Jesse's 2014 IGMC Reviews

Discussion in '2014 Indie Game Maker Contest' started by Jesse - PVGames, Jul 8, 2014.

  1. Jesse - PVGames

    Jesse - PVGames Game and Graphics Developer Veteran

    Messages:
    1,458
    Likes Received:
    2,263
    Location:
    U.S.
    First Language:
    English
    Hello everyone!

    I have been gradually playing through a number of game entries for the contest and it amazes me how much talent there is in the game-making community. Since there are over 600 someodd entries, maybe some people might find my reviews useful - further, hopefully the developer's of the games reviewed will also find the information useful in some way.

    These reviews are just how I experienced the project in question and does not reflect the opinions of anyone other than me. 

    Scoring Rubric:  Scores - [0 = Worst game ever, 1 = Terribly disappointing, 2 = Not terrible, but far from being good or something I want to play for 1 hour+, 3 = Solid game, entertaining, has some shortcomings,4 = I would consider paying money for this game, 5 = Among the greatest games I have experienced.]

    A note about scoring: I tend not to just give out high scores. There are plenty of people who say things like "graphics were great, 5/5" and that might make the game-maker feel good, I feel like that is a pretty useless score and doesn't offer any real feedback. For most games, they rate around 3.something and that is NOT BAD at all. That means I felt the game was fun and engaging enough to warrant generally playing all the way through it, but there was still enough room for improvement. A score of 4 means I would consider putting down some hard-earned cash through Steam or something for the game, which is not something I generally do, so 4 is really, really impressive. I doubt anyone will get a 5/5 because a 5 is as high as it goes - this is the epitome of gaming, a complete and perfect experience. Very few games I would ever give 5's to even from big commercial developers (I would say Fallout 3, Final Fantasy 7/8, Ultima Online would get 5's from me). Similarly, I doubt many if any games would get a 0 or 1 because that means pretty much no effort at all went into the game and it is just a travesty. 

    So, without further ado, here is the list of games I have played and their reviews (some of these I took from the 'Rate Each Game out of 5' thread, and any further reviews are posted here):

    Painted Heart - 2.5/5

    First and foremost the art is really good - that is the main thing the game has going for it. I also love the art for Agiel, she is the best one in the game visually and conceptually (love the eye thing on the inside of the wing). Now, going past the art and looking at the game-play and writing, well, there isn't as much to write home about. The battle system which they trump up as unique and such may well be that, unique, but I found it to be unnecessarily convoluted and just not fun (even on casual mode). Luckily there are not a ton of fights. There is no real game-play to the game itself - you just walk across the screen to go from one scene to the next, and maybe occasionally go up a ladder. That's pretty much it. The writing didn't do much for me at all and I often found it confusing and it left me wondering about what I was supposed to do a lot. The lack of auto-save proved to be the game's undoing for me as when I lost a battle a good part through the game, my last save was somewhere back in the first painting, so I stopped playing at this point and did not really want to bother to complete it. I also felt the entire introductory period of the game (credits, song, tutorials) took up WAY too much time - if the judges are going to sink about an hour into the game, probably not the best idea to waste the first 10-15 minutes with credits.

    Conclusion: I feel that Painted Heart could have a really promising future if the game-maker took it and really worked on the game-play mechanics to make the game actually fun to play, and worked on the writing to be more cohesive and interesting. If these two aspects of the game can be brought up the standard of its artwork, it would easily be a masterpiece. But right now, it falls short of its potential.
    The Farming One - 3.5/5

     I found the game-play to be pretty fun in the beginning, harvesting the radish and chopping wood. I liked that I could hire helpers to take over that duty and money will just roll in over time. I felt the money progression and cost progression of new things to be well scaled and reasonable. I felt the number of people returning to town was appropriate, though this did bring up some issues that hurt the score a little, I kept getting sandwiched by NPCs and had to wait for them to move out of the way... often. 

    The dialogue and writing was light and fun, nothing super, but it was competently written and at times witty. I was unable to figure out the point of the whole gift-giving thing, as I gave 3 or 4 people all three gifts and nothing really happened aside from extra dialogue, which made it feel a bit like a waste of a large amount of money. I enjoyed that there were many different things to do and get, but ultimately they are all pretty much the same - click on this object to receive money/resource. I feel that this is more due to the fact that the game only had 30 days to be made than actual design choice, because having little mini-games for each of the harvesting acts would have really helped keep the game-play from sliding into the realm of monotony. One thing that I did not enjoy was the fact that getting a key or skull was random. I ended up having to waste a lot of time trying to get a festival where I had a chance to get one of them (I began to loath the sheep festival because of this, it was a waste of a festival basically), and by the time I got my first skull, I had more money than there were things to buy and I was just standing around waiting for a skull or key.

    But after enough time and enough festivals I managed to get both. I saved the game and tried the bandit ending, and then I tried the psychologist ending. I did not bother with the guard ending, but I assume it's like the bandit ending but in reverse. 

    Conclusion: The Farming One is a solid game all around. It kept me occupied for about an hour and a half, though the final half hour+ I wasn't really having a lot of fun anymore due to lack of content to purchase and engage in. But, for what it is, it is fun and enjoyable. The graphics are cute, though somewhat mismatched and the mapping was uneven (combining single tile high walls with double high tile walls, the buildings were kind of a mess, etc), but the game makes up for these shortcomings with its game-play.
    Aesperia the Fallen - 3/5

    I felt for what it was it was solid - which is to say I enjoyed it roughly as much as The Farming One, only for a lot less time. There are a few things keeping me from giving this a 4/5, though. Let me start off with what I liked though. I thought the combat system itself was very well thought-out and executed, and since combat makes up pretty much 3/4 of the game-play for this entry, this is very important (the rest of the game-play is literally just walking around, not even interacting with anything, just walking around and getting into fights). Combat felt balanced, strategic, and consistent. I think at one point or another I had utilized every skill available to me to defeat the various enemies, and the boss fights were well-done, each with their own little mechanic or another (I especially enjoyed the fight with the dude that calls in troops and then promotes one). Art-wise, I did enjoy the faces for the characters, and I thought the mapping was well-done. As strange as it might sound, I particularly liked the transitions between rooms inside the castle itself. 

    Now for the things that kept this from being a mighty 4/5. At first, I felt like I was thrown directly into the middle of an RPG already in progress. There was no story context, no background, no character development. You learn a little about a couple of the characters as you go, but really not much at all. And then on top of this, I am immediately overwhelmed with a TON of different pieces of equipment, items, tutorials for crafting which I never utilized once since it seemed unnecessary, and since there were no shops, money seemed pointless, and leveling up seemed to not matter because all of my characters seemed to have the exact same amount of power as before. This made combat feel pointless, which is a terrible shame because the combat system itself is quite nice. And dayum, is there a lot of battles in a very short period of time... I found myself disliking exploring any further because I simply did not want to get slogged down in another battle. And then there is the game length - I think I completed the game in roughly 25 minutes total. I feel like this game is not really a complete game, but a random chapter in the middle of a larger RPG.

