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"I can't think of a title": the Help Center Review

  • Roden
  • 05/15/2015 10:19 PM
  • 630 views
Help Center is a short adventure game featuring a cast of furry characters in a sort of "Day in the Life" story. Being that you don't see very many games starring furry characters I decided to give this a shot.

Gameplay

The gameplay in Help Center is very minimal and simple, leaving the game feeling more like a visual novel than an adventure title in the end. This isn't necessarily a bad thing however- due to the focus on the characters and the short nature of the game you don't really notice the lack of gameplay, and to be honest I'm not really certain if more gameplay would have been a good thing. It's a strange critique I suppose, but maybe the game could benefit from strictly being a Visual Novel?

Basically, the game requires that you collect some signatures in order to start a community help group. In order to get each signature you need to perform some minor task, such as composing an e-mail, digging through dirt piles to find car keys, helping a kid pick out a gift for his girlfriend, and so on. These tasks only take a few seconds to complete and don't offer much gameplay value, but they don't get in the way- with one notable exception. The game features a lost woods area which is pretty messily put together, not offering feedback on what paths might be correct. This is a minor frustration at best (because it's pretty easy to overcome with the editor) but since the game didn't really need the segment to begin with it sticks out.

Worldbuilding (Setting, Atmosphere, Writing and Characters)

There's not much to say in the realm of setting. The game takes place in a small suburban town of sorts, and you only ever see parts of it at a time. The town isn't developed beyond that, and fair enough, it doesn't really need to be.

The game focuses most of its attention of the main characters, a group of friends who are pretty typical college type personalities. The main character Kataa is bugged by their constantly rude, rowdy behaviour and seeks to create a community help group in order to help them learn some lessons about good manners and the like. I found the main character sort of unlikable actually, though I'm not really certain if it was intentional- her girlfriend has a point when she mentions that Kataa seems to be trying to force her friends to be more like her out of some ego-maniacal desire, a position supported by Kataa's mentioning that "every teen should dress like her" while in the clothes shop. Again, I'm not really certain if you're supposed to agree with her friends and support that people should accept each other for who they are, or agree with Kataa about the others being rude and rowdy. The game never really makes itself clear about this.

As a final note, I have to give the game props for featuring a cast of furry characters. It's good to know that there's someone out there besides me who cares to bring some more diversity to uh... gaming. As a whole. It's appreciated.

Aesthetics (Graphics & Music)

Help Center features almost entirely custom graphics, which are for the most part pretty simplistic and flat looking. The tiles are somewhat bland and a bit uninteresting, but they're saved by some nice colours that at least help the game look unique. The character portraits are definitely the high point of the game's art, and they're all very cutely drawn pretty expressive at that. They definitely help give the game some more flavour.

The music is mostly RTP however, with some custom piano work thrown in and a single pop song which was really grating to listen to. There's not much to say about the music- the RTP songs are forgettable by nature and the piano track doesn't fair much better.

Help Center professes to use assets entirely unique to the project, but as previously mentioned there is some RTP to be found as well as a pop song that I'm almost certain has to be copyrighted music. If your game doesn't feature entirely custom assets, please, don't claim that it does.

Overall

Help Center is pretty decent, if a little flat in some areas. It doesn't overstay its welcome and doesn't ever bother the player at all. The best thing that I can say about it is that it features furry characters, which often don't see much representation in "serious" games.

Posts

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Thanks for being the first to leave a review. : ) This is pretty fair! Help Center was my mess of a first project, and my goal with it was to learn the engine and make a furry hame because there aren't nearly enough around. 3/5 stars was around the mark I'd been anticipating, and I'm thankful for your honesty.

You have a good point about the conflicting statement that the game makes--this is something that went over my head entirely! Help Center sufferes for the fact that we didn't write a lot of it in advance. It is a little like a robot made of pieces that nobody really checked to make sure they were going to fit together well. But the robot can still walk, offering brief entertainment for anybody in the furry nieche, haha.

The woods puzzle being too vague was a fear of mine. I might reopen the game to make this area a little clearer (I have gotten quite a few messages on dA about it) as well as possibly editing some of the background sprites, as I do not disagree with the opinion they are pretty flat. Or maybe I will just put more effort into the art of my next game. I am glad to hear the portraits brought some life it.

The one pop song was actually only intended to be left in the beta, but my betas liked it so much that they convinced me to leave it in and take it out later if it became a problem in some way. I do not claim that the game features entirely custom assits, however. The game page states that "all graphics and some music are original to the game," but this could be understandabley skimmed over.

Anyway, thank you for your input and I will certainly have it in mind next time I open the rm2k3 editior! : )
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