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A Strange Journey: Definitely a Jar of Marmite

Disclaimer: This is my first time reviewing on RPG Maker forums, so maybe this review might not be the best, but I'm going to try to evaluate it honestly and give feedback. As the game is presented as short, this is based off of about 15~30 minutes of gameplay and is broken down into five points: Writing (Plot and Dialogue), Aesthetics (Graphics, Audio, Atmosphere and how everything meshes together), Gameplay (Self Explanatory), Engagement (Is it fun? Interesting?), and Effort (Did the creator show that they put work into it?).

As a first time reviewer, I decided to go with something recent. Something to get practice. And then black cat staring into my soul told me something.

...okay, it didn't say much, other than, "I know where you keep the stash", but the marmite photo did. Love it or hate it, hmm? I decided to see why and clicked to download.

And while they didn't lie, I'm uncertain about if you'll enjoy it.


The game starts off with an unnamed character (protagonist) sitting in an elevator with a cat. While going up, the cat asks for the time, and much to his dismay, the Main Character does not have the time. Suddenly, a clock appears out of nowhere and our protagonist tells the cat what time it is. (Your choice of what that time actually is.) Then, the cat tells him to pull his tail at the floor he wants to get off at, and then is whisked off into a strange garden. Afterwards, things get even more... odd.

Writing: Could have been Better Executed (0.5/1 Star)

I felt that the writing in this game was... passable at best. This game is fully voiced, which is not the norm for a RPG Maker game, but along with that comes with the cons of it: variety and execution. Most of the characters sound like they were voiced by similar people, or even the same person using different dialects. I would expect this with a large cast, but when you have a small cast of characters it's very noticeable. To be fair, the game itself doesn't really take itself seriously, and the voice acting sometimes helped with setting up that tone, but it doesn't help the differentiation of characters.

Also, as a plot issue, it didn't help when your character doesn't object to why everything is so strange. Though I wasn't able to finish the game, so maybe it pulls a plot twist in the end, but the point is that the plot is not front and center. Not that it should be, but promise of a "Fresh and original plot-line" sets up a bit much. Maybe this was intentional and that the plot was left for the player to be confused, but I dunno. I'll get into the problems more in a later section. The writing was an alright attempt but could be delivered much better with better/more varied voice acting.

Admittedly, I did chuckle at this thing.

Aesthetics: Unification needed! (0.5/1 Star)

The aesthetics of the game are odd. Remember in school where you would clip pictures out of old magazines and try to make funny pictures out of them? It's kinda like that here. Most characters look like they were photo-shopped from various Google Images. Now, it DOES help set the tone of surrealism, I'll give it that much. However, it was disjarring when you see this tall, choppy guy walking around a may-or-may-not-be-RTP map. Again, adds to the surreal experience, but just doesn't work together. Maybe if the environments looked more like newspaper clippings or something, that would've added much more flavor to the attempted atmosphere and the whole thing won't look out of place. Otherwise, the mapping was actually pretty good, just didn't look right with the sprites. As a personal nitpick, I would've chosen a different font for normal text, but that's just me. (I'm not fond of default fonts)

I did like the music, I'll give it that. Anything with original, fitting music works, and here I feel that they did good.

My head!

Gameplay: Minigame Centered and not much else (0.5/1 Star)

Most of the gameplay can be practically summed up as "Minigames connected by a world map". There's really not much to do on the map, nothing to really interact with. There's a lot of potential here to set up the strange atmosphere with at least little observations, but I'll get to that in the next section. The meat of the game are the odd minigames scattered around. Your menu items for "TSOTOF" are:

  • Blocking the sun from clouds
  • Pac-Man: Frog Edition
  • Cart racing

Considering the tone of the game, it's acceptable. The games themselves work okay, though I would have liked more clear cut indications of whether or not I won or lost, so i don't think the games are buggy. (Maybe they are, I don't know.) My issue with them though, is that aside from these games, I feel like everything else is lacking. Basically, I could get the core experience if I cut out everything else. The plot merely serves as context to these games, and I could do without it if it wasn't there.