    Conclusion: This game has a lot of potential if the developer wants to flesh it out into a larger RPG. But as a stand-alone game, it leaves a fair bit to be desired in both the story and game-play departments. A lot of thought and effort went into the combat system and it certainly shows, but that alone is not enough I think for an RPG to be great. But overall I did enjoy it for the 25 minutes or so it took me to beat it. I also applaud the fact that the game is unencrypted which lets less experienced folk take a gander at how it was all set up.
    Unraveled - 3.9/5

    At this point it is perhaps the most polished of the games I have tried, but just shy of being something I personally would want to spend money on. But that by no means it is not a good game worthy of praise.  At first the game is confusing, but the design behind the first few minutes of game-play are actually well thought-out and gradually introduce the various mechanics of the game. The game is not particular complex, which is refreshing from some of the entries which are unnecessarily bogged down with added on systems. The graphics are what stand out here - they were well placed and well utilized for the most part and the game looked wonderful. The core of the game-play seems to revolve around jumping over cliffs and climbing across cliffs with the occasional battle thrown in for good measure. Since there is really no 'wrong' way to go, the game felt as if it were on rails to me. It was a game that you watched more than you played since there wasn't really anything to explore or interact with. Battles were fun, I enjoyed the Rage/Focus system and I liked how you could get more/less stars based on your performance during the battle. The music was suitable, though it did not particularly stand out in my mind. 

    Conclusion: This game strikes me as another game with style over game-play substance, but fortunately does have a decent story that is told in a very good way - all showing, no telling. With the gritty, dirty atmosphere combined with the imagination of the protagonist, I often felt like this game was some sort of odd combination between Binding of Isaac and Calvin and Hobbes. It is certainly worth a play-through.
    The Vendor - 3.5/5

    This game thus far has a rather unique and interesting premise where you play the role of a vendor in an atypical RPG world, and you have to stock up on items that the heroes will find useful for their particular quests. The concept itself is neat, and the execution of the idea is mostly well-done, but could use some polish and refinement - something I am sure was limited due to only having 30 days. I found the difficulty curb to be a bit too steep and the game overall too short (only two hero quests before I got to the end, even though there were more locations on the map that did not appear to be utilized, like a floating island and a desert town that seems to have a battle in the midst of it), which made me dock some points. I feel like there should have been a starter venture or something where the heroes needed to have items only from the first town, instead of having to go to three different towns right off the bat. I felt that setting any price you want for the heroes to purchase made this broken because of the heroes had 8000 gold, I just sold them one potion for the total amount, and then just gave them the rest for really cheap/free, easy profit. There was pretty much no point in purchasing any of their loot that I could see considering I beat the game just fine selling the heroes vendor-bought items (that is sorta meta). I feel like these issues if addressed appropriately would raise this game up in score.

    Graphically, there is nothing really special here. RTP stuff. The mapping is passable, though the tint in the swamps was too dark and made it hard to navigate (not in a fun way). The writing is mostly fun, light, and witty, with far too many characters speaking like they have marbles in their mouths, but I did appreciate the various Game of Thrones funny references. 

    Conclusion: This game is a fun change of pace from typical RPG fare. With more time, more polish, far more content, and some custom resources, this game could easily be a marketable commercial venture, but not in its current state. The game has a lot of potential and makes me feel that it is a caterpillar waiting to cocoon itself and turn into a butterfly. I enjoyed it, and I feel that most people will probably enjoy it, too, if only because it is different.
    Beyond Reality - 2.5/5

    The pace of the story is so quick that there really isn't any character development or context surrounding the events. One minute you are in what appears to be a somewhat futuristic facility that has a person stuck in some magic ice for some reason and the next moment you are 3000 years in the past, where you spend about .5 seconds in a couple of locations as you 'travel' to some town on a mission that is accepted by the group of main characters for some unknown reason. They did not seem particularly shocked at the fact that T- ..................... uses magic and magic has not been around for thousands of years. The dialogue was peppered with unnecessary pauses that seemed out of place and distracting, such as the T-..................... thing when asking the strange ice girl's name. 

    I did enjoy the button puzzle, even though I kept screwing it up. I think what you did was clever, after x number of tries you give a hint, and after  x number of additional tries you kind of start spelling out the solution, so the more the player messes up, the more obvious you make it. I think that is good, especially on puzzles such as that. 

    Battle was, well, not super great. Wasn't terrible, but I didn't really feel like it was fun or engaging so I skipped the vast majority of combat that I could as I sprinted through the caves. I felt the caves in particular were not very well mapped at all, and were left rather blank and bland. Once I tunneled into the castle, I tried my best to avoid further combat because it was just not rewarding when you win, and it was too punishing. I felt the power-up skill combo between the two security people was unnecessary and often failed for whatever reason (had it fail for no reason once, and the message popped up with one of the characters saying something like "wait for me!" but it popped up twice in a row, and another time it failed after an enemy killed one of the duo, which makes sense I guess, but still an annoying waste of a turn), and the rest of the skills and attacks seemed underpowered compared to what the enemies could dish out.

    Conclusion: This game feels like an epic, long, complex RPG stuffed into an hour-length game made in 30 days. I know that is what the constraints of the competition are, but at this point I have played many games that although are about an hour in length and made in 30 days, actually feel like full, complete experiences. Beyond Reality would benefit greatly from more development time, better mapping, and certainly longer play-time so that the story can actually be developed and told in a more organic manner. 
    It Lurks! - 3.6/5

    Throughout the game, It Lurks! maintains a consistent atmosphere: pulp horror. This strikes me as a game that takes itself seriously, but not too seriously. Nate Hendricks, the protagonist, is fun to play as as he quips noir-esque one-liners at the undead baddies you encounter throughout the doctor's mansion. Since the atmosphere is more pulp than genuine scares and horror, I feel that the protagonist being an ex-marine, a current detective, and a good, tough fighter in general is a fitting choice. I felt empowered to fight the creatures, not helpless against them as if it were a scary horror game. The lighting effects are well-done, adding to the overall atmosphere of the game, and the sound effects and visual cues all work well. The game has a nice steady pace (the test version originally you moved rather slow, I am very glad the movement speed was increased), though the game tends to be slightly on the short side, but that can be forgiven since this is Chapter 1 of a longer game.

    The combat in this game was challenging, but in a good way. I had to repeat two battles because I had died, and getting the timing down for attacks and defense takes some getting used to, but by the end of the game I had pretty much exhausted all of my consumable resources and bullets. This made for some nice, tense combat, though sometimes I felt that there were too many battles that were unavoidable. Whenever skills were involved, I found the timing gimmick for combat to be a bit more of a hindrance than a fun game-play mechanic. I am very happy that the menu has been visually changed from the test version, and is now a bit more consistent with the graphical mood of the game, though I still don't consider it a boon in the game's favor - just not as bad as it was. I find some of the icon choices to be confusing/unnecessary, particularly the icons in the start screen menu. 

    Conclusion: With its pulp-noir feel, this is a horror game for people who don't like horror games. There are not really any parts that are scary, but the combat can get intense. The game does well in keeping up its pace and atmosphere throughout, even if there are a couple too many battles that you can't avoid. Overall, Chapter 1 of It Lurks! is fun and engaging and makes me look forward to what else the developer will come up with for the full game in the future.
    Unknown Designation - 3.4/5

    The vibe I get from this game is very interesting. It feels like a cross section of Blade Runner mixed with Phantasy Star told through a rather stream-of-consciousness narrative, mixed with a good dose of showing and not telling. The story is told in a rushed manner to fit in the hour time period, so I get that, but I think I would vastly enjoy the game more were it a longer, slower-paced one. I hope the developer runs with this game and expands upon it because story-wise I found the concept very intriguing. I loved the running narrative that did not really reveal everything, and the mix of scenes that you jump through, making this game feel more like a series of somewhat interconnected thoughts, which makes sense considering the subject of the story.

