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Superb characterisation and a well-created world

  • Zazur
  • 11/14/2011 11:48 AM
Here's Admiral Styles' summary of the game:

"Love and War is a tale taking place on the world of Terra. Ever since the birth of the first nation-state on this world, Terra has been wracked by the scourge of war. Five nations managed to survive throughout the ages, yet it seemed as though with each passing day, humanity slipped closer and closer to self-annihilation.

One man made a difference, however. The youthful Emperor of the Zion Empire, Geraud Valtemond, was this man. A brilliant, honorable, and benevolent monarch, he managed to open the eyes of the leaders of the other nations, showing them what lay ahead if Terra persisted down this road. Through diplomacy and sheer force of will, Lord Geraud created the Commonwealth; an international governing body, comprised of democratically elected representatives and Peacekeeping Forces, which would forever make war a thing of the past.

Three centuries have elapsed, and people have forgotten the lessons of the past. Tensions are rising between nations once again, and it seems as if the Commonwealth is powerless to do anything but watch as its order crumbles. Can one man make a difference, once again?

Welcome to Love and War.

Ok, that's what the game is about. Here's my review:

The game was fun. Fun quests, well-balanced monsters, a small variety of spells that come in useful at different points, etc. etc. The minigames were pretty awesome. Who Want To Be A Level Ten Archer tested whether you'd read the books around the place, some of the questions were a bit tough, but most guessable, and I thought it was really well done. The most annoying quest was the grandmother's time capsule one, the design was not that well considered. Once you'd read the poem, the way you had to go was obvious, so I went straight ahead, past the bird that seemed to fly off the edge of the screen, past the rocks, past the ... Oh, wait, now there's water in my way, and I can't get past! It is not obvious in my opinion that you have to actually examine each item mentioned in the poem. I think at certain points there should have been automatic dialogues come up, where Lavie explained where in the poem she had reached etc.

This took a lot of consideration due to what I think was a fair degree of fluctuation in the quality of the maps, although most are fairly good. Let's start with the good. Ozunhold, an abandoned fortress which you have to explore, is a maze amongst ruins, where you must navigate many small rooms to locate swtiches and the like. Whilst mostly linear (a common feature throughout the game and once I realised this I thought it a shame), the feeling of exploration is definitely there, and it's fun - also varied to keep it interesting, as at one point you find a section which is still standing and explore inside for a bit. My favourite dungeon by far in the game. Also good are the towns in general; in Davenport and Lorean especially there is a lot to explore.
The other towns are less good - there are plenty of houses in Glendale and Alton, but few are open or have anything significant at all in. In some places there are chests, but when you try to open them, there is no response - a bit annoying there wasn't any message at all. Also, a few of the dungeons didn't look completely realistic - there are a few cut corners in terms of design. The only point I can remember right now was from part of Alton Moor - where one map was essentially a rectangle 6 or 7 wide, surrounded by trees, where the area was just divided up using a mazy pattern of raised ground. It was just a bit bland and felt too much like it was "quick to make". Nevertheless, mapping was generally of a good quality - just definitely nothing spectcular visually.

Characterisation and Atmosphere:9/10
The strongest part of the game. All characters, playable or non-playable, were distinct and had unique personalities. It can be difficult to make a hero character with a strong personality in some games but Ryan comes across as having depth, as do Henrik and Armin. Another reviewer said they hated the female lead, Lavie - I think she was possibly my favourite character - some brilliant dialogues and clearly defined. Yeah, she could be annoying, but she was meant to be to a certain degree. I personally wanted Ryan to tell Marianne to stuff it and ask Lavie out, so that she'd be happy!
The atmosphere and world setting is brilliant; a world separated into 5 very different countries, kept at peace by a council of delegates. The political tensions are obvious and you can sense war might be coming. If anything, there are too many books around detailing the history of Galvenia etc. in fact I stopped reading them all, but this is not a fault.

I feel there's an important distinction between this and the characterisation and atmosphere, let me try and explain what I mean ... So the game starts with Ryan having just graduated from school and wondering what to do with his life. At this point I'm waiting for a problem to present itself, something big to happen to give Ryan purpose to his life again. No such problem materialised throughout the game for me. Instead, Ryan seems just to drift into his dad's business, runs an errand to Trinden, where it seems the town is besieged by low-level snakes blocking all exits, and unless something is done soon the entire town will starve (overdramatic much?), only problem is the town doesn't really seem to care much apart from the mayor. So Ryan does the quest, returns to his dad, sleeps, does another delivery, which ends in another quest ... The entire story to me seems just to be day to day life punctuated by a series of ever-more serious quests - which to me should be sidequests. I just wish there had been a continuously running main quest, rather than what seems to be the day to day chronicles of a delivery boy, albeit a very unlucky one that seems to be forced to turn mercenary, then government agent ...

I can't give more than this as it seemed like the vast majority if not all of the music was RTP/common RPG fare. It was used appropriately throughout, however.

Overall, a good, fun, balanced game which I'd recommend, mainly to new players of the genre perhaps than veteran dungeon crawlers and quest-seekers, but nevertheless anyone will have fun playing this game. I will also finally note that Admiral Styles was very obliging to fix my save file when I encountered a minor bug related to character speed that virtually stopped me from continuing - thanks Admiral, and good game!


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I personally wanted Ryan to tell Marianne to stuff it and ask Lavie out, so that she'd be happy!

Oh, if only things could be that simple...

Thanks for the review, Zazur! I think the revamp will address at least some, though not all, of your concerns. Glad to hear that you enjoyed it when all was said and done. :)
Aha! Looking forward to the revamp - and Act II!
I personally wanted Ryan to tell Marianne to stuff it
The game offers you this option! Simply reject Marianne’s meeting request.

and ask Lavie out, so that she'd be happy!
Don’t ask too much from a broken heart. Ryan got betrayed much too recently to start a new relationship. That’s how the character you control feels. And, yes, it differs from what you feel. This is a key element of role playing: you have to enter the character, absorb his past and current feelings to plays as if you were him.

I hope I don’t sound too harsh. I developed this point of view from larping. In larp, I don’t act as I feel but as the character I play feels. (Actually I do my best to do so but I’m sure I get biased by my own feelings).
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