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A jam entry

Dear EdwinView game page »

Follow the exploits of investigator Edwin Vayne, as he attempts to solve a mystery that may hit a bit too close to home.
Submitted by LazyBumStudio, futrchamp, Plueschkatze (@PlueschkatzeArt), Gabrelik, hiddenone with 4 hours, 31 minutes before the deadline

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Comments

(+1)

Fantastic original assets and art design in this one.  And some great eventing/direction in parts too. I had a little bit of a hard time getting into the main character at all (even before his background story). There were a few lulls in the overall story/mystery as well. But there was still just enough to stay interested to the climax. Overall this was the most well put together project I've played thus far. Well done!

(+3)

This is one of the games where I instantly knew that I had to try it out. I liked everything about it; the beautiful custom graphics, the writing and the music.

It's true that there isn't much actual gameplay but the story and the characters were intriguing enough so I wasn't bored for one second (and this is something I really miss in many other games).

Great job, guys. Especially in this short amount of time. :D

Developer

Thank you so much! We're glad that you enjoyed our project!

(+4)

Review for RPG Maker Web's IGMC 2017 Secret Santa!  ...Sort of, I'm just reciprocating because Hiddenone reviewed my game. ;)

This is clearly one of the more serious entries in the contest.  It has original artwork, music, and even sound effects.  Even the message window graphics and fonts were custom.  I didn't recognize a single thing from the RPG Maker RTP.  In terms of production values, Dear Edwin is a heavy contender.

What it does not have much of is gameplay.  The bulk of the experience is walking through the slums in which the game is set, finding the next plot-advancing event and watching the cutscenes which play out.  There are a couple of occasions where the player is challenged to input a button sequence, but they don't seem to have much effect on the outcome.  Even at the end, when the mystery is confronted, the player is not asked to choose the correct answers; they merely watch as the main character exposits everything.  As the main page for Dear Edwin says, "A story focused game, that feels like an interactive novel."  Personally I'd question whether it should be called a game at all, but I understand the practicality of not quibbling the details in the summary.

So, since story is the most central aspect of this work, how is the story?  Pretty good, I'd say.  The setting is immersion-capable, the characters have personality, the dialogue is well-written, and there's a decent bit of backstory that isn't critical to the main plot.  I didn't find it exactly gripping, and I saw the crux of the mystery from a mile away, but it was enjoyable reading.

Bottom line?  Just be aware that this is an interactive novel that's on the light end of interaction.  If you enjoy that sort of thing, you'll probably enjoy Dear Edwin.  This is the first IGMC 2017 entry that gets my up-vote.

Developer

Thank you for this helpful feedback. We'll keep it in mind while working on our next game. 
Luckily we already have a long list of things we'd want to change and add, which includes the gameplay features we could not add during the time of the gamejam. ;) 

And thank you a lot for leaving a vote! <3 

(+4)

Dear Edwin is an absolutely gorgeous game if you're a fan of pixel art (as I am). The animations and cutscenes are wonderfully intricate. The music is good too and fits well with the theme. The story and dialog are good and fit the Sherlock Holmes type setting very well. 

With that said, the dialog can come off as a bit dry. I tried to stay in character to get the most out of it but that's just kind of the nature of this genre. It's supposed to be. What this game needs to really be magical is good voice acting. If I could hear out loud the witty banter, the snide remarks, the various dialects and the subtle but important emotional shifts that are really easy to miss when just reading the text, I believe it would have that final missing piece that it needs. I do understand that this is a game jam entry and concessions do have to be made in order to get it done so I certainly won't fault it for that. 

The only real negative thing I can say about Dear Edwin is the few parts where timed button presses are implemented. As a dev, I understand that no mechanics or ideas will appeal to everyone and you just have to make the best overall choices for your game. I typically won't tell anyone to change their game as I'll usually just say it's not for me or suggest what I feel would work better. But in this case, I'll be blunt. Take this out. It doesn't fit. It doesn't work. You'd be much better off just asking the player how they want to story to go. After leisurely sitting back and just absorbing the story and the visuals, getting hit with, "Quick, press these buttons in this order before the time runs out" feels so jolting and out of place. With a different theme where action elements might make more sense, this could work. Not here, though. 

But that's a very minor gripe and doesn't detract from the overall experience. I will agree with others that more choice in how the story plays out would be a good thing to add in. There is a certain element missing as you are more watching a movie than you are playing a game and more choices would add to that experience and make it more fun. But again, game jam entry ... limited time frame ... can't be overly critical all things considered. 

Dear Edwin is a very impressive title that's definitely worth checking out unless you just really don't like visual novel type games. And even then, you might want to check it out anyway just for the visuals.

Great job! 

Developer(+1)

Thank you for you indepth feedback! 
It's super helpful and we'll make sure to improve with the next game.

It will be a joy to have more time to add in all the gameplay features we'd like, ha ha! 

(+2)

I know what you mean. 

(Edited 1 time) (+4)

I originally already had plans to play this entry, so I have the great fortune of killing two birds with one stone as this was assigned to me for the IGMC 2017 Secret Santa event.