    Combat was a mixed bag for me. I enjoyed the skills, and I enjoyed the fact that you basically pick from three different combat styles. I felt that the battles were a bit on the easy side, but overall were satisfying and there was more than enough enemy variety. The enemies on the map though only typically walked back and forth so it was very easy to avoid them if you don't want to fight.

    The game starts losing points due to its lack of overall consistency. There are a few different art styles thrown together, and the overall mood/tone of the game would be better fitted with more realistic graphics instead of chibi sprites. The battlers are a mixture of RTP style battlers and battlers that I made, but I think dedicating to one style or the other would help make the game feel more cohesive. On top of that, battles jump between a more front-view style and a side-view style, again, I think picking one and sticking with it would help.

    Conclusion: An interesting story concept told in a stream-of-consciousness manner that could greatly benefit from further development. The lack of consistency in the art and combat take away from the overall experience, but I still enjoyed this game quite a bit, especially the narrative.
    Kaleid - 3/5

     It is a pretty simple game where the object is to shoot things coming towards you and avoid getting hit by them. That's pretty much it. It's not a bad game, but I feel it lacks enough depth to keep me engaged for an hour (I think I played about 15-20 minutes). 

    The game itself is easy enough to pick up and play, no real learning curve to it, it's all spelled out for you in the tutorial section. Aesthetically I suppose the game is nice enough. it didn't burn my retinas with its colors, but I am not sure how excited I can get about basic geometric shapes shooting each other, either. I like the idea that you can replenish your squares by defeating enemies, and when enemies hit you you lose some of your squares; it sort of reminds me of Sonic the Hedgehog when you get hit and lose your rings. 

    But since the entire game revolves around just moving and shooting, there really isn't anything else to talk about. It's a fun distraction, but not an engrossing experience. It's something you pick up and play at the office to kill 10-15 minutes before lunch break, not something you go home and unwind to, but that just is my opinion. Maybe there are people out there who get totally pumped for some triangle and square shooting action. 

    Conclusion: Not a bad game, but not something that grabbed my attention nor made me want to continue playing past a couple of quick rounds. 
    Sunken Spire 3.7/5

    It is an engaging, fun RPG and I enjoy the fact that each character has their own customization method for learning skills and such. There are a few things I do not like about this game, but overall it is a fun experience.

    The game mechanics are very straightforward. In the time that I played, I did not encounter any puzzles or anything, just flip a couple switches and presto, you move on. So that leaves just the story and combat as the primary driving forces. The story, from what I played, was fun and interesting. The dialogue is well-written and each character has their personality arch-types (the serious one, the not-so-serious one), but they don't really break any new ground. It also took me far too long to realize that the green-haired one is a girl, not a guy. Combat is interesting because each character has their own game-play mechanics. The green haired one plays exactly like a Death Knight from World of Warcraft, where the other main character has a more original setup where you have to research new and different things. I particularly enjoyed creating the battle golem and the fact that I could then upgrade this golem and customize it to do battle, heal, or whatever else (though I did not get far enough to actually utilize this - I just really like the idea). Beyond the variances between characters in combat, there isn't much else that is special there - all of the battlers are static and don't move, and they are confined to an odd space in the screen so it's not much to look at, but still, it's fun and that is the important part.

    I enjoyed the custom parts of the graphics, like the little cutscene images. These gave the game a more polished and professional feel. But beyond those, the mapping was was decent, though I often felt it was very busy-looking, utilizing too many tiles of too many colors - I could blame the RTP for that, but I suppose it doesn't matter, in the end I was getting some eye strain in the laboratory and the first town (especially the first town). One thing I did not enjoy was the fact that there are invisible random encounters based on steps taken. I feel that this is an old throwback that really almost nobody enjoys, and I felt that sometimes combat happened too often. This made it very not fun to try and explore the forest (in fact, I simply tried to find the most direct route out, instead of going off the side paths). I also found that I kept running into snake + rabbit combos in the forest to be annoying - there really should be more variety here.

    Conclusion: This is a solid RPG with some small flaws. It looks pretty good for the most part, but a bit too busy at times visually. I did find some spelling errors and a mistake with /n[3] being displayed in a dialogue box (this was supposed to reference the ooze's name I assume), so a little bit more polish and proof-reading would not be bad. The true heart of the game for me though is the various amounts of customization for each of the characters in the party - this is what gave me the most fun whilst playing.
    Disaster on Aero VI - 4/5

    This game might not be for everyone, but if you love space, spaceships, and repairing spaceships, this game is for you.

    The premise is pretty simple: your spaceship is broken and you need to fix it. You have approximately 30-40 minutes until each of your main systems shut-down (fuel, oxygen, and power), so you have that much time to restore them, complete a maneuver with the ship and return to your cryopod. What I love about this game is how detailed each of the computer terminals are (I am a total nerd for this stuff), so you can do all sorts of things like shut off fuel to engines, deactivate them, run the air scrubbers, run power to the various control panels and doors, etc. It's very simple, but it is definitely fun (for me anyway). There are a lot of smaller details that were added that don't really have any bearing on the game itself, like the computer terminal in the medbay showing the vital signs (that actually fluctuate) of your crew members who are still in cryosleep. Little details like this is what makes this game appeal to me (again, space nerd here). 

    The game was rather short unfortunately. I was able to get everything online and stabilized and beat the game in around 30 minutes total. But if this game was expanded upon and made more in-depth, I would easily shell out a little money for it.

    Conclusion: I love space, I love spaceships, and I love repairing derelict spaceships, so this title checked all of the right boxes for me. If it was longer, had more content, more complex systems in place, etc (basically, more development time), I would gobble it up in a heartbeat. Well done.
    Peace of Mind - 2.5/5

    This game showed some initial promise to me, coming across in the first few minutes as a more dark fantasy themed game. However, as the game unfolds, it comes across more of an expository piece written by someone that appears to only have a fundamental grasp of the human psyche. Some people might enjoy this, but I did not as it came across as very heavy-handed, especially with the bizarre dialogue battles that take place against generalized emotions turned avatars. This dialogue battle sequence felt out of place to me because the first enemies you encounter in the game you defeat through a clunky action battle system on the map, so when the first dialogue battle occurred, it was jarring. It didn't help matters at all that in the introductory dialogue battle you are literally arguing with something that doesn't speak English so you really have no clue what options are the best to pick. In retrospect, even in the battles that were understandable, it didn't seem to matter at all what options you picked since they all seemed to have an equal chance of something good or something bad happening.

    Aside from the dialogue battles, the game consists of running around very confusing maps and getting cornered by on-map enemies. You can fight and dispatch the enemies with your trusty sword by spamming the attack button. There are no skills or anything that I could see, so spamming attack seemed to be the only option. The maps were not very well designed in the mind-stages, but are passable elsewhere. Because the game uses pixel-movement, I often found myself getting stuck on corners of invisible events and other objects which was frustrating. I found the first map as I went into patient zero's mind to be really awful in particular because, simply put, there was literally nowhere to go. It is linear and it takes you from one end to the other but then there is nothing there. I turned back, went back and forth about five times until I started mashing keys to see if maybe I missed some skill or something, but no. Eventually (so I assume this was on a very unnecessarily long timer) I was transported to another mind-map and the confusion doesn't really get any better from there. Eventually I was cornered by a ton of town-folk mobs and died. 

