Zameryth

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Mari Ishida is a struggling college student until suddenly, her laptop stops working. Desperate to finish her essay, she buys a computer from a random woman in a parking lot. However, everything changes when Mari gets trapped in a virtual world based on a website she bookmarked. Now she must work with a boy named Neil to escape the cursed computer. But at what cost will it take for her to go home?

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Short RPG with about 40-50 minutes of gameplay
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Cute story with a moral dilemma
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Lots of pixel perfect eye candy
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No random encounters

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Please read "~ Bookmarked Credits ~.txt" for full credits and details.

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Willibab

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No random encounters was all you had to say :p Love the style! The game look difficult though, but i can always just boogle the answers :3
 

Zameryth

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No random encounters was all you had to say :p Love the style! The game look difficult though, but i can always just boogle the answers :3
Thank you! The game isn't that difficult (or at least I hope not). There's some strategy involved so you can't just spam attack to win battles.
 

Willibab

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Thank you! The game isn't that difficult (or at least I hope not). There's some strategy involved so you can't just spam attack to win battles.

I just had to get that boogle reference/joke in :p Good that its not just a button mash though, far too many games that have that ^^
 

RCXDan

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@Aldu Hello there! I made an extensive review of the game :kaopride:

+ Right off the bat I really dig your artstyle. Pixel art just looks clean when done correctly. That title screen music is also pretty badass.

+ I like the minimal design for the characters.

+ The effect where the text box zooms in and the custom balloon icons are *chef's kiss*. These little details are what get me in games.

+ KREGSLIST and BOOGLE. I like it whenever we get fake internet in any form of fiction. I just find it amusing, I dunno.

+ ANIMATED MONSTERS. You do not go easy when it comes to battle interfaces if the Megaman Battle Network style combat system in your other game is any indication - it's visually appealing and easy to use. Other thoughts -

> Stance mode where you get to choose what stats you want to prioritize? Oh, and it doesn't waste your turn either - that's sick. I like that... might even take it for myself if you don't mind.

> I generally appreciate games that have "specialty" attacks against specific types of enemies.

> The whole "you get to see who attacks" thing is pretty cool. I always appreciated it when Digimon did it.

> The effect of enemies shaking when they get hit with a weakness and them burning away when they die is SICK. Though I'd also like it if the death effect also made a noise to with it. That' be cool.

+ Good music overall. I particularly like Donna's battle theme.

+ Oh hey she got sucked into the computer. We Digimon now, boys. I also appreciate the detail that the world is shaped by the webpage's contents. I like how simple and clean this story is too: like you not only implemented the theme of the jam in a really clever way (of course the star when you bookmark pages is the goal of the game) but we also have the motivations for our heroes without missing a beat. I really dig that.

+ It helps that the characters we control are adorable and somewhat relatable.

+ I like that every fight has you start out with full HP and some MP. Saves time, honestly.

+ A Retry function and Death not removing your EXP(?) is a godsend that more games should have.

+ Yay, visible encounters! Oh and the line of sight thing is a nice bonus.

+ The world dissolving effect is really cool, not gonna lie.

+ The "you ruined my makeup with your water attack" bit was genius. Bonus points for it actually changing her sprite.

:kaoswt2:

- I'll admit, the combat system is very rough and inflexible in its current state:

>
The fact that your normal attack is already locked onto a monster, so if you press attack by accident you can waste a turn.

> I don't like how the yellow stars don't show up when you attack normally or stay after you complete a fight.

If you don't want regular attacks to build the star meter, you could at least make them the one thing you carry over between fights since they can be a valuable part of your arsenal and be an extra layer of "oh man what should I use this on?".

Taking 2-3 hits from enemies should also give you a star too, just so they can be a comeback mechanic.

>> Psst. Mari's all-heal move should also restore some of her MP. And cost three stars if you revise the star meter to persist between battles.