Strengths:
Visual Aesthetics & Atmosphere
Without a doubt, this is one of the best looking entries in the competition. While custom resources do not always guarantee better visual presentation, Dear Edwin's original assets are coherent, polished, and perfectly compliment the story it tells.

Writing & Dialog
With the exception of a typo or two, the writing in Dear Edwin is excellent. The manners of speech for characters of different socioeconomic statuses are believable, and dialog strikes a fine balance between driving enough plot and revealing enough character, without ever becoming too dense and dull. 

Neutral:
Audio
While the custom soundtrack wasn't bad, there wasn't anything particularly memorable either. Tracks matched the environments and scenes in which they were used; given the type of experience this project intended on giving, it was sufficient, but no more.

Weaknesses: 
Gameplay
There was much deliberation as to whether or not this section should be mentioned, given that the project is up-front about the fact that it's an interactive novel. Ultimately, the choice to include this in the review boiled down to a simple question: "Do the gameplay elements enhance or detract from the overall experience?" And unfortunately, in Dear Edwin's case, the answer was the latter. 

There are two elements that can be considered "gameplay" in this project:
1) Interacting/Talking with NPCs and the world
2) Exploring/Moving in maps

Given that this is a detective story, many opportunities were already missed by the design choice to spoon-feed all the clues to the player through unmissable events that are necessary to progress. Even more opportunities were missed when a number of townspeople NPC had dialog that didn't contribute anything to world/lore/character-building. If "having the freedom to choose to talk to townspeople" is a prominent and core game feature, then what does dialog like "They're too focused on each other to talk to me", "I can see my friend's house from here", or "..." add to the play experience? 

On the point of giving players the ability to move about and "explore", there's the obvious benefit of showcasing the spectacular art that the game boasts. However, if this was just about eye-candy or awe-inspiring visuals, there are better alternatives to achieve this end.  Exploration should lead to discoveries, but unfortunately, there's little to be organically discovered in Dear Edwin. There are very few items that can be interacted with, especially on the larger maps. (Ironically, objects that the protagonist comments on are usually found in smaller maps.) 

This, coupled with the "..."-spouting NPCs mentioned earlier, leads to situations where a player would spend time wandering around the map and try to engage with objects or people, only to find that they've wasted their time. A particularly puzzling design choice is the decision to add knocking sounds to doors when the player tries to interact with them. By adding that to the game, one would assume the designer is subtly communicating to the player that there is something that the player can achieve through this mechanism. However, the only instance in which a door was knocked on and answered was during an event scene that is partially triggered WITHOUT an interaction command from the player. 

Presenting Dear Edwin in an "RPG-like fashion" is by no means a bad thing. However, it does beg the question whether this project would've benefited even more if it took on a different form of presentation.

Ending (Potential Spoilers)
While the story had an excellent setup and kept up its momentum for most of its length, the closing act leaves much to be desired. For one, there was no aftermath following the revelation of the story's main mystery. While not all mystery stories require an epilogue, the lack of closure given the nature and implications of the core conspiracy unfortunately makes the project feel rushed towards the end and incomplete.  

Tangential to that, given the protagonist's backstory and internal conflict that helped fleshed out his character, it seems illogical and out-of-character for him to unravel the conspiracy at the setting and location that he did; as it is natural and easy to imagine that doing so has with the potential consequences of repeating his past mistake at a much larger scale. While I can see how this might be a deliberate choice on the writer's part, in either case, this is another reason why the lack of closure or aftermath is troubling and gives off the unfortunate impression that the final scenes of the story were rushed.

*Note to Devs: I'm trying to keep it as spoiler-free as possible, but if this part (or any part of the review) is too cryptic or you would like to discuss, feel free to let me know. You know where to find me.

Concluding Thoughts
All in all, Dear Edwin was a charming experience that easily stands out from its competitors. The lack of meaningful gameplay and seemingly rushed conclusion are regrettable flaws, but otherwise the project is well-made and polished. Kudos to the development team!

- hadecynn

Developer

Wow! Thank you so much for this detailed review Hadecynn!
We've learned a lot and will improve with future projects. And since we'll have a lot more development time, we'll not have to scratch features again! Haha. 

It's super helpful and we'll make sure to check out your game to and give you some feedback! :)

(+3)

Lol, i should forfeit now, this game is absolutely amazing, the art, the music, the attention to dialect. *swoon* 


You guys/gals are amazing

Developer

Thank you! We're glad that so many people still enjoy it, even if it's far from perfect! :)

(Edited 1 time) (+4)

Time to play Dear Edwin! 

Following an idea PVGames had, I chose to do a realtime review where I just note my impressions as I play (I'll try to avoid major spoilers).

