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Incitement - A Look at How Game Play Really Does Matter

  • amerk
  • 03/24/2015 03:56 AM
  • 2166 views
OVERVIEW:
When it comes to a good SciFi RPG, it would seem that RPG Maker games have always been in the minority. Even amongst more popular titles such as Lost Land Ruin, Alter A.I.L.A. and Iron Gaia, this is a genre that gets drowned out by mainly fantasy and survival horror games. And then along came Celianna’s Futuristic Tileset and Matseb’s growing use of these resources, and we’re slowly starting to see an upward trend of these kind of games.

To be fair, when I first played this game, I couldn’t help but note similarities between this game and Matseb’s previous project, Central Impulse. Oddly enough, at the time that I was observing these similarities, it never dawned on me that both had been made by the same person. I tend to download so many games in bulk and take my sweet time getting around to playing them, that I usually have to remind myself why I downloaded the game in the first place when I do.

Incitement’s already garnered enough interest around the various communities; but oddly enough it was never reviewed here before. And frankly, I was on the fence about reviewing it myself. It was a decent enough game, and there is a lot of potential here, but there is a part of me that still can’t help to compare this game with Central Impulse, preferring the former over the latter, at least as far as the game play is concerned. At the same time, if Matseb is determined to continue making Scifi role playing games, the least I can do is to provide as much feedback as possible in hopes he will continue to modify the formula and continue to churn these out.

GAME PLAY:
At this point, it should be obvious to the readers that I was not particularly fond of this game, at least in comparison to Matseb's previous project, and it really boils down to the actual game play. Being as it is a SciFi game, the primary focus on weapons and skills come from the use of guns and lasers. Instead of Magic Points, you are given Ammo Points, and every form of attack (including standard attacks) requires ammo. You do wind up acquiring ammo packs to restore precious ammo, and these are more common than not, but it still doesn’t completely prevent the problem that if you run out of ammo and you don’t have any packs, your character is useless in combat. Why not allow melee attacks from your gun when you are out of ammo? Hitting the enemy with your weapon would still be a better alternative than sitting around getting butchered.

Another problem I have with the game is the fact that gold is practically scarce in this game, requiring a bit more resource management than what a standard story-driven rpg may usually require. Without gold, the use of inns have been replaced with hospitals and healing zones, many of which are free, but ammo doesn’t get restored by these (naturally). Items are fairly high priced, so upgrading to the newest gear is a chore, since a large portion of those funds is usually reserved for stocking up on ammo packs and restoratives.

Now, I understand the concept of not having robotic enemies drop gold. But why weren't alternative methods used? A mechanical enemy could easily have dropped scraps that could be sold for gold, or bartered at shops for a discount on weapons, equipment, and items. At the very least, it’d be something if we could have at least ripped the weapons and ammo off our enemies once they have perished. Any of these would have made the lack of gold in this game a bit easier to handle, and would have made sense in the environment this game takes place in.

Unfortunately, this becomes a bit of a domino effect. With so little gold, the player has to decide on whether to spend what little they do have on either restoratives or weapons / armor. Because things are high priced, though, getting upgrades for everybody is going to take quite a bit of time. But the more you spend on ammo packs, the less gold you will have for upgrading your equipment. At the same time, without ammo packs, you will eventually run out of ammo and not be able to fight in combat. But since gold is limited, you are also limited on how many ammo packs you can eventually purchase, which means that grinding is out, and even fighting everything in the course of a dungeon (without running from anything) can also bare consequences.

It’s a conundrum that is difficult to solve on its own, and can be a heavy deterrent amongst casual gamers looking for something a bit more relaxed.

Had the game offered more variety, such as an open world full of exploration, and had it been designed more as a dungeon crawler of sorts, I could applaud these decisions for the challenges they created. But since the primary focus on this game appears to be the story, and the game is strictly linear for the most part, the game felt much more exhausting than it needed to be.

At the very least, though, the battle system is much more fluent this time around.



My rating for Game Play is 1.5/5. While a difficult challenge is always welcome, balancing issues need to be addressed. And in a game where gold and resources are scarce, other alternatives may be necessary.

STORY:
While the game play may be the weakest part of the game (at least in my own opinion), the story is the strongest. Matseb hasn’t failed me yet when it comes to his plot devices, and his writing seems very well thought out and handled with precise planning. While the plot unfolds, your characters are traveling from one planet to another. Each time, a larger chunk of the story is revealed, and each time with impressive results.

The pacing is very well handled, and it never seemed as if the story was being rushed or dragging on its heels.

At the beginning of the game, the player realizes that the humans, who were previously rescued from their dying home planet, may be part of a larger experiment. A revolt has taken place, and due to their unpredictable nature, all the humans have been targeted for extermination. You quickly take the roles of Maddock and Carelia as they try to unravel the mysteries behind the revolt, while also trying to stay alive.



Every character that joins the party all seem to have something to contribute, at least as far as the story goes. There is a heavy amount of detail on character development here, and it's easy to empathize with each of them, regardless if they are human or alien, flesh or mechanical.

