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May I please have a new partner? This one's a soulless fiend.

  • pianotm
  • 02/09/2019 07:41 AM
Name: Deep 8

Developer: IndependentArt

This game is a demo and as such is in an unfinished state. All opinions are based on that the review will not receive a rating as a result.

Story: As Ramirez and Meling, you must save the world from an impending alien invasion. At the behest of an aging, decrepit emperor, you search for any weapons you can find to aid in the coming fight, from the abandoned station the aliens once used in peace times, to even attempting to enlist the aid of a vicious dragon. All the while, Ramirez must contend with the fact that Meling has exactly zero redeeming qualities. Meanwhile, Ramirez is a pent up, sexually frustrated horndog who just lets Meling abuse him and use him as an emotional punching bag.

This terrifying Droon can see his victims through walls, but can he see why kids love the taste of Cinnamon Toast Crunch?

Writing: The writing is very compelling, and the story is quite engaging, although both main characters are pretty unlikable. Ramirez, at least, is relateable. There are a few lost in translation errors, such as "seamlingly" instead of "seemingly", and a few rare sentences that simply do not parse properly, but other than that, the grammar is excellent. There is a bit of an accent that shows up in the writing from time to time and after awhile, it does start to stand out. There are also two errors in translation that I caught in the English side of gameplay. When you face the Beavis and Butthead Droon aliens that have come to reclaim Sabre, one of the aliens has a lightning attack. Instead of English, it says in Danish that he's using the attack. The second error occurs when you explore the city at night as Chloe. The sign above the item shop has suddenly turned from English to Danish.

At the opening, you play an alien commando that brutally slaughters a village. It's actually a pretty hardcore scene as the battle system also has you brutally killing little kids.

The main characters are a class act. Ramirez can't stop looking at women's cleavage, and Meling can't stop degrading and belittling Ramirez, degrading his manhood, constantly pointing out his incompetence, even in cases where she's objectively wrong, which is in most cases. Ramirez has plenty of initiative but lets Meling constantly beat him down. He also is clearly the only one invested enough to even proceed with the mission. It becomes even more frustrating when they meet Sabres, a moment revealing that not only is she a horrible person, but she's also a moron with the tactical comprehension of a snail; an idiot that would immediately discard a weapon without a second thought because it's not as powerful as she hoped it'd be, despite the fact that it's already more powerful than she could imagine.

Dude! Eyes up here! And don't stare at my floating eye, either!

The only really, genuinely likable character I controlled was Chloe, who at first seemed like she was going to be as obnoxious as Meling (certainly not a wet fish like Ramirez), but turned out to be delightful character. Even though you can't see it on the sprite, you see on her 3D face chip every time you open the menu that she's got a floating eye, and it's very noticeable as every time you open the menu, she's looking at you cross-eyed. It's also why her eye looks so strange in the above screen cap. I also know it's not an artistic error because the other characters are fine, and her eye gets mentioned a few times. It's a tiny addition that I like to see in characters. As a sharp contrast to Meling and Ramirez, Chloe is friendly, confident, engaging, and simply fun. She's also clearly looking for action as her interest in Ramirez obviously relates to the manhood that Meling keeps insulting. There's also a really bizarre glitch directly involving Chloe. The glitch occurs throughout the duration of the time in the game before you meet her, and finally ends when you take control of Chloe for her nighttime exploration. Since you haven't met Chloe yet, the glitch is really baffling when you encounter it. When go into your quarters, it's clearly a shared quarters with more than a few bedrooms. There are people sleeping in the beds, and if you try to talk them, this happens:

Umm...I think that's usually the man's line.

If you decide to talk to any of the other sleepers in the quarters, don't expect anything new: it's Chloe with the same expression and line for every single one.

I think the main villain's name is Salzac, but don't quote me on that. His evil henchman that replaces the guy in the initial screen cap is named Lazar, and they are your typical mustachio twirling villains. They have gone from planet to planet wiping out the people living there and then destroying the planets afterwards, and now they are coming for you and no reason is ever given. They cover all the typical villain tropes, up to and including killing henchmen for failing them just show how evil they are.

Well, that's an awfully city thing to do!

The other characters are essentially Shakespearean caricatures. Just about every time you see him, the emperor is coughing and wheezing, sometimes he soils himself, and he can't remove his crown because of the calluses that have formed around it. He's a walking trope, symbolic of the death of society; his adviser being a metaphor for the equal ineffectiveness of the government. Also, all of the NPCs you meet tend to be assholes.

Then there's Sabres, the AI of the spaceship your characters are trying to find. It's an interesting character to be sure, and is kind of a fun addition to the story. Also, the ship, which is apparently cybernetic and Sabres is alive, looks great.

"Activate interlocks! Dyna-therms connected! Infra-cells up! Mega-thrusters are go! Let's go, Voltron Force!

