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

Would you believe it's not a horror game?

  • todpole
  • 10/28/2017 10:51 AM
  • 1684 views
I first heard about this game from Nitrorad when it was still a demo and decided to give it a go. I admit I wasn’t that impressed by it. It was alright but it didn’t grab my attention. But once I actually got it and played further in, I just couldn’t stop. I had to see what came next. What monsters will I vanquish. What towns would I visit. When should I fight the spider on the store page. I’m not kidding when I say that this is one of the best RPG’s I’ve ever played. And no one is talking about it. I’ve seen more people talking about how much a steaming pile of trash YIIK is than this game, which is a shame cause it deserves way more exposure than it has.

However. This game has a massive disclaimer that should be addressed before getting to the review proper and that’s that despite the cute and charming sprites and locations, there is some very graphic imagery here. I mean the main villain is a pulsating mass. Thankfully, it doesn’t do that nasty trick DDLC did where it goes “Fooled you. It’s a horror story.”, this could be a turnoff for some people. So if you’re interested, go play the demo, then watch a lets play off the Beehive. If you like what you see, then give this game a go. Now that that’s out of the way, on to the review.

Story:

We play as Jimmy. An 8-year who lives with his mom Helga, dad Andrew, big brother Buck and uncle Lars. When his mom ask him and Buck to get some honey, they find that someone or something wants Jimmy dead and they get separate from their family. Now Jimmy must travel the world to find his family and stop the monster that hates him.

I’ll try to be as spoiler free as possible as the story is about Jimmy, the Mass and everything in between, and just like in something like Earthbound, that in between that might make it or break it. But before that and on the subject of Earthbound, lets start with our title characters.

Lets start with the Mass as it’s the easiest to talk about. Do any of you have Giygas on you best RPG villain lists. Well prepare to have him replaced cause Pulsating Mass is that kind of villain done so much better. This guy doesn’t wait around. He’ll destroy homes, murder people, pawn you’re baby shoes and never flush a toilet just to kill you. It’s like an obsession with him and the fact he shows up in many forms shows how relentless this monster is.

And Jimmy. I might as well talk about theme as well. Since Jimmy is a silent protagonist, there limits to how he expresses himself. But there is one noticeable trait he has and that’s he’s empathic. Every time he beats a boss that gives him some new powers, Jimmy thinks about what it’s like to be as that kind of person like wanting to belong and being encourage to vandalize as a goon or how funny his toxic gas is but nobody want to be near him as a blob. One story in the third world actually made me tear up by the end. And this is something that you can see through the game where you can learn why certain people do the things they do even the optional baddies. Thankfully it doesn’t do the modern writing trope of being kind to absolute scumbags or even say you should forgive. Just understand where they coming from. Then bury them in the backyard for being assholes. You know what yo did Information Guy. As for any other traits to talk about, well you just need to play the game.

And for anything else, well like I said earlier this game is a series of moments and I don’t want to spoiler all of them. But I think I can make a general list of the stuff I liked

The Petty Thugs. Every scene their in is great, and their leader Punch Tanaka is the difination of cool. He’s so cool he forgot how to sleep.
Actually, all the supporting cast and their little arc are marvelous. Even the minor characters are simply marvelous
The Bar section. It even has a musical number with lyrics. Take that Earthbound!
Calm Valley. There’s nothing here, I just think it was a nice.
Whisper Valley. You’ll know it when you get there.
The Beehive and just how worse and more infected it got as you went deeper. In fact almost all the horror was well done.
And many more.

As for things I didn’t like. Well this is a spoiler but nothing that affects the main plot, Hitomi. The section she appears in could’ve been a real stand out with it’s different playstyle and Jimmy and his uncle Lars talking about their miserable time here. But then Hitomi shows up just to be a love interest for Lars and it’s both rush and kind of creepy cause I have no idea how old she is. I know Jimmy is a kid who doesn’t understand romance and love but this element make Lars from a lovable blob who’s worse trait is that he’s an unmotivated leech to a potential pedophile. And that’s a shame as the relationship between Lars and Jimmy was one of my favorite things in the game. She can be cut and we well lose nothing. Or if you had to have her here, maybe a throwaway line with Lars wondering why Jimmy’s teacher is posing as a student to make it less uncomfortable.

