RMMV The Last Journey (IGMC 2018)

Discussion in 'Completed Games' started by Jesse - PVGames, Nov 29, 2018.

  1. Jesse - PVGames

    Jesse - PVGames Game and Graphics Developer Veteran

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    Five guards escort their King on his journey to Candle Point, but someone from their past moves against them...

    This is my IGMC 2018 entry.
    You can find it and download it HERE.


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    You take control of Galathan, the Captain of the Guard, tasked by the King to escort him on a perilous journey that will take you through fiend-filled forests, infested caverns, and over dangerous mountains.

    But, the creatures encountered along the way are not the biggest threat. Someone from the King's past is lurking, waiting for the right opportunity to strike.

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    Each of the five characters of your party have a unique set of skills. Each character also has access to three unique Classes, each with their own skill sets. This, combined with the importance of managing and manipulating buffs and debuffs gives combat in The Last Journey a wide range of strategic options.

    While buffs and debuffs affect all sorts of attributes and damage and so forth, there is an added mechanic where the quantity of buffs and debuffs affect the damage received by a character. The more buffs a character has, the less damage they take, and the inverse is true as well; the more debuffs they have, the more damage they take.

    Emphasis is placed on creating synergy with the various characters and Classes. Piling up certain debuffs on the enemy and certain buffs on yourself, you can create hard-hitting combinations to quickly drop even the strongest enemies!

    But, if you find that combat is too challenging (or perhaps not challenging enough) you can freely adjust the difficulty at any time during the game through the main menu.

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    Thank you and I hope you enjoy playing!
     
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  2. hadecynn

    hadecynn Abyss of Oblivion Veteran

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    This review is part of the IGMC 2018 Secret Santa event.

    Before we start, a little bit of context. I've personally never resonated with WRPG aesthetics, both in terms of game design and visual/presentation. Frankly, had I had not been assigned this game to review, I probably would not have tried this game. However, I'm very glad that I did, as The Last Journey delivered a solid and surprisingly long (in the context of a game jam) experience.

    Visuals
    The visual presentation for maps, characters (sprites & portraits), monsters, and cutscene stills are nothing short of excellent, and goes to demonstrate the advantages of the graphic designer and game designer being the same person. If measured purely in this dimension, The Last Journey easily stands out from the rest of the competition. However, while the style is very distinct, it unfortunately also exacerbates the visual clash between PVGames and non-PVGames assets.

    In particular, seeing the slightly modified RTP icons and default special effect animations alongside the aforementioned graphic assets creates a jarring experience. Overall, visual coherency could be improved drastically if a bit more time and work could be invested in these two aspects and bring them up to par with the other categories. A final small nitpick would be the lack of customization of system colors. While not a deal-breaker by any measure, the fact that a game with such high visual aspirations did not at least swap out the default blue system text, orange and light blue HP/MP bars screams a missed opportunity of a low-hanging fruit; especially considering that PVGames already made modifications to the PNG file in question in order to modify the window style/arrows. (It's right there, dude!)

    Sounds
    The music in the game is serviceable but not memorable. However, given that western games usually tend to have ambient/atmospheric music instead of melody-driven/memorable tracks, this may not be a bad thing to the target audience that the game is trying to appeal to. A positive highlight is the choice of using non-RTP sound effects. Customizing sound effects is an area often overlooked in most RPG Maker projects, and the fact that The Last Journey has them goes a long way in giving the game a distinct personality.

    Story & Characters
    Without spoiling the content, the story of The Last Journey is a neat little package that demonstrates clear narrative structure, and manages to cleanly wrap up most loose ends by the time it finishes telling its tale. It's not groundbreaking by any means, but it's also engaging to the point that the narrative doesn't detract or take away from the experience as a whole. Characters are a bit more generic, but given the relative large cast of around 10 characters given its length, the absence of character development is to be expected. In summary, The Last Journey is about telling a story THROUGH its characters, instead of telling a story ABOUT its characters.

    Gameplay
    Overall, gameplay is solid. On the exploration side, the maps and mini-puzzles are well-executed, and the use of popup icons to signal interactive elements helps the user experience. A small suggestion would be to increase the detection radius of the popup icon, having it display perhaps when the player is 2 tiles away instead of 1, as sometimes treasure chests blend into the environment a little too well.

    Progression and customization systems are standard RPG fare involving leveling up, upgrading skills, and upgrading equipment either through shops or optional battles (that lead to treasure chests). It's standard, but it's standard because it works.

    For battles, the buff/debuff bonus system is an original touch, and credit should be given to the attempt, but to say that it adds strategic depth is highly questionable. That is, even without the benefit of dealing more damage when more buffs are applied, players are already inclined to buff because buffs are a positive thing to begin with. The addition of the bonus system does not really change how a player would play. Hypothetically, if the system was (for whatever bizarre reason) designed to create DRAWBACKS to overbuffing allies and debuffing foes, THEN it would force real choices because players are now trading off mutually exclusive sets of pros and cons. The fact that most abilities (even normal attacks) of every character adds some sort of buff or debuff also doesn't help, because again, it doesn't add real choice. Battles strategy boils down to a singular "put as many buffs on allies, put as many debuffs on enemies" approach, with the characters' skills happily pushing the players along despite any potential objections or alternative approaches one might have.

