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If it gets good I'll never know

  • Dragnfly
  • 04/10/2016 01:31 AM
  • 19940 views
Version reviewed: Final English Version per the included README.

TL;DR summary:
Good - Character art, music, double protag system, you can feel the couple's love
Bad - Poor English, many typing errors apart from the poor English, terrible characters, low narrative quality, terrible pacing and direction
End grade: Strongly not recommended. I really feel like I took a bullet for you guys here.

Spoilers below.

Black Winter is about a trucker and his wife getting stranded in the mountains and being invited to spend the night in a spooky castle. Then bad things happen to them, possibly involving a curse.

The English in Black Winter isn't good enough for a passing mark and it frequently breaks the immersion. There are quite a few typos too. Nobody gets to decide where they are born or what language they're raised with but anyone can request help on forums.

I can't review the game's combat, survival or stealth systems because I dropped it before getting to that point but there are major basic design oversights which weren't covered so I'm not holding high hopes for the more complex ones. The game features 8-directional movement but it's not clear what you can and can't walk on. In the dining room you can't even go adjacent to the table but in the cook's room, you can walk on her dresser. Also, this is a very dialogue-heavy experience but there is no text skip or fast-forward. I'd planned to give direct quotes and examples from the game but I'm unable to now because the dev didn't include the bare-bones basics which should come in any dialogue-heavy game. Replaying from New Game to the mine's 2nd level to verify something was annoying enough.

Graphics-wise the character art is a strong point and the sprites look fine. The game is way too dark, though. This is part of the contradictory nature of the game which will be mentioned a lot in the review. While I've been in a castle at night before and it is indeed very dark the dev needs to consider if it impacts Gameplay. Not all exists are even visible. I wandered lost for more than I should have because of an obscured exit that wasn't even supposed to be a secret. While the darkness of the castle may have been an attempt at realism it quickly falls apart since the one place that is always lit in castles are the exits. Contradictions.

There's also a weird faux-campfire-flickering effect at the start. I can't tell if it's buggy or just poorly implemented.

I'll have to break up my critique of the writing/direction into parts because this aspect is like a giant mammoth carcass. As a disclaimer I read visual novels, I play almost every jRPG to release in the west on console and I absolutely freakin LOVE the Metal Gear series. So no, I'm not adverse to sitting through long dialogue scenes.

Direction (scenario) is one of the game's flaws. The person behind the writing just doesn't seem to pick up on how details or lack of details influence one another. You start out in what's apparently supposed to be a blizzard. The wind is howling but the snow is gently drifting downward. They take refuge in a mine which Lily says they have to find, despite standing right in front of it. Similar to the castle at night I have been in a cave in the deep Canadian winter before and while it is better than being outside it only gets warmer when you go much further in. A measly -10C aside (14F as per the thermometer Matt keeps with him for some weird reason) the dev saw fit to make the entrance area look pretty cozy and the deeper area (which should be warmer) is all frozen over. With limited resources, Matt still decides to light 3 campfires all at once for no reason. They hear a noise which Matt says comes from above, but you need to climb down a ladder to get there. Contradictions.

Hopefully, I've made my point in that area at just how massively poor the planning here is. All of that happens before being even a quarter of the way through the intro and it does not end there.

Writing (character logic) is another gigantic flaw. Although the ability to have characters act logically while still respecting the need for gameplay/puzzles/plot is an acquired skill it's a skill every game developer who's writing dialogue should have full control over BEFORE releasing their game. No trucker would run out of gas going TO his destination. No trucker who has been by this area would drive to a location where the whole place hasn't existed for years. Even though their phone gets reception in a cave they don't think to try calling anyone else? Co-workers? Friends? Maybe the building caught fire so they can't answer. While the plot demands that they are stranded here there's a million ways to do that and a truck running out of gas is likely the worst one. Mechanical troubles, an avalanche, a landslide, the truck just getting its tires stuck... These are all equally generic yet far better reasons to strand them in the mountains and better yet they're real problems that happen to real truckers.

Now I have to discuss the biggest flaw, which is the flaw which made me stop playing, delete the game, tell my friends to avoid it and wish the dev better future projects. I'm talking about the characters. Plain and simple Matt and Lily MAKE ABSOLUTELY NO SENSE!

