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It's got the spirit... but what about the muscle?

"Grave Spirit" concerns a nameless wanderer aided by a nameless apparition who has to make his way across a nameless ancient kingdom. The game opens with an introduction giving some details of this kingdom's past and then you assume the role of this strange kobold-looking character you know nothing about. You must then collect coins to purchase a wooden stick from some eyes in a hole. You would expect this wooden stick to be special than any other wooden stick you can find on the ground, but all you can do is swing it aimlessly and use it to light fires.

You will then be granted the assistance of a small white bird. When I first pulled it out and it made this ethereal sound effect and guided it about the room, I thought, "Oh, man, that's neat!" But the truth is, just like the stick, you don't use it that much, and that I found disappointing. Players will balk at the slow walking speed when they start the game. A speed so frustrating sometimes that I wanted to crack open my editor and place an event to move the speed up a notch! You will get a "dash" ability somewhere into the game, which you will be abusing as you traverse massive areas of nothingness.

Along the way, you will encounter a number of puzzles and obstacles, such as mines, spike traps and vicious, vigilant birds that will gang up on you for an instant "Game Over". The protagonist's health is portrayed through his eyes. Green is high, yellow is middle, red is low. Simple as that. This was a brilliant idea, in my opinion, as a HUD would have taken away from the game's atmosphere. Actual battles are very rare. There are probably two boss battles in all and they were executed poorly. The final boss, for example, really should take less hits to die. Not because he is so difficult to defeat. But because he is so damned easy once you get accustomed to his attack pattern!

But hey... if I'm complaining, how come I finished this game on my own free will? The atmosphere. Not sure if these are custom or edited graphics, but the dirty shades of green and grey really did something for me. I'm not even a big "post-apocalyptic" fan. The musical score is, for lack of a better word, beautiful. I even mixed a few tracks into my usual day's playlist (namely Oppression, Loneliness and Determination). This was done by Brandon Abley, who also scored his own game, Wilfred the Hero. Keep working on your music, dude, if you're reading this.

So is it really the atmosphere and the music that really kept me playing this game? It's been a year since I played this and I really cannot tell. But when a game with perhaps two or three characters who speak to me, a silent protagonist I know nothing about and no battles can get me playing til the finish, there must be SOMETHING there, even if it's just in the atmosphere and music, or in hoping you will find something bright and beautiful in the dreary wasteland you trek across. I can understand why some would love this game and why some would hate it. On one hand, I can consider it a lesson in video-game atmosphere. On the other hand, this could barely be called a game. I really wish this game could have done more with its gameplay. I really, really do. But I still respect it for what it is.

And did I find that bright and beautiful thing at the end of the wasteland? No. Am I glad I made the journey, though? Yes. But once is enough.

Posts

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TFT
WHOA wow wow. two tails? that is a sexy idea...
368
A lot of people either hated or loved the graphical style. I thought it was pretty creative at the time. I mean, it wasn't the greatest game, but he probably really loved the finished product. It's sort of like film, certain movies you just know they put all this love and effort into it and it automatically makes the game better for you.

It had a lot of hype at the time and it came out decent.
I think this review gives a fairly accurate view of the game, although I hated the graphics myself and I am pretty certain the maker lost focus on what he was trying to achieve, which would get it a lower score from me.

Either way I like this review more than your previous - better oganization and formatting and gives a clearer view of what it is like to play the game.
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