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Cute, short and wondrous

  • JRibbons
  • 12/18/2016 11:40 PM
  • 374 views
Flatwoods is like a butterscotch candy - it's sweet-tasting, but won't take you very long to finish.

The story is simple - you’re a little lemon-head character who witnesses a strange light through its window one night. Climbing out of bed, you venture into the dark forest to discover the source of the light - the legendary ‘Flatwoods monster’.

The game comprises of a short trip through connected parts of the forest on a sort of fetch-quest that’ll allow you to reach the clearing where the light landed. The premise reminds me of the supposed UFO sightings in Westall, Australia in 1966 that involved a bright light landing in a forest: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Westall_UFO.

The highlight of this game are the graphics: from the cutscenes to the ingame sprites, there is a controlled aesthetic and palette that betrays the artistic training of the creator - much to his credit.

The cutscenes, in particular, are what sets Flatwoods apart. They are hand-drawn and to a standard we are more used to seeing on the Cartoon Network. While they might benefit from slightly tighter editing, their overall addition to the game is immeasurable and elevates it beyond it’s simple story and mechanics to an impressive experience.

Music is similarly idiosyncratic; weird and jumbled but not simply noisy. The interior stuff is particularly effective at setting an uneasy tone that smashes the paranormal together with the domestic and naive - a fitting reflection of the themes. My only gripe was that the interior/exterior themes didn’t necessarily mesh, but it’s a minor point in the face of their unique sound.

The game boasts two endings, but only one of them is actually satisfying and requires the player to search just a little bit harder on the fetch-quest. So if you’re playing this for the first time after reading this review - put the effort in the first time!

Overall, this reviewer came away with two things: the game’s story would have benefited from a personal reason that the lemon-head was going on the adventure. Why did the Flatwoods monster mean something to this lemon-head in particular? A small addition of this extra personal reason at the beginning would have given the story higher stakes.

The second thing is that it represents an interesting debut for a new RPG creator who, assuming he attempts something more ambitious for his next project, has the potential to produce 2017’s most exciting RPG Maker game.

Posts

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Thank you very much for taking the time to write a review!

I have had a few people bring up Lemon's lack of motivation for looking for the UFO. I guess originally I wanted it to try to recreate the feeling I had as a kid, I lived on a farm property in northern NSW and I spent a lot of time just exploring for the hell of it, sometimes I would imagine things being out in the paddocks and other times it was just to see what I could find. It obviously didn't quite make the translation from my mind into the game itself, and I do agree, some sort of core motivation would have improved things.

I am definitely attempting something much much more ambitious with my next game, although I don't know if it will be finished by the end of 2017, I can hope but with me moving back to Australia from Canada in the middle of the year it will be hard to say. I am hoping to have a new page for it up here and on Tumblr early next year, as well as a demo by late February fingers crossed.

Here's hoping I can exceed the standard I set for myself with Flatwoods. :)
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