    At this point I quit the game because lo-and-behold... no save points except for one 5 minutes into the game. You can't access the menu to save the game, there is no auto-save, so... you are pretty much out of luck if you die, gotta restart the entire game.

    Conclusion: This game feels very unpolished to me, and it just wasn't fun. It was unnecessarily wordy and went firmly into the camp of telling instead of showing. The on-map battle system was nothing new or special, and in fact was just too basic. Give me some skills or some way to heal or something to add a little strategy! Further, the dialogue battles were equally weighty in their verbage and it felt like a system of faux-choices - there really didn't seem to be any rhyme or reason when choosing options. 
    We Were Made to Perish - 3/5

    This is an interesting game to me. At first, I really did not enjoy it. The first impression I had was that the game liked exposition (telling and not showing) and the scenario was kind of bland and long-winded and I just did not find the main character interesting at all. 

    However, as the game progressed, I still did not like it very much because it started to feel like a cheap Matrix knockoff (and the game even makes a self-jabbing joke about that). I found the mapping to not be great, and often found the entire top-half of the screen empty of detail while I am forced to explore the bottom corners (why not center the maps?) 

    But by the time I got to the end, I found the writing to become a bit stronger and I started to like the main character more and more. I started to get a certain Buffy the Vampire Slayer vibe from her (especially the pipe meet door dialogue). Once the final confrontation with the AI unfolds, I found myself actually wanting to read the dialogue, whereas in the beginning, in the hospital, I started skipping it because it was boring me. It was easy to save bullets, as the only actual challenge in avoiding enemies arose from the ones that crawled towards you and not the eye-stalk things, so I ended up getting the 'good' ending, which is nihilistic and dark, but in a good way. 

    Some of the game-play mechanics definitely hurt this title, though. First and foremost, the completely arbitrary enabling/disabling of dashing. Give me the choice to dash or be stealthy, don't make it for me. I also found much of the game to be on rails - it is a game you watch more than you play, unfortunately. You don't really have any choices, either you follow the game's path or you don't. Either this is not very good game design, or a clever use of meta-story. 

    Conclusion: This game, like a few other titles, seems to suffer from lack of development time. This is an ambitious story that just can't be told in a satisfying manner in a mere 35 minutes (roughly what it took to beat the game). If the game was developed beyond this competition to be longer, slower-paced, more fleshed-out and developed with better mapping and game-play mechanics, it would definitely be a really solid entry.
    Goblin Noir - 3.8/5

    Firing the game up, it was whimsical right from the get-go, filled with pulpy noir dialogue like broad and dame (what, nobody threw in gams somewhere?), I was pulled into the world of Goblin Noir without much effort. The graphics are not great on the map, being a bit hard to make-out (could just be the tile patterns), but I did enjoy the dialogue cutscenes a lot. They are slightly crude in their drawing but they are fun and it is obvious that effort was put into them. The music is fitting for the atmosphere, and overall I really enjoyed the writing and dialogue presented thus far. I like the main character, which is important and is not something many games have been successful with doing.

    I like the fact that you can disabled the tutorials  from the menu, but I am not a huge fan of the graphics used in the menu itself since the icons feel too smushed together, and since they are all white it can be kind of hard to tell what each icon is for, but luckily it tells you at the bottom of the screen. This game has the second dialogue battle system that I have yet encountered in this contest (the first on I encountered being Peace of Mind) and I must say, I enjoyed it more than I thought I would. I felt that the pace of it was perfect, it was introduced in a very fluid, congruent way, and it just *felt* like it worked well and that the choices made a difference. A lot of thought and time went into that system it looks like, and it shows. I really enjoyed it.

    Conclusion: From what I did play, I enjoyed it quite a bit. It is fun, cute, and has a good noir vibe to it. The atmosphere is nice, the dialogue is well-written, the dialogue battle system is fun and engaging.
    The Heart Pumps Clay - 3.4/5

    If I had to summarize this game in a word, it would be charming. The story is light and cute, the graphics are bright and cute, and the characters (especially Bud, my favorite) are cute. That is a lot of cute, right?

    The first thing that struck me were the graphics. This is a mixed bag for me because it is a mixture of RTP graphics and custom-drawn graphics. I would have probably been more in favor in the graphics department if the two were not mixed quite so, as the styles clashed. If all of the graphics were custom-made, then this game would have gotten a higher rating from me, not because I necessarily dislike RTP graphics but because I think it would have looked nicer with consistent graphics all way around. The music didn't tickle my fancy in any particular way, but it was serviceable. The combat music reminded me of something from the SNES era, which isn't bad.

    The combat system is a double-bladed sword for me here. On one hand, the enemies are unique, custom-drawn, each has its own schtick so to speak. They are unique and interesting. The party's skills are mostly passable, though I often found myself never bothering with the attack command since it almost never did damage. This made the crow particularly weak in the party since his only real job then is to steal items (once they are gone, then that is no longer a factor) and restore bits of MP to party members (primarily Mara the witch). What I did not like about combat was how long it took for each battle. The combat is pretty hard, so much of the time is simply spent with the witch pumping out unicorn potions, Bud using his taunt maneuver, and the crow throwing unicorn potions on Bud. During the fight with the prince guy, I spent probably 5 turns straight doing this because otherwise someone was going to die. I also felt the Prince changed his elemental weakness way too often, especially since it takes an entire turn for the witch to shift elemental phases. Another thing I did not like at all was the fact that there were a great many battles that were mandatory. If you wanted to proceed with the game, you HAD to fight certain battles. If you wanted a chest, you had to fight. This really turned me off for several reasons: Firstly, the battles were just too long and sometimes frustrating. Secondly, after every fight, Bud loses HP permanently so I really, really did not want to get into more fights than was absolutely necessary, as such I missed most chests. To me, this strikes me as punishing the player for trying to explore and get treasure. On the plus side, if you lose in battle, you don't get a Game Over - you simply return to the map where you can retry the battle again.

    Conclusion: This is a very charming game that feels like a vaguely interactive fairy tale story (I say vaguely because there really isn't any choice or exploration, you either move on with the story or you don't). The characters are cute and combat can be fun, but combat can also be very long and gets tedious after awhile. Mandatory fights and being punished for getting into fights definitely turned me off overall. With some additional dev time, finished custom graphics, and some fundamental game-play issues addressed, this game could be really, really fun.

    Trials and Tribulations - 3.6/5

    I really enjoyed this game, even though this sort of game is not my normal cup of tea. The story is simple enough, you must retrieve the water of life from the cave of trials to help save your wife who has fallen ill/cursed. 

    Firstly, I did enjoy the graphics used. I liked the face-sets and busts. I found the mapping inside of the temple areas to be really well done considering it is all RTP, but I did not like the mapping of places like the forest which did not seem very forest-like. For the most part, visually everything was well-done save some of the mapping. The music was very well-chosen and I think this is one of the biggest parts that I enjoyed. Game-play wise, I enjoyed the various different puzzles encountered, something that is lacking in most of these IGMC entries. The puzzles are a bit on the easy side, but considering the game needs to be only roughly an hour, I think their difficulty level is well-chosen.

