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  • Kylaila
  • 03/17/2016 09:56 PM
"Alone" is a game about entering a new unknown hostile space. The vast mass called internet. It pulls off a very alien and depressed atmosphere, while also offering an ending pulling it all together. It is short enough (~15 minutes) that your curiosity will shine through.
It was made for the 8th rmn birthday event which built on a self-insert.
There is a series of personal experiences built into it, which you may look up afterwards, but I see no reason to do so beforehand, nor do I feel it is mandatory at all. You can see the general intent and concept very well, and it is executed splendidly to give a frame for how a new unknown space can look like to you.

You are dropped into a dark map and start making your way around. It is fairly utilitarian in its aesthetics and highly stylized. It is mostly black-to-white with different greys and everything looking samey.
The game revolves about collecting enough equipment before fighting big bad guys and procceeding further into the realm until you reach your destination and a happier place. Equipment and stats are all modeled to suit the metaphorical intent, such as "influence" being fighting power.

Okay? Move on.

The descriptions of "presenting X" or using "thoughts" and seem a little overboard for the scale it is used in, but do get the point across.
I appreciated a lot of them, but some meanings were a little muddley and made me pause for a moment to figure out if it was the right option to use, like making a stand. They still are enough to go by and understand thankfully. (before you go into automated fight-mode, anyway)
The only part you may not understand is the purpose and idea behind the different "motivations", i.e. people you are inspired by you can equip. I did not know all of them which made it harder to understand, but with kentona being in the lot as well, you can get that it is, well, just some inspiration. For whatever that may be in particular, and make guesses based on the spell effect - such as heal vs. fighting prowess. I am pretty sure kentona may find it mildy cynical to be included.

There are two random enemies,
that being "observer" and "anonymous". The first one pop up as a scare once (successfully so, holy) and you can thankfully flee from/avoid, the second one you need to fight to progress. There are also three boss-fights throughout the game.
They are placed as on-touch encounters but move very quickly so that you will not be able to dodge most of them, if not for a great deal of luck.

The more you fight, the more "fatigued"/weaker you grow, so avoiding them when possible, and choosing paths crossing them as little as possible is key. You may possibly end up becoming too weak and needing to restart the game, but there is enough leeway to make this only a rare emergency.

So how does it pan out?

This game does little to guide you and can be frustrating if you miss an item or do not use your resources well (there are very, very limited healing supplies). You may also feel a little bit lost at times, but it is very compact so that you can memorize the layout very well.

That said, what I think does this game really well is that the atmosphere, while dark in its tones with only environmental sounds in the background, does not feel particularily "heavy". I did not feel myself drawn much into the negative space, but was more fascinating by it and curious about it.
It has this vibe as well, but in a mild dosis that keeps it from being an "unfun" experience for the sake of a story-point. To some degree it can be frustrating, but for the most part it plays like a puzzle-game where you need to memorize where to go next to, which is easy and fair to pull off if you put your mind to it.
A space unknown to you feels alien, and you will need some time to get used to, and grow fond of it. You also need find a space that suits you well. I think this is demonstrated very well. I also found it a fascinating side-effect that over the course of the game you end up being able to handle the usual "arguments" pretty well and fast, but they still drain unnecessary energy.

There is a lot of love to details, such as attack sounds being more akin to mumbling than anything else, while still sounding otherwordly.
The stat descriptions with "Influence" "Readiness" and more are great flavor while making the intent clear.
I really liked both the track for the ending scene, as well as the sound effects used for the game itself. It reminded me faintly of Ico, and I think it added well to the game.

The creator went a little overboard making clear that "lvl-ups" are a bad thing, which is why they are fatigue levels and also why each random encounter ends with "Exhausting. Move on" as opposed to the original "Move on." It loses a little bit of its positive edge with it and sounds doubled, as you gain a "lvl-up" with almost every fight.

There is an secret passage you can reach just before completing the game. It adds a little bit but is not mandatory to the game experience.

It restarts it with a different layout and a scene added after the credits.
It is enjoyable for its puzzle-memoration aspect and the same concept in green, but it already lacks a lot of the initial curiosity that made it interesting the first time around. It makes more sense if you had not seen the positive ending scene before (which has a great transition), but for the little scene you get alone it seems like too much of a hassle.
As a sidenote - when changing spells/motivations in that part of the game, you will not gain the spell in your menu before you restart. Reload or similar, whereas that did work in the normal one.

All in all

It lacks guidance, it is a little bit frustrating and not too captivating for some of its gameplay components. Encounters are near-impossible to dodge.
Bosses hit hard and you need to use the right spell at the right time, and treasure every item.

