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The "Slash Up" Element Trumps Everything Else...

  • Ratty524
  • 05/24/2016 05:47 AM
Most games are flawed in that they are so difficult that it sparks frustration rather than fun, or they are so wistfully programmed that they literally fail to be playable. There is another type of bad game, however, that’s not so common: the ones so devoid of any meaningful challenge that they create an unengaging experience that fails to satisfy anyone in the end. Rose_Guardian’s Elementa Bellator, unfortunately, falls into this category.

Granted, this game isn’t terrible by any means, but it’s far from good. What great ideas it presents, from a combat system centered on elemental rock-paper-scissors to cute romance elements, is meddled by poor balancing, bad writing, and an overall lack of polish in both the gameplay mechanics and story.

So is there a magic spell to shake that polaroid picture?


To go into detail, let’s begin by talking about the game’s story. It’s one that I often overlook in my game reviews, but the flaws here stick out like a sore thumb.

You play as a young woman named Raven, who, accompanied by her merry little band of men and women, spends her life travelling around her conspicuously compact world solving people’s problems under the name of the Defender’s Guild. Along the way, she runs into a member of the Bloodborne Knights, who seems bent on killing a bunch of miners for a reason that’s never explained. I guess he’s that big of a douche? You fight him, he teleports out of the fight, and he is never seen again until the end of the game.

After that confusing story segment, Raven learns from the guild master that there is a member who has been missing for weeks. The player also learns from reading this game’s dialogue that the writing is so painfully sterile that every character seems to blend into each other. I only remember Raven from reading the game’s description and the game being centered on her, the other cast of characters I almost forgot completely because nobody showed evidence of a distinguishable personality. The only exceptions I can think of is the Bloodborne Knight woman with breasts larger than her head. She was good at being a generic, evil “hahaha!” villain with breasts larger than her head.

I'm sure you'd kill him easily with those triple-D's

Back to the lost guild member, he’s apparently a friend of yours named Keldanite, and he’s on a mission to kill someone. Being the good soul she is, Raven discourages Keldanite from doing so, on the basis that Killing is Wrong™, and that he will never live with himself if he does so. Keep in mind, this is right after nearly killing the Bloodborne Knight from earlier and going through an entire dungeon slaughtering monsters, but letting someone kill another person is so beneath her. Logically, you’d assume Keldanite would explain his methods for killing this person, who happens to be the Emperor of the land and a known jerk to everyone. Instead, he decides to be edgy by pulling the “do not stand in my way or die!” trope and attacks the party. He is defeated, he teleports out of the fight just like the last guy, and we’re supposed to understand Raven’s woes after being forced to attack her best friend that we’ve only had less than than ten minutes to get accustomed to.

Beyond that, you learn suddenly that elemental crystals exist in the world, and some guy is trying to awaken some elemental spirits to bring chaos to the world. Suddenly, you learn that Keldanite has some alternate demon form and tries to attack your party once more. By the way, did you know that the guy with the elemental crystals is your long, lost brother? Did you know that Keldanite actually has the hots for Raven? Did you know that people in this high-fantasy setting can somehow use portable cameras to identify people? Did you know that the girl in the red dress, with no personality whatsoever, actually exists in your party?

...Can you see what’s wrong, here? The entire plot of Elementa Bellator builds on top of itself without any kind of set-up, or even background information about what type of fantasy world you are playing in. It feels as if stuff is just happening and instantly replacing itself for no rhyme or reason.

It especially hurts the game’s romance scenes between Keldanite and Raven. Yes, they exist, and what should at least be kind of cute ends up being confusingly cringe-inducing because of how sudden it occurs. The game’s story gives you no background information on their relationship other than that they know each other and could be friends. I guess you could say Keldanite is pretty forthright about his feelings, but my suspension of disbelief was shattered to pieces.

On top of it all, the game is so rife with spelling, grammar, and punctuation mistakes, that I’m amazed the single tester of this project didn’t mention anything about it to the developer.

Ultimately, the story of Elementa Bellator is nothing to write home about in any way. Does the actual gameplay fare better?

This was the only aspect of the game I truly felt excited about.

... No. No it doesn’t. It at least shows some promise, but there are so many things that could have been done better.

The battle system is your standard turn-based affair. You have your standard attacks, physical skills which use TP, and magic skills categorized by their corresponding element. To give this game credit, this categorization of elemental skills is a great way to streamline the battle experience and allows the player to easily locate the skills they need to counter a particular opponent, and since the skill pool as a whole is massive for each character, this was a nice solution to a potential problem.

Sadly, once you start playing this for more than about 3 minutes, you’ll realize that this game’s brilliant elemental-based system is completely worthless.

The fact is, the magic skills you are given near the start of the game pale in comparison to the physical damage you do to enemies, even if you hit their weak points. This makes mashing the basic “attack” command an arguably more viable strategy then using any of your skills. TP generation at the start of battle is also random, and they’ll give you just enough for your party to use their TP skills, which are significantly stronger than using their magic spells. Suddenly, a game centered on manipulating the elements is completely thrown out the window, as your better skills have no significant cost and are way more effective than alternative strategies.

On top of this, while you’ll find plenty of restoration items throughout Raven’s quest, don’t feel like you’ve got to use any of them. Both HP and MP are fully restored after every battle, and given how easy these battles are already, the sense of pressure or tension you’d typically feel from travelling is completely removed. The only exception comes from one temple in the game, where your health doesn’t automatically restore itself after battle, but considering this is the only point where it happens (In chapter 3), this seems like it was a bug or an oversight.

This, on top of the fact that every area in the game only has two-to-three different troops to encounter makes fighting anything nothing but a waste of time. They are at least based on touch encounters, but that doesn’t solve the problem. It makes it worse, because it’s even easier to just avoid everything in sight unless a monster on the field manages to block a narrow path.

