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  • Caz
  • 02/24/2014 08:25 PM
Right off the bat, I wanted to believe this could be a winning game. The graphics are not only crafted incredibly well, but the menu layouts are also so simple yet engaging. Each character sprite looks like it's had hours of work poured into it, keeping it faithful to the RTP while still creating a unique style of its own which I personally love: it's so cutesy yet grim in this very “adult” way. The character personalities come through a lot more with just a few extra pixels in the right places.

Though sadly I soon came to terms with the reality of the time constraints on this game. It has its issues, as I'm sure even the most well-polished games will have. For example, my one grief with aesthetics: that font. It becomes quite unbearable to strain at it after a while: wondering what vowel is what; getting confused because you read a sentence and it turns out you misread one very small - yet INCREDIBLY important - word, and the whole conversation makes little sense until you go back and:

“Ohhhh so THAAAAT's what that word issss~ “

Though I suppose some of the grammatical errors do make it quite a bit more difficult, if not kinda funny.

I did have some minor graphical gripes later too, but those were mainly overlay related. The game is extraordinarily dark at times in the caves, which.. yeah okay it's realistic, but it's so hard to see the encounters. They may as well be random, because the sprites are so tiny and the screen is so invisible it just makes it impossible to know what is biting your toes until it's about to go for higher, more delicate regions of the body.

But then after everything being so dim, you're suddenly blinded by exceptionally bright screens which are quite a shock to the system having been in the dark for so long. I feel it's a shame because the real potential of the graphics, i.e. the sprites and tiles, are so amazingly put together and then drowned out by the unnecessary flavours of the lighting.

I did mention before that character personalities were very visible through the sprites, though I can't help but feel this is the only area they really show through. I think it's mostly the fault of the Engrish, but I found it really hard to connect to the characters. For example, the MC is naturally the one to have some terrible curse bestowed upon him, but I just couldn't connect at all. There's no emotion to it, nor consequence or any kind of mention of its effects. It just felt like needlessly throwing in a character motivation for the sake of plot. That said, I did like that Khar can't actually unequip his armour. This was a nice touch for a short game because it would have quite a negligible effect over a small amount of time like this, compared to if it had been done for a larger game.

In terms of atmosphere, I think the next logical step is to move onto audio. The SFX sound like they were taken from a couple big name games, like I definitely recognised a little Morrowind in there. Though I think some of the cursor noises aren't quite punchy enough. They are very faded, there isn't much impact or it doesn't really feel like you're making a choice. Sometimes in battle I wouldn't realise that I had pressed enter too many times because there was no noise to it. A lot of skills and animations in battles aren't very emphasised either, where I feel sound would have helped tremendously with.

Though by far, this was not my main concern with the sound. The SFX are acceptable and aren't used out of place for the most part, but the music itself stirred some issues up in me. I am mainly referring to the music in the orangey caves when I discuss this point. The other sections of the game are very atmospheric or, in the case of the later section of the dungeon, the music is actually pretty cool. But that one piece in the orangified dungeon made me feel slightly nauseated to listen to after a couple seconds. I felt like I wanted to rush through the dungeon just so I wouldn't need to listen to it anymore. Obviously this isn't a real problem for anyone but the composer, though the creator could've chosen something a little more fitting for the area. This particular piece was very brain-screwy for me.

So to some possibly kinder-seeming points: gameplay is a mixed bag, though it's done nicely enough. You've got your RPG-style fighting, fighting baddies which show up on field (another nice point), collecting lots of goodies scattered around (treasure is the way to my heart) and, of course, puzzles. The fighting is pretty standard, though each character can use a skill against one of three weaknesses. I think these are “sturdy,” “soft” and “flying” enemies, all of which are abundantly clear without needing to read any status screens. The fact that this makes sense to someone who dislikes doing a lot of enemy research made me very happy, to say the least. Although sometimes the skills become very repetitive in the longer battles such as the bosses. It was hard not to go for the same skill over and over again after a while, because there is quite an array of skills for each character but it just makes more sense to go for one or two each. It's essentially a false choice, because it's plain to see which does the most damage.

The goodies are very handy too! You will pick up a lot of weapons and armour, but also seeds which can increase stats of the characters of your choice or level them up to gain a new skill. It's a great way to encourage exploration without having to go through the grind of encounters.

And then the puzzles are very, very nicely done. Granted, I wasn't quite sure what was going on in the dark with the block-pushing, but it makes itself quite understandable after a few random block pushes. There is a puzzle later as well with a little more action to it, which I muchly appreciated. They do also increase in difficulty with this step up into action, but it's a different type of difficulty. It goes from an intellectual struggle to a reflex-based kind, which is a good way to throw things up a little and keep the player focused on differing types of thought.

This was, overall, a nice balance of gameplay elements. I think they flowed pretty well together, although there were times where monster encounters would start nibbling at the toes during some of the puzzles if I wasn't careful. Perhaps some kind of “puzzle box” would be nice, where the monsters couldn't get at me while I was trying to think.

It was an enjoyable experience in all, I did love what I played, and it's just such a fantastic effort when you keep in mind the kind of time frame the creator had to stick to. I am still thoroughly impressed by the graphics - I could only hope that execution had gone a tiny bit better.


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Oh dear, thanks a lot! I like a lot your review. It addresses things pretty well, by that I mean that are things I feel the same, places where I feel time was "not enough" (a.k.a. I have to plan better! a gentleman never thinks of himself as a helpless victim!).

I wanted to share some "extra details" for the areas. May contain spoilers to people that haven't played the game. But are like "development notes", may be of interest to someone <3.
First is the dark cave, which is pretty standard. There is no special item that helps here. Could have made a lamp... The idea behind this are was that of a "gate".

Then is the lava cave, with an orangey tone. This is kind of a rip-off from DarkSouls, since the main aspect of the area is the damaging lava, and the Lift Ring it's Levitate disguised as an equipment (it protects the equipped person from earthworm's Earthquake, which I made as his devastating attack).

Lastly the Sacred Grounds. The idea was an area filled with blinding light. Inside the depths of a grotto. It's supposed to be a sacred place. Also the blinding light hides sparkling items over the floor pretty nicely.

Inside all shininess are some sunglasses. I was going to make them as an useless item. And they are. They have no effect in battle. But they have an special effect of darkening the screen a little. In the cave, for example, if you're using the sunglasses you see nothing. So never use sunglasses inside a cave.
Sunglasses CAN be useful only while trying to see something at the Sacred Grounds, where there is too much light. Still, to find them you have to scout a little of that viciously white floor.

Thank you very much for your review Caz.
Oh I must've put those sunglasses on in the cave and thought they were useless, ahahaha..

But thanks for taking the feedback so well, this is a great response. I'm glad to see you're already thinking about the points I brought up!

Despite giving a lot of seemingly "negative" feedback, this was a great game, especially visually. I was impressed by how much you did in so little time.
Funny thing that about the sunglasses. That went totally over my head too... And here I was thinking the darkness was a bug. =P
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