> 25 MP is way too low for the start of every fight, especially since monsters have quite a lot of health and can swarm you - Mari in particular gets way too beat up since she's the slower one of the two and for some reason got targeted way more. 40 or 50 would work better, especially since you don't get to use items to help out or revive your party members.

>> For example: the move that boosts your attack by 2.5*? Only thing you can use it on at the start of a fight is a regular attack, making it kinda worthless unless you go out of your way to intentionally boost your MP by attacking over just saving it for something more convenient.

It's not even that particularly gamebreaking if you manage to get a super-effective hit with the stack on, as it's not even enough to oneshot a normal enemy and is very risky to build up.

> Normal attacks from your guys should do much more than what they're currently doing and also heal a tiny bit of HP - I can see why you didn't go for outright MP regeneration per turn, but at the same time I feel normal attacks should at least do moderate damage to make them worth using beyond the MP restoration aspect. Likewise, Guarding should also bring back more MP - 10 or so, just so Mari can heal in a pinch.

> The enemies, as mentioned above, have a lot of health and too much attack power - the slime in particular walls out Neil completely, so if Mari is dead the only option you have is the counterattack move... which feels very off. It feels like they should go down in less turns and not hit as hard as they do.

>> For reference, Defense Stance Neil while Guarding takes 33 as opposed to 49 from the cactus monster. He hits for 40+ with a super effective move, which does piddly against the cactus, incentivizing the more aggressive/less safe option of going Offense to do 80+ while also taking 70. I like the idea of the stances, but they feel like tools that have better use in boss fights with big epic super moves than regular encounters.

> I feel Counter would work better if the Star version was the default (minus the defense pierce of course), whereas the new star version costs 2 stars and does defense piercing * 1.5 damage on top of giving him 20 MP. The "one hit per enemy" thing of the original feels very limited - worse if they don't even target him.

- Oh hey, thanks Hawk Boss for doing 293 damage to Mari. That was cool of you. Also what's the point of giving Neil a super-effective move for flying enemies if it doesn't work on the one boss in the game that would otherwise be classified as "flying"? Why is he walled by the boss?

If his only role in that fight is to be a Provoke Bot, that's not good. Both characters should contribute in damage equally.

- Likewise, the shield enemies are genuinely poorly designed. I get that you have to use Counter to defeat them (which itself is a bad move since it's not intuitive), but that method feels very limiting and not fun at all. If the game were more optimized, you would have the Water attack rust it while Pierce similarly kills it. Versatility!

What's the point of a "does extra damage to armored enemies" move if the literal shield monster isn't crippled by it? I just don't get it.

- Neil you're kind of an ass. You take after your mother too much - at the very least be more clear with Mari since she's obviously not in the right headspace.

- As cool as the money puzzle is, it's just kind of a numbers game until you get it right. Also you should probably cut it after the first instance. It definitely overstayed its welcome.

- I don't really understand the employee fights? Are they the animals themselves or are these like, their pets fighting in their place? It kinda confuses me.

- I would add a conditional branch to a fight where, if you lose and retry, you don't get to see the dialogue again.

- ... So I didn't know you could just take the incubator without consequence. I legit thought you had to get money somewhere in the store, and then the game ended. If that lead to a new plot point with consequence, I would have missed it.

- I don't like Mari's incessant moralizing or the darker tone the game gets later on. It feels rather forced. I get that the former is meant to establish her character, but the tone at the beginning of the game didn't give me the indication that we would go down this route.

- The characters wind up dead weight if either one dies. If Mari dies (which WILL happen), you can't heal. If Neil dies, you lose damage options that might change the flow of the fight.

They should BOTH be able to heal each other AND revive each other, much like players in a multiplayer co-op game - the revive should cost nothing or at the very least 10 MP. Because the alternative is slowly dying and being put into a checkmate situation where you know you can't win.

The retry option is nice, but I've always felt that's better used as a way to bounce back from a bad situation with a new strategy as opposed to being a bandaid for being locked in a downward spiral where you have to hope everything goes right or you die.

