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A jam submission

HeartlandView game page

Atmospheric, narrative-based atypical RPG
Submitted by Faye Valentine (@SGITCWTTD) — 2 days, 22 minutes before the deadline
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Heartland's itch.io page

Results

CriteriaRankScore*Raw Score
People's Choice Vote#503.5453.545

Ranked from 11 ratings. Score is adjusted from raw score by the median number of ratings per game in the jam.

Team Members
Christian Fernández

Engine
RPG Maker VX Ace

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Comments

(+1)

I'm just gonna leave this here... yeah.. 

Developer(+2)

Thank you for this! I appreciate it quite a lot. I took my time to leave a comment in every video of the series.

Submitted(+1)

Rating the game using the Judge categories just for fun

Gameplay

Played in classic mode so I could see your vision of the game. I got stuck after the first battle because I went to the mountains to the west. I entered the small caves system and suddenly could not get out anymore. The place I entered from seemed to be impassable now

Based on my short experience with the battle system, I can say its not for everyone. I will write my opinions on the story and general aesthetics in the presentation category. Purely from a gameplay standpoint, the battle system has potential to be really fun, as you figure out the enemy strategy. I think it is limited by the choice of only going 1-on-1 though

[13/20]

Presentation

I think the story was simply not for me. The style of prose and meticulous descriptions of everything and everyone only made it feel rather artificial to me. This compounded by the semi regular mistakes coming from someone whose primary language is not english quickly made me want to just get going ahead, kind of dismissing any further meaning of the words onscreen

Visuals were gorgeous for the most part. The mountain range has some weird looking placement of bridges, but that is ultimately a minor detail. The Wyvern part was both beautiful and had a problem at the same time, since the entrance arc kind of covered the characters

Music was fine and fit the atmosphere you were looking for.

Overall the story just made me indifferent

[12/10]

Engagement

I got stuck pretty early on, and I hadn't saved in a while. I really didn't want to go through the story segments again, so I decided to stop. This speaks for how players like me could just become bored of the game far too fast. I think this is going to be kind of a polarizing topic with the game. Some will love this kind of stuff, some (like me) will hate it

[6/20]

Potential

Regardless of whether you like this game's narrative or not, I believe it still has a lot of potential from a gameplay perspective. If you expand the battle system to follow the same core idea of enemy pattern recognition, I think you will have something great in your hands. In terms of the storytelling, I guess it is a matter of taste

[15/20] -> Doubled to 30

Total: 61/100 (4 Stars)

(+1)

Omg.. I only planned on playing 30-40 minutes of this but god this was such a great story! And the maps are sooo gorgeous! I got lost a bit while trying to figure out what to do next at times.. but thankfully we had a kind of small village to look around and the rest of the areas were kind of close so it wasn't a pain to explore but I think a way to track the story progression - like a quest tracker or a journal for example would help somewhat so that the player doesn't forget the objective or has a hint/tip of where to go next to find out more

Two things I noticed while playing the game: 
- After talking with Gabriella when Levi tells you at his shop to go talk to her.. if you go back to his store after talking with her - his dialog is still the same, tells you to go talk with her
- After the lake meeting with Levi, if you go to his store - he's not there - so when you try to leave 
there's a repetition of his dialog from before about the coldness and winter

Also not exactly a bug more like some tiling issues but the water tiles in the snowy map where we find Valerie look a bit off.. kind of misplaced over the ground.. you should check it out

I noticed a lot of misspelling words... I think you need someone to read the text over, it's nothing major and you can still follow the story well enough but I loved the narrative so much.. and I'm just a grammar nazi.. sorryyy haha

I did a short list of the misspelled words as I came across them in case it helps you:
a woman on "his" mid-fourties -> her
"[2Not" -> during the talk with Levi about the helenes at the beginning I think 
"teached"-> taught - during Agus backstory fight
"you mind" -> your mind (can't recall where sorry)
"2[" -> during the talk with Valerie

I also noticed that sometimes you wrote "helenies" "arcanies" and other times "helenes" "arcanes"? Not sure if it's intentional, I think not.. but you should probably decide on using just one way of the words xD

OVERALL: I loved this game from beginning to end.. the message of hope behind it was really good.. the way the story progressed at times made me kind of sad (Valerie!! T_T )but I was glad that our heroine got a happy enough end.. or at least a true chance at redemption.. :)
And I know I already mentioned this.. but I can't get enough of the maps..!! They are truly gorgeous.. I didn't even mind getting lost at times because it was another chance to walk around.. the forest, the village, the inn was so beautiful!.. everything looked amazing! 
I don't know how you plan on continuing the story but let me tell you that I'm looking forward to playing more! I really want to see Rose trying her best at changing the faith of the world (and I hope there's Agus in that because I really liked him!) but I think anything you make next to continue this game even if it's another character story will be worth my time.. I just know I'll be happy to hear about what your next plans are later on after IGMC is over! ^^
Good luck on the contest!!!

Developer(+1)

Hey! Whoa, really surprised by such a positive feedback. I'm shocked haha. Thank you so much for making it to the end.

