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A bit too difficult for my tastes, but still enjoyable.

A quick note before I get to the meat of the review:

I’m sure many of these issues have already been addressed; I might consider NicoB’s release to be a bit out-of-date, but my goal is to help make the game better (even if it’s just a little bit) as he did for me. In addition, I am avoiding spoilers so this would be a good review to check out if you’re considering playing the game for the first time.

That’s all.

Some time in March I subscribed to NicoB’s game page for Forever’s End. There were lots of appealing screenshots and the bit on the storyline that was written interested me. Months later, after neglecting the Subscriptions page on RMN (as I tend to do), I found a link to Forever’s End again on NicoB’s signature on my site and decided to give the game a shot after he had decided to do the same for my own.

I have a bad habit of not playing enough amateur RPG Maker games for a few reasons. Mostly, though, I get easily impatient with playing homebrew RPGs. I think as developers ourselves we want to just halt everything and give the developer advice rather than play through his work; however, I was able to complete Forever’s End on my own – mostly. (I did have to bug NicoB to tell me what to do when I got near the end of the demo but he was glad to help.) The game truly tested my patience many times, and I will go in-depth on why this is a bit later, but after playing through this game (if you can make it through), you do feel a sense of accomplishment, which is a nice and even rare feeling you get from the homebrew scene.

On the flip-side, Forever’s End is relentlessly punishing. There was a point mid-way through where you could not buy any healing items. There would be a few bosses, then it would shift to another cast of characters inside of a dungeon, and all I could think to myself was, “great, more people to use my potions.” I was very surprised—and proud of myself—that I was able to defeat boss after boss, treating my MP potions as if they were the cure to Swine Flu. If you are careless about how you consume them, you had better hope you come across a treasure chest with some (which I admit, there were); otherwise, you might find yourself stuck. A tip I’ve learned though: with any game you play that has a save feature, you might as well use as many save slots as possible to greatly avoid getting yourself into this situation. The result is that you have to always be conscious about recovering, which was really a letdown because many of the characters in Forever’s End have really fun and different skill-sets. Plus, many of the animations were neat to boot.

However, I was expecting some of the graphics to have more of their own original twist. For example, the battle facesets were great. (I happen to be using the same set until my friend finishes her original work.) My only concern is they don’t portray the characters’ sprites visually at all. My guess is that NicoB came across some great faces, but instead of recoloring them to match his needs just went for the grayscale approach. In addition, there was usually something off about the faces that didn’t make it match (regardless of color saturation). I remember seeing one of the temporary soldiers’ faces and thinking 1. maybe they should be wearing helmets and 2. This soldier’s face looks like the main character’s to me. In short, they didn’t do much to identify who’s who in battle, so you really have to result to positioning of the characters with respect to the HUD most of the time. While not terribly game-breaking, the lack of any real character-to-face connection in dialogue sometimes can be problematic (especially if you’re like me and easily forget the names of characters).

Graphical inconsistency has sprouted up in a few other reviews but I’ll just mention a few other things quickly. Marcellus’ character set doesn’t seem to match the Rudora theme (though I think I might have read somewhere that you have a new one), and I was slightly confused with the save points. Sometimes they were a book, but in other areas they were a crystal. Again, I’m being borderline nitpicky here and these are all pretty minor things so I’ll back up a bit.

NicoB has already addressed this, and I started to earlier, but part of the issue with the lack of items wasn’t necessarily due to lack of shops (more can’t be a bad thing though), but rather what seemed like large amounts of long battles. If you weren’t healed up before the start of a battle, they seemed to triple in length and drain your inventory. The game’s combat doesn’t feel terribly rewarding, but in his defense is partly due to brevity of the demo as a whole. For one, I didn’t feel like my characters were getting stronger. Level ups seemed to negligently affect my characters’ HP and the EXP requirement seemed a bit steep. Character skills were fun and fairly helpful too, but you just had to be incredibly conservative with them for most of the game. Once you get to a shop after a huge dungeon-pummel-combo I will say you’ll have enough Fin to buy yourself an equally huge supply of restoratives.

