I like playing video games, talking about them in depth, and making videos on youtube.



Soul Sunder Review

Earlier you mentioned that you exploited P5's early dungeon to win the game on Hard Mode with an artificially enforced difficulty of avoiding all optional battles. Is P5 a one-star game for you?

No, I wouldn't say P5 is a one-star game because even though the gameplay exploits or the grinding/perfection necessary for Hard Mode lowered my satisfaction with the game, I will applaud the plot, music, and graphics greatly for what they are. Where gameplay was bleak, everything else was incredible, which is why I would give P5 a 3/5 star rating.

Does being able to use this exploit lower your impression of P5?

Yes, the exploits that I was able to use do lower my impression of P5 because I'd rather be rejected from trying to play the unintended way so I'm forced to play how the devs wanted all their players to play their game with player skill being the determining factor that separates how everyone uniquely plays.

Or let's take a game like Super Mario Bros. Warp pipes are part of the game's design. Using them significantly changes the time of a speedrun, such that there are records with and without warp pipes. Does the existence of warp pipes change your impression of Super Mario Bros.? Does it lower your impression of the game, knowing that the only thing keeping a player from using warp pipes is the choice not to?

I wouldn't call warp pipes in Super Mario Bros exploits because, as you said, they are part of the game design. The developers intentionally placed them in order for people to use them if players found them. In my opinion, exploits would be actions that manipulate or go around the coding/scripts to do things that players are not intended to do. If devs explicitly designed their game to allow sequence breaks, then, I wouldn't call it an exploit since you're playing the game one way that the devs wanted you to play.

Soul Sunder Review

"I mostly needed to use exploits instead of strategies to survive on the hardest difficulty. 1/5 stars"

oh my goodness that is a statement

If you can't take my review seriously solely because I mentioned using exploits to win instead of strategies, think about games that speedrunners use glitches and exploits to get the fastest records. Now think about games that don't have known glitches or exploits. Speedrunners still do those games, even if they can't be cheap about them. In fact, it's usually more of a challenge because they actually have to think about how to legitimately play the game as efficiently as possible. Because there are exploits in this game, I was able to take advantage of them and play the game differently than most people are intended to, and in my opinion, good games shouldn't have such a faulty.

Soul Sunder Review

If you could just send me your save file, I can actually run all the tests I need to figure out what happened.
Do you have an email I can send the save file? I'm not sure how I can do that on this site. Also, I have good/bad news. I gave Soul Sunder a second chance, and I beat it on Heaven or Hell mode without much difficulty past the OriginFury chase. That was the good news. Bad news is that I still feel the same about the game because of the way I was able to survive via exploits instead of strategies for the most part. Battles had plenty of strategy, sure, but avoiding enemies on the field didn't have that much. Basically, I manipulated the A.I. on enemy pathing to make them do ring-around-the-rosie with me and any hole/body of water/rock formation, so they try following me clockwise (for example), and I just keep going clockwise slow enough until I'm where the enemy was standing idle while the chasing enemy is stuck on the opposite corner of whatever I put between us. There were plenty of times where I couldn't do that with narrow paths that I had to go for the plot progression, but for those battles, it was ok because there were so few of them between campsites that I almost never needed to use healing items after battle.
As far as story goes (I got the Rebirth Ending; don't know if that matters a whole lot), I felt like it didn't have enough going for it while the potential was ripe. *Spoilers below for those*

I didn't get enough world building for why the terminus gates leak miasma. Even if that was just there as an explanation for why there are monsters in the world, there needs to be a reason for why terminus gates are even a thing. There could've easily been lore on people discovering terminus gates, trying to bury them/contain them, failing at that, and make reasons for why people don't just put kiyomas all around terminus gates, but I never found anyone or any bookshelf detailing this.

According to Myra, Arya's father was so depressed about his daughter not coming home, so instead of GOING TO FIND HER, he told Myra, a GIRL IN A WHEELCHAIR, to find Arya for him right before committing suicide. And that scene that Myra said this was supposed to be sad for Zero? I don't know, but I just dislike Arya's father even more because he wasn't willing to risk his life to find his own daughter. That's true love. Not asking someone handicapped to do it for him.

I stopped liking Cieran once I learned more and more about him. In the stratum that we learn about his memories, I immediately got reminded of Cecil from Final Fantasy IV from how Cieran's past seemed like. Uh, spoilers for FFIV incoming...
Cecil was told by his king to go to a town with a ring to take the town's magic crystal. Cecil, the loyal knight as he was, did what he was told. Once he arrived in the town, the ring unleashed hell on the town, killing everyone except one girl, Rydia. Cecil felt betrayed by his king, vowed to avenge the town by going back to the king for answers, and along the way, he took in Rydia under his care since he felt sorry for her. Sounds similar to Cieran's situation, huh? However, past the above is where Cecil and Cieran's backgrounds start to shift. There was a time that Rydia was thought to be dead, but Cecil didn't mope to the point of contemplating suicide. He continued living. Cecil returned to the first town he had to steal a magic crystal from before the town I mentioned in order to plead for forgiveness. The town elder said he would forgive Cecil only if he laid down the darkness in his soul as a Dark Knight by going up a mountain of trials to become a Paladin, a knight of light. Eventually, Cecil did this, and the first town accepted him for such a feat that many failed to do so in the past. He risked his life to do something that seemed impossible just for another's forgiveness. Cieran just pleaded to a priest and his wife...