However, it plays with an interesting experience of something we surely have observed or been part of ourselves, it creates curiosity despite there not being too much to look at, and it is well-balanced unless you mess up or spend too much time running around.

I recommend giving it a spin for its unique (and personal) concept. I had fun with it!
Also, I was included in some shape or form, that made my day!


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RPG Maker 2k/2k3 for life, baby!!
Thanks for the review, Kylaila!
Glad you liked it :)

As for Kentona:
Before I even lurked around RMN, I already knew about Hero's Realm and how it was a big RPG Maker 2003 epic, that's why he appears early in the game, it just made sense storywise :P

People usually find the atmosphere really dark and heavy, so it's refreshing to find someone with a different take on this aspect :)

Same goes for "fun", few people found the game "fun", some found it an intriguing experience and the majority found it frustrating :P

Really glad you noticed the details! Ico rocks!!

About "lvl-ups":
I think I got a bit scared the player wouldn't understand the rules after the feedback I got for the original game on this point.
I may change this in the future.

About the secret:
The ALTERNATIVE mode was green for you? That's weird, it must've been a bug, it's supposed to be black-and-white like the normal mode. The only time the game changes colour is during the ending and in the last surprise battle after the special ending, and that's blue-ish.

I made the secret as a hidden bonus and more for the gameplay aspect, for the few people who liked the gameplay.
Definitely more for the challenge than the reward like you mention, but I felt the need to add something to the ending.

It seems there's some text missing right before "All in all".
Equipped spells update every 0,5 seconds on both game modes by the way.

Now... I know I'm a bit nitpicky about this, and it's a lot to ask, but could you please hide/rephrase the spoilers that may change the experience of the player?
- the "observer" pops up as a scare;
- the player is supposed to run from battles;
- "lvl-ups" are a bad thing;
- revealing what the secret is;

It's not a big deal if you don't change anything, though.
So don't feel pressured into it :)
Whoops you are right about that cut-off sentence. Welp, I was tired..^^
You're welcome!

Anyway, duly noted. I kept the lvl-ups tho, because I think you very quickly catch up on it now (that is, after a single fight), and it's part of what shapes the gameplay experience. I did hide the rest, sorry about that.

The secret passage is not all that exciting sadly : D Well, the thought of it being there definitely is.
And X in green was not referring to the color, it all works. It was more a way to say "it's the same gameplay, just in a lil different setup"

And while the spells did update in the regular version, they really did not in the alternative one. At least not for me. Had to save and load to heal myself up.
RPG Maker 2k/2k3 for life, baby!!
No prob! :)

Yeah, I may change the emphasis on exhaustion in the future depending on the feedback I get, thanks for your take on that.

Thanks for adding spoiler tags, too.

I see what you mean about the secret:
At first a I considered a new dungeon with a new layout and new enemies and skills, but that would be a lot more work. Do you think that would have been better?

Can you send me your saves so I can check out what was causing the spell bug?


EDIT: Oh yeah, from your screenshot it seems you have a different font from the default RPG Maker one installed. Just to let you know.
I can see if I can do that. Not sure what's causing it, and I haven't tried to reproduce it, either.

I think it's fine as it is. I doubt it would add much more, as the general frame is already set. It's really less about the gameplay by itself, so the big impact is already gone once you have seen the endings. And that's okay! That's how it's supposed to work, really.

New enemies would make it more interesting, of course. You identify what you need to do by scouting a lil around the rooms before picking up equipment (and also know to take the big bad topic on later). It does have the same thought-process going, but very determined so.
It's something many people will miss as well, so I think a little something is enough for it. You'll like the little something, but you still got the main deal if you miss it.
It lacks guidance, it is a little bit frustrating and not too captivating for some of its gameplay components. Encounters are near-impossible to dodge.
Bosses hit hard and you need to use the right spell at the right time, and treasure every item.

A forum fight, basically ;)

About LVUPs...
I guess this is tricky because people in general seem to be averse to LVUPs potentially messing up their game, haha, or they simply panic too much and care too much about the effect which happened to me as well.
As soon as a game features some "penalty" for leveling-up (scaling stats, different enemy behavior etc.) players tend to panic but I can often totally see why.
It is a subjective thing so you were not wrong but I find it logical.
Maybe doing it the other way around could help? Calling LV something like Enjoyment or such and actually begin at let's say LV10 and make it actually go down which would show you are going down in stats.

About the "second quest"...
Hm. Right. I think it was added as a small bonus for that little extra scene something like another mode with slight changes in old games for a little extra.
It could still be expanded upon in a future update. Cannot say how right now but maybe actually make it more different but still within the scope of the game. Like changed areas or enemies or other facts to reflect more where it is going now in terms of the ending and its meaning BUT still the already familiar path.
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