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At its best, very impressive. At its worst, definitely still worth playing

-~-Beloved Rapture-~-
Author: BlindMind
Reviewer: Euphorian
Platform: Rm2k3
File size: 137 MB


-~-The quick and dirty:
Beloved Rapture is a game that is at its worst, worth trying, provided the download size isn't a problem. The music, graphics and plot are all above average. The gameplay, on the other hand, is best described as underwhelming. By no means is it annoying, it simply doesn't have the addictive quality that some games do, and at times seems empty.


-~-Graphics:
Beloved Rapture is undoubtedly visually superior to many and most RM games. Chipsets and charsets consistently blend together nicely, and are well used throughout the game.
With very few exceptions, the mapping quality is superb, clearly defining the way to go, barely disguising alternatives that might lead to hidden goodies, and still producing a clean visual effect. Certain maps can be relatively barren or uneventful, compared to other areas in the game, but since most often such places are just filler routes between two significant areas, such a thing is easily dismissed. Despite these few places, the average mapping, is still invariably above average, and I would go so far as to say that a few certain locations leave a very unique and strong impression of their beauty long after you leave them.
The character and NPC sprites seem to come from a variety of sources, in varying quality. Yeah, it's not quite consistent in that regard, however despite that, even the lower quality ones don't stand out- they still blend in just as well with everything else, which I'm not quite sure how that was managed. In the city of Alexandria there are many different types of charsets next to each other, as part of the crowd, and though they're all vastly different, none of them seem out of place. This could also be seen as a disadvantage though, as it becomes difficult to call attention to more important NPCs, ones that start side quests or such.
Miscellaneous graphics are generally tidy. The message system is clean, effective and elegant. Battle enemies are generally the same caliber as hero sprites, something many games with charset-based battle characters miss. Battle animations are well constructed and paced, and on the note of animation, very near the end of this demo, a dragon appears on screen. However, it doesn't just appear, it actually flies onto the screen, visually flapping its wings as it moves and everything, very precisely done, very impressive.


-~-Sound:
This is something that is going to make some people hesitate- not that the sound is bad at all, but the fact that being an mp3 soundtrack, the file size of the game is huge. If you have a good connection or patience, then that's no problem. For some others it might be a hindrance. As for the quality of the music itself, I can honestly say that I was disappointed. Since it was all mp3s, I was expecting beautifully composed, deep, memorable tunes. By no means was the music bad, but it also wasn't great, especially for an 137 MB download. The problem it had, I believe, is that it simply faded into the background far too much. I didn't even notice the music for the majority of the time. With the exception of a single track, it was far from memorable, for me. Whereas music seems to usually be used to set the mood, I feel like it was just an afterthought or a chore here, like, “Oh, right, I need a song for this area......... Okay, that'll do, back to what's important.” Yeah, it's a negligible flaw, under normal circumstances, but for such a big download caused by the music, personally, I was expecting something ... more. By not standing out and being noticeable, the intended mood of some scenes might be under-appreciated, even less important ones. As I recall, in some places the normal, serene music just continues to play through battles in the area. So, while it never has anything that mismatches and sounds bad like midis tend to, the music seems to not rise to its full potential nonetheless.


-~-Plot:
Story. Oh, boy, the story. Supposedly, the plot is the focus of this game. So, again, at it's very worst, the story is good. It has important elements that most plots lack. It has depth, covering a range of characters in different places, yet events that all affect each other. It's a type of story where you start off with several completely unrelated quests, which slowly begin to converge more and more and it leads up to something very impressive. That much I can tell. However, due to the nature of such a thing, the beginning is slow, almost seemingly static. The plot fails to make an impression at first, which might be its key downfall- that it fails to capture people from the beginning. However, as I played through, and especially in the final part of the demo, I suddenly became well-hooked. It definitely has the makings to be great, and we're starting to see the fruits of that show by the end of the demo.
As for characters, and character development, it's on the edge. As a player, I don't feel like I really know the main characters very well yet. We actually do see John's, the main protagonist's, perspective at the beginning, and that was well illustrated, but beyond that, it's kind of blank. I think the characters are unique and different enough from each other, however, we haven't seen enough of them to really understand who they are, what really motivates them, their back-story. With any luck, that will come as more of the game is released, though.


-~-Gameplay:
Said to be the game's shortcoming, and I agree, it is the weakest part of the game. However, despite that, when compared to other RM games, at the very worst, the gameplay is average. Yes, it's underwhelming. Very underwhelming, but it is smooth, flows and does not hurt one bit to play.
Actually, the gameplay has a number of things going for it. At the beginning, the player is greeted with a small little tutorial introducing some field gimmicks- you move rocks, some chests can only be opened from one side, you can jump over places, coins to pick up on the field, etc. Okay, that was cool, it was efficient, clean, well coded, simple and understandable. However, in the actual game, such devices were never used to their full potential, or at least not in the demo so far. Rather than being a big part of the game, such things seem like more of an afterthought to mix things up a little, and their uses are sparse.
Another flaw in the gameplay- there are tons of hidden goodies all over the place. “Wait,” you're saying. “How is that a flaw?” Well, okay, it's not. What is a flaw is that most of the time, those hidden goodies aren't that good. They're okay. Path goes through the middle of a map, and for instance, you can go out of your way, all the way to the corner of the map (bearing in mind, it's not a small map) for a chest that contains, two potions, or like, a tent. The player finds these things, be it accidentally or not, and the response isn't, “Yay, I'm so glad I found that,” it's “Okay, another potion, whatever.” And when you can buy potions pretty cheap at a store, plus you have healing spells? It's just not worth much, it's not rewarding enough. Later on in the demo, there were somethings that got the “Yay” reaction, but the majority of what there is to find, one can be pretty apathetic about. Hell, I don't think I used a healing item in my entire play-through.
Which brings me to my next point, the battles are pretty easy. Bosses are challenging enough, but just barely. It seemed like with every boss, just when I would get to the point of, “Okay, better start spamming Healis, there's no way I'm going to win,” the boss would fall over dead. My initial reaction was “Oh, cool. Phew.” My next reaction was “Wait, that's it?” And as for normal enemies, that really was not a challenge at all. I mean.... at all.
So, if you like easy battles, great. I really didn't mind them personally, since it seems like in many RM games, people get caught up trying to make their DBS modified to be “strategy oriented” when really, it just makes it a pain in the ass to find an attack that does decent damage. Beloved Rapture isn't guilty of that, and I'm thankful.
For that matter, I'm going to make this note- I normally will not even touch games that use the DBS because I cannot stand it. I started playing Beloved Rapture, because I was willing to give it a chance for the story. Just the fact that it was tolerable enough for me to keep playing on the DBS is something noteworthy- actually, that's a huge accomplishment.
Apparently people say the gameplay is terrible or something. It isn't. It's average. The flaws it has, particularly the lack of valuable hidden stuff, and under-used field devices are extra. Yeah, hidden stuff and field gimmicks are extras, and they're pretty easy to ignore if you don't like them.


-~-And in conclusion...

It's worth playing, it's above average, so play it if you can handle the download size. That's it.
Overall score: 8/10