    The overall vibe I get from the story itself reminds me of the movie Never Ending Story - it's fantastical filled with a myriad of interesting, strange characters. I felt that the beginning went on for too long with a lot of text, which falls into the realm of telling and not showing. But once past the beginning and you get to actually start playing, the game picks up. One thing I did not like was the fact that I was punished for exploring, wherever there was something interesting to see/interact with, it ended up being a trap that took away some of my HP. I found that there were too few healing items, but luckily there was not a ton of combat so I suppose it's not a huge deal. Combat is pretty basic - you get a regular attack, a heavy attack, and parry. What frustrated me was the seemingly random nature of parry, it did not seem to work very often for me, but luckily alternating heavy strike with regular attack did the job for the three or four encounters I ran into. 

    Conclusion: I found this game to be fun and endearing with a great choice of music. I would really love to see a full game by this developer some day when not constrained by a 30 day time limit and a 1-hour play time. 
    The Last Hour of Fairfield - 2.9/5

    This game is not a bad game, let me just put that out front. It is a very difficult game, though, and there are points that are just too frustrating for me which detracted from my enjoyment of the game.

    Graphically, the maps were well-done. I was not a fan of some of the facesets and sprites, but that is a personal opinion. The music was atmospheric and did well staying in the background. The use of sound effects seemed appropriate, though there weren't very many occasions where sfx were used. I found the zombies during battle were played rather low on the screen which was odd, but I did enjoy the zombie battlers (from the zombie survival resource pack I believe).

    What I like about this game is that you get to pick your character from a pool of five. Each character has different skills, strengths, weaknesses, etc. Each character also starts in a different place in the hospital and have different dialogues and reactions to the same elements that other characters can interact with, which makes multiple playthroughs more engaging. Each character has their own various objectives to complete as well. I will say this: I did not try every character, I only tried Brianna and Andrew (I think? The military dude). Although I got farther with Andrew, I found that I went through quicker with Brianna. I found Brianna's healing skill to be way too weak to be useful, especially since she has so few hit points and the zombies consistently do more damage than the skill can account for, it makes it a waste of a turn. Her attack is way too weak as well, as any zombie can basically just mow her over. Andrew(?) is a bit more physically capable, with more hit points and higher damage attack - and maybe it's just my imagination, but I seemed to have encountered more zombies with him than with Brianna. 

    The game is not particularly clear about what you need to do and where you need to go. Let me take a step back for a second and state that I found the lighting in the game to be way too dark, even with the small area of light around the character. This made it *very* difficult to explore and find anything of use, combined with the fact that there are environmental dangers such as glass on the floor which are almost impossible to see, and those sap away precious hit points of which you get very, very few. So this all-consuming darkness makes it even more difficult to find the various keys and such that you need to progress. Some of the keys I never would have found at all if I wasn't just randomly spamming the action button to try and find interactive things in the darkness. Some sort of system of pointing out what is important and what is not might be a boon here.

    But, with enough stumbling around I managed to make a short amount of progress. I will say this: I absolutely hate the floor with all of the broken steam valves. Not only does the steam harm you, there seems to be a huge number of rabid dogs just roaming around randomly that bog you down, and then you are forced into a battle with a mutated zombie at the end. This was the undoing for Brianna as she is just not physically capable of actually fighting. Andrew was able to kill the mutant and move on. What I hated about this is one of the steam holes re-engages itself so that you are forced to fight the zombie, in spite of the fact that you had previously turned it off. Lo and behold, upon killing the mutant zombie, the steam is no longer active. 

    After this point, with Andrew, I managed to make it downstairs to the office that unlocked from the minimal amount of power restored by the... whatever it was on the floor filled with dogs and steam. I looked at the computer and read about Bill's birthday, which was the passcode to another door nearby. However, since it doesn't actually state what his birthday is, I assume you must go find it. At this point I stepped on some glass and got killed by a fat zombie.

    So I probably did not make it very far in the game overall, but what I did play was a mixture of frustration and fun.

    Conclusion: I feel like this game has a lot of potential with more development time. I really like the premise of using different characters to play through the same scenario with altering objectives. I felt like combat was way too unforgiving while not being rewarding at all. I realize combat is something to be avoided generally, but if I am forced to fight, at least make it so I can. Brianna stands no real chance against the enemies she is forced to fight. I feel the game would be a bit more enjoyable as well if it was a little lighter (or at least a larger light radius or more points of ambient light) and important items of interest were pointed out in some way.
    Recurrence - 3.9/5

    I really enjoyed this game. It has a unique premise which involves continuously shifting back in time and using the knowledge you gained from the future to achieve your goals. There is a strong mixture of Back to the Future and Groundhog's Day here - the uncle has Doc Brown written all over him.

    This is one of the few games that had me playing past the one-hour mark (I think, I lost track of time) and I made sure to play it to completion. You can't really 'lose' in this game, because every time you do something 'wrong' like get your brother killed, you just go back in time and do a little bit better the next time around. I found the game to have a lot of clever witticisms and the dialogue was very enjoyable. I really liked the whole memories system, which is how you find out new information that will help you achieve your various goals. I wish some of the tasks you have to do over and over were a bit quicker - like robbing the bar and getting the ID badge, because after doing these for like the third or fourth time it sort of lost its charm. I feel like I missed some things in the game, or possibly alternative routes to achieve objectives. I feel that there was more to the Boundary than I had initially explored since I learned the names of the thugs, but was never able to do anything with that information. 

    Graphically, I enjoyed the main character art. I found the mapping in some places to be well-done, like the bar, but the town itself was very bland and expansive with nothing in it and three-quarters of the buildings you can't enter or do anything with. This made the constant running back and forth time and again a bit more tedious than it ought to be. 

    Conclusion: I would most likely give an even higher score if this game was further developed, more alternative ways to achieve various goals, and more, longer, expansive gameplay (I understand the 1-hour limit, I just could foresee myself playing even more). Overall, this game is certainly worth checking out!
    D is for Dungeon - 4/5

    This game surprised me, to be quite honest. I took one look at the main image for the game and thought that it did not look professional and figured the rest of the game would follow suit. However, that was not the case, to my pleasant surprise. 

    D is for Dungeon has a quirky premise: the big bad evil forces that appear every 500 years has arrived 20 years too early, thus the chosen one is merely an infant. As said chosen one infant, you crawl through dungeon level after dungeon level killing baddies and finding loot and treasure. It's the sort of story hook that people gobble up on steam when they buy indie games there. 

    So, aside from the main image which now feels horribly out of place quality-wise, the graphics in this game are really quite nice. I love the retro pixel art, it looks and feels perfect. The music is similarly retro and fitting to the theme and premise of the game. I particularly enjoyed the area where you can buy/sell items and such - everything about it was awesome from the music to the spinning merchant person thing. The whole game felt like such a throwback to the 90's and it was great. Combat in this game is fun and very fast. I did not mind getting into so many battles as I crawled around looking for loot because I could quickly dispatch my foes with my poking stick. There are a lot of skills to acquire, and unfortunately I did not need pretty much any of them at all because battles were very easy. I could just mash the attack command for the most part and the battle was over in 5 seconds. This is a bit of a downside as well, but I suppose you can't have both quick AND strategic battles. It is a dungeon crawler, so quick battles felt like it was the way to go. I also really enjoyed how you acquired new party members - this really added a great layer of customization, along with how you can choose to set your own parameters. Overall the level of customization was perfect - not so little that everything felt static, but not so much that I felt inundated with too many choices. Progression through the game felt very organic and natural, the balancing of items, skills, and monsters felt finely polished.

