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I can Cope with this: Cope Island

  • Liberty
  • 12/01/2015 02:48 PM
COPE ISLAND was one of the entries for the IGMC (Indie Game Making Contest) for 2014. As one of the judges for the RPG portion of the competition it is my pleasure to share my thoughts on the game. This review will basically just be the notes I took cleaned up. It will be based on the competition version of the game, so certain aspects of the game may have been changed.

The graphics are pretty much all RTP. Mapping is pretty standard - solid mapping but nothing outstanding. It can be a little bland in some areas but overall it's decent mapping and you won't get lost or wonder what you're looking at, which is good. Some areas are even quite lovely.

Sound is used in some areas though it doesn't really stand out that much. Music is used well - the battle theme is pretty damn neat - and it fits well where used.

The story is very light on details, only really coming together at the end. It is mainly introduced via the NPCs and a narrator who acts as the voice of the game. Characterisation is practically non-existant. That said, what is there is well-written with no noticeable errors. NPCs are helpful, giving tips for progression.

Battles are interesting and quite well-balanced - challenging but fair. There is only one character, but as the tale goes along they unlock extra turns which helps out a lot in making enemies manageable.

Skills are very interesting and always useful. Your default attack will heal a set amount each time (20) while you have a skill that restores 40. There are two other types of skills - weapon attacks and skills. Weapon attacks are gained when you find weapons outside of battle. They generate skill points that allow you to use skills. Skills are unlocked after using weapon attacks a set amount of times. These require skill points to use.

Battles are fast and require thought to get through unscathed. After each battle you are healed of all damage, so the main challenge is to get through battles alive. It is very much a challenge to figure out what skills to use on which monsters in order to get through battles, but despite that I never found myself overwhelmed due to the very balanced nature and easy-to-pick-up-and-understand system.

No healing items exist, as the healing skill and attack are free to use (bar taking a turn) however there is certain equipment you can gain. These cannot be equipped - instead they automatically add stat adjustments to your character.

There are some minor puzzles - mainly button pressing and collecting 'score' to unlock chests/areas. The main focus of the game are the battles, though, and thankfully they are done quite well.

There are, I believe, 6 endings total, dependant on your score and which game type you chose. And yes, there are two kinds of play - Standard and Rogue. Rogue doesn't have the island being as helpful and is apparently harder than Standard.

Fun factor
Despite being a game about battling, it was quite fun. The challenge of the battles never gets too hard, but doesn't become a walk in the park either. The skills are all useful in their own way. Due to multiple turns, battles are mainly quite fast, lasting 2-3 turns if you play your cards right, but even when they last longer, the fact that you could die at a wrong move keeps you invested enough that you don't mind. It's certainly not a button-mash.

Treasures are spread nicely and prove useful, and exploring is expected of the player in order to progress.

Oddly enough, though the NPCs aren't very colourful in character, they do have interesting things to say and have alternate dialogue if talked to more than once.

Overall, while the mapping wasn't top notch and is sure to make people reconsider trying the game, I highly recommend playing it. It's not perfect but the incredible balance of the battles and general fun had fighting them really makes it a great little game. In the IGMC I scored Cope Island a 51 out of 60. On RMN I'm giving it 4.5 stars. Get in there and try it out if you want to see an example of fun, balanced battles with a fresh twist.