Lily is a self-righteous completely untrusting over-opinionated vegan. This is made clear because it's hammered into us often. Lily is so adamantly against additives that, despite longing to have children more than anything else she refuses treatment because it's unnatural. Yet she accepts candy of unknown origin. That's odd, right? Well, this candy also TURNS HER SKIN PURPLE! She should completely freak out, right? But the dev decides it's okay for her to admonish the person who gave it to her and walk it off. Wouldn't turning the colour of a sunburned smurf make somebody who doesn't trust chemicals completely terrified?

From that same scene, we learn that the castle's owner employs a 14-year-old girl as the cook and maid. No prodding is done to learn more about her circumstances. Lily just goes into pitchforks-and-torches mode (which isn't too off for her) and informs Matt. I was expecting Matt to want more info since he's already been shown to consider the angle of a situation. No, Matt goes into pitchforks-and-torches mode too. And Lily tries to stop him from going full pitchforks-and-torches. And that's when we get yet another big contradiction. While snooping around Matt finds an odd 4th-wall-breaking fanart of various maker horror greats. He comments on how Aya (of Mad Father) is okay because she doesn't use her chainsaw on people. This image shows several youths and children with weapons. So Matt loses his rationale over a 14-year-old being employed for an unknown amount in unknown circumstances but is completely okay with all these kids toting a bat, club, gun and lots and lots of knives. The har har wink wink joke of saying you know top-tier maker horror games in their maker horror game did nothing but undermine the scene we just had with their concerns over the cook. Contradictions.

Once I got into the game proper (40 minutes of that terrible writing later) and explored the castle it took no time at all before another contradiction arose. In a bathroom blood suddenly splatters along the floor in a cheap scare attempt. But Matt and Lily have absolutely nothing to say about it. You can't even get dialogue from checking the blood. Upon checking a painting in another room it suddenly turns evil. Again, no reaction from the characters. All throughout the room are candies which they say they shouldn't take without permission... and an item that you take without permission. A much better reason to not take Emma's candies would be because THEY TURNED YOUR WIFE PURPLE! You don't need to be polite after that happens.

At this point, I X'd out of the game and deleted it.

The very lengthy, poorly edited build-up constantly undoes anything good that the dialogues would provide. The few times I thought the characters were saying something good it was shot down in the very next scene or two. I'll give proper credit for the nice character art and how Matt and Lily do seem like a married couple. Sure it boggles the mind how these two ever hooked up or how Matt can stay with somebody like her but real love is like that. Real marriage is often like that. But even with this odd glimmer of hope for the writing, it's seriously not worth it.

The game's biggest flaw is player engagement. Lengthy cutscenes only work when they're emotionally or intelligently engaging. While player engagement doesn't require player interaction (visual novels being fantastic proof of this) without engaging the player physically, emotionally or intellectually the overall experience suffers to the point of being insufferable.

Posts

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stiven202
Don't make duplicate accounts in order to review your own game, guys!
473
you say why Matt did not call co-workers or friends?

Matt later speak with a friend by phone, who is going to help them.

There are many, many things the game has to offer, it makes me laugh because you did not see anything, but nothing of the game, you only saw the top of the iceberg. Not even a fight against any monster, or you did not see the first flashback (they are 6 in total), you did not see the other mysterious character who appears later in the story, you did not a fight against any boss, you did note see anything, practically. The game lenght five hours.

--------------------------------------
when you say that both characters do not react to the blood in the bathroom, I did so to be the player who reacts to this.

I can not put a dialog for every little thing that happens in the game.

There are some situations in which the characters react, for example when Lily sees Emma's picture with red eyes, she freaks out and screams, and if you control Matt, he also gets scared.

What 8-way to walk it works, not all scenarios because sometimes the tileset does not allow.

You think that everything should be perfect game but there are always errors always, a few errors. Your criticism does not make sense if you played only 10% of the game, but still much left much to know.

IGN, Kotaku and other video games web pages analyze the games once they have completed 100% its story, no before.

Let me tell you if you played only 40 minutes of the game, I'm sorry for you.

Because the real gameplay start a little later in which the player can do many things: walk, run, hide, shoot (many creatures by the way), explore much rooms, open doors, solve puzzles, find secrets.

You can not make a review if you played only 10% of the game.

3 people who know English helped me to translate the game and you can't criticize the work of them just like that.

Is right, the game is not a native English language, but at least people understand it.

In my e-mail I received good reviews of the game, so much so that several people has written me that they are finished game in a single day.