    Another slight issue is the cool-down nature of skills. Having a cool-down system to force players to make choices is great, but the lack of information on how many turns left in the cool-down is detrimental to the system as a whole. Especially since cool-downs persist across battles. Due to not having the cool-down turn information readily available, I consciously choose to NOT use skills at all because I didn't want to end up in a compromised situation if a boss or treasure chest encounter was waiting around the corner. If this information was presented somehow or if the cool-downs reset after each battle, it would have addressed this pain point a lot more.

    In terms of difficulty, while I was aware that there are different difficulty modes, I didn't modify them in my play-through. There didn't seem to be any progression incentives to play the game on higher difficulty, and the implications of the strategic depth issue mentioned above unfortunately did little to motivate me to challenge myself for challenge's sake. Having said that, if higher difficulty modes involves more than just raising the stats and numbers on the enemy's side, then perhaps that should be better communicated to the player (along with rewards, if any).

    Conclusions
    While The Last Journey might not have reinvented the wheel or delivered anything groundbreaking, I'm fairly certain that that wasn't the point, so it's perfectly fine. As an orthodox WRPG (or at least leaning that way visually), it does what it sets out to do well, and is a very solidly executed game; especially considering the time constraints and the game jam context under which the game was made in. All in all, this was a job well done, and PVGames deserves praise for the smooth delivery of what the project set out to do. So if you're like me and have avoided WRPG-looking games, it might be worth your time and effort to give The Last Journey a try.

    Misc. Notes
    - Agility stat is explained to determine turn order, but given 1) there's no way to check during battle, 2) there's no way to know an enemy's Agility stat, this also seems to be something that in theory gives players something to think about, but in practice there's nothing players can really do.
    - While it's nice to have status effect hover-overs after they've been applied, it would be a lot nicer if there was a way to surface that information in-game BEFORE having the status effect applied. (Yes, I know there's the Primer bundled with the game, but no, I'm not going to read it and have a doc open while I try to immerse myself in the game.)
    - Speaking of Status Effects, there seems to be a few debuffs that had the same descriptions and the data wasn't put in?
    - Super minor point: why does the King talk and look like a peasant? I'm not very knowledgeable of royalty speech patterns but would a King address his retainers with Sir?

    Feel free to ask me for any clarifications!

    Cheers,
    hadecynn
     
    Last edited: Dec 2, 2018
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  3. RetroExcellent

    RetroExcellent Pixelated Avatar of Chaos Veteran

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    I have left you a review on your IGMC entry page, as well as a well-deserved rating.
    Thank you for this game!

    Edit: Here is my review as well.

    Wow. That story. I have to be honest that I was a bit skeptical at first, it seemed like a generic high fantasy story, but I could not have been more wrong. In barely over an hour I got to know the members of the King's Guard and even the King himself and developed a great respect for each member. The story was very touching, and even though short, did not leave much out. The atmosphere and the graphics really were used extremely well to develop this well-written story, it felt like I was playing the works of R.A. Salvatore or Margret Weiss and Tracy Hickman.

    On the technical side of things, I felt there were a few hiccups. The battles were not much of a challenge, which is a shame, because the strategy and skills presented were beautiful. There was an option to change into 3 classes each, but I never touched this as most battles I simply spammed attack, even a few boss fights.

    The graphics of the system really bogged down my poor little laptop and made the fights take far longer than they really should have. That combined with far too much hp on the enemies really made some of the fights a drag. I feel there was a lot of potential in the combat system, but lack of any challenge really shot it in the foot.

    I would say my only either complaint is that Dame Alyssa is not really fleshed out, she doesn't have any sort of real personality, aside from being a crab to Nathan. Each of the others had time to shine and really show who they were, but it felt a bit like Alyssa was just there to do a ton of damage, and man did she do a ton of damage.

    The counter-attack system seemed a bit broken, at least for what I understand it should be to do. The enemies always counter-attack Thomas, who always had taunt on, regardless of who hit them.

    Overall, I still rated this game 5 stars. You can tell that a lot of thought and effort went into this game, and it is a borderline short story masterpiece.
     
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  4. Maple

    Maple Adventure hard! Veteran

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    A lot of effort put into this Jesse. Congrats! I downloaded and will give it a go for sure. I notice that your asset work has really come into its own over the past few years with much nicer shading, lighting and overall quality. Not that graphics are everything, but it really brings your scenes to life in those screenshots. You have a fairly bold target for all that character variety, so good on you for tackling so many moving parts. Adjusting the difficulty via the menu at any point in the game is a really nice touch. Looking forward to it. Thanks for sharing and good luck with the entry!
     