    If I had to give some criticism, it would be that I wish there were sub-bosses on each floor, and better loot in the chests. I don't get pumped when I keep finding potions and 5 gold, so maybe something a bit more exciting there.

    Conclusion: This game (or more accurately, perhaps a longer, more developed version) I could definitely see up for sale on Steam, and for a few bucks I would consider getting it myself. I had about as much fun as a baby in a dungeon.
    Jungle Rescue - 2.6/5

    Looking at the screenshots, I was kind of looking forward to trying this game out. The premise is simple: you are sent into the jungle to rescue a kidnapped doctor who is being forced to make weapons for a terrorist organizations. The gameplay revolves around you sneaking into the terrorist jungle compound, finding the doctor, and escaping.

    The gameplay mechanics revolve around two things: trying to avoid being detected by enemy guards, soldiers, and dogs, and fighting enemy guards, soldiers, and dogs. The first part, that of avoiding detection, is good in concept but very buggy in reality. There were times a guard was pointing the opposite way with its cone of light away from me and I still 'got caught' and was forced to fight. There are other areas where you pretty much can't avoid fighting because of how bottle-necked the maps can be.

    Combat itself is not particularly fun for me - you have a handful of options during combat - using your gun which consumes ammo and raises your alert level (the higher your alert level, the more enemies are aware of your presence and will come attack you), using your knife which has three options, only one of which seems useful, using a tazer which in the times I have used it proved to be useless, and healing with a very small limited supply of medkits. Combat is not forgiving. You have 100HP total - an officer will hit you for 50 HP a whack. Soldiers tend to hit for 20-30 a whack. needless to say, you can't really fight well, and I found myself consuming all of my medkits very quickly, even though I avoided most combat and the combat that I did get sucked into was either because of a bug or because I was forced. 

    Another aspect of the game that really killed it for me was the menu. You press shift to get into the menu and spacebar to exit - this alone is so counter-intuitive, but on top of that ... the game is still running when you are in the menu! I accidentally wandered into an enemy because I thought I might be able to heal myself outside of combat with a medkit in the menu - nope! Just face full of soldiers.

    Conclusion: The *idea* behind the game is good enough, and the Metal Gear Solid style sneaking could be fun if it wasn't buggy, but the overall execution of the game really prevents it from being particularly fun for me. 
    If you would like your game reviewed and don't want me to just happen upon it by chance, feel free to leave a link in this thread and I will try to get to it when I can (I make no promises!)

    I would also appreciate any feedback on my own project, Ashworth. If you would like to leave a review, suggestions, hate mail, or anything else, you can find the Ashworth thread here: http://forums.rpgmakerweb.com/index.php?/topic/28134-ashworth/
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 15, 2014
    #1
  2. Cinnamon

    Cinnamon Veteran Veteran

    Messages:
    605
    Likes Received:
    209
    First Language:
    English
    Thank you for putting all the reviews together in one topic. :) It's very useful for picking out games to play.
     
    #2
  3. Jesse - PVGames

    Jesse - PVGames Game and Graphics Developer Veteran

    Messages:
    1,458
    Likes Received:
    2,263
    Location:
    U.S.
    First Language:
    English
    New review up:

    We Were Made to Perish - 3/5

    This is an interesting game to me. At first, I really did not enjoy it. The first impression I had was that the game liked exposition (telling and not showing) and the scenario was kind of bland and long-winded and I just did not find the main character interesting at all. 

    However, as the game progressed, I still did not like it very much because it started to feel like a cheap Matrix knockoff (and the game even makes a self-jabbing joke about that). I found the mapping to not be great, and often found the entire top-half of the screen empty of detail while I am forced to explore the bottom corners (why not center the maps?) 

    But by the time I got to the end, I found the writing to become a bit stronger and I started to like the main character more and more. I started to get a certain Buffy the Vampire Slayer vibe from her (especially the pipe meet door dialogue). Once the final confrontation with the AI unfolds, I found myself actually wanting to read the dialogue, whereas in the beginning, in the hospital, I started skipping it because it was boring me. It was easy to save bullets, as the only actual challenge in avoiding enemies arose from the ones that crawled towards you and not the eye-stalk things, so I ended up getting the 'good' ending, which is nihilistic and dark, but in a good way. 

    Some of the game-play mechanics definitely hurt this title, though. First and foremost, the completely arbitrary enabling/disabling of dashing. Give me the choice to dash or be stealthy, don't make it for me. I also found much of the game to be on rails - it is a game you watch more than you play, unfortunately. You don't really have any choices, either you follow the game's path or you don't. Either this is not very good game design, or a clever use of meta-story. 

    Conclusion: This game, like a few other titles, seems to suffer from lack of development time. This is an ambitious story that just can't be told in a satisfying manner in a mere 35 minutes (roughly what it took to beat the game). If the game was developed beyond this competition to be longer, slower-paced, more fleshed-out and developed with better mapping and game-play mechanics, it would definitely be a really solid entry.
     
    #3
  4. Jesse - PVGames

    Jesse - PVGames Game and Graphics Developer Veteran

    Messages:
    1,458
    Likes Received:
    2,263
    Location:
    U.S.
    First Language:
    English
    New review is up!

    Goblin Noir - 2/5 (if fixed, I am sure it would be closer to 3.5/5 or higher)

    So, I am a mixed on this one. Firing the game up, it was whimsical right from the get-go, filled with pulpy noir dialogue like broad and dame (what, nobody threw in gams somewhere?), I was pulled into the world of Goblin Noir without much effort. The graphics are not great on the map, being a bit hard to make-out (could just be the tile patterns), but I did enjoy the dialogue cutscenes a lot. They are slightly crude in their drawing but they are fun and it is obvious that effort was put into them. The music is fitting for the atmosphere, and overall I really enjoyed the writing and dialogue presented thus far. I like the main character, which is important and is not something many games have been successful with doing.

    I like the fact that you can disabled the tutorials  from the menu, but I am not a huge fan of the graphics used in the menu itself since the icons feel too smushed together, and since they are all white it can be kind of hard to tell what each icon is for, but luckily it tells you at the bottom of the screen. This game has the second dialogue battle system that I have yet encountered in this contest (the first on I encountered being Peace of Mind) and I must say, I enjoyed it more than I thought I would. I felt that the pace of it was perfect, it was introduced in a very fluid, congruent way, and it just *felt* like it worked well and that the choices made a difference. A lot of thought and time went into that system it looks like, and it shows. I really enjoyed it.

    So why the lower score? Simply put, after I finished with the initial crime scene and got rid of the cop, I went to the bookstore (the Mediocre Gatsby, lol) and then tried to go around back through the alley and... game crashed because of missing graphic file. Now, I do not have all of the RTP graphics installed, and it is stipulated in this contest that you should upload your game with ALL of the necessary files to play the game - not everyone will have RTP, especially some of the judges. I would recommend updating this game to include all of the RTP files because it would be a real shame if it got disqualified by the judges for not containing all of the files needed to play the game.

    Conclusion: From what I did play, I enjoyed it quite a bit. It is fun, cute, and has a good noir vibe to it. The atmosphere is nice, the dialogue is well-written, the dialogue battle system is fun and engaging. Just... fix the game file so it has all the files!
    ----------------------------------------------------------

    If you would like your game reviewed and don't want me to just happen upon it by chance, feel free to leave a link in this thread and I will try to get to it when I can (I make no promises!)

