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A fine diversion

  • NTC3
  • 03/08/2015 04:43 PM
  • 1304 views
Okiku, Star Apprentice is a very short, very sweet game that’s quite cool for the hour or so it lasts, and can be forgotten soon after.

Aesthetics (art, design and sound)

The game is done entirely with VX Ace RTP chipsets and battlers, so if you’ve played one of these games before, you know what to expect. The maps are all quite competent, with no misused tiles and such, and there’s the occasional addition of breakable rocks and levers to be pushed (normally with the projectile fired from Okiku’s wand). The way all of the basic touch encounters use the same on-map sprite of a dark spirit is a bit annoying, however, and some enemy choices are also questionable, like the aquatic enemies in the caves, which apparently came forth from the underground lake, though the explanation is easily missed if you skip the tavern on your way, like I did.

There are some non-RTP elements here too, however, and they’re all quality. Okiku’s facesets in particular are really good: there are about 5-6 of them and they’re always well-matched to the emotion expressed through dialogue. Then, nearly all of the music is sourced from Heroes of Might and Magic games, a choice I applaud as a fellow fan of the series. Even if you’re sadly unfamiliar with HOMM, you’ll still likely appreciate the music, such as the track used in the volcano level.

Storyline

All you need to do is go and kill 6 rare and powerful creatures so that your mentor can use bits of their body to summon a demon that probably shouldn’t be summoned! Yay! What could’ve been really annoying in lesser hands works quite well here, though, thanks to a humorous and believable interplay between Okiku and Ryoko. The game offers you to skip the opening conversation between them (plus another one near the end), but you would lose a lot if you were to do so. This playful atmosphere is reinforced by the creative flavour text back at the tower, which is sadly absent in the other areas you explore. There are also three towns, one for two monster-stalked areas, that are all identical to each other in terms of design. They all have a supply shop, a tavern where you can banter a bit with old friends and rude strangers, as well as learn some nominally important info about nearby areas, and 3-4 people outside with nothing much to say.

The way dialogue updates itself is a mixed bag. On one hand, there’s a cool feature where if an enemy group was first shot at by Okiku instead of simply being walked into, she’ll say something to reference that before the battle. If she’s poisoned, she’ll actually go and reference that little fact. However, the dialogue in towns and at the tower is notoriously static. I went to the mountain pass first, and has defeated both the Behemoth and the Gorgon (more on that later) before going to the town. Over there, I was still advised to go out and find the beast that dwells at the pass, and Okiku couldn’t reply that I’ve already killed it. Similarly, if you teleport back to the tower with some of the items already present, the dialogue with Ryoko remains unchanged and it’s impossible to give any of them back to her.

Gameplay

The combat is generally on the easy side, but is still fun and enjoyable. The stand-out aspect of it is the fact you start with 6 skills, which is unbelievably cool, especially when so many games on here still force the player to suffer through the first 3 levels or so with only a basic attack. What’s more, all of these are genuinely useful. You get a paralyse skill, a silence skill, a stat-decreasing one, mana drain, heal and mana restoration spell. Instead of getting strictly new spells afterwards, Okiku instead has those basic spells morph into more powerful versions once she uses them enough. Importantly, those spells aren’t just debuffs, for they deal plenty of damage in their own right, soon out-powering the basic wand attack. Another nuance is the way paralyse and silence skills deal “physical” damage, while the other two inflict magical damage. This difference isn’t just academic, because enemies in later areas are vulnerable to one and resistant to other, and fights are shorter and more enjoyable if you use them right.

Outside of combat, there’s also the aforementioned ability to shoot projectiles from Okiku’s wand to trigger faraway levers, destroy blocks and initiate combat at an advantage. Another cool feature I would like to see more of is the way regular enemies at each area are automatically defeated when you run into them if you’ve already dealt with the area boss. The logic behind it is undeniable, although the way Okiku is still awarded experience and money for dealing with them is a real overkill, and turns the latter two dungeons into a cakewalk. You would never really need potions and such by that point, and also have enough money by that point to buy dozens of each status-removing item at the shop. It’s a pity because some early fights, like the Gorgon battle, were genuinely challenging and engaging (although I accidentally fought the Gorgon first instead of second, like I was supposed to, so that could have something to do with it).

Conclusion

Okiku is nicely packaged and has a lot of neat gameplay ideas, and I would’ve have gladly played a full-length version of it. As it is, it’s just too short and too insubstantial to award it with a higher score. I’ll still say that any designers on here looking to create a comedy/parody game ought to give it a very close look, for it perfectly shows a lot of what I expect from that subgenre.

Posts

Pages: 1
Marrend
Guardian of the Description Thread
21806
I suppose that I could have left out the HP/MP restorative items, and just go with the status removal items. As for money...

...well...

...I can concede that money isn't all that useful in this game. I probably thought something to the effect of...

...This game isn't about balance. It's about blasting things into oblivion, and having a grand old time of it! Which seems to be your case!


*Edit:
There is one more comment I wish to add at this time. It's about the NPCs.

Oddly enough, it did not occur to me to have NPCs say something different if their Respective Local Bosses...

...trademarked, patent pending...

...were dead!

Though, I must admit to have some trouble coming up with things for the NPCs to say. The aim may have been to have the humor value spike in various places, but, I really think it just fell apart at around Winterkill.

I mean Ino! Not Winterkill! I TOTALLY did not mean to make a M&M4 reference, there.
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