Anything else. I didn’t like the ending to Information Isle and what Information Guy actually is. It turns him from a funny running gag of someone who gets into unfortunate accidents to killing puppies for fun.

And in the post game, I didn’t like when a certain someone came back to join the party.

Anything else…….No guess that’s it.

Gameplay

The main gimmick is that Jimmy will gain new forms during the games and each one has their own quirk both in battle and out like the blob can attract enemy attacks and squeeze pass bars or grates while the flower can heal you friends and kill zombies and can find buried goodies like ladders for shortcuts or hidden rooms. This can lead to some cool exploration and environment puzzles like when you get RB Squawker, you can cross that small gap in the first level and get butchered by a pack of feral bellhops. I like using these skills to find all the chest finding the many light-bulbs scattered around but I wished they were used more in dungeons like maybe one room could be a block puzzle where you need the goon or maybe the vampire can cross a maze of mirrors. Like the optional dungeon Falling Height’s as I call it has a small section near the end where you have to find a way to cross a bridge without falling off. Sure, the pumpkin can light up dark areas but it feels like a second. But the worst has got to be the final dungeon not for being a retread or the enemy encounters but because it doesn’t do anything with the forms you obtained during the adventure and the final dungeon should’ve took advantage of it.

Combat however, now the forms are getting some use. I already talk about that them each having a different role which in a general sense are tank, thief, white mage, useless, brute, mage and leech. Now one class I didn’t mention is Jimmy himself. Each form is assorted with a different stat like defense for the blob and magic attack for the pumpkin and they increase your overall stats as they level up. But that’s not all as after certain levels, their moves can be given to Jimmy and even some passive skills like immune to sickness or stat increases(and if equipped to a star, any form can use them). Want to give the blob the vampire’s barrier to turn him into a magic reflector? you can do that. Want to use healing magic to help keep the team alive? You can. Want to give the startle move to a from that isn’t useless….well I think you need to max out RB Squawker before you can use it but if you’re fast enough, you might be able to ruin some enemies charged moves.

But as effective as Jimmy can be, he’s not alone as his family and a few new friends will join him on his journey. The first thing I should mention is that each party member has their own personality. Buck for example is “brash” which give him a 25% chance to attack twice which completes his fighting moves while Helga is optimistic which makes her to common status effects like sleep or sickness so you don’t need to worry about you healer become unusable(except for when she KOs). Makes their roles in combat more “defined” as it were. And along with the usual accessory slots, every party member except Jimmy can equip two manuals which can give them a few extra moves like the first one is a heal that can also cure sickness. It’s a handy thing to help cover some blind spots or take advantage of some unused stats.

But lets be honest, this is not and easy game. While the worst you have to deal at the start is a guy who can counter that’s like a teaching moment to inflict startle, you’ll soon encounter monsters that can deal a good chuck of damage for early on. And later on, you have to deal with monster that change their weakness, ones that can attack more than once and those you can rob from to really screw them over like stealing their motivation to put them to sleep.

The real highlight for me were the boss fights. Almost all of them are a tense, difficult battle that will put you on edge. To some this may and will be a negative roadblock but there’s something satisfying about finally kill these guys after dying a few times and learning their moves. In the demo you could find an optional boss named Slither who will mop the floor with you, but with how it works it’s no a problem with a full party since it’s main thing is that he grabs a party member. But I was determined to beat this guy before I finished the beehive and through determination, exploration and a little bit of grinding, I beat him and reaped the rewards like a new decoration for the clubhouse and the fastest weapon in the game.