    Last edited: Dec 4, 2018
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  5. Jesse - PVGames

    Jesse - PVGames Game and Graphics Developer Veteran

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    This is the review of @Paladin-Cleric of Awesome (forgive me Paladin-Cleric! I wanted to be able to have all of the reviews in one place so I copied and pasted your review to here - thank you for the kind words!):

    Ok, here comes the review.

    1. If this game doesn't win one of the prizes and get picked to be worked on by the big folks in charge I may actually cry. I honestly thought it was that good.

    2. Usually the tilsets and character art i this style makes me cringe, it's normally too dark and I can't get into any game with it, but You've made it amazing and I have to say, the light and airy way you've used the tilesets was actually very good for putting me at ease. and because of that I could properly get into the story.

    3. Which brings me to the story, which was excellent, the flashbacks didn't give too much away, while building the story further and making me more and mre interested in what was going on and why. Good subversion on the King, I was expecting a young, vibrant king and was shocked with what I found! All the characters were well rounded and interesting, and their speeches were very good and I liked all of them (also, HOW COULD YOU GIVE ME FALSE HOPE LIKE THAT! I THOUGHT I HAD A CHANCE AND THEN YOU STOLE IT AWAY!!!!! *SOB*).

    4. The King should not be calling the main character Sir. It should also be Sir Galathan or the Galathan. That was quite jarring during any conversations with the King, it got better towards the end, the last few conversatins had him refered to Sir Galathan, not Sir, which was excellent.

    5. Levels were short and easy to navigate, and I never felt overwhelmed or annoyed to be travelling through places.

    6. Battles were good, I chose the easy setting as I don't play games for the battle, but the story, so it was nice to have the option not to be stuck in hard battles. However I would like to mention that the area with the trolls (where they first show up) the random encounters suddenly increaesed massively, which I found very irritating, but that was the only part where battles annoyed me.

    7. I'm not 100% sure where you can go with the story after the ending, but I'll sign up to play more, happily and completely!

    Overall I have to stand by my first point, if it doesn't win I don't know what's wrong with people!
     
    #5
  6. Mrs_Allykat

    Mrs_Allykat Failsauce Veteran

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    The Last Journey


    How do I begin with this entry? I know, I’ll start with the conclusion. This short title is better than some triple ‘A’ releases that I’ve played. While it is missing some polish, The Last Journey, has an ample amount of refinement for the short amount of time given. From the graphical details, a well paced story, and balanced combat “The Last Journey” delivers.


    As someone who is in the RPGMaker community, I knew immediately who PVGames was. Personally, I would have dreaded to be in their shoes, since there is a certain amount of expectation when you’re a known quantity. I’m pleased to say, that this entry does not disappoint. There is detail on every map, use of diagonal movement, and a few animations in the background (running water, etc). Graphically, this game stands tall among indie games.


    The yarn told is well paced, with enough action in between to keep interest in the game itself. Some of the transitions between scenes takes a little too much time, but that is due to the attention given to the graphical elements. ( Much like the in-game characters state about their situation, transitions are between a rock and a hard-place. ) This is not to say that there is zero narrative issues, just that, overall, the prose given is greater than the sum of it’s parts. That, my friends, is about as much of a compliment as anyone writing anything can ever get. I’m not saying PVGames should get the fantasy version of a HUGO, but the writing is solid.


    The combat is what I was dreading about The Last Journey, as this art style just doesn’t “click” with turn based battles. This art style is more in line with point and click, or maybe action. However, PVGames made it work. With the clever use of buffs and debuffs as a core mechanic, the combat is interesting. Then there is itemization, an integral part to combat, which has the groundwork set into place. This is where I was really the most pleasantly surprised. I really was not expecting turn based combat with this art style to come across so cleanly. Well done.


    The graphics are great, the story is well paced, and the combat works. One would think there is nothing to complain about. That would be a fair assessment too. The only issue, I’ve found in the game is that there is also nothing that jumps out and grabs the player and pulls them in from the start. That could easily be added as a final bit of polish after the fact. In a song, it’s called a “hook,” and that is the only thing this game is missing. The music is fitting, the sound effects are well done, the graphics are spectacular, the mechanics are there, and the story is good and well paced. I’ve not run into any bugs either. Seriously, even without a “hook,” The Last Journey is a title that is setting the bar for this years IGMC. It’s good enough that I feel comfortable stating what I did at the start, I’ve played lesser games from AAA titles.


    In the words of Stan Lee, ‘nuff said.

    (edit: I'm posting this to itch as well)
     
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  7. Jesse - PVGames

    Jesse - PVGames Game and Graphics Developer Veteran

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    These have been some fantastic reviews, beyond what I was expecting, especially for a game made in 30 days. Thank you so much!
     
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