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Very promising demo, but sets itself up for a massive project

If you've ever played and enjoyed anything from the Elder Scroll series, this game deserves a look.

Battle System: 7/10

Pretty standard. Uses the basic VX default system. It annoyed me that I had no battle skills for a long time, and the first real skill I acquired only affected machine-type enemies (I was the tech class). Point deducted for being absolutely relentless. NOTE: I do love the survival aspect of the game (to be addressed later in review) but on top of worrying about fatigue, lack of food/water, and the health damage these factors cause, the fact that in any given random battle I felt like I had a 50% chance of survival was just too much. Either make the damage less so that the battles wear on the player instead of utterly destroy him, or make battle start on an enemy event collision. I think having to escape visible enemies would add to the survival element and give the player a chance.

Characters: 8/10

I didn't particularly care about the medics who rescued me, but I suppose the intro was more time running and less time finding out who your caretakers are. I'm giving a pretty excellent score for the main character's customability, beginning with a blank slate and adapting to whatever class/personality specifications I desired. Very rewarding. The setup was VERY Elder Scrolls: man with no name/past/purpose arrives in the middle of a conflict and rises to decide the conclusion. The intro set this up nicely, but of course for this type of open RPG, the intro is the easiest (most determined) part to create. Allowing character and plot customability is a brilliant feature, but creates a massive amount of work.

If progress is still being made in this game, please refrain from making NPCs who say exactly the same thing. This would take maybe 3 minutes to fix.

Plot: 6/10

Relatively weak. I wasn't driven to play by anything information I picked up or any characters I came across. Most of the time, I (like my character) had no idea why I was running, and when I finally got caught there was a cryptic moment of recognition that went unexplained. Apparently the Technocracy wants me dead, but not enough to kill me immediately. Granted, with an open-ended game like this, customability and exploration drive the player more than the plot, so I don't give this category too much weight.

Graphics: 7/10

Interesting to look at. With ruined buildings, scrapped cars, and assorted trash, I definitely felt like I was in a post-war wasteland. I thought the tiles were pretty consistent, at least in the impression they provided. Some points deducted for lack of clarity in areas - sometimes I was unsure what was passable and what objects contained items. Nothing spectacular, but effective graphic.

Music: 6/10

This is really a matter of preference. I actually laughed when I loaded up the game and REM's "End of the World" started playing. The title suits the game, but the mood doesn't quite match. My feeling is that the game would've worked better with a few ambiance tracks instead of catchy tunes (don't get me wrong, I love Dashboard). Also, battle radio booted me out of the game with a missing "Into the Fire" mp3 so I had to turn it off or else play Russian Roulette with a game booting for every battle.

Custom Systems: 10/10

Here's where this game shines, and the part that's most important to me anyhow.

Fatigue System - This was a great addition and kept me worrying about food and water the whole time. Getting life docked when suffering from fatigue made sense and really worked with the survival aspect.

Crafting System - Really fun to collect and create better items, made scavenging that much more rewarding. Although, if I were you, I would make the chests give set items instead of a random treasure. Combined with the ability to save whenever and wherever, each chest game me the exact item I wanted with enough restarts.

Passive Abilities - I invested heavily in technology and I don't regret it. However, seeing things that I can't do (like reading and influencing, in my case) added depth and made me appreciate the skills I possessed. Very cool.

Overall: 8/10

I love games like this, and the ability to build my own character is enough to keep me playing, despite how often a single group of enemies would take my healthy part immediately to its grave. I played through three areas (are there more?) and had a great time exploring. I know you've built a monumental task for yourself, I've tried making an open-ended game and I know it's like making five games at the same time, but I wish you the best of luck in completing this one. So much potential here and I would love to play a complete version.

Added notes:

After death, when I start over from the title screen and click continue to where I left off, the game starts and immediately freezes with a Ruby error, something about a "disposed sprite." When I quit out of the whole thing and start from my save, it works fine.

I lol'ed at 'brutally pulped.'

Sleeping with the hooker in town restores the fatigue bar, but doesn't recover HP or TP at all.


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Max McGee
with sorrow down past the fence
Thanks for the review!

That last thing you commented on is intentional- she's a hooker, not a medic. : )
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