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Love And War: A Story with Great Potential.

  • Aurabolt
  • 03/24/2009 12:49 AM
  • 487 views
If I seriously get the time and the inclination before anyone else does, I'm gonna have to find and review The Way and Romancing Walker for the site. Well before my original computer lost the will to live as well as play awesome RPG Maker games, much less anything independent, these games were godsends. Their narrative progression was excellent-serious and humorous, respectively-, They each brought innovative game-play through their respective manners; episodic and constantly-changing situations for one, and conditional combat alongside a relationship system that was well-thought out in the other. Finally, the worlds they lived in were exceedingly well-developed in their own ways, combined with very personable characters that were developed so well that the player related to them, only improving on the atmosphere of the game and causing the player to come back more out of a sense of fulfillment on the protagonist's side, and even supporting character resolution of their own motivations.

I digress somewhat, for the game I'm reviewing today was inspired by these two games directly, as well as others in a sense of homage. Love and War starts out with a very dank and foreboding introduction but then makes a wildly-different setting-300 years later, Ryan Eramond has just graduated from the Academy of Davenport, and his summer begins with working as a deliveryman/part-time adventurer for his father, his two friends Henrick and Armin joining him from point-to-point as “Compadres” as well as a consistent means of comic relief through their constant arguing...and then we have Lavie; a....the kindest word is “overzealous” girl with a penchant for piano playing, archery, and relative insanity....she is also Ryan's childhood friend, and will not let us forget this fact throughout the stories' unfolding to an eventual climax. All the while, we are shown scenes of the growing politicial tension to come, as minor changes start to take place. Nearly everyone in the town of Davenport (generally, everyone with a face in the game.) has a story or character traits which serve to encompass and pull the player into a fully-realized world. A warning, though; this game and the cutscene that came with it (C'est Lavie, check the website), are both really funny while yet serious and dramatic. I nearly busted a rib laughing at some of these references and jokes.

The game is short, mainly focusing on character development and initial decisions by the player as to how they progress not only through the a linear progression from day-to-day and the occasional sidequest (read: two at moment.), but by also talking to the characters around your town and in other towns within the kingdom you live, learning more about the world through books and enhancing Ryan's development and storyline through what I like to call “ding-dong” decisions. These specific decisions-like in Romancing Walker associated with a ding- permanently concern the inner relationships of the characters-specifically Lavie for this act, as the game seems to make clear after the first three days- and will shape the later acts. Combat is simple and rewarding, yet also necessary to have a well-supplied party; the monsters are hard and money for resources and upgrades were made hard to come by, increasing the difficulty. This is also visible in how leveling has been capped to portray a character's development to a limited nature for this part of the story, and where items will become more important near the end game. This is solved slightly by the number of dramatic events within notable combats, which do more damage or cause status effects which change gameplay for both the opponent and the player. While this is welcome to a degree, sometimes the game feels like it's running itself...You could read one of the many books while it went on, the amount of background detail clear in the numbers of bookshelves-and the respective books you could read...I'd take a look at them too. You might just need this info later on.

Music and graphics are standard work for a RPG Maker game, but the atmosphere is clear enough to get engrossed. All the little details were also well-defined; you walk slower on the world map to simulate longer travel, reactions change to things and people seen before...A world has been made here, and we have been introduced to it within this game. I've grown attached to it, and I am looking forward to Part II.



Pros:

- Well-defined, expansive world with backstory and origins.
Characters are very relatable and easy to connect to.
- Very funny as well as serious; gameplay and minigames support it.
- Incredible sense of immersing atmosphere, hooks the player right in.
- Very challenging puzzles and resource management; didn't feel babied.


Cons:

- Far too much flavor text and explanation will bore the player; length is good, in smaller and easier to understand chunks.
- Significant combats tends to be over-ridden by too many events. Use in moderation, to enhance the story.
- A lot of backtracking in the later game, which causes the player to feel a lack of progress.
- Humorous references sometimes break flow of the game or take too long, such as the beatdown of that thief or the quizshow.
The length of wait until Part II. ^_^