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Not About Betel Nuts

Othello is an RPG set in feudal Japan where you play as the titular girl. While it operates largely on traditional RPG mechanics, it has a lot of gameplay twists that shake things up and a story that’s a lot less serious than you might expect.

Let’s Talk About Assets!

The graphics come from a variety of places, but the majority of them seem to be from VX Ace itself and the old Final Fantasy remakes, those being the overworld and battler sprites respectively. It comes together well enough to feel cohesive with some minor exceptions. Music is also from scattered sources and suits each setting even if it doesn’t feel like it belongs in the same game. Sound effects are practical and fitting. Battles are sufficiently flashy. It’s not the prettiest game ever, but it gets the job done.

Let’s Talk About Story!

The plot had me intrigued at first, but it rapidly became apparent that it wasn’t meant to be serious. After a brief, mysterious (and optional) intro sequence, you’re introduced to Othello, a young woman living with her father in a remote village. He has her working as a peddler of betel nuts, and he treats her very poorly. The quest begins when he sends her to gather more nuts in the forest, and the nonsense begins when an overtly lesbian thief steals her gatherings, and starts coming onto her after joining the party later. I was hooked by the start because I wanted to see what would come of Othello’s home situation living with an abusive man in a period where women were not treated well. The second dungeon being inside a crashed spaceship was proof enough that things would be very silly.

However, that doesn’t stop the game from maintaining a pretense of story, which is just as well since that allows the absurdity to develop naturally into humor. The characters are one-note and they don’t always react most believably to what’s going on, but there’s a basic line of logic connecting you from beginning to end, and there are some twists along the way that might have been effective in a less ridiculous tale. However, it’s possible these plot points were just being lampshaded since they are rather tropey.

The writing is decent, but with certain consistent typos. Dialogue works for the characters, it’s only their emotional range that seems static. The story is a lot less of a focus than the gameplay, so if you’re in this for a compelling narrative, you’re doing it wrong.

Let’s Talk About Gameplay!

The core mechanics are typical of RPGs. You explore, find treasure, fight turn-based battles, etc. but this game has a lot of custom mechanics for the overworld and a lot more intricacy than you’d expect from a small project like this.

As you progress, Othello is granted a few abilities that improve her capacity to travel. At first you can only walk/run, then you can push boulders. You get a jump that lets you hop forward two spaces, which you can use so long as the destination tile is clear, regardless of what might be blocking you. Later, you can pick up and throw boulders and get a long jump with even more game-breaking potential (can confirm, I once softlocked the game with this feature). A couple abilities come through weapons as well, one being a sword that lets you cut down vines and a hookshot weapon that lets you zip to crystals by facing them. Just don’t use it when you’re on top of a crystal or you’ll crash the game. Not all these mechanics reach their full potential here, but they helped make navigation more interesting, especially with the jumps.

In battle, you eventually have a party of four and everyone has their own gimmicks. Othello is a straightforward damage dealer who can also buff party strength or heal them with certain items. The aforementioned thief can rob enemies of money and resources, then throw the money back at them for 1:1 damage up to 10k-1, so long as you know the skill and can afford it. You get an android helper from the spaceship who can scan enemies to learn new spells, though it’s not necessarily a spell the enemy knows. The final member is a healer/summoner who gets a variety of animal friends that you unlock by locating them in the overworld. The summon serves as a 5th party member and they each have their own purposes, but swapping them out takes a couple actions.

Battles are meant to be one-off challenges, so the party is fully healed between fights. MP is extremely limited, but the cost of skills is adjusted accordingly. Party members level up fast and you should have no trouble hitting the level limit of 25. Othello’s final skill is one that can wipe out all but the hardiest enemies, so you don’t have to try much once she gets it. Enemies are mostly designed around small gimmicks and not everything requires a lot of strategy to deal with. However, it may be more prominent in higher difficulty settings, which you can change on the fly from the pause menu.

There’s a large crafting element to this game, as you can find many recipe lists that let you create new weapons and armor. There are an astonishing number of items used for this purpose, and it feels like the item list is disproportionate to the size of the game. I didn’t find much use for crafting as it isn’t strictly necessary, but harder modes might push the limit such that you need to make better stuff to succeed. Resources cap at 99, so it’s no use trying to hoard them forever. One odd property of items is that healing potions and such are not used directly from the menu. Rather, they fuel Othello’s healing abilities where she uses them in batches. This becomes less of a concern when you recruit the healer, but it’s good to have two party members who can provide healing and reviving.

The game world is condensed down to a small area with few maps that are pretty small themselves. There’s still a lot to see, but it doesn’t take long to cover all the territory, and it doesn’t exactly fit together cohesively. Things feel a bit crammed in since there’s virtually no fluff to pad it out. In a more serious game, that might have been a problem, but I think this one was designed with specific goals in mind. I can appreciate the brevity of it, but the end result is kinda weird, and that can be good or bad depending on how you look at it.

Let’s Wrap This Up…

Othello is a quirky title that tries a lot of things, is laced with absurdity, and unapologetic in its design. It’s a dumb fun game in that regard, but I don’t mean that as a slight. To me, it seems to be a vehicle for experiment with all its various mechanics, and the silly approach is just adding personality to the whole thing. They fit a lot into a little package and it’s worth the short duration. While far from a flawless experience, I don’t think it disappoints.


When push comes to throw…


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The most beautiful user on RMN!

Thanks for the review. The artwork is pretty cool.
RMN's Official Reviewmonger
You're welcome! Thank you for mentioning it off-hand so I could pretend it was requested. :p
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