Wait, though. Don’t you need to grind some of these guys to take on the tougher bosses in the game? Not really. One of your party members has a skill called “Slash-Up,” which deals physical damage in roughly the same amount as her basic attack for three random foes, but we all know that means if a foe is isolated, you will get three potent hits off a single opponent. It has a low TP cost, too.

Guess what? Every boss fight in this game only has a single enemy to face against, so all you need to do to beat every boss, and I really mean every boss (including the final one), is to spam your broken multi-hit skill until the boss dies within a span of three minutes on average. So much for offering a challenge!

To sum this up, Elementa Bellator’s gameplay offers a lot of potential playstyle options that are made completely meaningless due to the existence of better ones. I seriously think having no restoration items at all would at least make the battles themselves challenging, if the developer is married to that easy restoration system.

Yep, it get's that ugly.

Elementa Bellator’s overworld graphics consist of mostly the DS resource pack, which is fine on its own, but in this case there are many tiling errors and overall misuse of the pack’s potential. Landscapes are often too spacious with only slight hints of direction, making things both look bland and muddles with exploration.

The graphic quality nosedives when you hit the battle screen, however. Almost every enemy battler looks as if it has a different drawing/painting style from others. Envision heavily detailed Picasso pieces placed alongside MS paint sketches to get the idea.

Some areas at least make use of lighting, but it usually comes in the form of ugly, nonsensical light beam overlays or dark rooms that are SO dark that you can barely see where you are going. All in all, the visual aesthetics leave a lot to be desired.

The music was pretty good, at least, but I didn’t find any particular track to be memorable.

Elemental Bellator is in desperate need of work. The story is on the level of an Idiot Plot with bad writing to complement it. The gameplay isn’t pushed enough and suffers from an overall lack of challenge; and the poor use of assets take away from immersion.

My advice to the developer, honestly, is to actually keep making games. Next time, though, take some time to do research on your own about how to make your mechanics meaningful. It’ll also help to research story writing and various settings in this big ‘ol planet to draw from. There are tutorials even on this site that’ll help you out.

With that said…

Below Average


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I just want to point out that this is a really good review and that I think more reviews should follow in these footsteps. It's fair and points out a lot of the issues that are wrong with the game, as well as why they're issues.

Good job, Ratty!
the world ends in whatever my makerscore currently is
Hey Ratty, I'm here on the behalf of Rose asking that if you could please officially rate this game an N/A for now. Feel free to keep in a score just not star rated. She intends to keep working at it and her game dev skills but these kinds of thing really bring her down and makes her upset. She's trying her best and wants to continue but this is hurting her.

She will take your advice/suggestions into account but if you could please spare her feelings just a little that would be awesome. She and I would greatly appreciate it. :)

And please know that I am not trying to stifle your voice by no means, she just wants a fair chance for her game and herself to improve.

I'll be trying to help where I can too!

If you could consider this Ratty that would be great.
Please, absolutely do not, Ratty.

2.5 stars is the right score for this game and is probably more than it deserves by the sounds of it. If Rose has an issue with an average score she should work on fixing up her game and then ask the reviewer after doing so to revisit and redo the review (note that they have absolutely NO compunction to go that far. Reviewers are 100% fine with leaving a review as it is and not updating it - if they choose to do it, they may, but if not, that is also their choice).

It is also a completed game, so it is more than worth being scored. Maybe if it were a demo there'd be a reason to ask, but when you release a completed product you are going to get scored reviews from people, even if you missed some bugs and ask that no-one does so before you fix them. Asking for someone to remove or change a review before a new version has been uploaded that fixes all the issues mentioned in the review is just plain silly.

She should NOT be asking other people to remove a totally valid score! If she feels a score is unfair, she should be PMing staff (which she did and got told that no, it is perfectly fine).

She already got a 4-star review. Her feelings in this are skewed far too lightly and she needs to learn to take critique and bad scores gracefully. Seriously, everyone gets reviews that hurt a little. Learn to deal with it like everyone else does.

Rose, asking people to ask others to remove or downgrade a review is not what you should be doing. Instead, pour some of that energy into fixing up your game. You need to grow some thicker skin and I hate to tell you this, but a 2.5 score is more than generous. In fact, it's perfectly average. Don't bother dragging other people into something that is NOT an issue. You have been babied far too much on the site - I blame myself for that a little in enabling you to be too protected - but it's time to grow up a little and learn to deal with the fact that people have a right to review your game and give it fair and valid scores without worry that they'll be told to remove it.

You have seven games on the site now and you should be used to getting critique. Critique is not a personal attack, it is pointing out what you need to work on in order to get better at making games. Scores are used to motivate you to do this instead of making the same mistake in every game. This is a great review and you need to learn to deal with it. Full stop.

Ratty, please keep writing these great reviews.
the world ends in whatever my makerscore currently is
Well, I was trying to be nice and would have felt bad if I at least didn't try and ask. I figured I wasn't the only one contacted and I'm pretty sure Rose is getting told what Liberty said.

You gotta be strong, Rose. You're never alone when you're part of a community. A 2.5 is average. Aspire to go beyond that! We know you can do it! You got the game making in your blood!
Each game you make is an experience and we all start at level 1 and learn from there.

Besides your game still has a hefty 3.5 rating, that's good! :D
The 524 is for 524 Stone Crabs
We sorted this out though PM. I'm pretty confident now that Rose is learning from her mistakes and I'm not taking down this review.

@Liberty: Thanks!
This post has been hidden by the game developer. Click here to show the post anyway.
It's fine lianderson. I did my best that's all that really matters.
"Life is a riddle I wish I had the answer for..."
"Is it extra cheesy?"

Best video game line ever. ^_^
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