Anyway, Cieran went to Purgatory and turned crazy from the Miasma Sickness to practically be an antagonistic puppet. It's not like he had inner motivations to do what he did. His actions were just instinctual to be against Zero and co. I can't even be sympathetic for the guy because he wasn't in total control of his actions once the Miasma Sickness struck. Cieran became a figurehead of antagonism gone wild. No real charisma or understanding to relate with.

Now to talk about the prophecy. I'm very confused about this. Here's what I think happened. Jack, Isaac's dad, thought Isaac and someone else would go to the terminus gate outside of Orias in pursuit of Cieran, and Isaac is supposed to be realized by the terminus gate and become the chosen one who kills off the other child who was with him, but to prevent this prophecy from happening, Jack told Cieran to kill Isaac before he becomes realized as a chosen one. However, Arya also happened to be a chosen one, who gets realized by the terminus gate, and this was unplanned to happen according to Jack. What I don't understand is how Isaac actually fits in the picture because Alex was with Arya, and we know Isaac isn't Alex. Also, if Cieran was supposed to kill Isaac before he was realized by the terminus gate, why didn't he just kill the supposed Isaac when he first entered the ruins? Why did Cieran wait right in front of the terminus gate? Isn't that risking the whole plan by making it more likely for him to be realized since he'd be closer?

Finally, I don't like how every NPC before the final stratum was saying, "You are ready," to Zero. Apparently according to the bonus room, it's up in the air with whether or not Haven and its citizens were also illusions created by Zero's regrets, but... that doesn't explain all the items you get there. If I get a weapon that lets me use an attacking drive on an enemy in purgatory, that drive isn't an illusion since it actually hurt the enemy, which means the weapon that gave the drive isn't an illusion, so there's no way the person I paid marks to is an illusion since said person had to give me the weapon in the first place. Let's say I entertain the idea that everything with Haven was an illusion. I'm pretty sure Zero and co. would be dead from dehydration since there wouldn't be any clean water for them to drink if everything was an illusion. There was no kiyoma anywhere in Haven after all, and there was poisonous water right outside purgatory. I believe I read from some dialogue that miasma, when concentrated enough, will kill all life and degrade everything around it, so all that water we see in Haven might look good, but it might actually be an illusion for poison water. Because of this, it's also very possible that everything after the childhood arc didn't actually happen, and the events of the adult arc is Arya's purgatory before Heaven/Hell/whatever otherworldly place you want to call. Now, let me entertain the idea of Haven being completely real. All those adventurers who supposedly died in Purgatory? They're alive again. Everyone suddenly wanted to say, "You are ready," to Zero one day while staring at her profusely. It's pretty obvious that this alternative is off putting, too, in terms of plot.

Two last things that are gameplay spoilery below.
In the second to last stratum when you activated the switch, fought Cieran on the rooftop, and had to go back down to the first floor, I went through utter hell trying to get down the stairs because Cieran would force me back, fight me, run away, and I'd try the other staircase. Same thing happened. Then, I thought, maybe this is supposed to happen once on both set of stairs to get at least one more fight with Cieran. Ok, I'll try going down the stairs again. NOPE! I tried looking around the whole room one more time, and there were only two staircases to go down, and I suddenly find Cieran coming at me, so another fight happens, he runs, and I'm confused. That's when I thought, "Maybe I'm supposed to think that I can't go down from the stairs since he's somehow guarding both of them, so I let him come up to fight me, and now that I did, I can go down the stairs!" NOPE! So, I literally spent a minute or so waiting idly next to a staircase to see if I can go down it while Cieran comes from who-knows-where on-screen. Never showed up. So, I wandered for a while and got him to appear. I did the ring around the rosie trick, and was able to go down the stairs. This ate a TON of my healing and attacking items. I almost thought of save scumming, but then, I looked at how many materials I had to make more items, so I decided not to. Was the solution to this "puzzle" supposed to be obvious? I sure didn't understand what I was supposed to do right away, so believe me when I say that I was almost as frustrated as the OriginFury chase scene.