In all review you don't say anything positive from the game. (almost)

I think this game is not for impatient players like you. you want everything to be gameplay and gameplay and that is not possible, player first must see the controls, characters,gameplay mechanics, all gradually and so the difficulty level will rise. Scenes of gameplay is appearing with more frequently.

sorry but your review is not valid because you have not played practically nothing in the game.
Well, we are 4 hours in the game right now, and I must say it gets quite interesting after the intro. In fact, most of the flaws in the review appear in most games on this site with fairly better rating.

  • Interesting fact, that I did not found most of the stupid things the characters did immersion breaking... I mean, I have seen a lot of people doing crazy shit which made no sense (IRL)... Few were really weird, (like Lily saying to find the mine), but it did not stop me from playing the game.
  • I did not find the intro too long.
  • I do agree that the English is not the best in the game, that needs a bit more work (But since this is just a translation, I do not see it as a major flaw)

But the most important thing... Later in game the story gets a bit more interesting, the puzzles and combat is fairly good, and well executed. Overall for me it is a good experience. I do agree that most of these flaws mentioned in the review could put a lot of people away from playing the game, but saying that you should completely avoid this game based on the first 10% of the game is just not okay...
*EDIT*

dude i'm actually embarassed about what i posted here, forget everything
InfectionFiles
the world ends in whatever my makerscore currently is
4640
Just so you know, a person can review something without finishing it. Especially if they didn't like it. 40mins is enough for someone to feel they don't like it. Why don't you watch/play/eat something you don't like and see how far you get.

We aren't professional reviewers, just average people playing mostly average games.

Another note: People don't generally like long introductions. This is more true for indie RPG MAKER games where exposition might feel lengthy and too much at one time. Even AAA games can suffer from a long introduction where the player is more a viewer and not directly interacting with something.

Despite the recommendations, I might try this soon and give it a review. I think there's a middle ground between a game getting a review of 1.5 and 4.5. Especially when the 1.5 review articulates itself much better than the 4.5 review. Dragnfly gave me a better reason to agree with their review than the overly high one you just received. Probably because it's more indicative to how the game actually feels and presents itself.

One thing to take away from THIS review is that your game can always be improved and be better. Getting or asking someone to give yourself a favorable review isn't going to help yourself at all. You have to be open to criticism and feedback when it comes to developing games. If you're passionate about it then you should take in everything you can and try to better yourself, rather than ignoring negative feedback and thinking your game is perfect.
Dragnfly
Beta testers!? No, this game needs a goddamn exorcist!
1809
I never understood the whole "you can't review something unless you experienced 100% of it" mindset. It's just silly and I don't believe anyone who says they follow that rule themselves 100% of the time. If you go to a restaurant and the place is dirty, the waiter is rude and the appetizer has dead cockroaches in it you can sure as heck review the restaurant even if you didn't stay for dessert. You just can't honestly rate the dessert part. Just like I didn't rate the combat. Who knows, the dessert might be awesome. I'd never know because I refuse to eat dead cockroaches.

Like InfectionFiles says, watch/play/eat something you don't like and see how far you get.
stiven202
Don't make duplicate accounts in order to review your own game, guys!
473
author=Dragnfly
I never understood the whole "you can't review something unless you experienced 100% of it" mindset. It's just silly and I don't believe anyone who says they follow that rule themselves 100% of the time. If you go to a restaurant and the place is dirty, the waiter is rude and the appetizer has dead cockroaches in it you can sure as heck review the restaurant even if you didn't stay for dessert. You just can't honestly rate the dessert part. Just like I didn't rate the combat. Who knows, the dessert might be awesome. I'd never know because I refuse to eat dead cockroaches.

Like InfectionFiles says, watch/play/eat something you don't like and see how far you get.


don't do analogies that are irrelevant.

this is not about restaurants, this is about videogames.

look at all the web sites that analyze videogames, IGN, 3Djuegos, Kotaku, vandal, meristation, Gameplanet, etc.

all those websites do not give a final verdict until they have played 100 % of the game, they like it or not, that is a review, because a game is much, it is not only 10% of the game.

what you did was not a review, it was a "preview" or "first impressions" which are different things.
At least he didn't make an account to create a fake review for his own game.

And no, actually, this counts as a review completely. If someone does not want to play your game all the way to the end then they have the right not to do that and to call out the game for making them not want to. This is an indie site with people who do not get paid to write reviews - unlike the other sites you mentioned where they get paid to play those games to completion and then review. Unless you're wanting to pay someone to play your game fully, this is about the only type of review you're going to get. It's a fucking review because it reviews the fucking game.
InfectionFiles
the world ends in whatever my makerscore currently is
4640
We aren't professional reviewers, just average people playing mostly average games.
Again.

