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Ranked from 21 ratings. Score is adjusted from raw score by the median number of ratings per game in the jam.
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not only does Hand of the Goddess have the best-realized story and characters of the IGMC entries i've played thusfar (which to be fair isn't a lot i've been busy and forgot that ratings ended today), it's also the only one where its battles made me feel like i was making mistakes that could actually kill me. a testament to how JRPGs don't necessarily have to be hours-upon-hours long to have a satisfying narrative and gameplay that truly tests the player.
I came into this not knowing what to expect at all... and what an awesome experience it was! The unique art for the characters and world caught my eye instantly. It really stands out compared to anything I've seen here. There are neat little effects scattered through the entire game that really add to the overall atmosphere.
The music is unsettling and bizarre which help add flavor to story. It's really well chosen and carefully placed. The battles can take a while, but that isn't a problem because the game doesn't overload you with them. They all have a purpose and I loved the enemy art. Nothing seemed unfair or overly hard to me.
The story takes you on a wild ride that can be very disturbing in a good way. It doesn't hold back at all and goes places some games would never dare. There wasn't a moment of dullness throughout the entire game. The characters all played important roles and it all concluded very nicely.
I'm glad I came across this and hope you do well in the contest. This is something I will remember and I look forward to possible bigger projects from you!
I LOVED this game!! I feel as though the way this game handled its theme of religious trauma was captivating and so very interesting. While I myself don't have religious trauma, I have friends that do and I consume a lot of media about the harm caused by religious extremism and so much of this felt raw and personal. It was an intense playing experience. I loved the kid's inner monologue, the use of red to show lines and thoughts that have been instilled in him and white for his actual thoughts. AND I particularly liked the not-so-subtle callout of having a child go on an insane hero's journey that no child has business of experiencing.
That final battle had me in tears! I was so scared that the kid was going to actually go through with the prophecy but the twist pulled on my heart strings hard. I know a story is good when it makes me cry cuz that means I'm both into the story and the characters found their way into my heart.
Not only did I love the story, I really enjoyed the gameplay. I'm a sucker for RPG games so turn-based style combat is always fun. I also really liked how everyone's powers not only fit into their character archetypes but also adds more to their characters. (Like how the kid's powers were strong but debuffed him or took his HP, Ty is strictly a healer and he shares his TP cuz he just wants to help others, Rosa strips, stuns, provokes, AND revives which adds to her knightly personality as it shows that she usually incapacitates criminals to take them to jail and provokes and revives to protect people around her WHICH ALSO shows that she is more than willing to put only herself in harms way to protect others, and Michelle protects her crew with buffs but is also a good damage dealer and debuffer (also love the life-stealing skill cuz hehe pirate)) Ugh I feel like I can go on and on about this game. Very well done and I'm definitely gonna check out more of your stuff!
This game is really bizarre. In a way I liked.
Hand of the Goddess is like a fever dream. A very unique fever dream, one where it is easy to keep playing to see where it goes.
The pacing is off, on purpose. It's like suddenly you keep being thrust forward far into the story, in a way that is off putting. It's an emotional journey where the character must tackle their inner demons, which formed from a traumatic upbringing.
The battles were few, but each meant something. They might be too challenging for some, but I thought they were well crafted. I particularly really enjoyed how the main character used 'self harm' to attack the foes, and his crush would need to heal him. It is explained later on in the game, but long before that I got it and thought it was very very clever.
The game is so raw that it's almost uncomfortable. Which is EXACTLY my thing and style. I don't know if this will piss off the dev or not, but it's something I personally got from Earthbound/Mother 3. No, it's not quirky or modern. No, it does not have the Earthbound sprite style. But it has this weird raw cutting honesty that shows the developer is not afraid to hold back in the slightest.
The game plays well and even though the battles are hard, it's very well constructed. That said, I don't think it's for everyone. It's a very unique experience, one where you always feel uneasy and semi on the edge.
The message of it all seems very personal. It all meant something. Not one ounce of filler or wasted space in this experience. It captured the essence of IGMC better than most I've seen so far. A complete RPG journey within an hour time limit, using clever pacing choices.
Very good job with this one. Keep up the great work.
Thank you, I appreciate this as someone that enjoyed A Ghostly Rose!
And yeah, that's what I mean by saying this was a Drakengard inspired game. Drakengard/Nier is also a very raw and honest series along the likes of MOTHER, though with a much darker bent.
Firstly, this game is excellent. I loved the writing, the way the gameplay reinforces the writing, and the balancing that even for such a short game, provides a few nice challenges. The presentation, while scribbly and purposely amateurish, it is consistent and still provides a sort of surreal and haunting atmosphere. While I do think that scitydreamer could work with an artist to help achieve her visions, I still think there's some merit to replicating the initial character of the sketches they draw up. In fact, having an artist join them on the mission would be a REALLY cool thing to see, even if these sketches still provide a lot of emotion themselves.