    I would also appreciate any feedback on my own project, Ashworth. If you would like to leave a review, suggestions, hate mail, or anything else, you can find the Ashworth thread here: http://forums.rpgmak...28134-ashworth/
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 8, 2014
    #4
  5. Housekeeping

    Housekeeping Veteran Veteran

    Messages:
    228
    Likes Received:
    110
    Location:
    Texas
    First Language:
    English
    #5
  6. Jesse - PVGames

    Jesse - PVGames Game and Graphics Developer Veteran

    Messages:
    1,458
    Likes Received:
    2,263
    Location:
    U.S.
    First Language:
    English
    Next review:

    The Heart Pumps Clay - 3.4/5

    If I had to summarize this game in a word, it would be charming. The story is light and cute, the graphics are bright and cute, and the characters (especially Bud, my favorite) are cute. That is a lot of cute, right?

    The first thing that struck me were the graphics. This is a mixed bag for me because it is a mixture of RTP graphics and custom-drawn graphics. I would have probably been more in favor in the graphics department if the two were not mixed quite so, as the styles clashed. If all of the graphics were custom-made, then this game would have gotten a higher rating from me, not because I necessarily dislike RTP graphics but because I think it would have looked nicer with consistent graphics all way around. The music didn't tickle my fancy in any particular way, but it was serviceable. The combat music reminded me of something from the SNES era, which isn't bad.

    The combat system is a double-bladed sword for me here. On one hand, the enemies are unique, custom-drawn, each has its own schtick so to speak. They are unique and interesting. The party's skills are mostly passable, though I often found myself never bothering with the attack command since it almost never did damage. This made the crow particularly weak in the party since his only real job then is to steal items (once they are gone, then that is no longer a factor) and restore bits of MP to party members (primarily Mara the witch). What I did not like about combat was how long it took for each battle. The combat is pretty hard, so much of the time is simply spent with the witch pumping out unicorn potions, Bud using his taunt maneuver, and the crow throwing unicorn potions on Bud. During the fight with the prince guy, I spent probably 5 turns straight doing this because otherwise someone was going to die. I also felt the Prince changed his elemental weakness way too often, especially since it takes an entire turn for the witch to shift elemental phases. Another thing I did not like at all was the fact that there were a great many battles that were mandatory. If you wanted to proceed with the game, you HAD to fight certain battles. If you wanted a chest, you had to fight. This really turned me off for several reasons: Firstly, the battles were just too long and sometimes frustrating. Secondly, after every fight, Bud loses HP permanently so I really, really did not want to get into more fights than was absolutely necessary, as such I missed most chests. To me, this strikes me as punishing the player for trying to explore and get treasure. On the plus side, if you lose in battle, you don't get a Game Over - you simply return to the map where you can retry the battle again.

    Conclusion: This is a very charming game that feels like a vaguely interactive fairy tale story (I say vaguely because there really isn't any choice or exploration, you either move on with the story or you don't). The characters are cute and combat can be fun, but combat can also be very long and gets tedious after awhile. Mandatory fights and being punished for getting into fights definitely turned me off overall. With some additional dev time, finished custom graphics, and some fundamental game-play issues addressed, this game could be really, really fun.
     
    #6
  7. Silvestre

    Silvestre Veteran Veteran

    Messages:
    96
    Likes Received:
    33
    First Language:
    Portuguese
    #7
  8. valkill101

    valkill101 Alien Mastermind Veteran

    Messages:
    401
    Likes Received:
    37
    Location:
    Newark, NJ
    First Language:
    English
    #8
  9. Housekeeping

    Housekeeping Veteran Veteran

    Messages:
    228
    Likes Received:
    110
    Location:
    Texas
    First Language:
    English
    Dang; sorry the battles weren't fun for you.  I tried to balance them so that battles were unique encounters that each acted like a little puzzle.  Since this competition required a fairly short game, I tried to strip gameplay down to mainly battles and character progression through equipment (versus Bud's waning health pool).  Equipment is balanced to where it's more useful to get, and Bud's mechanic reinforces the narrative, so I hope it's not that big of a problem for you, as it's really the central mechanic in the game.  I noticed that you didn't mention using squawk with Crow, which is an important part of the gameplay.  For example:

    Squawking Percival on the turn that he shifts his elemental weakness means that you get four turns on the same weakness, which is enough time to outright kill him.
    Battles are also balanced to where you shouldn't have to make any Unicorn Waters outside of some boss battles.  If you ever go back to it and finish it, then I encourage you to experiment a bit more in battle and feel free to go for the treasures, as they will make the game easier (though beating it without fighting any optional battles will definitely work).  I'm mainly a bit miffed at myself for not conveying these points through the gameplay clearly enough for you and probably others.
     
    #9
  10. Tommy Gun

    Tommy Gun ♩ ♪ ♫ ♬ Veteran

    Messages:
    381
    Likes Received:
    120
    First Language:
    English
    Ooo, please check out my game if it sounds interesting to you. Be sure to get the newest version from my site, as it has way more music and a couple changes to make playing it smoother: http://crackedrabbitgaming.com/recurrence-igmc/
     
    #10
  11. Jesse - PVGames

    Jesse - PVGames Game and Graphics Developer Veteran

    Messages:
    1,458
    Likes Received:
    2,263
    Location:
    U.S.
    First Language:
    English
    In the midst of downloading Trials and Tribulations, Fairfield, and Recurrence. Those will be the next reviews when I get a chance :)

    @Housekeeping - I guess I never picked up on the Crow's squak and its prolonged effect on Percival. Maybe throw in a little dialogue or something to make it a bit more apparent? Otherwise it is pretty much guess work. Though, throughout that entire fight, the Crow's primary role was administering the unicorn water that Mara conjured since he did zero damage and there was only one thing to pilfer.
     
    #11
    Silvestre likes this.
  12. TerminusEst13

    TerminusEst13 Veteran Veteran

    Messages:
    40
    Likes Received:
    23
    First Language:
    English
    Thank you for the feedback, I appreciate the criticism.

    For the record, at the end of the first mind-map was a purple portal. Step in, hit the use button, and it'd take you to the next map. If I do a 1.1 update, I'll see if I can make it a bit more obvious, sorry.

    Also, if you got to the town-folk mobs, I assume you got the message about stepping back into the real world to recover and save? Or should I have rephrased that to make it a bit clearer?
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 9, 2014
    #12
  13. Jesse - PVGames

    Jesse - PVGames Game and Graphics Developer Veteran

    Messages:
    1,458
    Likes Received:
    2,263
    Location:
    U.S.
    First Language:
    English
    @Terminus - I did not notice the portal, perhaps I stumbled upon it while mashing the spacebar key and that is how I proceeded. Could very well be me just being blind, if nobody else had trouble with that part. I do not recall anything about stepping back into the real world to save - how would one do that? I found the lack of save options to be a primary set-back. 
     
    #13
  14. TerminusEst13

    TerminusEst13 Veteran Veteran

    Messages:
    40
    Likes Received:
    23
    First Language:
    English
    [​IMG]

    The purple area surrounded by the four pillars is the portal. Whenever you'd like, you can step in, hit Use, and it takes you out of the patient's mind into the real world, where you can visit the save point, the pentagram.

    It's probably not very clear that it can be used that way, though, is it? Sorry.

