• Add Review
  • Subscribe
  • Nominate
  • Submit Media
  • RSS

So You Want To Be A Great Game

  • Dyhalto
  • 07/06/2014 04:54 PM
Ruselan was made for the 2014 Indie RPG Maker Contest.
I wonder if this fact was a boon or a hindrance? Maybe the event spurred a lingering idea into formation, or maybe it beset a great idea with time constraints that limit it's potential. I'm a little hopeful for the latter.

Visual: 4/5
First off, I'm in love with the two custom portraits used. They're colorful, indicative of character qualities at a single glance, and plug right into the RTP world without one iota of clash. If anything, their colors may be a little too vibrant, but that just makes them so much more pleasant to look at.

As mentioned, the rest of the game's world is standard RPG Maker runtime package. Whether you're sick of it or not is irrelevant because of how well it's handled. Mapping-wise, the two explorable areas, town and forest, share the same compact nature without being frustratingly difficult to navigate. For example, see below.

I'm liking that perspective work on the road to the bridge.

Audio: 2/5
The frogurt music is also cursed RTP.
Poorly delivered joke aside, music suffers from player familiarity more than graphics do. No indie game would go over well if Battle with Magus was your boss theme, or Cloud's Theme was your world map BGM. Invoking memories of other games is a fast track to killing immersion.
RTP music, though convenient and also good, will always resonate as either "RTP music" or "Oh yeah, I heard this in _____ too", making it a poor choice for little more than placeholder or, oh yeah, contest games =)

Storyline: 3/5
Messenger : "Sir, we have report of a dragon sighting in Dire Creek."
Boss of ROMMC : "That's a dirty, scrubby little village out in the middle of nowhere, isn't it? And a mere dragon sighting? pfffft. Send the new girl."

This is actually the perfect justification as to why a lone Level 1 sorceress armed with a Fire spell, Sleep spell, and buckets of enthusiasm is their chosen agent.
Thaena Ruselan immediately gets to work, asking people about the dragon they saw, how they reacted to it, and some queries on new topics as the mystery gradually unravels. But not all the action is interrogation and snooping through empty homes. She'll have to enter the forest and wage battle with vicious slimes and bees.
Slimes and bees? And rats and spiders? Really? I can understand there not being legions of the walking dead and miscellaneous other hellspawn, but these guys are the lamest of the lame. The most unoriginal of the unoriginal. Dire Creek's local wildlife could have used a serious surge of creativity.

Anyway, Thaena busts her butt for about an hour in player-time and cracks the case. Sadly, it ends with a situation where the rules of the world are written ad hoc, making the player's own deductions and theories up to that stage almost pointless.
On the bright side, upon revelation you get an awesome party member whose immense creative potential is untapped, but readily available for revision or sequels.

Gameplay: 2.5/5
The core of the game comes in two forms : Town questioning and Forest battling.
Questioning people isn't a tough process. It's just a matter of asking the right things from a list of options. If anything, it's too little tough a process. For one, you can just pick everything in the menu and progress through the game without reading a word. No worries of asking the wrong things and putting your suspect into a tight-lipped huff here. For two, the right questions are markedly obvious.
A) "What can you tell me about the dragon you saw?"
B) "Why did the chicken cross the road?"
Hmm... I wonder which one it is.

The battle system is straight up Fight/Skill/Defend/Item fluff. Fight and Defend will never be used, since Thaena is a sorceress with vast MP and her eventual ally has powerful 0 MP skills. The baddie lineup is unimpressive and there's not a lot of originality in Thaena's magic. I think they may even be default skills.
Annoyingly, some grinding is necessary at the end of the game. Whether it's because you need levels for powerful skills or money for potions, there's going to be some gruntwork.

Overall: 2.5/5
Great artwork, great mapping, great environment, weak implementation. The good is good, and I attribute the bad to a deadline imposed by a contest with $10,000 for the prize.
I hope that after this event ends, Runic will take a second look at this project and give it all the attention it duly deserves. An expanded world, beautiful artwork for more characters, a better selection of music, a tidier battle system, superior enemy types, and a more involved investigative system.
The potential is all there.


Pages: 1
First off, Ha! Love the Quest for Glory reference in the title, thumbs up for that!
Second, thank you so much for playing my game and taking the time to leave a review, I definitely appreciate it.
Most of the negative points you mention were indeed due to time constraints - especially the music! I had some pretty neat music queued up, but figured I would play it safe with RTP since I knew I had complete rights to use that.
I like my lame bad guys, haha!
And you DEFINITELY hit the nail on the head with your interpretation of events before the game. This case is very early in her career.
I definitely learned a lot during the making of this one, and I'm excited to do it again but bigger - and better!
Thanks again for your review!

No problem. I was a little worried that my low score of 2.5 might be off-putting, but I'm glad to see it not troubling you. Like I mentioned a few times, there's a lot of great potential here. Whether you continue upgrading this or start a similar project from scratch, I'm going to be keeping a close eye on it.

And yeah, I love your artwork. Did you seriously draw those two? They're awesome.
Well, you know, of course I would love a higher score! But you had good points and it seemed like a fair review.
Thanks! Yeah, I have some definite plans in the works.

Yup! It was a little outside of my usual style, but not such a stretch. Any new game I do will definitely have more custom portraits, I just didn't have time to do any more than the main 2 with this game.

Pages: 1