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Fun and tightly focused

  • Decky
  • 11/02/2015 10:58 PM
  • 2221 views
Most decent RPG Maker games actually stem from contests, especially if the rules require a completed game. Contests force developers to structure their game in a tight manner, focusing on what's essential. In these games, the endless bloat that often forces games into development hell is nonexistent by default. ST20003 is a good example of a game that knows what it is and remains focused until the end, inserting plenty of fun and extras along the way.

In short, this game is about a bunch of wandering SPACE PEOPLE on their quest to help out an underdeveloped planet. It's Star Trek, Star Ocean, and Star ____ all rolled into one, and I liked the nods to each franchise! Unity did a good job creating a charming little story, though a couple more character scenes would've been nice.

The overall arc of this game is exactly what I like to see out of a contest entry: 2-4 dungeons, each harder than the last, with 1-2 bonus areas and some goodies to make things easier. The idea is not necessarily to compress a 40-hour RPG into a 2-hour marathon, but instead to take the overall feel of, say, the first quarter of the game and throw in some extras. Your difficulty curve and story's pacing will be a little faster, but the overall game will still be paced organically.

As I said, Unity paces this game quite well. There are some cutscenes between each dungeon, and the main dungeon doesn't drag on for too long. There's a hub-like town (essential for any short game!) with plenty of items to purchase; you don't need to grab everything right off the bat, but you sure as hell will need all the upgrades when it comes to the final boss. In short, the game makes sure you use the items and equipment that you can get. Very little goes to waste.

There is a bit of a nonlinear aspect to the game as well - players can visit the first dungeon before the hub town, and there's even an optional area to explore at any time. Little bonuses are a really nice touch in these short games; it makes the game world feel more alive, and just simply makes the game seem far less rushed. I hate overly linear RPG that push people along like tourists - game length is no excuse.

The dungeons themselves are okay. There's nothing particular special about their design, but they are competently mapped/designed and there are enough nooks and crannies to make exploring them worthwhile. A few more wrinkles would have been nice, though; Unity could have been a little more clever with the overall look, feel, and style of the dungeons. With that said, they're not bad at all and serve the game well.

Unity was clever how he/she described typical RTP objects within the context of a goofy scifi setting. There are plenty of objects to examine in this game, and I got a few chuckles out of it. Items have clever descriptions and fit the overall atmosphere of the game quite well. I would've liked to have seen a few hidden items among these interactive objects, but oh well.

The gameplay itself is decent for the time spent. Each character is a different "race" per se, and that affects how they level up and learn skills. This system is executed fairly well, though Jean-Luc didn't have enough to do during battles. He's just a white mage. He'd get a little more to do if status ailments were more prevalent in this game, but I was only afflicted by 4-5 throughout my 2-hour playthrough. I ended up gearing him first so that he'd matter more in the early fights. Later on, though, you'll be spamming his heals as one would expect.

The balancing, while generally good, could have been a little better; there are huge difficulty spikes between the dungeons. While you'll need a small spike between each area in a short game like this, I think the curve could've been smoothed if the first couple areas were a little harder, and characters started with an extra skill apiece. If Jean-Luc had a physical skill of some sort, he'd be more useful early on. Although I was never bored with the game, I did clear most of the first dungeon before accessing the hub town and its shops, including a skill shop that is essential for two of my characters. In other words, the fights were very bland until I reached the town.

I would've also liked to have seen some wrinkles through into the fights. The bosses are pretty much straightforward affairs, final boss(es) notwithstanding. Although this isn't necessarily a bad thing, most of the bosses/minibosses just felt like slightly harder regular encounters. Why is this? The regular encounters become quite the workout as the game progresses due to the sheer volume of enemies on screen. The balancing could've been helped by lowering the amount of enemies per encounter, making most of the enemies hit a little harder, and then buffing the bosses a bit. Overall, though, I found the combat engaging enough for an RTP game. There's just always room for improvement!

The game is fairly well polished. I ran into very few spelling/punctuation errors, and the cutscenes are well done. I particularly enjoyed the little "RTP space battle" - it was cute and downright hilarious for obvious reasons. I will always love seeing the RTP used in clever ways.

There are some other nitpicks here and there, but I'll leave those for my notes. Overall, this game is a well-paced, reasonably polished little adventure with decent (if slightly unbalanced) gameplay. I'd recommend giving it a shot if you want to see what can be done with the RTP!

Pros
- A fun, well implemented setting and story
- Dungeons are well paced and full of goodies
- Well polished for a contest entry
- Fun final bosses
- Clever little cutscenes
- Tightly focused

Cons
- Could use a few more items/collectibles
- Slightly uneven difficulty curve
- Dungeons/fights are slightly undercooked
- More character scenes would've been nice



Posts

Pages: 1
Craze
i bet she's a diva with a potion popping problem
14360
I feel like the first half of this review is more an article about short gam mak using this game as an example, rather than a review of the game itself.

Still, I agree with many of your sentiments. It's a fun game =)
CashmereCat
Self-proclaimed Puzzle Snob
11505
This entire review is written exceptionally. Short, concise, to the point. Good mixture of specifics and generalities to keep people who don't know that much about the game interested.
Decky
I'm a dog pirate
19517
author=CashmereCat
This entire review is written exceptionally. Short, concise, to the point. Good mixture of specifics and generalities to keep people who don't know that much about the game interested.

15 minutes to write :D I usually do a better job just spewing stuff and not overthinking it XD
unity
You're magical to me.
12403
Thank you sooooo much for this review, Deckiller! ^_^ I really appreciate it. It reminds me of the fun of making a game in a week.
Decky
I'm a dog pirate
19517
author=unity
Thank you sooooo much for this review, Deckiller! ^_^ I really appreciate it. It reminds me of the fun of making a game in a week.


Any time :)
Decky
I'm a dog pirate
19517
author=Craze
I feel like the first half of this review is more an article about short gam mak using this game as an example, rather than a review of the game itself.

Still, I agree with many of your sentiments. It's a fun game =)


Yeah, it's a habit of mine (good or bad).
Pages: 1