Monday, 24 June 2013

RM game review - Labyrinthine Dreams

Developers: Artbane and Volrath

Labyrinthine Dreams is a short RM puzzle game about a girl named Beth who’s in a state of coma, all in a meantime internally reflecting on various tragic events of her past and attempting to find reason to stay alive. The struggles she goes through on a subconscious level are manifested in a form of various mazes and other puzzles, in which she must find a way out.

I don’t usually tend to play many games of this style, but after having seen the trailer, I’ve been really curious to give it a try, and it didn’t disappoint at all. There is a rich variety of intriguing puzzles presented, ranging from forest mazes, to invisible paths in the skies, and many others, most of which you’ll have to think about carefully in order to solve.

There is also a recurring puzzle that comes up several times in the game, in which Beth must outsmart what to me looks like a physical manifestation of death itself. For every one step that she makes, the monster can move two, each time coming closer and closer. The goal is to mislead the monster into dead ends, whilst at the same time to reach a way out of the maze. These are probably the hardest puzzles in the game, in particular the few near the end. They can be a little frustrating at times, but very often the solution is simpler than it may seem at first.

Throughout the entire game there is a heavy melancholy atmosphere, which in my opinion has been executed really well, making us care for the main character and the events surrounding her within first few minutes of the game. It’s an interesting combination to have a sad backstory of a character together with challenging puzzles, because I think as we play the game, we aren’t just solving puzzles and passing time, but actually sort of guiding the main character through their thoughts like some kind of guardian angel.

The game might seem quite short and should only take about a couple of hours to get through, but after having played through it, I think the length is very appropriate and there’s quite a lot packed into it. So to conclude, I’m glad I’ve checked out this game, because the story has been well-written and the puzzles have been well-designed and very stimulating.

For more info on Labyrinthine Dreams and a download link check HERE.

Saturday, 22 June 2013

RM game review - Dryantia

Developer: Winterfate

The first RM game I’m going to review is Dryantia. Set in an epic fantasy world where two elder races have been at a conflict with each other for millennia, which eventually resulted in a curse that’s killing the land and threatens the humans living on it. The curse is said to originate from a place known as the Earth Temple. However, its exact location is unknown to everyone, and now a lone adventurer by the name of Lemnar is on a quest to find it.

On first impressions, the game seems rather simple and utilises a lot of the standard RTP resources. This could in some ways make it very similar to most other RM games out there. However, it does feature a very nice story and gets into it straight away, without making the player do any of the trivial quests. You acquire a couple of allies in the second town and then the game really picks up and more of the story is revealed in the parts that follow it, including a mysterious figure that could potentially be the main villain.

The leading characters very quickly begin to bond with each other and there’s a definite chemistry between them as they crack various jokes every now and again. To top it off, they all play a necessary role in battles as they all possess different skills to each other. In addition, there are tonnes of different items that can be found throughout the adventure, some of which could in fact save you in a dire situation.

The game becomes a little hard and grind heavy in the middle parts and hence the pacing might seem to get slower. However, after a bit of that, it picks up again in the last third of the story and gets even better than it was in the beginning.

Apart from lots of fighting, the game also features plenty of clever puzzles, which are fun to solve, and some in fact might make you stop and think for a minute. And then there are also a few optional dungeons in the game too, which are very generous with their treasure, and if you get to the end of those dungeons, you would often be greeted with an optional boss.

Overall the game has a good length to it of around 10 hours and leaves room for a sequel. There are still plenty of areas in the game that require some polish, and initial release version had a number of bugs in it, but the developer Winterfate has been very quick to fix them and so by now majority of them should be gone.

And so to conclude, Dryantia has been a fun experience. It might not be the most technically sumptuous RM game out there, but it has a solid base with its story and setting, which is then further enhanced with fun puzzles and flexible ways to strategise in battles.

More info on Dryantia and the download links can be found HERE.

Thursday, 20 June 2013

Blog change 2 - RM games

Looks like it's that time that I've added something slightly new to the blog. I've now decided that I'll be making reviews of not only popular and well-known games out there, but also the RM games, the games made in RPG maker software by other people. There are loads of RM games out there, but I'll make sure to review the ones that I get a chance to play and enjoy to at least some degree, in a hope to give them some more exposure and attention.

The reviews will be honest and will tackle all the positive and all the negative traits about the game in order to give as much information as possible to the potential players out there.

If you have made a game in RPG maker and want me to play and review it, then feel free to get in contact, but keep in mind the above. And also if you wish, you can provide me with your own screenshots to post, but otherwise I'll make sure to take some of my own to post here.

If you are someone reading these reviews and wish to try out any of these games, then keep in mind the following:
 - I'll include the links where the games can be found and downloaded.
 - Majority RM games are non-commercial and free, but some might have that status changed some time after the review is done.
 - RM games require RTP files of the maker that they were made in, so make sure to read the descriptions of the download links and whether they have RTP files included or not.
 - As far as I know, RM games can only be played on the Windows systems, but this might change in the future, depending on whether RPG maker becomes compatible with other systems.

That's it for now! Let the game's begin!

Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Incitement - a free sci-fi RPG

Hello all. Just a heads up that my latest game is now complete. As with my previous two games, Incitement too was made in RPG maker VXAce and hence has a similar playstyle as a 2D JRPG with party management and random encounters, except this time it's sci-fi themed. Approximately 10 hours in length and covers a variety of sci-fi settings. Assemble a team, make your choices, uncover mysteries and government conspiracies, and of course - save the world.

Download link and more info on the game can be found HERE!

Check the epic trailer out right HERE!

And feel free to join the Facebook page over HERE!

Thanks for the support!

Please note a couple of things:
1. The game only works on Windows operating system
2. The game requires RTP files of VX Ace to play, and so for that reason if you do not have RPG maker VX Ace, please choose the full (RTP-inclusive) version to download at the link above.

Friday, 7 June 2013

Review - Dungeon Siege III

Having never played the previous two Dungeon Siege games, I thought I’d give this one a go anyway and overall I must admit it impressed me. It starts off feeling a bit mediocre – the levels are literally a straight line, the character control is strange, and you don’t have any abilities or companions in order to pull off good combat strategies. However, after the first hour or so the game really starts to pick up and only gets better and better from then on.

To begin with, the player gets a choice to play the game with one of the 4 characters. It might seem like a step back considering there’s no character creation feature, but these 4 characters really do cover all of the main archetypes - we have Lucas, who is a paladin-like tank, Anjali, who is pretty much a pyromancer through and through, Katarina, who is a thief-like ranged fighter, and Reinhart, who is a scholar utilising all sorts of arcane sorceries. One of the impressive features of this game is that once you’ve chosen your character, the other 3 characters will become your companions during the game after certain story points. You can only have one companion at a time, but once you have them in your ‘party’ so to speak, you can swap between them at any time outside of combat.

Throughout the game you will level up and learn new abilities. There are only 9 abilities per character, but each of those can then be improved via the use of skills, which mold the said abilities in either of two possible directions. For example Lucas’ shield pummel ability can be given more damage or more chance to knock down the opponents, and so on. And finally, each character also has talents that can be levelled up. These are more like passive abilities, which cause your character to have higher attack, or better defence, or to simply gain more chances of healing upon damaging the enemies, and so on. What’s even better is that as you go through the game, you are choosing skills and talents not only for your character, but also for your companions, making their fighting style more suitable to your liking.

Apart from levelling up and gaining abilities, other standard RPG elements are present too, such as inventory management and having to optimize your gear and that of your companions as you travel through various areas and face various opponents. Although it can be fun finding cool equipment and making your character use it, the whole inventory management can feel like a bit of a drag during the times when your inventory gets full and you need to discard useless items, because we all know, in the world of RPGs, hoarding is one of our favourite hobbies.

The game mostly plays in an isometric perspective, similar to games like Diablo and Titan Quest. The combat mechanics are generally good, although the battles can seem to fluctuate between too easy and too hard at times, since the game doesn’t really feature any potions or other healing items. Any healing you get is either from your abilities or from the orbs that the enemies drop upon getting killed. So in essence, the more aggressive you are in battle, the better are your chances of staying alive, or at least that’s how I found it when playing the game as Lucas. This in turn gives forth some rather challenging boss battles, as you will find yourself fighting for your own survival.

Perhaps what I liked the most about Dungeon Siege III is how well it executes the concept of making your own choices and decisions, and having to experience what happens as a result. A lot of those tend to occur during the dialogues, which take the player to an over-the-shoulder view and add to the immersion. There are plenty of decisions thrown at you throughout the game - some small, others big. The ending itself pretty much includes the outcomes of every decision you’ve made in the game, which should make the player curious as to what would happen had they made other choices.

Overall the game feels fun and engaging. Lots of control is given over your character’s skills, as well as the skills of your party. Additionally, good voice acting and the presence of moral choices make it more than just your typical hack and slash sword and sorcery RPG.

My score: 9/10

Monday, 3 June 2013

Review - Rochard

In essence, Rochard is a side-scrolling puzzle game. It’s not overly long and takes about 6-7 hours to complete, but those hours are reasonably fun as you get to try yourself at a good variety of different puzzles. Each puzzle revolves around a clever usage of a G-lifter, which is a device the main character wields that creates artificial gravity, allowing him to pick up boxes and other objects and to either throw them at enemies or to place them in strategic locations.

Most areas of the game are similar to each other, taking on a sci-fi dungeon kind of feel, with laser beams, elevators, ventilation shafts, force fields, etc. However, despite each level being similar to the previous one, the puzzles are fresh enough to keep the player interested to carry on further, and the overall control of the character is very smooth when jumping about between the platforms. In addition, the game has a very light-hearted and humourous feel to it, with plenty of jokes here and there, and the soundtrack is generally pretty nice too. It’s possible of course to get annoyed in a few areas as it is fairly easy to make a silly mistake and get killed, but overall it’s not much of a drawback.

Overall, Rochard should keep you entertained for a few hours and worth playing through at least once, though there isn’t that much in regard to replayability, unless you’ve really enjoyed the puzzles and want to do the entire game again just to check for alternate solutions.

My score: 8.5/10