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A dish best served cool.

  • pianotm
  • 05/26/2017 07:03 PM
  • 2867 views
Name: Vindictive Drive

Developer: Balthasar02

Story (Rant): You are Arris Fern, an antisocial hacker that wants revenge on her highly abusive father, the president of the free world, for murdering her mother. Using criminal and hacktivist connections she's made, she sets in motion a series of events that will put her at odds with the most powerful people in the world.

Writing: Brilliant mystery and suspense building, along with intrigue, mixing with subversive story elements and interesting characters, Vindictive Drive far exceeded my expectations. Unfortunately, there are some serious plot holes that have to be addressed. This is a hard-boiled story. "Hard-boiled" means that the main character narrates. The opening narration reveals that Arris sleeps 14 hours a day, and then spends all of her time indoors on her computer. When she goes outside, she frequently complains that she hates walking. She has a stamina gauge and if you try to run, she can't even make it all the way down a short hallway without running out of breath.


You know, somehow, I'd expect an antisocial computer geek's single room flat to look a bit more...lived in.


THIS IS AN ELEMENT OF GAMEPLAY! and the story expects me to believe that she can rob a bank, and shoot her way through police that have been worked into a killing frenzy after a bunch of their own have been killed. You know, this is a great story, but I don't think I can suspend my disbelief that much, and I don't think many other people are going to be able to, also. Further, as if that isn't unbelievable enough, she's spying on bank robbers, shadows them, and steals from the bank when they're done. Then she alerts the police to their escape route and uses the security control room to help them escape...so she can have authority over them? The security that she's been disabling, no less! See where I'm going with this? It's true, she was forced to kill one of them, but if she had just left and forgotten about the other three, everyone would have escaped, no police would have been killed, nobody else would have died, and nobody would have been any wiser about her.

Instead, the police are looking for the bank robbers, and now her father's goons have been alerted to her activity. Seriously, this game makes some pretty unforgivable leaps of logic for the sake of plot; leaps of logic it doesn't even need to drive the plot, and now Arris, because she's this super spy that sleeps 14 hours a day and is disoriented by the sunlight, and can't even walk up the street without complaining about her feet hurting, is firmly in Mary Sue territory. There are two distinct character types that Arris is made up of that are directly at odds against each other. I'm sorry, someone that gets winded running a few feet isn't going to be carrying out presidential assassinations in the near future.


Yo! Imma can't even go out in the sun without hissing, but Imma 'bout to wreck some para-military
special forces that have had years of training.
Also, art foreshadowing the loss of an eye, and based on the gamepage, I'm guessing it's going to hurt.
But based on the game, she's just going to shrug that off too, like she shrugs
off a baseball bat to the head. Yeah, that happens.


Seriously, this girl, who openly states that she never leaves her apartment, is able to easily escape bonds and can resist torture on a professional level. Like...what? Really? Really!?

Still, somehow, some way, some unbelievable way, this story manages to be really interesting and compelling. You genuinely want to see this girl succeed. Even though she's doing awful things, you feel like she doesn't have a choice in many of them, and you feel like she's fully justified in her mission. This is one of those examples, and these examples are numerous in popular culture, where the story is so interesting, and the presentation is so good, that we can forgive terrible writing decisions. That's exactly what we have here, but even though I can forgive the bad writing decisions, they're bad enough that I can't forget them. You just can't help but want to know what happens next.

Gameplay: The gameplay uses on map combat with item slots and there's a strong stealth and exploration element to this game. Your first mission is the bank. First you'll have to case it. The game is basically on rails, forcing you to go where you need to go in order, and taking away opportunities for the player to make mistakes. I don't mind since this game is mostly story and art driven and it's incredibly stylish. You go through the game avoiding and disabling the bank's security system. I expect much of the game is going to be like this beyond the demo. Overall, the game's fun, well crafted, and hard to stop playing.

Glitches: There's a serious one. Your ability to escape is severely hampered by the fact that police can see you and shoot through some of the walls. A minor one I found was as follows:


Woo! I'm walking on the walls!


Graphics: Simply fantastic. These alone are reason to play the game. Every single pixel is custom and it doesn't even feel like you're playing an RPG Maker game. The developer has really done an all around excellent job with character and scene paintings that firmly put you in this world.


This isn't because she had to shoot her way past some cops. It's because she isn't used to being active. She says it in the very next line.


Music: The game uses music from a number of sources. I don't know if it's original or public domain, but it all fits the game perfectly.

Conclusion: As a rule, I don't buy commercial RPG Maker games, but thankfully this one has a demo, and has proven itself well worth the meager amount. I'll put some money on my card and likely buy a copy fairly soon. As it is, if the game continues to follow its current path, I doubt I'll be disappointed with the final product. Still, be ready to look past some pretty significant plot holes. This game is one of those instances where all of the elements come together in just the right way that you can forgive the bad points. Once you see it, you can't unsee it, but no story is perfect, and no game accurately represents life. Just enjoy it for what it is. It's well worth it. Since I only played the demo, I won't rate it. Once I play the game, I may update the demo, but if I find my overall opinion doesn't change, I'll probably just add a rating.