My rating for Story is 5/5. The game features one of the best SciFi stories I’ve seen in a long while, and the pacing works very well here.

RESOURCES & LEVEL DESIGN:
Another strong win here. Between the use of tilesets and the careful selection of audio (many of which are from Joel Steudler), the game does not disappoint. The mapping doesn’t try to be anything more than it needs to be – no heavy use of parallax or over cluttering the environment with details – and yet it is far from being bland.

The music strikes an appropriate cord regardless of the town, dungeon, or story segment. As far as I can tell, nothing was ripped or “borrowed” without permission, and everything (including the audio) came from the RMW store, if not from the RTP or other contributors.

Perhaps one of the best pieces used is Joel Steudler’s Underworld Schemes, appropriately used for some of the story revelations, and which sends chills through me every time I hear it, it’s that good.




My rating for Resources & Level Design is 4/5. Very good selection, and handled very well here. Matseb may not go out of his way like some other mappers, but he doesn’t cut corners either.

FINAL THOUGHTS:
This is the problem with scoring. If I am to balance resources with game play and story, this is easily an above average game. But the issues I faced with the game play impacted my overall impression of the game as a whole, and almost kept me from playing it all the way through. Therefore, I felt it was necessary to bring the score down one star.

Final verdict is 2.5/5.

Posts

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Damn, I wanted to write the first review on this! However, the game glitched out on me after about 15 min. of gameplay even though I had the VX Ace RTP, and I kind of assumed that was why it had no reviews...

Anyway, I suppose I'll try again in due time with RTP-free version, and until then I'm not really qualified on the review, except for one aspect: there's no gold in the game, goddamnit! It's a Sophorian currency called Astras and it really hurts the eye to read these references to gold as if it was another fantasy RPG. Honestly, you would think that someone who gave the story 5/5 would care about this bit of worldbuilding.
Thanks for the review, Amerk. I am glad you've enjoyed the story and the presentation aspects. I can definitely agree that as far as combat and balancing goes (and lack of money!), this game is a little rough (actually Central Impulse was made after this title, and it probably was an improvement in this regard).

If you're interested, there is a 2nd installment in the series that is generally considered better than this 1st part, and the combat is a lot more streamlined (it has 2 difficulty levels for one): Incitement 2

I'm also currently working on the 3rd installment, though this one is going to be commercial, and is probably miles better than the first two. Incitement 3

@ NTC3: That's strange about the glitch. Do you remember what it said by any chance?
I am not quite sure what your criticism towards astras is about though. Could you elaborate please?
NTC3 - I generally refer to all currency as gold in an rpg since that's what I'm used to, but I can understand the concern, since many developers have gotten away from the "gold" term. In any case, it was a comment against the lack of currency and any means to earn this in different ways.

Matseb - Central Impulse was the first I really heard and played, so I probably just assumed it came first. I'm aware of Incitement 2 and have heard it's balanced better, so I do look forward to playing that and have also heard you were going commercial for the 3rd installment.

If you're open to a possible suggestion - Are you planning to pack in the first two games with the 3rd? It may help with retail a bit more and encourage new players to buy it so they can play all 3, without having them hunt and download the first two separately.

Also, if you ever plan to revise the first game I'd be happy to replay and alter my review. Adding either a monster hunt or being able to barter monster drops (or scrap metal from robots) would go a long way to balancing the game out and fix the issues of lack of currency.

At the same time, I don't want you to feel obligated to fix something based on a single review if it was never your intent to add such things or goes against your own vision of what you had planned or intended.
Thanks for the suggestions.

I've had a lot of people recommend selling the first two games together with the 3rd as a single pack, but it causes several problems. One problem is the first two games will be deemed as commercial, so all those resources that are non-commercial use only will have to be removed, and there are quite a lot of them (especially in the first game). Another problem (something my publisher pointed out) is that it could look to some players as though I am selling the first two games, even though they've always been free, and that can look like a bad business practice. So most likely the first two games will be provided as links everywhere that the 3rd game will appear in.

And no problem. I think it's actually a very good idea to have monsters and robots drop sellable items. It's something I began to include in more recent games of mine, but didn't back when I made this one. So it is something I could include in an update. I think some of the item prices are too high as well (like the healing pills), so I might balance a few things there too.
Weird. I tried playing the game yesterday and it finally worked! What used to happen is that it would just freeze up and stop responding at the cutscene where Maddock and Carelia meet Aelon; now, this still happened for several seconds, but then it powered through. This seems to be more of a problem with my overly old and buggy Windows than the game, although other VX games I played before worked fine, so I don't really know.

@ amerk: Now that I have resumed playing the game, and now up to that robot factory mission, I want to say that I disagree considerably with your review so far. I'm not saying much more, though, because there's always a chance my opinion could change by the end, but also because I'll post a review of my own as soon as I'm done, and I want to keep my conclusions a mystery.
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