    Do you think different graphics or making it "On Touch" instead of "On Use" would be better?
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 9, 2014
    #14
  15. Jesse - PVGames

    Jesse - PVGames Game and Graphics Developer Veteran

    Messages:
    1,458
    Likes Received:
    2,263
    Location:
    U.S.
    First Language:
    English
    Next review:

    Trials and Tribulations - 3.6/5

    I really enjoyed this game, even though this sort of game is not my normal cup of tea. The story is simple enough, you must retrieve the water of life from the cave of trials to help save your wife who has fallen ill/cursed. 

    Firstly, I did enjoy the graphics used. I liked the face-sets and busts. I found the mapping inside of the temple areas to be really well done considering it is all RTP, but I did not like the mapping of places like the forest which did not seem very forest-like. For the most part, visually everything was well-done save some of the mapping. The music was very well-chosen and I think this is one of the biggest parts that I enjoyed. Game-play wise, I enjoyed the various different puzzles encountered, something that is lacking in most of these IGMC entries. The puzzles are a bit on the easy side, but considering the game needs to be only roughly an hour, I think their difficulty level is well-chosen.

    The overall vibe I get from the story itself reminds me of the movie Never Ending Story - it's fantastical filled with a myriad of interesting, strange characters. I felt that the beginning went on for too long with a lot of text, which falls into the realm of telling and not showing. But once past the beginning and you get to actually start playing, the game picks up. One thing I did not like was the fact that I was punished for exploring, wherever there was something interesting to see/interact with, it ended up being a trap that took away some of my HP. I found that there were too few healing items, but luckily there was not a ton of combat so I suppose it's not a huge deal. Combat is pretty basic - you get a regular attack, a heavy attack, and parry. What frustrated me was the seemingly random nature of parry, it did not seem to work very often for me, but luckily alternating heavy strike with regular attack did the job for the three or four encounters I ran into. 

    Conclusion: I found this game to be fun and endearing with a great choice of music. I would really love to see a full game by this developer some day when not constrained by a 30 day time limit and a 1-hour play time. 
     
    #15
    Silvestre likes this.
  16. Jesse - PVGames

    Jesse - PVGames Game and Graphics Developer Veteran

    Messages:
    1,458
    Likes Received:
    2,263
    Location:
    U.S.
    First Language:
    English
    @Terminus - Ah, I see now. Yeah, I am not sure if you mentioned it in game or not, but it was not clear to me that was an option. It certainly would have made life a little easier. But still, you could just slip in an auto-save script that saves the game automatically for the player each time they transfer maps. I know for a fact I am not the only one who forgets to save their game a lot, and having to take extra steps to save the game means people are even less likely to save. Just my two cents on that :)
     
    #16
  17. TerminusEst13

    TerminusEst13 Veteran Veteran

    Messages:
    40
    Likes Received:
    23
    First Language:
    English
    All right, will do. An auto-save might make things easier, actually, since it's just right there instead of breaking the flow in order to manually head back to heal up/save.

    Well, either way. Thank you again for the criticism, and I'll try and polish up the rough spots. :)
     
    #17
  18. Jesse - PVGames

    Jesse - PVGames Game and Graphics Developer Veteran

    Messages:
    1,458
    Likes Received:
    2,263
    Location:
    U.S.
    First Language:
    English
    The new game reviewed is one I actually wanted to check out for awhile:

    The Last Hour of Fairfield - 2.9/5

    This game is not a bad game, let me just put that out front. It is a very difficult game, though, and there are points that are just too frustrating for me which detracted from my enjoyment of the game.

    Graphically, the maps were well-done. I was not a fan of some of the facesets and sprites, but that is a personal opinion. The music was atmospheric and did well staying in the background. The use of sound effects seemed appropriate, though there weren't very many occasions where sfx were used. I found the zombies during battle were played rather low on the screen which was odd, but I did enjoy the zombie battlers (from the zombie survival resource pack I believe).

    What I like about this game is that you get to pick your character from a pool of five. Each character has different skills, strengths, weaknesses, etc. Each character also starts in a different place in the hospital and have different dialogues and reactions to the same elements that other characters can interact with, which makes multiple playthroughs more engaging. Each character has their own various objectives to complete as well. I will say this: I did not try every character, I only tried Brianna and Andrew (I think? The military dude). Although I got farther with Andrew, I found that I went through quicker with Brianna. I found Brianna's healing skill to be way too weak to be useful, especially since she has so few hit points and the zombies consistently do more damage than the skill can account for, it makes it a waste of a turn. Her attack is way too weak as well, as any zombie can basically just mow her over. Andrew(?) is a bit more physically capable, with more hit points and higher damage attack - and maybe it's just my imagination, but I seemed to have encountered more zombies with him than with Brianna. 

    The game is not particularly clear about what you need to do and where you need to go. Let me take a step back for a second and state that I found the lighting in the game to be way too dark, even with the small area of light around the character. This made it *very* difficult to explore and find anything of use, combined with the fact that there are environmental dangers such as glass on the floor which are almost impossible to see, and those sap away precious hit points of which you get very, very few. So this all-consuming darkness makes it even more difficult to find the various keys and such that you need to progress. Some of the keys I never would have found at all if I wasn't just randomly spamming the action button to try and find interactive things in the darkness. Some sort of system of pointing out what is important and what is not might be a boon here.

    But, with enough stumbling around I managed to make a short amount of progress. I will say this: I absolutely hate the floor with all of the broken steam valves. Not only does the steam harm you, there seems to be a huge number of rabid dogs just roaming around randomly that bog you down, and then you are forced into a battle with a mutated zombie at the end. This was the undoing for Brianna as she is just not physically capable of actually fighting. Andrew was able to kill the mutant and move on. What I hated about this is one of the steam holes re-engages itself so that you are forced to fight the zombie, in spite of the fact that you had previously turned it off. Lo and behold, upon killing the mutant zombie, the steam is no longer active. 

    After this point, with Andrew, I managed to make it downstairs to the office that unlocked from the minimal amount of power restored by the... whatever it was on the floor filled with dogs and steam. I looked at the computer and read about Bill's birthday, which was the passcode to another door nearby. However, since it doesn't actually state what his birthday is, I assume you must go find it. At this point I stepped on some glass and got killed by a fat zombie.

    So I probably did not make it very far in the game overall, but what I did play was a mixture of frustration and fun.

    Conclusion: I feel like this game has a lot of potential with more development time. I really like the premise of using different characters to play through the same scenario with altering objectives. I felt like combat was way too unforgiving while not being rewarding at all. I realize combat is something to be avoided generally, but if I am forced to fight, at least make it so I can. Brianna stands no real chance against the enemies she is forced to fight. I feel the game would be a bit more enjoyable as well if it was a little lighter (or at least a larger light radius or more points of ambient light) and important items of interest were pointed out in some way.
     
    #18
  19. dinkledaberry

    dinkledaberry Veteran Veteran

    Messages:
    66
    Likes Received:
    30
    First Language:
    Olde Englishe
    Hello! I played your game and was going to write up a full review once I came back from some errands. My game's in my signature if you'd like to tell me what you think. :) Word of warning my game's longer than most in the contest.
     
    #19
  20. kartersaint

    kartersaint Ornate Brain Veteran

    Messages:
    239
    Likes Received:
    39
    Location:
    In your eyes
    First Language:
    English?
    I want you play my game at the final week of the contest. Not earlier, because... I'm not ready. :)
     
    #20

Share This Page