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Pride before the fall

  • NTC3
  • 02/25/2017 04:30 PM
  • 3008 views
After I played the recent demo of The Book of Paradoxia Whispers, that painfully slow and boring “adaptation” of a Neverending Story rip-off, I had very little reason to expect that this earlier work by the same developer would be any good. Still, I knew for a fact this was short, and decided I might as well play through it quickly. Yet, the game managed to somehow plunge beneath even my already low expectations. Rather then being merely underwhelming or even conventionally bad, this is quite clearly one of the worst games ever put onto RMN.

Aesthetics (art, design and sound)



VX Ace RTP, of course. Why would you expect anything else? The mapping by itself is not the worst: definitely not ideal, but still likely the best thing in the game. (It would've been really ironic if the self-professed "City Mayor Games" couldn't even make a city map like above.) The one thing that’s probably not RTP are the font effects used in the cutscenes, which have the letters sort of flow in, and then wobble out, as well as these lightning strike effects, which are a part of a single cutscene animation going on for 20 seconds or so and appear twice in the game.



Lastly, there’s also a horrible farm where all the sheep + a horse are seemingly frozen in place, and don’t move, even though nothing unusual happened to them and they are clearly alive: the creator was just too lazy to animate any of them.

Storyline



Just like The Book of Paradoxia Whispers, the game surprises even before it starts, with a vainglorious install screen (Paradoxia Whispers' one had an actual rendering of an open Bible on it, even though the game had nothing to do with religion). Afterwards, we get the premise immediately said to us in a complete violation of “show, not tell”, as we are also unsubtly shown the controls and such (just like how Paradoxia Whispers did it).



Then, we get the aforementioned lightning strike cutscene, complete with annoying whispering over it, and the “Wake up, etc.” writing in the wobbly font. Then, we are again shown the name of the developer and of the game, as animated text on black background goes “City Mayor Games / Proudly Presents / Where’s My Mom?” and then, this screen is shown to us for no reason.



Once the game finally decides it’s done with the introductions, it tells you to search around the house for mom’s letter. That’s another thing about the game: it has an insane propensity to handhold, not only duplicating the information about Oliver’s goals that he already says through dialogue via “Objective” messages, but also regularly butting in with obtrusive suggestions to save from Oliver’s imaginary friend Grisabella. Yet, the main reason why you would need to save is often the game’s own eventing, which is truly the worst I’ve seen. Right as you start the game, if you’re unlucky enough to move Oliver backwards from his starting position, then the entire opening is all repeated AGAIN, because the event that triggered it was clearly a contact one, and it wasn’t removed at all.

The same problem of contact-based narrative events not disappearing after they did their job was also present in The Book of Paradoxia Whispers and Fishermen and the Worm, though it wasn’t as extreme in either of those. Here, that problem literally never ends. Pretty much every single time Oliver stops to say a line or engage in conversation as you were walking? Prepare for that line to be repeated again if you pass over that same square, even if it's in the doorway of a house and you basically must do so. It even restarts a whole cutscene again later on due to this, and triggering a final boss battle is extremely difficult because of the ridiculous eventing too. I had to consult “thesacredlobo’s” 2015 LP of it to do so. (Basically, you have to walk into a specific square near the boss while also pressing the interact button.) Why sacred couldn’t follow up his LP with a review is beyond me. Perhaps, he assumed the developer might yet fix all these bugs, even though the game was already up for two years by that point. Either way, it’ll be another two years since his LP soon, and absolutely nothing in the game had changed.

Now, sometimes a game can have reasonably interesting writing in spite of such bugs. Fishermen and the Worm certainly had an unusual narrative with a few strong points (even if it was also tonally inconsistent as all hell and had plenty of horrible ones, too), which helped one persist past the similar bugs it had. However, the content in this game very much matches the execution, with zero depth of anything and horrible flat lines from pretty much everybody. “I’m here to save my mother and kill your master!” said by Oliver to the skeleton guarding Ghoul’s castle is actually one of the better ones, for instance. It’s certainly not as bad as when he briefly thinks his mother is dead and freaks out unconvincingly, before seemingly forgetting all about it as he flatly chats with a girl next door. Or indeed, the time when a farmer asks Oliver to find his horse before he helps you, then literally tells you where to look for it, which is on the same map. There are more then a few typos, too, but let’s be honest, they don’t matter much relative to everything else, and it’s not like they’ll ever be fixed anyway.