:::::UPDATE:::::


I have played the finished version up to part 2 and my opinion has decidedly changed.

Writing: While the opening presentation doesn't change, as you get into the game, Arris' abilities do make more sense. Her skills are a bit more limited than the opening mission would have you believe and much of her success comes from her knowledge of technology. Really, though, the main draw of this game is the story. As revenge story, it's genuinely epic, with people in power being as sick as can be imaginable, and Arris becoming every bit the monster they turned her into. Even if you try to do good, to show mercy the writing twists it into an act of depravity, and the people she does it to are so sick, instead of being disgusted by Arris' acts, you feel they deserve every bit of it. These people are so awful, seeing them suffer is the only real satisfying conclusion to their story, but right at the front of it is the clear evidence that Arris has become just as awful as them. It has never been more enjoyable being the bad guy. This is one of those stories where there are no good guys, and frankly, this is some of the best story telling I've ever seen in a game.

Gameplay: It's pretty much the same as in the demo version, except there are a few more tutorial events and the HUD and options menus have been drastically improved. I'm not particularly fond of the control configuration, using the top row, instead of the middle but I suppose it's a preference thing. It's not as intuitive as I might like, but the gun fights are few, and this is a stealth game; in fact, the type of stealth game where trying to fight your way through is a guaranteed way to lose. Overall, the gameplay is phenomenal and the methods are as clever as any AAA stealth action game.

Graphics: I couldn't imagine Balthasar02 being able to improve on graphics, but he did, adding animated sequences.

Second Conclusion: This could be the best indie action game I've ever played. It was made on VX Ace. Just let that sink in.

Posts

Pages: 1
Hello! Thank you very much for taking the time to review the demo, this is very complete and I agree with most things, the demo had some serious issues, bugs and plot holes that I think I covered well in the full version.

There are some explanations for some of the points you made, like the fact she doesn't want to remain completely unnoticed, how she can take a beat up can be understood if we look at the life she had, but then again, it's impossible to see most of these things in the demo.

I'd like you to see how much it has improved since then, so I will happily provide a key for free, and again thank you so much!
pianotm
The TM is for Totally Magical.
24281
Dude, thanks! I figured I'd check it out next week, but hey, I guess I can just check it out now! It'll be a nice break from all of these cookie cutter horror games I've been reviewing. I'm getting ready to play Tik Tik, speaking of cookie cutter horror games. You know that frame where you see Arris pointing a gun at her head? That's how these horror games are making me feel.
pianotm
The TM is for Totally Magical.
24281
EDIT: Oh, never mind. I figured it out.
author=pianotm
So, I've already found a bad glitch. After getting your bionic ear (is that an Easter egg? XD), if you buy two boxes of ammo before leaving Hexes bar...you can't leave the bar because you've already spent your money on ammo and you have to buy a box of ammo.

Edit: And I saved so I have to start over from the beginning.

Hi there, thank you o much for trying it! That's not a glitch, as the pop up says you need to open the boxes to leave, if you have 9mm ammo in your bag, you're allowed to leave.

EDIT: Ah, alright, we were writing at the same time, thank you!
pianotm
The TM is for Totally Magical.
24281
Okay, so you've still got that weird glitch where police can walk through and shoot through that wall, but the night-vision goggles made that scene much more practical to get through.
author=pianotm
Okay, so you've still got that weird glitch where police can walk through and shoot through that wall, but the night-vision goggles made that scene much more practical to get through.


Hi, thank you for updating, thanks for the feedback, you're running through quite fast.

Given this review was to me like a reminder of just how outdated the demo is, I decided to upload a new demo that will be added later today, it will be the same, except it will have the updated graphics, animations, proofreading and bug fixes.

I feel people here deserve to see something closer to the final product from the demo.
pianotm
The TM is for Totally Magical.
24281
Review has been updated!
author=pianotm
Review has been updated!


Wow, I'm seriously flattered, I'm happy it was enjoyable, I will update the Demo file in minutes, it was necessary for me, thank you very much for playing and taking some time to share your thoughts with me.

I hope people enjoy it, I will be giving some free keys over here as I promised in my last blog update.

Thanks a lot pianotm!
pianotm
The TM is for Totally Magical.
24281
You know, I genuinely didn't realize how much I'd love a game about a person that gets pushed too far. But this...this game is so honestly relevant to the state of the world, right now. Arris feels like the hero the modern world needs: someone who's given up her moral code to finally put an end to the bullshit.
author=pianotm
Arris feels like the hero the modern world needs: someone who's given up her moral code to finally put an end to the bullshit.


There are already a lot of people like that, though. Most recent one made themselves known this week in Manchester.
User was warned for this post
author=NTC3
author=pianotm
Arris feels like the hero the modern world needs: someone who's given up her moral code to finally put an end to the bullshit.
There are already a lot of people like that, though. Most recent one made themselves known this week in Manchester.


well, let's not do this...

e_e
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