You have to remember that your RPG MAKER game is dime a dozen and people will move on if they don't like it. But sheer word count alone I would say Dragnfly did their due diligence when they could have said a lot less. 40 minutes is enough time, especially if you aren't enjoying yourself.

Edit: Sniped by Libby!
oh and burn *sizzle*
Sorry stiven202, but if this wasn't a review, it wouldn't have been accepted in the first place (remember that reviews go through checking before they are allowed to be published here).

Though it's true that the reviewer probably shouldn't give the review an official rating (maybe just mention the rating in the review).

And you can't compare RMN to IGN, Kotaku etc. Because those websites are mostly for commercial games which not everyone can just pick up (that's why those websites usually have to do 100% game reviews so that people will see whether it's worth spending money to buy the games), whereas RMN is mostly for free games which anyone can just pick up.

Either way, since you have someone not liking the initial part of the game, then you got to at least find out why that someone doesn't like the initial part instead of simply dismissing it. Everything counts.
Dragnfly
Beta testers!? No, this game needs a goddamn exorcist!
1809
Anyone who plays console jRPGs wouldn't believe that sites like IGN play 100% of their games before reviewing them anyway. It's common on message boards to see fans of games developed by Gust, Falcom, Compile Heart or Nippon Ichi expose points where it's obvious the reviewer didn't get very far. They have way too much work to do to tackle 50+ hour games. I forget if it was the GamePRO or GameFAN (wow I feel old) review of Xenogears (a game famous for it's brutally long dialogue while still being engaging) and it was clear that the reviewer didn't even beat the first disc.

author=eplipswich
Though it's true that the reviewer probably shouldn't give the review an official rating (maybe just mention the rating in the review).

I try to put a grade in all my reviews because, for a lot of people I know that's all they care about. It's sad that I give reasons and mention the good and the bad but it's just my experience that the number is all some people care about.

author=Liberty
At least he didn't make an account to create a fake review for his own game.

wait WTF really? ... Well I admit I thought the dev responses were immature and arrogant but if he did that then... wow. stiven I praised your game's art, music and the double protagonist system but all that feels wasted if you'd need to lie and cheat just to defend your creation. I'm more disappointed in this than in your game. Forget it. I'm out. There's no helping this guy.
stiven202
Don't make duplicate accounts in order to review your own game, guys!
473
review = review of the entire game
preview or first impressions = criticizes the first minutes of gameplay

it's that simple.

if this person did not like my game, I understand, but give a note to play only the introduction? it's not objective.

he did not see any flashback, did not test the battle system, he did not found any secrets, he did not explore entire castle, he did not knew depth to any character, also he did not see any ending or extra scenes. he did not solve any mystery. He did not solve even a puzzle.

He is an impatient player who believes that everything "good" of the game should be in the first 10-20 minutes.

If the duration of Black Winter had been 1 hour, I understand, but the game lasts 4 to 5 hours and the best starts shortly after the introduction.

if I delete all the introduction, most players will ask, "this story is about what?" "What are the characters?", "what are their personalities?" "What are the gameplay mechanics?" everything must show slowly and that takes time.

And talking about the fake account, excuse me, you don't talk about what you do not know. So if a person makes a positive review of my game, you deduce that is a fake account?, please stop hurling accusations without knowing.

So I see here, value more negative reviews of a person who did not play not even 10% of my game and the review of a person who finished the game 100%, that they deleted and say it is not valid (incoherent).

@stiven202: Actually, where did you get the idea that he played only 10% or less? I read the review again, and this is what he said:

Once I got into the game proper (40 minutes of that terrible writing later) and explored the castle it took no time at all before another contradiction arose.

So he actually played roughly about 1 hour of the game (because after that 40 minutes, I could see he did play a bit more). And you said the game lasts 4-5 hours, right? So that's actually 20-25% of the game played, not 10% or less!

Maybe you should actually calm down and take your time to reread the review thoroughly instead of just glancing through it and looking at the final review score. Because at least the reviewer has positive points about your game (like graphics, music etc.). And you didn't even comment on those positive points that the reviewer at least mentioned (he could have chosen not to mention anything positive, but at least he did.).
stiven202
Don't make duplicate accounts in order to review your own game, guys!
473
5 hours it took me.

Some beta testers and others who have finished my game, they sent me screenshots that shows 6 hours, even more.