Gameplay

It's not present in the game besides combat, and there was zero thought put into it as well. I suspect that they just went with all the default attributes and values for both Oliver (who actually has his class listed as “Soldier” in spite of obviously being a child, the “creator” not even bothering to change that line to something else) and the enemies. It would certainly help explain how the first battle in the game against the aforementioned skeleton is probably the most difficult one. You don’t have any skills or items, and while he doesn’t have them either, he does have that default Blind chance, as well as dealing more damage then you do. It’s thus very much possible that he can kill you, and winning that battle is purely a matter of luck (being strategic, like trying to guard when Oliver is blinded, doesn’t help, because Skeleton acts faster then you do, and so can blind you again just as you start to attack after spending the previous few turns recovering from the earlier Blind.)



And even though the skeleton’s dialogue literally says “YOU SHALL NOT PASS”, he won’t attack you on his own and so it’s totally possible to walk behind him, as the screenshot above shows. However, you can’t enter the castle if you do that, and so you must walk up to him and interact in order to start the fight, which is also the case for every enemy in the game. However, I decided I had enough of this after that fight, and chose to just try running up towards the final boss, pausing only to pick the treasure chests right in front of the enemies. It worked, and while getting the boss to actually fight you is a challenge because of that eventing, the actual battle is much easier then the skeleton one, since I defeated him on the first try and didn't die once. I suppose I might've gotten lucky there, since he had multiple actions per turn, but wasted most of them on several no-damage Confusion Songs in a row and such. Most of his damage-dealing abilities are actually weaker then the Skeleton's regular attack, too, dealing 20 or so damage, to Skeleton's 30-50. The one exception, Nuclear, takes away ~300 HP, which is close to half your health, but again, he only did this once, and died after my 4th-5th attack, while Skeleton lasted a bit longer.

Conclusion

I’m honestly not even sure how this game got accepted on RMN in this state. I suppose none of its bugs crash the game outright, but they feel truly extreme regardless. Moreover, there’s literally nothing else special or worthwhile in the game besides them.

Posts

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Dear NTC3,
I read your The Book of Paradoxia Whispers review and although I did not like the review because you completely slammed the game down to the ground, I understood why you didn't enjoy it. I was very upset with your review but we are supposed to suck up and just move on

This review (Where's my Mom? review) has completely made me really upset and not want to make games ever again and shut down CityMayor Games completely. People like you may enjoy it because you would have crushed another bug with your foot and another shitty company shuts down but people like me who actually do agree that shitty games should never exist in the world of gaming and agree with the views such as Jim Sterling and TotalBiscuit but I try

Honestly and truly I try my hardest to make it at least playable. I am a full time University student and I develop games out of my spare time. True, some developers such as Dust: An Elysian Tale and Stardew Valley may have developed games in their spare time but they actually want to develop games and get money out of it, I do it just for fun

I don't want to develop games full-time, I want to make films and edit videos and so on. True, I do agree completely with you that Where's my Mom and The Book of Paradoxia Whispers (which is almost finished and so much so I do not want to release it) are absolute crap as compared to some of the other good games on RMN but please note that I do these games out of my spare time

Coming from somebody whose developed not only these two RPG Maker games but also some games made from the Unity engine, I do know that these games are absolute shit and awful but what can I do? You may say, oh, work hard and actually put your time and effort towards making another game. Sure, but I don't have the time to develop the game I want to do

Again, I understand your review and actually appreciate that you were honest (although a bit too honest) I am not like other shitty developers and will shut down your profile page and DMCA you because I completely disagree with that and understand criticism but just note that 1. These games are completely free and I know that as the developer of these games, no way would they be sold onto stores such as Steam and GOG.com and 2. That I develop these games out of my spare time and 3. This review has kind of put me into a depressive state (and I do medically suffer with depression) and no longer write stories anymore, make films anymore and not develop games anymore

Again, I am not angry with you because I understand, just remember that behind this webpage there is an actual person with feelings and issues...