Finally, the state of the world the game presents. This society is pretending to be medieval, preferring blade weapons and having regular blacksmiths...but they also have spaceships, but their weapons technology is so primitive, they're building catapults in preparation for the Droon invasion. Sorry, this is not believable in any way shape or form: a government that is so primitive, they have to get their designs for a laser cannon from a civilian, but has diplomatic relations with other planets, is implied to actually be in control of other planets, has spaceships, but they don't have weapons more advanced than the bow and arrow? Catapults! They can't even make a trebuchet, or a ballista, or a ball and powder cannon, or a freaking rocket! I'm just waiting for the f*ckery in the comments to explain this away. "You see, they've grown so old and lax and are so used to not having trouble..." Yeah, they've got a spaceport. They know how to make guns. In fact, one dude DOES make a gun because he knows the government's full of shit with their catapults. This makes no sense, and is totally not believable in any way shape or form in the world that is presented.

Wait, is Meling doing the finger guns pose?

Gameplay: Whew! I thought I'd never get to this section! Wow, has this system ever been reworked. The game seems to use RM 2k3's typical battle screen but the the menu and attacking has a complete overhaul. First of all, hit or miss depends entirely on a gauge with a slider that goes back and forth. Hit anywhere on the regular bar, it's a standard hit. Hit on the bullseye, it's a critical hit. Hit at the very end of the bar, and it's a miss. It's actually very hard to miss. The most common way to miss is to keep letting the slider go back and forth until the game decides that you've taken too long. The slider swings to the left, then to right, and the second time it swings to the left is your last chance to hit. Far left is a weak hit, with extreme left being a miss. Center and right are standard hits. Left of center is the bullseye. The system is an acquired taste, but once I got used to it, I really liked it. You level up like a usual RPG, but you receive AP that you can use to purchase new skills, which include more types of attack, spells, passive skills that activate on their own on a percent chance, stat upgrades, and upgrades to owned skills.

Planks, but no planks!

Each character has their own unique skills. Ramirez uses the sword, Meling uses the battle axe, and Chloe uses the shuriken. Meling clearly does the most damage, while Ramirez is undoubtedly the most accurate attacker. The attack gauge swings quickly for Meling, making it hard to get a critical strike, while it's slower for Ramirez making it relatively easy to crit. Chloe is clearly intended as a magic user as she can summon her...I forget the name, but it's some kind of spirit creature, in her case, a wolf named Arcanis. Arcanis has his own skills that he can lend to her that include a buff that adds water status to all of your character's attacks, or magical attacks that do significantly more damage than standard spells or standard attacks. Also, there's a limit to how much of any type of restorative item can used in combat. Throughout battle, potions' effectiveness goes down the more you use them.

Well, it was going to happen sooner or later: people have now erected churches to lolcats!

Outside of battle, travel on the world map doesn't actually give you random encounters, but encounters appear randomly on the screen and chase you (usually; it doesn't always work as they, for whatever reason, sometimes can't quite find you as you go everywhere except towards you.), giving you the opportunity to escape. That said, the game breaks the fourth wall in the form of Meling insulting you and telling you that you should grind before proceeding to your first mission. In towns and dungeons, there are occasionally gaps that you have to jump over in order to get to certain areas. Some gaps require a running jump, which requires you time the enter press with the appearance of a larger arrow. Some jumps still require a double jump, which is simply double tapping the enter key during a long jump. Finally, some NPCs give quests. I recommend taking these as they give you rewards, experience points, and AP.

Finally, some encounters are special events that can occur instead of battles. Here, you can randomly find things, find an item salesman, have a tree branch fall on you, at which point you find a gemstone, and some of them can end with monster attacks. I have only seen encounters like this on the world map, but every time there's a special encounter, there's a whole string of errors that popup. I think this screen cap got them all. I managed to grab it pretty quickly.

Contact! The game is trying to communicate with me!

Graphics: Amazing. These are all custom graphics with 3D character cutscene portraits, and smaller 3D character busts. The game looks absolutely fantastic, but...Ramirez's walking sprite is animated badly. The right and left sprites only have a single step animated so that it walks with that weird half step that sprites get when you only animate one of the feet going forward.

Sound: First, I want to address a technical issue. While I was playing for the first hour or so, there was a burst of static that distorted the sound once per second. Second, I want to address the music itself. It took me a while to figure out what it reminded me of and then I realized that it reminded me of some of the music from Elder Scrolls: Arena and Daggerfall. Overall, the music is incredibly dour, dull, and depressing and really sets a super serious tone for the game that really just pounds into you. It doesn't seem like the type of game that should take itself this seriously, especially with an intelligent space ship with a penchant for telling bad jokes. On the other hand, having to listen to this music throughout sounds like it might be a musical representation of what it would be like to be alone with Meling, but we already have to endure that in this game, and it's really not a pleasant experience.

Conclusion: Absolutely give this game a try. It's an unique experience and there really aren't a lot of games like this one. Very well made. Enough problems to be annoying, but good enough to be worth putting up with. If this game were complete in it's current state, I'd give a 3.5 or a 4 star rating. I'm actually teetering pretty hard between those two. I'd give it 3.5 just to enforce the fact there are still things to address.


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Thanks for the enlightening review. Since the developer hails from Germany, you probably caught some German remnants instead of Danish ones. ;)
Thank you so much, pianotm! That's an awesome review.
I'm preparing a detailed reply via mail. :)
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