THE KID is a kid on a mission... a mission from the Goddess. There's a Dark Lord attempting to rise, and you have a FATHER and MOTHER who have raised you to act as one of the hands of the Goddess on this Earth. But you are unnamed, you do not speak.
The first battle is good, it's well-paced, and you fight alongside ROSA, a knight tasked with fighting the Dark Lord. We get really exceptional motifs played throughout - every time the "noise" that covers the screen happens, it seems to coincide with THE KID's "programming" taking over, borrowing from the visual aesthetic of a VCR, including a "scene skip" button that lets us skip periods of time effectively.
Indeed, when this noise turns red, the programming turns to a raging firy anger that takes over, where all the programming drummed into THE KID throughout their years in a commune with their family turns to outright rage that any figure may threaten the sanctity of this life... which really is just, in the end, safety in what he already knows.
For kids who haven't figured out their own faith (and, indeed, adults) quite often operate on autopilot, in the comfort of what their parents/caregivers have trained into them. And in this case, the method is included in the trigger warnings present in the game - namely, emotional abuse.
I won't spoil much more of the story, but I think scitydreamer, the creator of "Slimes", has a 2/2 in my record of hits - this story hit hard, and made me a little bit teary towards the end. It's a very emotional ride, and players should be aware of this. But if you're looking for something emotionally hard-hitting, have a go here.
Time to talk about... the gameplay!
Battles were actually really well-balanced for the most part. I like how each person has a function - the protag has the ability to enhance their own attack by using "Destructive Prayer" (which also, conversely, damages their own defense), and use their own HP to enhance their attack with "Sufferer's Strike", a moveset that thoroughly fits THE KID's personality.
The second character, TY, on the other hand, can either recover TP or use it to heal or transfer it to another player. This creates a really nice balance in gameplay where each party member has a couple of useful related functions that they can choose between. I love that the action types resonate with the journey and personality that the main characters represent.
TY brings a balm that soothes the other characters with healing and encouragement, rowdy MICHELLE can "Rally" to increase all the party's attack, representing their leadership spirit and ability to spark kindred, and upstanding knight ROSA can "provoke" attacks and use a "Purifying Strike" to remove enemy debuffs.
There is one thing that helps this balance - the lack of items. If there were items added, I feel they'd add an unnecessary level of complication to the piece, which the developer here allows skills to have their shine instead.
I feel as if that's a common lesson many RPG developers need to learn - if you don't need it, don't include it. If you include a system, it should have a purpose, and add a strategic element to the game that tests a player skill. But here, omitting items allowed the player to be forced to use the skills, meaning that skills like revive skills were one-of-a-kind, instead of adding Phoenix Downs to the mix to render them useless.
While the gameplay principles were super admirable, there were parts that I felt could be improved, at least in my experience (all the while acknowledging that I only played through it once, and there could be improvements to what I say next).
For example, when TY dies, it can almost be like a death sentence if you're not careful. Even with all 4 members, only 2 party members can revive, and if they're gone, you're done for! They're kind of low HP, and even though ROSA has an ability to attract attacks, she happens to be one of the "Revivers", and there's a few "Attack All" moves from the enemy that will just about annihilate anyone who's more dainty - including TY.
I also quickly realised that some moves, like THE KID's "Sufferer's Strike", were often just costing too much HP for what they provided. I started under the assumption that "Skills will probably do more damage than regular attacks", but honestly, oftentimes just regular attacking was great enough, with the occasional skill peppered in. Because there are a lot of Skills that modify things for 2/3 turns, and if you spam them too much, you don't get to utilise them to their fullest - e.g. if you take one enemy's DEF down, I would just end up resolving to attack enemies with vanilla attacks until they die - no need to do anything else fancy - just Attack, not as much Skills required. This means most rounds, in my optimal strategy, I'd only be using 1 or 2 Skills, which is okay, but I'd much rather be making more interesting decisions every turn of my battles.
Some skills were also so useful that I didn't use anything else for that character. Namely, TY's "Heal All" ability was so necessary, that I ended up not Transferring any TP to other heroes, who mostly thrived of the vanilla "Attack" most of the time, or at least enough to generate their own TP when Attacked. Likewise, MICHELLE's "Rally" seemed to work well to raise ATK of all the party members, and I used that as my only skill for them.