Speaking of crafting items, there was a huge lack of armor crafting compared to weapon and healing/attacking item crafting. I hoarded all my armor to think I could craft some amazing armor, but I never found any armor crafting recipes. Then again, Adventurer's Tunic for +5 SP and Fancy Dress for Encouragement are hard to replace, even if other armor items have better stats. Anyway, this lack of armor crafting felt weird when there's a huge emphasis on crafting everything else.

Soul Sunder Review

How did you talk to Abie if you were on Heaven or Hell mode?The door to the apothecary is locked in Heaven or Hell mode, so you shouldn't have been able to enter the building at all, let alone talk to him.

You're not the first person to quit during the Origin.FURY chase and, looking back, I definitely see how I could've conveyed the intended destination better. Especially when under pressure of the chase. I'm sorry that was the point where you gave up. For reference: The ice wall in the northwest room can be bombed during the chase to create the path you were looking for.
The door wasn't locked for me. I just went in like any other door. I'm sure it was the apothecary since it only had healing items, and it was on Heaven or Hell mode. I can make a video of it if you're still interested in seeing it happen if you can't replicate it. I had a feeling that ice wall looked too suspicious for its own good, but I did use the bomb when I first came across it but not during the chase because I thought, "If it can't be bombed then, it wouldn't make sense for it to be bombed now."

I'm also a little curious about this "hardest mode first" approach, since I rarely nudge the difficulty slider out of its recommended setting when going blind into a moderate-time-commitment rpg, and I generally try to play the intended game mode since it's closest to the intended game experience.
I just have a lot of experience with fine tuning gameplay in most RPGs to min-max stuff, which accidentally ends up making the games I play too easy, even in a blind playthrough. I exploited the hell out of Persona 5's first dungeon to make it so I could avoid fighting every optional battle but still win all the forced fights on Hard Mode, which is technically the hardest difficulty unless you count in the DLC difficulty, Merciless. As proof, here's a video.

Instead of a stream-of-consciousness commentary, maybe you should categorize, form general opinions, and present them in a way that's digestible. Because all I see is scribbles and nit-picks.
If it weren't for these scribbles and nit-picks, there wouldn't be any minor detail refinement tips added for the main substance of the game or future games.


I don't know if anyone else has pointed this out, but I find it so ironic that you have Leon named Leon when Night is using a similar portrait to the Tales of Destiny 2 character named Judas, who's actually named Leon in Tales of Destiny 1, which is even more ironic since your game's Leon uses a similar battle portrait to Stahn's from Tales of Destiny 2, who butted heads with Leon from time to time in their Tales of Destiny 1 days.

Aetherion Review

Thought about just having the combat system and doing the rest as a VN style and avoiding the whole map thing (since tilesets are not something we're good with) or trying to come up with ways to make exploration more of a thing.

Aw, I actually liked the map exploration of the school and the Concert Hall's aether rip map since it encouraged item finding and enemy avoiding using the terrain respectively. I have some ideas for exploration if you want. There could be puzzles to open up paths that we could see but couldn't get to, hints that a previously passed, blocked path is now open, or there could be keys for locked doors. As far as puzzles go, why not use the characters' elements for objects, like obstructing terrain, switches, and collectible items. If you want some examples, check out the Golden Sun series.

Ugh, you guys have made me want to revisit this now. Maybe keep the 2D combat system but move it to Unity so I can do VN stuff. Visual Novel Maker would be way too difficult to implement that combat system in right now. Hm.

Good work, MLG!

Yay! I'm glad we could make a difference. :D

Aetherion Review

Thank you for the review! I was laughing pretty hard at the part where you said 'this character is like this character from this other game' because I haven't played any of those personally. I think most of them probably hadn't been released yet when this game first appeared.

I shall tell you a secret! In the initial first draft story I suggested to Anaryu in the very early stages of this project, Flynn was going to be the protagonist. That's why most of the plot in the game revolves around him. Edan didn't exist yet, the plot would have focused more on his relationship with Alaria. Anaryu and Krisanna suggested a more neutral viewpoint character for a protagonist, and that's how Edan came about (and why he has a fairly neutral shonen anime personality.)

Edan's design is actually borrowed from concept art for a character from a planned sequel to Skye, which is why this game also shares elements with that project as well. They were set in the same universe, and if this project had continued there would have been mention of Sky Knights eventually.

Sadly it is unlikely there will ever be a larger version of this game, which is sad as I am rather fond of it.

You're welcome! :D If you laughed hard at those sentences, just wait until you watch the guidance video I linked at the end of this review. I edited some skits and voice clips that should match Edan, Flynn, and Alaria's personalities.

Wow, I had a feeling that Flynn had a bigger role before Edan came into the picture considering how the plot was so focused on him instead of Edan, but I didn't expect Flynn to be the main character in the first draft!

Ooooh, that's pretty clever. I'll check out Skye later then.

Yeah, it's been about seven years since Aetherion came out, but I still hope a finished product gets launched, especially after reading the development on the blogs.
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