Thank you,
ThePCGamer101
Well, this is certainly a hard post to properly reply to, but I'll try.

author=CityMayorGames
just remember that behind this webpage there is an actual person with feelings and issues...


True, but don't forget that there's also one behind every integer of the download count.

author=CityMayorGames
1. These games are completely free and I know that as the developer of these games, no way would they be sold onto stores such as Steam and GOG.com and 2. That I develop these games out of my spare time and 3. This review has kind of put me into a depressive state (and I do medically suffer with depression) and no longer write stories anymore, make films anymore and not develop games anymore


Well, the absolute majority of games on RMN are also free and developed out of spare time. I'm not comparing it (or Paradoxia, for that matter) to Dust: an Elysian Tail or Stardew Valley (especially since I played neither of them) or other commercial games - I'm primarily comparing it to the other free games I've played on RMN, which is more than 70 by now, and my rating is based on that. And really, your game got a Let's Play by thesacredlobo where he struggled with the same things I did: you could've had reacted to it and fixed at least the eventing bugs, all the way back in 2015. Instead, you chose to abandon this game and start work on the other one, even though it was quite probable that someone would've had reviewed this game eventually. After all, this place is, among other things, a community that seeks to help amateur developers get recognition if they deserve it, and if they don't, hopefully get them to the level where they will.

This is why there are many tutorials and articles on here that detail how to avoid many of the very same issues I pointed out in this review, and there are people whom you can ask for further help as well. I know for a fact that there are other depressive people on the forums here too, and with whom you can discuss creative burnout like the one you have, among other things. Sure, you can not bother with any of that and simply view this website as a way to get further exposure and downloads for your game, but don't be surprised when this leads to the equally impersonal reactions in return.
Mirak
Stand back. Artist at work. I paint with enthusiasm if not with talent.
9300
author=NTC3
I know for a fact that there are other depressive people on the forums here too
Actually the difficult thing to do is trying to find out who is *not* depressive here.
Again, I do apologize for hitting on your review like that. I was quite angry after that and just needed to vent out my frustration. I have read your other comment and have taken the feedback

Where's my Mom? was definitely an experimental project for me with the RPG Maker engine. True, the maps are all the default ones and there are a whole load of bugs but I have taken what mistakes I made in Where's my Mom? and try to eradicate or avoid them as possible. I know for a fact that The Book of Paradoxia Whispers will not be a good game nor to the level of other great fantastic games on RMN and hopefully with other projects I do on the RPG Maker engine (if I do continue developing games that is) will at least be a more better playable one then either this game or The Book of Paradoxia Whispers

I just would like to stress that The Book of Paradoxia Whispers is a complete and thorough adaptation of the book of the same name. I did not change anything nor did I experiment with new ideas because I wanted a straight book to game adaptation. I do apologize if the story of The Book of Paradoxia Whispers' story will be absolute crap but I've tried my best

Once again, thank you for your review and I apologize for lashing out at you like that

Thank you,
ThePCGamer101
author=CityMayorGames
I just would like to stress that The Book of Paradoxia Whispers is a complete and thorough adaptation of the book of the same name. I did not change anything nor did I experiment with new ideas because I wanted a straight book to game adaptation.


Well, I've already said I'm skeptical of that idea, but I can respect the reasoning behind that choice. However, can you at least make Mabel's walking speed faster, or allow the players to activate faster walking speed in the options if they don't like the "realistic" one? That doesn't really change anything about the narrative, but it would make the experience a lot nicer.
Most likely changing the character's walking speed will be changed in an upcoming update after the game is released

Thank you,
ThePCGamer101
Well, it's taken me over five years, but I've finally come back to replay and review this game.
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