May 8, 2021
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Crimson Critiques - Title Screen.png
(Working Title Screen. Will be changed. See "About The Project" for more details.)
Crimson Critiques 1: Cries of Esperanthia

Crimson Critiques 1: Cries of Esperanthia is a traditional 16-bit RPG built in the Visustella engine with a character driven narrative. It follows the stories of Juan, James, Hero and Jordan across the continent of Scriptura.

This game features choices that alter the outcomes of certain important events, a prologue chronicling the backstory of Juan and James, a somewhat small but densely packed continent to explore and side quests with a twist of leaving the quest giver reviews. These reviews will have an effect on the development of the main city of Praga as well as which quest lines you will follow on your journey. The demo features 3.5 hours of game play and five playable characters.

I'm developing this game on my own. This is the first game which I've ever made, but I've spent nearly 2000 hours working on it over the last 3 years. It is a passion project for me which I hope to make into a successful commercial product.

Thousands of years ago, there was a great kingdom known as Esperanthia which existed in a land of ice and snow. Inhabiting this kingdom was a race of people who used a language of unfathomable power. Through the sheer force of their words known as Utterances, minds could be controlled and civilizations made to rise and fall. The Esperan people came to dominate the world.

After years of conflict against rebel factions, the kingdom was overthrown, driven to ruin and its people scattered. Through the ages both it and its language were forgotten to time, though the descendants of the Esperans still exist throughout the world. Within those select few lie a specific gene which can unlock the power of that dormant language.

In the time since Esperanthia vanished, a new system of magic arose called arts. Arts are similar to Utterances; however, Utterances require only the word of one who is either specially trained to use it or one who is gifted with the gene of the Esperans. Arts require a different kind of magical power and have less influence on the mind and more influence on the elements.

There are two major continents in the world: the lush continent of grasslands and forests called Scriptura and the barren desert wastelands of Sunder. Generations prior, Sunder was also filled with life but all of the water in the region disappeared and the land withered. Legend has it that the region’s water still remains, locked away by a powerful magical force waiting to be freed again. The region is now known as the land of endless sun and rainless thunder.

Two great cities arose on each of these continents. In Scriptura, the city of Praga and in Sunder, the city of Zedan. 35 years ago, war broke out between these two regions over water, and the conflict was won by Praga thanks largely to a band of mercenaries called The Crimson Writers. The Crimson Writers were headed by a young man named Siegfried Freedman who thereafter wrote of his journeys and exploits.

These memoirs caught the imagination of an enterprising young man named Mr. Quill who started a new business venture alongside Freedman which he called Critique Corps. Here, mercenaries, known as Review Squads, could take jobs after which they would write of their experience in what they called reviews. They would rate various aspects of the job they had taken such as how dangerous it was, how interesting it was and how good the rewards were. Thanks to their reviews, the clients who gave the jobs gained notoriety, wealth and power. Critique Corps became an integral part of Praga's economy.

In the years since the conception of Critique Corps, several review squads came into being. One of which was called Squad Switchwatch. This squad was comprised of two sisters named Carmen and Dolores as well as their husbands, Frederick and Caleb. Shortly after their two sons, Juan and James, had been born, Frederick and Caleb accepted a mission to the frigid ice lands of Frostheim. While there, they discovered some ancient ruins of an old castle. After this, contact with them was lost, and they have since been presumed dead.

After the conflict between Praga and Zedan, a group of masked individuals arose who called themselves The Coalition. Speaking strange words with a mysterious power, they began appearing and taking people for an unknown purpose. When conflicts within the world arise, the Coalition can be found at the center of it.

Juan.png Juan (pronounced like the number one)

Juan is a driven young man who strives to be a successful reviewer in the place of his mother who was abducted by a group of mysterious individuals when he was a young child. He sometimes has a propensity to stutter when he is confronted by monsters. He also loves collecting rocks. He considers himself to be both the master of the sword and the pen.