360 minutes = 6 hours

the rule of three (math):

360 minutes -> 100% of the game
40 minutes -> % ?

(40 * 100) / 360 = 11.11% of the game

He doesn't play anything, practically.
Ratty524
The 524 is for 524 Stone Crabs
12896
author=stiven202
He is an impatient player who believes that everything "good" of the game should be in the first 10-20 minutes.

That's an opinion the majority shares, actually, with almost anything, not just games.

As a designer, you need to be able to hook your players with something interesting right off the bat in order to hold your player's interest. Otherwise, most people will simply quit and move on to something that they feel is better worth their time.

"review=review of entire game" is a complete fantasy even at the professional level. Either fix the pacing of your game, or try again in the next one you make.
Red_Nova
The all around prick
7573
author=stiven202
5 hours it took me.

Some beta testers and others who have finished my game, they sent me screenshots that shows 6 hours, even more.

360 minutes = 6 hours

the rule of three (math):

360 minutes -> 100% of the game
40 minutes -> % ?

(40 * 100) / 360 = 11.11% of the game

He doesn't play anything, practically.

I wonder how much polish you could have made to the intro in all the time and effort you've spent trying to slam the reviewer?
author=stiven202
5 hours it took me.

Some beta testers and others who have finished my game, they sent me screenshots that shows 6 hours, even more.

360 minutes = 6 hours

the rule of three (math):

360 minutes -> 100% of the game
40 minutes -> % ?

(40 * 100) / 360 = 11.11% of the game

He doesn't play anything, practically.

And now you suddenly changed it to 6 hours? Who are you trying to kid? You clearly said 4-5 hours!! Why did you suddenly even take beta testers into account? Stop trying to find excuses.

If you take beta testers into account, then I might as well say I'll take 10 hours to complete the game.

And I said he most likely played more than 40 minutes, not 40 minutes exactly. Sorry if I wasn't clear.

EDIT: And like Red_Nova said, you're only wasting your time arguing here when you could have used this time to improve your game!
Porkate42
Goes inactive at least every 2 weeks
1869

I'm guessing this is your first full-on negative review.

I remember mine, I didn't take it well. I removed my game and abandoned my profile.
Although later I realized that I need to man up and learn to accept criticism, no matter what kind. I came back on and talked with the reviewer, I gave him my thoughts and he gave me some tips.

Guess what, I improved. Sure the review wasn't as harsh as this one, but I still didn't take it well. Fixing an introduction isn't that hard, maybe if you fix it you will get a second chance. It may be tough to take in the harshness, but you just need to accept the criticism, even if it's harsh or "rude."

"Wow Porkate using yourself as an example gosh stroking your ego much?"
stiven202
Don't make duplicate accounts in order to review your own game, guys!
473

what I find unbelievable is that everyone is more in accordance with a person who made a review that all he does is say negative things of the game. It seems the typical "hater" who wants rpg maker games has a level of quality like a game made by a big company like Konami, Rockstar Games or Capcom.

I also find unbelievable to they approve a review of a person who played practically nothing ,y game and then deleted a review on another person who made the effort to finish the game 100%, even that person said he get several endings and played the extras.

So from now on, they will delete the reviews of people who qualify well my game? because they will believe that they are fake accounts? oh please.

finally, my conscience is clear and I was with people who really if strove to end the game and give a true review.
stiven202
Don't make duplicate accounts in order to review your own game, guys!
473
author=eplipswich
author=stiven202
5 hours it took me.

Some beta testers and others who have finished my game, they sent me screenshots that shows 6 hours, even more.

360 minutes = 6 hours

the rule of three (math):

360 minutes -> 100% of the game
40 minutes -> % ?

(40 * 100) / 360 = 11.11% of the game

He doesn't play anything, practically.
And now you suddenly changed it to 6 hours? Who are you trying to kid? You clearly said 4-5 hours!! Why did you suddenly even take beta testers into account? Stop trying to find excuses.

If you take beta testers into account, then I might as well say I'll take 10 hours to complete the game.

And I said he most likely played more than 40 minutes, not 40 minutes exactly. Sorry if I wasn't clear.

EDIT: And like Red_Nova said, you're only wasting your time arguing here when you could have used this time to improve your game!

please, put minute 24:11


sidmarck (spanish youtuber) and beta tester of black winter, it tooks more than 6 hours (almost seven) to finish the game.



InfectionFiles
the world ends in whatever my makerscore currently is
4640
Well, at least you'll always know in your fantasy world that you got a 4.5 :)
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