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The demo's pretty, does the rest hold up?

  • Ronove
  • 05/16/2013 01:59 AM
  • 2299 views
Blood Shard was released as a demo for the Release Something Weekend early May and from the get go, we can see Jurassic_Mark put a lot of love into his game. From the screenshots we see beautifully crafted maps (I only wish I had that talent) and from his description, we can clearly see we’re in for a political intrigue treat. I played the original Blood Shard demo (that was made with RMVX I believe?) and for those that are thinking, “Hey, this is familiar!” Take a step back and realize it’s almost completely different. It's not just a port to RMVXAce, there's been a lot of overhaul.

So, did Jurassic_Mark hit his mark when redesigning his game and does his game live up to its visuals and description? Does it function well as a demo to get us hooked? Let’s see!

Story & Characters


We begin the game in the heat of the moment between two factions, one on a ship (we should watch out for these guys) and a hidden meeting. Then the action starts and we’re thrown into using Cyril and Riffolk to move about to save some people.

I think for the most part, it’s risky starting us in the middle of something we know nothing about. Why should we care where Cyril is going or why Miranda on the ship is attacking? However, Jurassic_Mark knows how to pull us along. With his mixture of sounds and visuals, he’s able to keep us from getting bored from not knowing exactly what’s going on. We just want to save people!

As the story continues, the political intrigue comes into play and a few things happen that dangle the thread of what really is going on before we change story to another character in the game. Just like those television dramas that always give you cliffhangers, this works the same way. You want to know what’s really going on so you stay with the game a bit longer. Since this is a demo we won’t really know what’s going on even at the end (when there are more plot threads dangled before us), and we have to wait patiently for the full game’s eventual release.

The only thing I didn’t like was that because of lack of some visuals (just sprites moving, etc.) one scene fell a bit flat although it was important. I’m hoping in the finished version this will get more attention in terms of visuals like it deserves. If it’s important, go out of the norm and do something with the sprites other than standing there and speaking. Even if only small movements, it goes a LONG way.

What story is there, however, has me hooked. This begs the question, why do I care to stay hooked? Because I like Jurassic_Mark’s characters. Sure, it’s a demo and we only get a glimpse at them, but I like what I see. From the moment we meet them they feel a bit stockish (blonde Drake womanizer, where have I seen that before?), but as we play more we see shades of the character’s personalities that make us care just a bit more. I only hope that when the full game is released, I will truly love these characters and will want to root for them. As a demo, it’s too short to really be definitive.


I can't lie, I really loved how painted the fire look. Wish it was animated, but it's still cool!


Balance & Level Design


Within this demo, we see two levels: the city under siege with Cyril and Riffolk, and the forest around the resistance camp with Drake and Saffron. Each have their uniqueness!

In the city you had to run around and help your fellow soldiers from harm and it works to introduce you to the game. There are lots of goodies to find and a handful of enemies to fight. Unfortunately, right at the get go, the game is new to you and unless you’ve been prowling Blood Shard’s page, you may be in for an awakening with the game’s mechanics. Once you get them under your belt, however, the battles move with ease. I did like the battles and all the mechanics I could use for debuffing, attacking, etc. There’s lots of ways you can take down normal enemies and it’s fun.

Except for the boss at the end of the sieged city level. I did not like that boss. Protip: find everything you can in the city (equip hats on both your boys), abuse Cyril’s muddle, learn what order the gun’s preparation skills go in (and defend when necessary and it will be), take out those damn hands, then go after the middle.

After the boss, thankfully, we have puzzles! It was a neat puzzle underneath the manor and I need to learn to read slower because I kept getting it wrong. The puzzle also let us know a bit more about the backstory of the game and I appreciated that! If the full game has puzzles like this, I will be a very happy camper.

The only thing I did not like about the sieged city design was that it was dark and sometimes I didn’t know where I was going because I couldn’t discern things on the map. I know it’s raining, and all that, but some of the colors were by default dark, so it looked even darker. At least the items had shining spots on them I knew where to get goodies!


Forest maps are my favorite! Bunnies are too cute too.


The forest level outside your resistance camp is very pretty and I am a sucker for forests. It doesn’t offer the same challenges as the sieged city as your only enemies are the fauns you cut out of bushes (and if you don’t have Saffron on your party, march back inside and grab her or they will kick Drake’s butt). That’s the only bit I did not like actually. Saffron’s optional actually in this level (though Jurassic_Mark has promised me he’ll make sure she’s on your party in the full game during this part) and if you don’t have her, the fauns are just going to kill you quickly.

It also introduces a new gimmick to the game: chop down those bushes. You immediately knew something was up with the bushes when some moved (fauns are hiding under them) and you knew with the right sword equipped you could chop them down (not sure why it’s a super weak sword… my scimitar should be able to do it!). The only thing off is that had the bushes not moved, I wouldn’t have known to chop them. Same with the stumps you gotta chop. So I was running around wondering what to do with Saffron after you killed the fauns going “what do I do now?” until I straight up asked. I think maybe an indicator would help!

The boss of the level, once you figure out what to do, is so easy it’s not even funny (protip: put the butterfly to sleep, use Saffron’s reflection spell on Drake and the spell which makes things not target her, and have Drake go at it with his sword once it has changed). The fauns were harder and so was the boss in the sieged city level. Though if you don’t know the very specific way to kill the boss, I could imagine it being hard (and by not equipping Drake with his scimitar and have the chopping sword equipped leaving Drake to do shit damage, yeah not a good mix). That’s not good in the long run either that bosses have only one way to kill them for sure. We gotta allow for some diversity!

I’m rambling now, but really, in the end, I think Jurassic_Mark balanced the game well. It was easy to navigate, the enemies were good once you got the hang of them, and it was an enjoyable experience. I can’t wait for the full game to see what else he has in store for the gameplay.

Sound & Music


I know absolutely nothing about sounds and music and the like (can’t even carry a tune), but this was good. The music choices fit very well, the sounds never broke immersion, and it just helped the overall experience. He knew which music to choose for which scene and it just made everything even sweeter.

Conclusion


It is a damn fine demo and I hope you give it a try. A few little issues with balancing are to be had, but it’s a demo. It won’t kill your enjoyment I promise. If political intrigue stories are for you, stories of a prince in hiding with a resistance, I think you’d enjoy it. If you played the original Blood Shard way back when, this game needs you to give it a try too. It took what was in Blood Shard and made it better (and Felix will be missed). For you new people: it looks amazing, the story is interesting, and you’ll have fun. Blood Shard does what a demo is supposed to do: hook you to want more and play when it’s eventually released.

Posts

Pages: 1
Thank you so much for the review, I really appreciated this and your play-through feedback. I hope the rest of the game can continue in this direction!
Ronove
More like Misao Stealing Prince
2867
I don't think you've let me down yet! :D I can't wait. And for your other games!
This is the best game on RMN right now.

I love it.

/wallie
author=walldeaf
This is the best game on RMN right now.

I love it.

/wallie


Oh wow, that's very nice of you to say!
I still need to play this demo, and I've been pretty scarce as of late. ^^
author=yuna21
I still need to play this demo, and I've been pretty scarce as of late. ^^


Ah Luchino! I'd love to hear what you thought of it~
Pages: 1