James.png James

James is Juan’s cousin, and he can sometimes be a bit headstrong. Juan and James like to give each other a hard time, but they have a bond as close as brothers. He’s a lover of hats and a huge fan of the Crimson Writers. James was never very good with hand-to-hand weapons, but give him a wand and he’ll roast you.

Hero.png Hero

Hero was found lost in the woods by Juan and his family when they were kids. He couldn’t speak English at the time and his family was never found, so he was adopted by the Romero household. Hero has grown up to develop a slight drinking problem and a propensity to flip between being kind and being somewhat vicious. He is always the first to throw a punch at Praga Brews. Hero is quick and nimble, preferring to double strike with small blades or knuckles.

Jordan.png Jordan

Jordan is a priest who came from an undisclosed faraway land. Not much is known about him other than he has a vendetta against the Coalition. Jordan specializes in healing and light-based magic.

  • Five playable characters.​
  • 3.5 hours of gameplay (demo)
    - Goal of 10 hours in the final build.​
  • 2 complete dungeons (demo)
    - Goal of 4 dungeons in the final build.​
  • Five side quests though more are planned.
  • A side quest review system which will affect which quest lines you will get along with certain elements of how the world changes. *These alternative quests lines will be featured in a future update.
  • Search bookshelves in the world to find copies of your
  • A quest tracking system courtesy of Visustella.

  • A story-driven prologue with five separate endings.​
  • A gameplay-driven main story affected by the prologue.​
  • Toggleable choices for how and when to start the game.
    - Do you want to play the prologue in full and start the main
    story at a higher level?
    - Skip the tutorial of the prologue?
    - Skip the prologue but start the main story at level 1?​
  • Dialog choices which affect the personalities and interactions of major characters.
    - Whether you win or lose certain fights will alter an important
    - Try playing multiple times and see how things change.​
  • Random encounters on the world map
  • On-screen encounters in dungeons
  • Critical Techniques, or Crit. Techs, are this game's TP system.|
    - Attacks and Skip Turn Charges CT.
    - Use guard to quickly charge 30 CT.
    - Strategically decide when to attack, skip your turn or guard
    to deal optimal damage.
  • A tweaked weapon swap and shield break system from Visustella.
    - Experiment to find the enemies weaknesses and break their
    - You will deal more damage to them, but they will be enraged
    and deal more damage to you.
    - Charge up your Crit. Techs, break the enemy's shield then lay on the hurt!
    *Crit. Techs in the current version are referred to as Soul Powers, but that will be changed in the next release.
  • Unique attack commands determined by your equipped weapons which play a role in the shield break system.​
  • After a certain point in the story, enemies which scale in level to the player.​
  • Battle backgrounds based on the in-game maps.​
  • Three original mini-games which can be played either alone or against an NPC.​
  • A fishing mini-game.​
  • A mini-game chasing crows from a farm during a side quest.​
  • A simple cooking system.
    - More recipes will be available in future updates.​
  • A quick-time guard event for battles.​
*Note 1* In the current version, the button prompts are specifically for the keyboard. Since this version was released Visustella added a feature for controller prompts, so it has been updated for the next release. However, if you are using a controller, please be aware that A is the confirm key and F is the cancel key. If you receive a button prompt for A, use your confirm key. If you receive a button prompt for F, use your cancel key.

*Note 2*There is currently an option for the guard event text to pop-up over the characters or for it to appear as a full dialog box. However, due to the controller button prompt update, the pop-up option has been removed for the next update to Crimson Critiques. This is because the text code was incompatible with the pop-up. When you are asked to choose whether the QTE Guard Prompt Style is pop-up or text box, choose text box as this will be consistent with subsequent releases.

Crimson Critiques - World Map Reduced Size.png

Crimson Critiques - Forest Map.png

Crimson Critiques - Carmen and the Coaliton.png

Crimson Critiques - Battle Screen.png

Crimson Critiques - Tavern Choice.png

Crimson Critiques - Turning In Review reduced side.png

My name is Brian. I’m a full time teacher and have been working on this project by myself in my spare time. Over the course of the last three years, I have spent nearly 2000 hours working on this game.

