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A very good start, with only a few issues to be found.

  • Decky
  • 01/27/2014 10:42 AM
  • 1512 views
The development team of Fomar0153 and Indra are fairly well rounded. Fomar is good with combat and scripting, and Indra is good with characters and maps. Together, they have most of the bases covered when it comes to developing a solid, fresh RPG. From the looks of it, In Search of Freedom is the next in a line of good games made by the team.

The demo is about 60-90 minutes long, but I feel there was enough content to justify a star rating.

Story and characters
The premise of the game is quite interesting. Ethan is the leader of a ragtag task force that is assigned to complete missions outside of the usual jurisdiction of the army. One of his subordinates, Shannon, is an alleged criminal who has quite an incriminating temper and ego (reminding me a lot of the moody version of Roland from Carlsev Saga, heh).


Meanie...

Ethan himself is more mild mannered. The other characters in the game have distinct personalities, and their dialogue is generally well written (with the occasional grammatical/usage error, but nothing extreme). The story so far is fairly well polished, and it involves lighthearted character interactions along with some political intrigue among the countries of Arum. Indeed, Arum is turning into Indra's own universe at the rate she and Fomar are churning out games!

My only major gripe with the story/dialogue is that there's a bit too much of a focus on romantic comedy-style subplots. Many of the NPCs talk about who likes who and who is ogling who. It kind of got old, even during the course of the fairly short demo. Overall, though, this is a minor gripe based on preference. Dialing it back a tiny bit would be nice. My other tiny gripe is that some of the cutscenes and character banter go on for just a little too long.

Graphics and music
No issues here. The maps are all solid - especially the forest - and there are plenty of nooks and crannies to explore. The music selections are good, too - some of the tracks remind me of Chrono Trigger for some reason. Sound effects have been changed from your typical default beeps and bloops from VX Ace, and this is a good thing, because the menus are all nicely modified. The font choice is great, and I'm especially a fan of the floating dialogue boxes (shown in the picture above).

Gameplay
Like any good RPG, In Search for Freedom is still driven by the gameplay and is not short-changed or hampered by its story. From the looks of it, this could be the best gameplay yet from an Indra/Fomar game.

The battle system is Conditional Turn-Based, much like FFX; however, characters can skip their turn and accumulate stock points to allow them to take consecutive actions later in the battle. The developers did something smart and capped these stock points at 3; this prevents silly exploits while still making it advantageous at times to stock up on actions. Early battles use this system well.

Instead of MP, users gradually regenerate stamina points. These points are required for every action except skipping a turn. I think the balancing of these points could use some work. Characters can overspend these points and end up in the negative, in which case they will receive a stat penalty across the board. This penalty can mean the different between dealing 80 damage and 15 damage; thus, it's pretty damn important to manage your actions carefully. Unfortunately, some actions take up a few too many (or too little) points, so I think some re-balancing here would be great. Still, it's a nice system that's in the same vein as Xenosaga. The battles felt refreshing as a result!


This character's special moves are AWESOME.

Each character has a unique palette of commands and skills (with some exceptions, such as the traditional "attack" and "defend" options). The catch? You can only equip four commands at any time. This leads to some interesting opportunity costs. If you're fighting easy enemies, you may want to omit the Steal command and go with an Attack command to make the battles go by faster. On the other hand, if you're fighting a boss that takes away a command at random, you may want to have both Medicine and Item equipped - this ensures that you can use healing potions even if one of the two options is taken away. This command system offers a ton of strategy as a result! As of the demo, some of the commands are pretty useless: hopefully other, more useful commands will become available later on. This would help to add more excitement to the system and its opportunity costs.

One of my favorite characters is Olga. She has an ability that allows her to absorb an enemy's DNA and obtain a temporary skill or buff as a result. This is sort of like blue magic, with the exception that it's a specific buff for that battle only. There is one exception: by absorbing DNA, she may receive the ability to summon that monster in future battles! It's abilities like this that make each encounter more interesting, as you can experiment and try out the command on various monsters to determine the best buffs possible. Gotta DNA-absorb 'em all!

Other characters have useful abilities such as stealing and swordplay. However, I found the Steal ability to be somewhat lacking at times; while it has a very high success rate, most of the monsters early on have only potions to offer. I did find a great use for a stolen Poison Shard, though; one of the bosses has regen and is extremely challenging, so I poisoned it and it made the battle ten times easier. A good use of a stolen item right there!

Many of these special abilities are learned permanently by fighting battles, though it's kind of automatic. In the future, I'd like more control over learning certain abilities by prioritizing certain ones. Also, I fear that Ethan will become very overpowered in the future; he already was a beast by the end of the demo. He learns additional stat boosts by equipping accessories that would normally only provide a minor boost for other characters. Thanks to this system, his stats were easily 30 percent higher than the other characters by the end of the demo.

Another great feature is the Passives system. Each character can learn certain passives, which are learned via special abilities, spell books, or sheer leveling up. Until Level 5, characters can only equip one of these at a time. Once I got to Level 5 and gained the ability to equip a second passive, this kept on happening:


I couldn't equip my second passive because this screen kept appearing :(

There are some other minor glitches. Ethan's Dark Sword ability is supposed to use HP, but it uses the stamina points instead. Some of the battle transformations and effects are kind of sudden and should be smoothed over/slowed down, perhaps with dialogue boxes or battle animations. I also felt that the Psychic Tree boss was a little too challenging. I thought I was a little overleveled and overequipped, but it still took me two tries due to his ability to seal commands at random (grr). Once I figured out that I could poison him, though, the battle became ten times easier. A little rebalancing could be in order: at first the boss was too hard, and then he was too easy after taking one specific action. The first few battles were also quite challenging because I was still getting used to the system and trying things out. I lost a character in the very first battle, heh. More revival herbs are needed, methinks - I never did find a shop with them.

Conclusion
Welp, that's my take on this good demo! There are some things to work on, of course, but this game is full of potential. 3.5 stars for the demo, and I'd bump it up to 4 stars if it weren't for those glitches and other lingering opportunities for improvement. Best of luck!

Story: 3.75/5
Gameplay: 4/5
Presentation: 4.25/5
Fun Factor: 3.75/5
Overall: 3.94/5

Posts

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I used the poison shard too on the tree boss. It unfortunately destroyed Olga's monster skills right away so I wasn't able to use them at all in the battle. Very challenging but fun.
Thanks for the review, in the future all the characters will gain more command options. As for Ethan being OP he has really low stat gains compared to the other characters but if you get all his stat gains then he will be comparable to the other characters at the level cap.

Olga and Beatrice's skill systems are dependent on new areas and monsters so you don't have as much control over prioritizing their skill progress. Shannon and Ethan you can choose your priorities but Ethan is hampered a bit by what equipment is available.

Steal by the way is 100%, Shannon's that good. Really glad you enjoyed the demo and I hope the full game will live up to your expectation.
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