This process also help me learn some things that help get through the rest of the game. For example: Always have a full stock of healing items, just beware of price increases as the story progresses. Have multiples saves in case of emergency. Fill up you’re clubhouse. You should have a full set before the first major boss. Put the money in the bank. Not for the losing half of it when you die since I found it easier to just reload a save, but for the chance to get interest from a treasure chest. And if something isn’t working out, change you equipment and see if that improves things. And this is something I learned later but make sure to check what you can steal from the current enemies. they may that sink you need to complete your Waterworld collection.

As for things I didn’t like, I already mentioned the lack of form use in the dungeons and that RB Sqawker was my least favorite form. Rad ghosts are annoying. I know that their suppose to give amazing EXP but their dodge move they always do and a chance to make sure party members won’t get EXP with their special effect just encourages me to ignore them like the cats that just instantly kill me. Also, aside from the common status effect like sleep, sickness and the one that makes healing harder, there’s almost nothing about what the others like grasp or extended.

Presentation

The game has a nice cartoony art style similar to Earthbound, only less modern and more fantasy with animal friends, giant vegetables and an ocean of blood. Enemy sprites look creative with cloud enemies, all the music theme enemies, and how the goblins look. And music is great too. It’s a bit hard to describe but it since each area has their own track, it helps make each place more memorable. This also goes to the battle music as each continent has their own battle music for the theme of that continent like the city has a jazz number while the horror one has a menacing but sad kind of tune. And I’m glad if I had to hear the music for the first continent for the whole game I would crack. Not because it’s bad but because it’s not my kind of music.

Now anyone reading this may have noticed I haven’t talked about the horror and that’s because I thought it’ll be best to talk about it here. During the game you may find entrances to places people call Nightmare Zones and they really live up to that name as they seem to be based on fears and really make you feel scared without any jump scares. The beehive for example doesn’t really have a fear cause it’s mandatory but as you get deeper, it gets worse and worse as they bees are torn apart, there’s rivers of bee blood and some corpses have horribly mutated. And they really want you to feel scared in these places as not only do you see the most horrifying enemy sprites but there is no battle music. The only music you’re be hearing would be the ambient noise the creator put in the background, or if there is music it’ll be loud and foreboding.

Verdict

I may have my issues, but they are just a few minor dents in this wonderful piece of work.
10/10

Posts

Pages: 1
Thanks for writing up a review, todpole! Yeah, it's just the demo, so the story doesn't contain much in terms of character development yet. I'm glad you liked that scene with Buck, though; that was something I added to the latest demo, so I'm feeling more confident about that decision now.
author=Housekeeping
Thanks for writing up a review, todpole! Yeah, it's just the demo, so the story doesn't contain much in terms of character development yet. I'm glad you liked that scene with Buck, though; that was something I added to the latest demo, so I'm feeling more confident about that decision now.


You're welcome. And I'm glad you added that scene cause before I saw it, I was really hating Buck since he seemed like a horrible jerk.

And my criticism was no it about character development since it's the beginning, but for a lack of a hook on what the story is about. Sure,we see Jimmy's power, how this world is like and we got two some horror elements underneath the surface, but that's more world building instead of what the plots about.

It's a similar problem I have with Final Fantasy 9. I do love that game and it's cast but I struggle to describe what the plot is about even after a few hours of playing. A good example of what I'm talking about would be Eathebound since as soon as you meet Buzz Buzz in the beginning, you know what the plot is so we now go on our adventure. Maybe the story probably after see what happens after the cliff hanger but I'll see what's in your head soon.

I also have an idea what the game is about and the point of the pulsating mass if your interested on my guess work?
Ah, I got you. Yeah, the main impetus for the plot basically starts in the area you're at when the demo ends, though Punch and the Queen Bee provide a bit of a foundation for it in their dialogue. Essentially, the demo is functioning as a prologue. The "finding honey" MacGuffin is over once you get to that level, and then the story accelerates; I was trying to imply that with the cliffhanger.

I'll pass on hearing your plot theories; I don't mind hearing them, but I can't confirm or deny them since it would risk spoilers--not that this would necessarily ruin the story for people, but it would change the dynamic.
Pages: 1