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Form and substance

  • Nirwanda
  • 12/27/2016 03:03 AM
  • 374 views


"The quest of lost memories" is a short VX Ace adventure game made for the Mc Bacon Jam Event by Pianotm and a few other talented developers.

Presentation:
Right from the elaborated title screen you can see that this is not some half baked game, but something a lot of heart and care went into. Both the graphics and music are of an excellent quality and complement each other very well.
The hand drawn backgrounds are made to represent a child's drawings and they do that remarkably; yet this never plays against it having rich and aesthetically pleasing environments. The soundtrack sets the mood very well, being neither intrusive nor particularly memorable.
The only complaint I have in this department is really a minor nitpick: the rtp icons are kinda distracting, they really stand out against all the custom art.

Plot/Characters:
The plot’s intrigue is possibly its strongest point, so it’s a shame the gamepage gives away so much of it. Given the length of the game there’s no huge character arc filled with navel gazing nor an overarching epic story. But what there is, is perfectly functional with just the right amount of interesting development to keep us hooked. I would prefer not to tell much of the story as I’d rather recommend you to experience it for yourself.
If I had to be critical of something, it would be a certain anachronism in some dialogues. Let me explain: most the game’s dialogue is written on a neutral/serious tone, but there are a few lines that are simply more colloquial. And while they seem to be added for characterization’s sake, they had the opposite effect in me taking me off the story, with their sudden clash of style.

This line doesn't seem to come from the same character...

...as this one

Gameplay:
The game is divided in two separate modes: exploration and combat.
The exploration is controlled by dialogue based choices in a “choose your own adventure” style. It’s in this mode that the story will develop and we’ll have to explore and interact with the environment. This mode works perfectly; the only problem I ran into was that I couldn't discover how to get the best ending. I had to open the editor to read through it; but this was obviously my fault.


The battle mode on the other hand is probably the less polished aspect of the game: we can equip a weapon, an action you can do with it and an element. Though the system itself is serviceable, it’s also extremely simplistic as the game only features a few battles.


So what’s wrong with them? For starters, it’s very easy to get locked out of winning the game if you’re not extremely frugal with your healing items, as they are a very limited resource (this actually happened to me). There is also a lack of explanation for the “adverbs” (accessories) and only by opening the editor was I able to discover their use. Another annoying area is that we can only change equipment during battle given our enemies a free turn and increasing the likelihood we’ll waste an item. Finally there is a certain sloppiness in the equipment menu: your attack action is actually called armor and there is an unused slot that has no reason to exist since the game has been patched after the gamejam.

One final thing worth noting is that you can find a writing set, but it seems to serve no purpose I could find. It is probably, a holdover from a discarded ending that should also have been eliminated in the fixed version of the game.

Veredict:
While the battles drag the game down a little, it is not enough for it to lose its luster. “The quest of lost memories” is an interesting and definitely recommendable experience. It’s a game obviously made with love that possess both an appealing form and a strong substance to back it up and will probably stay with you long after played.

Posts

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pianotm
The TM is for Tipsy Mouse.
11702
Thank you so much! This was so incredible to read.

I'm going to go ahead and address some of the issues you raised:

Writing: There were two different writers on this game; myself and oddRABBIT. I tried to get oddRABBIT to write the script for the game, but he got too busy with school events. I had figured that he could write the script and then if it had problems, I could edit it. No such luck. He only got the chance to write for a few maps. One of them, I already had to heavily rearranged because the story had altered so significantly during development. I wasn't too fond of the slang either, but I tried to edit it as little as possible. To be honest, I could have been a bit more heavy-handed with writing like the chair comment and still not really violate the spirit of odd had written.

Battles: It's no secret that I was not satisfied with how our combat system turned out, but I was not dissatisfied, per say, and we only had a month. I've started looking into overhauling the battle system and changing it into something closer to what we had originally discussed.

Icons: This was absolutely me slacking. Ozzy and Rose had brought up how much the icons clashed with the art style, but rather than drawing an icon set, I completely ignored the issue. Now that I have the there isn't a deadline, and I've got a nice review to get me worked up again, I'll revisit that.

Item Balance: We actually came close to offering no items at all. I think we also neglected to put as many save points as the game actually needed (and by we, I mean me, since I was the one putting together the game's eventing). I had wanted the game to be challenging. I didn't want it easy. So we put together a system where the battles were mostly tough, but you'd heal after every battle. The heal items would be essentially for the eventuality that often, the dice rolls against you in fights. I had wondered about adding a few more items, and I think there are actually are a few more in the database.

The Writing Set and the Memory Crystals: The writing set was supposed to be part of a larger bit of story about Melora's family. They were supposed to be acquired with the memory crystals to get the best of the four endings. We had also intended there to be greater discussion about the crystals so that you knew you had to find them (although, we still wouldn't tell you where they were). I had never been able to write the full story I wanted to and when it came time to complete the game, I left the crystals in because I had no other vehicle to select the four different endings (five, if you count the quitter's ending). The whole point behind the crystals was...

:::SPOILER:::
Alyz, as you already know, was trying to steal Timothy's power, but he had to give it willingly to her. To do this, she had to alienate him from his family, so she gradually stole his happiest memories and placed them inside the four crystals. As Arolem gathers the crystals, Timothy's memories are restored, leading to the different endings depending on how many crystals you find. However, you still couldn't leave the diary unless you completed the writing set, because that was the emotional anchor to the real world having been a gift from the mother.


Now that I'm reminded that I failed to include all of this, I think a bit of a revisiting of the script is in order. As for removing the writing set, I just haven't been willing to give up on that aspect of the story yet.

Glitches: I fixed those bugs and uploaded a working version. Bleeding now works right and the treasure chest battles heal upon completion.
Thanks for such a throughout reply, and I'm glad the review was helpful to you. I'm glad you're still working on it and I hope you can turn TQoLM into the game you envisioned. Let me know when you do. Good luck :)
BTE, where WAS the third crystal?
I only found the one in the real world and the one in the chest at the end. Which btw, would prevent us from completing the writing set and getting all the crystals in the same playthrough since they're on different chests.
pianotm
The TM is for Tipsy Mouse.
11702
I certainly will, and thank you so much!

There's the one in the wardrobe. The next one should be the apple tree in the Mystic Forest. Talk to it three times to convince it to give you an apple, and it will give you an apple along with the crystal. I thought a few people might try the tree since it's a reference to The Wizard of Oz. Also, shutting out items was the point. Originally, the ending sequence wasn't supposed to be a logical progression of "more crystals equals better ending"; you could either completely restore dad's memory but be stuck in the diary world (which turns out to not be so bad), or you can sacrifice a part of his memory in the course of returning to the real world with him.
Ahhh yeah. I only tried once, didn't thionk about doing it multiple times.
That's very interesting about the ending.
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