PO but without a narrative to tie it together.
I'm downloading this now to decide for myself, though I'd like to hear your opinion on it.
@nhubi
You have a really neat way of describing things. I think I couldn't do this game more justice than you did. It really would take a fan of the genre to really give the right contrast.

It's funny, It is actually a positive point in my book that the challenge is not undermined by omnipresent save-points^^ Though I admit I had a few frustrating moments with some mission-attempts because of this.

I also don't like to review a game of a genre that I really did not play enough of. And I can't force myself to keep playing to get to that point because in the end it will come down to me not really liking the genre itself. Maybe when I play more of this type that might change, but as of now I lack objectivity.

You clearly are experienced on this site while I am rather new to the show.
I feel intimidated thinking of trying to out-review you xD

Either way, I was overwhelmed by the content provided. Alot of careful coding, balancing and bug-fixing must've been passed. The reason I like this over Oscine might very well be the darker art-style in contrast to the bright-and-friendly of Oscine.

Maybe I can provide a review to another game you played, this one I think I'll pass on.


@Nirwanda

If I post on a game section I'm usually subscribed, therefor I read such things :)

Don't get me wrong on "over-rated". I did not play it enough as well as it is, as mentioned, not my cup of tea to decide if the game succeeds in the important aspects of such a game. I'm referring to the 5 star-rating PO got, and that if someone plays PO and this game, this should not be the case, in my opinion.

From what I remember about PO, the Dungeon-Layout was uninspired and for that way too long and drawn out. (I know, this was no focus of the game)

I also like the immersion of this game over the "simulation" of oscine.

I also like the music here more.

And while I usually prefer No-ATB system over a bad ATB system, Syma has a good ATB system (or at least, a fast one) which I then prefer.

I like the easy to understand AND explained damage calculation. I can't remember that PO had an explaination of its damage calculation. Maybe I'm wrong
("(a.atk*7)-(b.def*2), +/-25%" translates to: The ATK of attacking character multiplied by 7 minus the DEF of the Target multiplied by 2, fluctuation of 25% (so the final damage will be between 75% and 125% of calculation value))
(feel free to bash me on that if I'm mistaken)


This game feels naturally more difficult, PO made the impression of artificial difficulty (to me)

I also remember the class selection and try-out-opportunity being way clunkier in PO than here. Here everything is fastforward and nothing is difficult to edit. In the tutorial portion you even can change classes and subclasses on the fly, basically trying everything out in a short amount of time.

If it lacks anything in comparison it is the "free skill-selection" which PO does have. If that is a major criteria, maybe PO deserves to be treated as "better".

Also, In this game you got a share of discovery and labyrinth maps, one of which surprised me, since you always come from "down" when you take a path "left", so how it would be if it was 3d.

While this game has no story, it still has alot of information and lore to be learned

This game also features no items. I really thought it was kinda stupid that oscine included money and consumables, as this just leads to grinding out gold-pieces which stands in contrast to the appeal of the game. Both games have equipment though

Maybe I'm wrong, but POs progression also seemed slower to me than here.

Having 8 characters is also neat, if you want to mix all possibilities. What really could've been awesome would be an FFX-Style way of swapping characters during battle, but this is probably not easy to code.

The reason I like this over Oscine might very well be the darker art-style in contrast to the bright-and-friendly of Oscine.



I'd be really glad to read your opinion on both PO and this game. I think you'll more adequatly be able to compare the two.
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I would consider a 3rd series. "The RMN Rivalry" X vs. Y, replay both games and do a back-to-back comparison.

The real problem really with that still stands though, I am not part of the target audience. The major appeal with both games, I'd think, is the One-Problem-Many-Solutions and the planning-ahead. Apsolutely fine, it just doesn't let my heart pump up. Especially because "planning-ahead" in both those games means "failing-based-on-foreknowledge". Really, If someone would make an actual story-driven RPG with that many options on character skills and such with a not-too-easy difficulty it would be a different story, but as it is the many options are the focus of those games.
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