Another example is that ROSA's "Triple Threat" seemed less useful when there were many enemies existing, since it would just target them at random, and I wanted to focus on one enemy at a time. The only time I used "Triple Threat" was when there was one enemy left, and even then, I'd probably want to save that TP for "Purifying Strike", an attack that was actually useful in debuffing the ATK+'s the enemy would get from rallying themselves.
That is one of the game's strengths too - the status effects are few, but effective. Particularly, ATK+ /- and DEF+/- were easy to understand, and even within the short runtime of the game, they made a lot of difference. The other status effects... I oftentimes didn't even know what they were. I remember reading in a scitydreamer devlog that she lamented why status effects didn't have labels next to them, and I agree mostly. It's hard... I'll have to research how other games communicate lots of different types of buffs effectively using UI.
Another example is that THE KID's "Threatening Crusade" didn't seem to be worth the 30TP cost, since it would weaken the party as well... although, it did provide a nice insight into THE KID's personality, that a skill that cost a lot would also hurt their friends, to their great detriment. It was a great metaphorical parallel for their personal crusade... even if it didn't translate into a move I actually wanted to use. *sweats, smiling*
As for the themes...
...they're largely present in the content warnings for this game. If you read them, you kind of know what you're in for. The MOTHER figure seems to talk about a "pain tolerance" required for worship of The Goddess, and "sessions" that you need to attend to build said tolerance. This all struck incredibly true for myself, a person who was not in a cult, per se, but who was child born into Christian fundamentalism and still deals with the confusing echoes of this past.
If I am to be transparent, in my case, I have loving parents who care for me and are also passionate about Christianity, but also strict in the way they want me to believe this too, while also respecting my choice... it's a difficult and multifaceted thing. I feel split in two, between two worldviews, and the story of this character really resonated with me. I'm actually making a game with these exact same themes, tackled in a completely different way, but I really appreciated these themes being addressed.
I could start to get into spoiler territory (some might argue I already have, but I've tried! lol), but I'll save it.
All in all, this is an incredibly thoughtful story about a KID with a troubled past being awakened to a different possible reality. It's touching, well-presented, well-written, and all under an hour.
This is a good contender for my favourite game of this jam I've played so far.
Thank you for making this game for us, scitydreamer, and letting us play it. Appreciate you.
This is an incredibly well-constructed game with a concise story that wraps up well in just under the hour mark. I found the battles to scale in difficulty as the game progressed, as expected, and they offer a decent challenge, but were never unbeatable. One thing that did stick out to me as a little weird is that the battle music fades out at the end of the loop before coming back in, which was especially noticeable from the fight with the dragon onward (when battles started to be long enough that the music would loop, basically).
Overall, I really enjoyed this game and thought it was very well-polished and that it tackled the themes of the story quite well. Fantastic work!
Great game! The battle with the dragon was so hard, anyway pretty good game, I especially liked that final parts and ending that were totally different from what I expected! Awesome, I believed it was a classic story of a hero... and instead...
Hand of the Goddess
Hey there scitydreamer, thanks for submitting a project to the 2022 IGMC. I'm Drifty and I was asked to judge your game in round one of the IGMC 2022 game jam. Here's some feedback about your project.
Questionable themes but there's nothing wrong with a theme, it's the content that matters.
I love the sloppily drawn font, iconset and art style in this game.
I find it interesting that the main hero you play as, is a silent protaganist(mostly) but he has a constant inner monologue.
It seems a bit like he's schitsophrenic or has some other mental issues and it's confusing at the beginning but the more you play, the more it all starts to make sense.
Good use of filters to focus on the text when it's time to read the story and not be distracted.
All of the characters feel much different from one another and I think that you've done a good job at making characters that don't all feel like the same person talking.
As the story goes on you get more of an understanding as to what has happened in the past and what is currently happening in the story.
The game has a good sense of mystery and builds up to a satisfying ending. (I wonder if there is a twist ending that I missed?)
I can't really say much without spoiling too much, but I think that you've done a good job with the pacing and storytelling. It's odd and confusing, but in a good way.
The art style stays consistent through-out the game which I appreciate.
It's very interesting how you subtly changed the skills through the game. Very cool!
The battles are balanced, challenging and require strategy to win and they did not feel overly difficult.
The final fight is very satisfying.
There is so much done right in this project and overall you've done a great job. I look forward to seeing what you come up with in the future. Keep up the good work scitydreamer!
Thank you for the concise review!
i am a huge sucker and u got me with the last fight
i didnt cry shut up
I bugtested for this game, and it was a pleasure to do so! Scitydreamer's writing prowess is at full force again in this game, with a short enough runtime to fit a full story into an hour of good times for you and maybe not the goodest of times for the protagonist.
i bring nothing but good vibrations
Loved this one; tough final fight(s) but some of your most expressive storytelling yet. Simple but powerful ending too.