Beware the FOEs

Engagement: Not Enough (0/1 Star)

The main issue I have with this game is that it's simply not that engaging. Maybe it's just me, but I was interested for the first five minutes in the elevator, and then afterwards my interest dropped exponentially over time. You have no sense of where to go; you're dropped into the vast garden with clip-out people and minigames. I feel like the game didn't give a sense of objective; a simple line of dialogue from the main character like, "How do I get out of here?" would have been enough; context to what I'm supposed to do. Doesn't need to be flat out, it can be vaguely hinted at! But without it, I feel like I waste time wandering the map.

Touching back on plot issues, the six characters here were attempted to be unique, and some are to a certain extent, but the problem is the main character doesn't feel like he has a lot of depth. This mostly stems from the fact that his replies to these weird people are either unflinching yes or a hesitant no. He doesn't act like a human enough; why isn't he questioning anything? Or given more dialogue? Okay, yes, maybe it's just because I haven't finished the game. But that's the point; you want to make your player attached to a colorful character that we can care about or take interest in and follow to the end. Main Character here just isn't interesting enough for me to care about his journey through the madness. It would have also helped if there was more flavor text in the world; simple observations of the environment! Why have a shop in a wall of bushes when there's nothing to get from it? After failing some of the games I just thought to myself, "I can't do this anymore". I apologize, but there needs to be more incentives to play the game.

On a related note, I felt like the choices I made in the beginning didn't make any noticeable changes. Make the choices feel like they mattered!

Effort: At least it's there (1/1 Star)

Despite my commentary, it did seem like there was a bit of effort put into the game. With voices, music, game design and graphics, it's can be time consuming, so I'll respect that. Effort does not necessarily translate to quality, but I will acknowledge that it's not completely half-baked and buggy.

I'll say this to the creator: at least you made a working game.

Final Verdict: 2.5/5.0 (Okay, but just okay)

Reasons: Very little incentive to play other than minigames, plot needs some more focus and is not excecuted to its fullest potential

Play this game if you enjoy: Short minigame collections and strange looking games

Don't play this game if you dislike: Unengaging characters and worlds

Personal Advice to the Creators:
On paper, it is a concept that has some potential. Some. I would personally either get the plot more attention and better execution, or toss it out and just make it a mini/microgame collection ala Warioware or something, because honestly, I was mislead into thinking it would be a great psychological story, with deep, strange characters in the vein of something, idk, Earthbound-ish? But instead I get a minigame-centered thing. It didn't really work; the games overshadowed it. It could've been the best story ever, but I need to be convinced it is through the writing, setting and characters. The plot should not just be a flat backdrop with the same voice actor (and if you only have one guy doing it, don't do voice acting! It's never required and sometimes silence is better.) And again, if the plot wasn't the main point, why have it? It's all about execution. Evaluate what is important in your future games and either flesh things out more or focus on what matters.

Alternatively, maybe just revise your summary so it won't crush expectations. (Or maybe I should just be less optimistic about these games. :/ )


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Hey! Thanks for such an in-depth reveiw! And your honesty ^^
I suppose it was more of an experiment, and the desired effect was one of being lost, not really knowing what was going and, and general insanity! ^^ i can perfectly understand that in the end this may not have been great for gameplay, so i can say i tried to get a certain atmosphere but it's not really one that makes for a great game! There's no hiding the fact that it is really just a collection of mini-games! The only thing that really bugs me is that the player doesn't have the motivation to play till the end! Oh well, hope it didn't waste too much of your time! Really good reveiw!
Thank you for taking it well! I've had much worse experiences even commenting on works in other places.

Yeah, it definitely seemed experimental, though I wasn't quite sure what it was going for. xD If the place was just a bit more interactive I would've pulled through; I could see it wasn't a serious story, so why not a bit more humor? I love gags!

But yeah, the minigames seemed to be something you are better at, so maybe next time play up what you have a better hand at (unless of course this work doesn't reflect your writing skills as a whole :S). It was a strange little experience, but despite my nitpicks I was able to get some review experience out of it. Thank you, and good luck on your next projects! (If you're planning any, of course. ^^)
It's an average, not a total. You're doing it wrong...

That said, I wish you rated my game. I received no effort consideration, despite spending a crapload of time/energy.
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