I spent so much time working on it that my hands developed severe pain. I got x-rays and thankfully it isn’t carpal tunnel. My hands were just overworked. Due to that, I took the last six months off to rest, recover and conceptualize the subsequent stages of the plot. The posted demo is the last stable version which was released for testing before I took my break. Due to the break, some elements of the story are slightly outdated compared to what is in this synopsis. Rest assured that the story in the game will be updated to match the synopsis posted here.

I’m posting it now because I am getting back to work in earnest. As I start to ramp up development, I would like some feedback and constructive criticism so I can take the game to the next level. This is the first game I’ve ever made, so I understand some aspects of it may be a little rough around the edges. But I’m working on making it to the best of my limited ability.

My dream for this project is to release it commercially and use it to kick start a new career in game development. I’m trying to forge my own path and break out of the teaching career I fell into. And I saw an opportunity to do so with this game.

This game was originally conceptualized when I was asked to write a review of RPG Maker MV for the Nintendo Switch by a Youtube channel called Switchwatch. I experimented with the RPG Maker tools to familiarize myself with it and thus my game was born. In the time since, the project has taken a life of its own. It has become something of a passion project for me. The characters are based on the Switchwatch team and myself.

I know I’m using several stock art assets and monsters. I'm trying to distance myself as much as I can from the stock assets by making my own battle backgrounds. I’m also just using Visustella’s UI with some minor teaks to suit my formatting. Some other elements such as the title screen are simply taken from my friends' Youtube channel which the game was based on. The title screen will be replaced before the final version is released.

I’ve at least tried to make the game as visually interesting as I can with Visustella’s Doodad plugin along with some of the fantastic sprite work done by certain community creators such as Avery. Eventually I might update and replace more of the stock assets, but for now my highest priority is to make a fun game with a memorable story. In this first project, I’ve focused on using the tools that exist within the RPG Maker engine and just adding plug-ins or sprites as needed.

The game will consist of three distinct parts taking place at specific points of the story. Each game will end in a way that logically allows the party to start over at level 1. The first game will take place on the continent of Scriptura, the second game will take place on the continent of Sunder, and the third game will encompass both continents as well as the remaining islands. I decided to do it this way as I am working alone and will have an easier time producing it. Focusing on each continent will allow me to flesh out the story and locations in a more satisfying way than if I were to try to finish the entire story in one game.

I started this project with no experience at all and have learned a lot about how to use RPG Maker over the last three years by hours upon hours of tinkering. I’m going to start from square one for the second game and will use everything I have learned to create a better experience going forward. Additionally, if the first part is successful, I will be able to justify extra time and resources to make a more unique game.

If you have a chance, please try it and give me some feedback. I want to improve this game to the best of my ability. If you have a suggestion within my skillset, I’ll consider it. I welcome any and all constructive criticism. Thank you, and I hope you enjoy Crimson Critiques!

Also, if you are interested in seeing how this game came about, please check out the original review of RPG Maker on the Nintendo Switch which I wrote a few years ago.

Plugins: Visustella, Galv, Jilmer John Cariaso, Midgardsormr, Hime

Tilesets and Sprites: Whtdragon, Hiddenone, Kadokawa, Vix, Avery, Tuomo L, Starbird, JardsonJean and Candacis

Music: Aaron Krogh
The Contributors to the RMN Music Pack: Jasprelao, Jeremiah "McTricky" George, Jude, Gamesfreak13563, Tarranon, Cornflake, Xcalnarok, Lana42, Kunsel, Subaru, NathanGDay, Snowy Fox,ReclaimedGlory, Apoc, hyde9318 and 800 M.P.H.
*Note: The RMN Music pack will be replaced by the final version as this will be a commercial game.

Sound Effects: Osabisi

Crimson Critiques is currently available on both Google Drive and Dropbox. Please choose the one you are most comfortable with. On Google Drive, both the Mac and Windows versions are available. On Dropbox, due to limited space, only the Windows version is available. Please use whichever link is more convenient for you.

Thank you very much for your time. I hope to hear back soon from anyone interested in trying out my game.
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