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Notes on the Edgosian Crisis, or NotEC (as I like to call it) is described by its creator, Eike, as a "prologue" to his main game Notes on the Second Mellynd War (NotSMW; again an initialism I like to use). Now, I'm not sure how many people played NotSMW, because the old 2k3 version is no longer available, and the XP version was never realized. However, those who have played NotSMW will know exactly what to expect from NotEC; and the same can be said about those who play NotEC first with regards to NotSMW.

NotEC is a short game that clocks in at around 4 hours (less than that if you don't explore). I hesitate to call this a comedy game, yet there are strong comedic elements prevalent throughout. The game begins when our hero, Orson E. Rockefeller, comes back from his trip to Leyland to find his house burnt to the ground. Seeking answers, Orson makes his way to the house of the Mayor of Bredfort to find out the exact nature of this so-called incident. With the mayor anything but helpful, Orson feels his only recourse is to launch a formal complaint to Lord Ingram of Eindall - Edgos' capital city. Orson even has the audacity to ask the mayor himself for help in his own removal from office. From then on, Orson has one thing on his mind: to make the mayor pay for his flippant attitude towards him. This single-minded quest of Orson drags him into a conspiracy he cares nothing for, and yet he ends up being the only person capable of finding out the truth.

Would you kindly make an appointment?

Yeah, so Orson's quest is pretty frivolous and ignoble; the guy himself is narcissistic, impulsive, and absolutely unfiltered. The transparency of everything he says just illustrates how oblivious he is to any given situation, which often spells trouble for him and his allies. By all accounts Orson's a terrible human being, but at the same time he is just so damn interesting and downright hilarious. He has a very sarcastic and dry sense of humor, probably stemming from the fact that he thinks he's intellectually superior to everyone. And for the most part he is, which makes his periodic bouts of stupidity all the more perplexing - but in a good way. Eike has done a great job fleshing out the character of Orson. He's a polarizing figure to be sure, but he's also funny and sometimes charming with his retorts. In matter fact every character, even NPCs, have more depth than most commercial games. Aside from Orson, you have the deceitful mayor of Bredfort, a bubbly Liberian, a guy who thinks he's a cyborg, and an even stranger guy who seems to be completely detached from reality. Yet none of them are what they appear to be at first. The dialogue for these characters sounds natural and comes off as exceptionally witty. Hell, even the stupid characters are stupid in a smart way.

Cleverly stupid.

Graphically, this game appears to have been plucked from an RM2K time capsule. Admittedly, I've touched up a few maps here and there, but the general homogeny of the map design is leaps and bounds ahead of the outdated Universal Language (NotSMW) demo. There's even a more consistent feel to the chipset selection, whereas in UL it was all over the place. The usage of RTP-style characters is acceptable (I still use them), but the best addition has the be the custom character portraits. They add a very unique feel to the game, and are kind of reminiscent of the character portraits found in "Exit Fate." However, despite the improved visuals and character portraits, there's really nothing that makes this game stand out from your average RM2K fare. In battle, characters are noticeably stiff and sometimes have very ridged attack animations. And the last graphical item of note is that, while passable, the maps leave a lot to be desired in terms of uniqueness and navigability. The latter point means there aren't a lot of areas to explore within the in-game locations (i.e. Eindall Castle is literally just three maps). But visuals aren't Eike's strong point, and they won't distract from the overall gaming experience.

Wait? What's attached to her chest?

What will possibly annoy players, however, are the battles. The game utilizes the standard RM2K3 DBS with a few adjustments. Characters have two sets of skills based on level progression: weapon skills, and handbook skills. Characters can only use weapon skills that correspond to their weapon, but handbook skills are usable by everyone who has the corresponding handbook equipped. Handbook skills allows for character flexibility and act as a facsimile for character classes. The base statistics for characters are on the low end (the level cap is 10), which helps early on when regular enemies are not dealing much damage. However, there's a noticeable difficulty spike when the boss battles come into play. Simply put, bosses have too much attack power. If you're not well-prepared some bosses can knockout a character in a single blow. It gets really annoying, because then battles devolve into a vicious cycle of healing and reviving, with little to no offense in between. Without a doubt it makes the case to acquire a full party as soon as recruiting is possible. The game allows the player to save anywhere, but there are save indicators that pop up right before a boss battle. They're disabled by default for fear of spoiling the story (they really don't), but if they aren't enabled you could find yourself under-healed and undersupplied, and subsequently with a game over. On the other hand, Eike apparently adjusted the difficulty after my initial playthrough, so it may not be an issue for future players. Another gripe is when a character joins your party, your entire party is emptied; there is no option for single character removal. However, despite the aforementioned annoyances there are some gameplay mechanics that make the game experience more enjoyable. When a character dies in battle they're automatically revived once it's over. There are items that allow the player to fast-travel to headquarters and previously visited locations. And there's a few riddles that give the player a lesson on British Vs. American spelling that has a very funny payoff.

The music in this game is very pleasing to the ears; most the music was taken from familiar properties such as "Vandal Hearts," "Last Exile," and "Astonishia Story." But none of them sounded out of place, save for the penultimate battle theme (which has since been changed). And finally, aside from the main quest this game provides numerous side quests for the player to attempt. Among the many side quests are a senile old lady in a house; a female mercenary searching for her disgraced brother; and a test subject who needs help breaking a contract... Find this person... Fast. All-in-all, the side quests add a lot of replay value to the game. Each one will likely end in someone joining your party, but since you can only have a max of four optional party members it wouldn't make any sense to complete them all in one playthrough. But it is recommended to complete at least some side quests, as one character's back story reveals a particularly nasty twist that provides a lot of insight into Orson's ultimate fate.

NotEC is a humorous game that accomplishes a lot of world-building, therefore acting as a great prelude to NotSMW. It starts off silly, but gradually lures the player into a taut story that has some serious ramifications for the continent of Mellynd. Battle issues aside, I highly recommend this game.

Final Breakdown
+ Orson.
+ Sharp dialogue.
+ British humor.
+ Lots of side quests.
+ Brotherly dedication.
- Orson.
- Building interiors are too limited.
- Unforgiving battles.


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Cheers for the review! Yeah, while the game pretty much is what it is re. gameplay, ideally the story and characters'll outweigh it for those who don't find the battles their cup of tea (I actually like the bosses being at the level they're at; I acknowledge that's not for everyone, though, hah)! Glad that seems to be the case, anyway. And good to hear you found the ol' 'flashback' sidequest, too. That is rather illuminatory.
ideally the story and characters'll outweigh it for those who don't find the battles their cup of tea

Yeah, that's how I feel too, but as long as players aren't caught off guard the battles shouldn't be too much of a problem. And yeah, I never played the flashback side quest during my very first playthrough (all those years back), but playing it now answered a lot of questions I had about that particular character.
This review made me want to play this game. I did. This review receives my thanks for facilitating so many laughs.
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