150 MB game demo download?! omg this make me so mad I could stab this enemy right in the face!!

Balancing an RPG can be a headache in itself, especially as things progress and your game gets bigger and better. Adding to the stress is the simple fact that what’s easy to one player might be way too hard for another. This is definitely not a simple thing to do, but what’s always easier (and often will produce less complaining) is to just give the player more opportunities to buy stuff. More shops, more starting money, more items that increase stats in better and different ways—all of these things would benefit Forever’s End magnificently and I feel would make the game rewarding not only for NicoB as a developer, but the people playing this fantastic game. It might be because the demo was short but I really felt like I wanted to grow with the characters more as I played, if that makes any sense.

NicoB does the best job I’ve seen at taking a Storyline ripped straight out of a Final Fantasy game and expanding on it in his own unique ways. The game had a lot of plot elements you can see coming from a mile away due to the recycled themes, but an equally number of cutscenes that shed light on other characters that really catches you off-guard. I’m being intentionally vague here because I don’t want to ruin anything if you’re looking to play this game, but there was one cutscene in Forever’s End that is easily one of the top five most memorable events in an amateur RPG I’ve seen, and it was just a little glimpse of the world through one of the side characters. You can expect a bit of confusion as you play, which is good because there is a lot of familiar storyline elements to balance it out. Forever’s End could almost be described as generic, but without its negative connotation if that makes any sense. These twists and mysteries interjected within the game are really the driving force that keeps you playing. You’ll want to know who a particular character is and why he’s doing what he’s doing, and wondering if someone will change. I also applaud NicoB for a healthy amount of screen-time for the antagonists, which has really set up a nice façade to implement a good amount of character development for them later on as well.

I won’t say much about music, but NicoB’s selection fit well. It was a little disappointing to hear some really familiar music, but maybe that’s just a personal preference.

NicoB has set the stage for what I can already tell will be an amazing experience. Despite the gameplay at this point being a tad uninviting, he’s introduced us to several characters with plenty of room to evolve, a neat and rewarding upgrade system that will hopefully be more present in the next version, and a storyline that puts emphasis on the little details that give it its defining charm. My only real gripes are specific issues that are being taken care of, but when you step back and at the result you have a foundation for what will be an incredibly solid RM2k3 game. As it stands, the Forever’s End is enjoyable, but you have to man up and handle the harsh level of difficulty in order to get the most of it.

This is a game!


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Sorry it took me so long to respond to this. Thank you sir for the informative review. I apologize about the difficulty, and there's a part of me that wants to just release a new demo just so I can make the gameplay more enjoyable, but truthfully, I feel I would be letting people down who have already beaten it and are expecting more of the plot to unfold. Unfortunately, I haven't made the progress I had hoped mostly because after a year of working my ass off on this, I finally hit that point where I couldn't stand to even look at this game. I've given myself some time and I think I can finally make some more progress (hopefully). But I digress...

I attempted to add some originality with the black and white facesets, but I didn't know it made it difficult to differentiate people. I will have to look into that...You are correct about Marcellus being fixed (you can see the new one on the banner on the homepage) and I save points had a purpose originally, but I may just decide on one or the other in the end.

I think you make some awesome suggestions on how I can improve gameplay, and I swear I will take some of these things to heart. I'm glad to hear you enjoyed most of the story, and I am curious to know which scene delighted you so (if you could PM later). You criticisms are all valid and I will definitely use your suggestions to improve my game. Cheers!
This comment on the diffiulty is rather awkward dude, if you do all the side quests like killing everything and capturing every monter the game is piece of cake...of course theres some parts where it may seem a bit hard like the forest where the flying things hit everyone for 100+ but if you get the hold on being able to do surprise attacks it becomes much easier.

ANother thing that may seem a bit diffiult are the hidden monsters, and these should have a more caracteristic sprite. When i fought the first hidden monster i was only awae that it was different after entering the battle and then wtf...a few revives and tons of healing and I defeated it at first trying, so the difficult seems pretty much ok with the possible stuff you can get to impprove your characters...
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