* Just started and already love your logo, you lazy bums :D
* The title and into set up a melancholic tone really well, mostly through the use of music.
* The pixel art style fits and supports the mood excellently, with its muted palette and art nouveau aesthetic. It also has the right amount of detail, not too much, not too little. And of course, it's raining!
* First conversation and I already got to know Edwin a little bit better. A man of olden times, it seems. Not unsympathetic, let's see how he fares from here on.
* Also, he has a mysterious letter which I'd love to read again. It's not yet apparent to me how to do that.
* The train station is full of wonderous, shady things. I wish I could explore them more, read the train schedule, look in the newspaper... The little bits of information the people give do draw a clearer picture of the world, however, I'd love to hear Edwin's thoughts on the things he sees.
* I feel sad for the wife and her husband. Hopefully their train really arrives soon.
* Oh no, I hit a drunk! The little minigame caught me by surprise, but there was still enough time to react - well done! After the fisticuff, I wished I could have solved the situation with words, but it's comforting to know Edwin can hold his own.
* It appears that Edwin knows this place from earlier... Mysterious! I wish he had more to say about it. The new music has a nice swing to it!
* Bad news from the papergirl! And DOOM! I'm not sure if I dare to go on, but I have no other choice - I have to solve my case! On a side notice, it's very comfortable to being able to see at one glance which characters are important.
* Thank god, a friendly face in the bar. I wish I could eavesdrop on the bar folks' conversations... But I was able to inspect the dog picture instead, which is even better! It's good to have some new objectives as well. 
* The way the plot unfolds and reveals details about Edwin at the same time makes me want to continue even more. 
* I wish Edwin and the people in the streets "updated" what they say according to my game's progress (I realize that this would probably take too much time in a game jam). Other than that, it's great how the city opens up as new locations become available.

* Whew, a big story bit! I didn't mind reading through it at all, as it was interesting and well written. I wish I could make some dialogue choices however, like earlier in the story. Edwin is making all his deductions himself without my help.
No spoilers from here on!
* I found two of the three new objectives quite quickly, but was a bit stumped on finding the third one. Wouldn't have expected it to be in the same area as the other one. The conspiracy gets clearer and clearer with every new thing Edwin learns! It's also pretty cool how Edwin and his new companion pull themselves together to solve the case!
* My hunch was correct on what the conspiracy was. I don't know yet if this a good thing for me, but I suppose this is part of the fun in a detective kind of setting. I certainly feel smart for finding out - so: A good thing!
* I like that Edwin has his Sherlock Holmes moment in the end! A triumphant win!

So, here is my final conclusion:
Overall, I enjoyed the game very much!
It doesn't overstay it's welcome and instead keeps things interesting from the get-go. The characters were likeable, and I found it thrilling to see their conflicts and backstories unfold as the case was coming along.
The aesthetics are very fitting, the dialogue is written sharply, and the story had exactly the right amount of clichΓ© that I felt welcome as a player new to the world.

The one major thing I would suggest is to add more possibilities for the player to interact with the game world and to be part of the case itself. I wouldn't mind playing the Watson to Sherlock Edwin Vayne if that meant that I could be a bigger part of the case!

Well done, guys! And good luck with expanding the game or your next game!

Developer(+1)

Thank you so much for that super helpful feedback Dezue! 
We're learning a lot from this gamejam and will improve in the future :) 

All of us are looking forward to check out your game, too! 

(+2)

It was my pleasure!
We feel you, we already learned so much as well! It was definitely worth all the finetuning,  and we're also glad we met so many talented developers like you!
Quidget is looking forward to flopping a Nitro Brain with you guys! 

(+2)

I really enjoyed the setting in the game. The dialogue and artwork really work well to set the stage. I did find myself wishing I could go through more doors and interact more with the people. The world seems so interesting I wanted more freedom to explore :)

Developer

Thank you Alan!
Took a note saying: "more exploration and interaction" to our feedback list, so we can improve that within the next title! :) 

(+3)

Dear Edwin is a very well done visual novel style game, the art is
fantastic, the dialog is witty and smooth. Even though I reallllllyyyyyyy don't like detective stories, this one was as engaging as they can get for me. It wraps up very nicely with an ending that doesn't leave you scratching your head. This team did a wonderful job with this and I would love to see any future development projects they churn out!

Developer

Thank you so much for your lovely comments and the feedback just1witness! 

(+3)

Just played this!

I really enjoyed the atmosphere you created. The graphics are outstanding, the music very classic noir. Like mentioned before, I wish there was more actual detecting gameplay involved somehow, but the story in itself is quite solid and the world that the characters exist in feels real and well-fleshed out.

Overall, very good work! 

Developer

Thank you PVGames!
We promise a better gameplay experience in the future (in a 2nd game)! :)

(+2)

I enjoyed the look and feel of this, especially the sprites.  I like the idea of a detective story, but did feel that this was mostly dialogue and would have enjoyed doing a bit more detecting!  Nevertheless, I appreciate that the entries had to be short and you did convey Edwin's back story well.  I would definitely like to see something like this in a longer format.  Well done to all involved.

Developer

Thank you for taking the time to play our game and for leaving a comment.

We had to scratch some of the events/gameplay elements we intended to put in there due to being short on time in the end. Sadly.

But we plan to remaster this game or jump to a second one that will feature everything we originally intended to be in there PLUS takes the wonderful feedback we're getting into account. :) 

(+1)

I certainly appreciate the restraints caused by the short development time and also the short playing time required for the contest.  I will be keeping  an eye out to see what you can come up with, given more time, and hope to be following Edwin's adventures in the future.