Lovely art, great music, great ideas, decent start... but the combat really fumbles over itself, especially towards the end. It kind of proves my theory that games where the enemies have more resistances than weaknesses tend to drag more since you're limited to playing a certain way just to win, if that makes sense - not helped by the very limited MP pool and there being no revive option whatsoever.

I get wanting players to think strategically, but this feels like an overcorrection that punishes you if you stray from the narrow path it wants you to take.

Like - it was just frustrating to see Mari and Neil not being able to do anything because an enemy walls both of them on different occasions. I was thinking the entire time that fleshing out the system to give the player more options, while making the game a bit easier, would also heighten the skill ceiling and give the game a much better rhythm to it than what it currently has.

Higher player damage, permanently gaining stars, less HP for common enemies, more weaknesses to take advantage of, not relying on counter to defeat enemies, etc. Like please make the regular attack do more than 20 without the use of a buff.

The puzzle in the store should have been cut after the first instance since it doesn't really have anything to do with the rest of the game and dragged out the stay there. Would have been funnier if you just went like "okay, we get it. give us the card already".

... Not only that, the story bugged me too. The pacing of the store area is one thing, but the entire thing felt a bit too maudlin for how bright and cheery it looks - it was offputting since there was a bit too much focus on the "suffering" aspect of the virtual world, whereas I feel you would have been better off focusing on a more silly or light-hearted tone at first (to build up your characters as likable) and gradually going deeper.

You don't have to listen to me on this one though, since it's your story and you can do whatever you want with it.

That said, I can't imagine how much work it took to get everything looking so nice - the battle UI is fantastic and everything looks and sounds great. The combat has a decent foundation but it needs quite a bit of fine-tuning to flow properly - once those gets squared off, I can imagine this being an award-winning game.

I hope to see more out of you in the future! :LZScheeze:
 
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Zameryth

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@RCXDan Wow, thank you for the well written and detailed feedback! :kaoluv: I really do appreciate it since I strive to become a better game developer.

In response to the battle system, I agree with you. You made great points regarding AP and character viability. Honestly, I barely had time to test and refine the mechanics. As a game jam game, I over-scoped since I spent 3 weeks programming and learning the engine (first time using MZ and never used MV). It's one of those things I regret since I also spent a lot of time on the visuals.

As for the story pacing, it's because I wrote it with a longer game in mind. Originally, I wanted to make a demo, then continue working on it after the jam ends. However, I really didn't like my experience with MZ so I'm not planning to buy it, which put my project in an awkward position. I decided to condense the story as much as I could so if the public response wasn't great, I could sweep it under the rug and move on. That's why I left a cliffhanger at the end to see if anyone would say that they'd be interested in a full game.
 

RCXDan

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@RCXDan Wow, thank you for the well written and detailed feedback! :kaoluv: I really do appreciate it since I strive to become a better game developer.

In response to the battle system, I agree with you. You made great points regarding AP and character viability. Honestly, I barely had time to test and refine the mechanics. As a game jam game, I over-scoped since I spent 3 weeks programming and learning the engine (first time using MZ and never used MV). It's one of those things I regret since I also spent a lot of time on the visuals.

As for the story pacing, it's because I wrote it with a longer game in mind. Originally, I wanted to make a demo, then continue working on it after the jam ends. However, I really didn't like my experience with MZ so I'm not planning to buy it, which put my project in an awkward position. I decided to condense the story as much as I could so if the public response wasn't great, I could sweep it under the rug and move on. That's why I left a cliffhanger at the end to see if anyone would say that they'd be interested in a full game.

No problem. :LZScheeze:

Yeah, I get you. A cliffhanger makes perfect sense in that scenario. That said, there's nothing stopping you from re-purposing this in an engine that's more comfortable for you to use! It definitely had good framework and was visually appealing.

Oh and I definitely feel you in terms of not having time to spare to balance the game. I still remember the experience of trying to put the combat into Sundew Nightmare after spending 70% of the dev time coding all the complex cutscenes. It was. Harrowing. :kaoswt2:
 

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