Regarding the misspelling issues, my only defense on this one is that english isn't my native language. I know that's a lazy excuse, but I had no one to playtest nor proofread the game :( so it was kind of an issue, and sometimes I relied upon a translator, when was in much trouble. Now, that's for the mistakes and stuff, the misspelling are probably due to me hurrying the hell off because of the short time that was left xD

And yes, the game still has some glitches around. The shenanigans of not having a betatester and little time to do it myself. I'm pretty much aware of much of the problematics of the game, but I am glad that you could get over them and continue the game! Really, many thanks. I know it can get obnoxious.

And, for your joy, there *will* be more coming for Heartland. Many more! Though I can't say a date, because I do not know myself. 

Thanks for playing, really happy that you enjoyed it!

Developer

ATTENTION: For ANYONE that is getting LOST/Got LOST, do not have much time to spare, prefer to play the game directly, do not like exploration, etc.: 

I've uploaded a Step-by-Step GUIDELINE/TUTORIAL in form of a short, resumed .TXT for you all. It's pretty raw, but the game isn't long at all. So you will see it's pretty much easy to get to the end, specially in casual mode.

https://mega.nz/#!jQ80ESaQ!UMvwKhMHOgUTVfuX13SiL5CsKO0sDsLUdS_KyikSN_4

Grab it right here. I will soon upload it to Pastebin too.

Those who didn't play the thing anymore because of getting lost, I encourage you to give it a second try :) For new players, this tutorial may come handy.

Submitted

What I got:

-the game is so narrative and focus on story. Nobody talks but the narrative story.
-still got text error, but it's fine.
-particles like sakura flower, starry, etc. I like it
-map got confuse as the trees blocked my view. Yet beautiful with filters.
-the game narrating in battle.
-game crashed after VS Wvyren. Restart, and okay. (but I donno the cause of crash)
-Remnants and Sorceries
-sleep in Inn, defeat Nightmare, but no recovery.
-After vs Nightmare, went to Gabriella, I lost. I donno what to do next...
-story about Helenies - I'm really curious!
-after the story, the blacksmith told me to meet Gabriella in chapel, but Gabriella keep saying about pretending to read.
-meet Gabriella at the fountain......okay.
-...okay, found the 'F' word.

Me, personally
-skipper, doesn't read too much. I wanna skip but reading is important to RPG games, but I really want to skip.
-almost asleep while playing
-the story mission: protect the Chalice - I hope you can visualize it whether image or make a scene. 
-almost lost my objective. Except talk again to the blacksmith, I finally know my next objective.

Now : I stopped where the black-hooded guy appeared. I'll continue later coz' I'm busy.

Thanks for the game.

Developer

Hey, thanks for taking your time to play it :) If you're still interested, I uploaded a basic guideline/tutorial to finish the game the most easy. Grab it from here: https://mega.nz/#!jQ80ESaQ!UMvwKhMHOgUTVfuX13SiL5CsKO0sDsLUdS_KyikSN_4

Hoped you liked it!

Submitted (1 edit) (+1)

Heyo, you set out to make a cinematic experience and you succeeded!
This is a great example to show off what RPG Maker is capable of.

I can't comment much on the battle system because I went with Casual Mode,
but I can say that the inclusion of such a feature is much appreciated!
Everything about the presentation is well done.
Having the Wyvern's backstory fed to you during battle was neat!

The forest is beautiful, though it did lead me to believe I was stuck with a glitch. Twice!
The first time, I assumed a dead end was where I came out of, but the actual way out
was in the opposite direction and seemingly hidden.
This was in the area before the Wyvern fight. 

In the desert area, I couldn't go back under the bridge.
I thought it was an impassibility issue. 
It turns out triggering one of the cave's teleport event fixed it,
but I stumbled upon it by accident.

I didn't make any progress after that. I remembered something about  a lake,
but I couldn't find it or anything triggering a cutscene. I explored the map thoroughly,
but I must've missed something. I played the patched version, by the way.

TOTAL PLAYTIME: 45 MINUTES (I got lost after the Wyvern...)

FINAL VERDICT: ♪ Yo ho ho, they call me Rose the Dragon-Slayer oh yo ho ho,
I'm feelin' great about myself today! ♫

Developer(+1)

Hey! Thanks for the good vibes and for playing the game. Yeah I've been getting issues about the forest being easy to get lost in, might as well check it out for future games :) I've uploaded a basic guideline/tutorial to play the game, it's rather easy I swear, pretty straightforward. If still interested, see the first comment or directly grab it from here: https://mega.nz/#!jQ80ESaQ!UMvwKhMHOgUTVfuX13SiL5CsKO0sDsLUdS_KyikSN_4

(1 edit)
(Note: I've only played the 1.0 version, where bugs weren't fixed yet. I will not be talking about: collision issues, game breaking bugs, or other unintended content from the author I encountered that presumably has been fixed in patch 1.01.

I've know the dev for years, as a friend. I've also followed his game development career for as much time, so I have a very solid knowledge of how much of a step up this game is, compared to older projects.

Story-wise, what I'm most proud of and most interested by is the narrative style of the game. Foregoing the usual dialogue system and using this type of narrator (even though it has a story payoff later on) is a very good choice. Where graphically and sound-wise it doesn't have a strong identity, the narrative style of the first third of the game helps immensely to give it a unique style and flavour. While it makes you reminisce of other indie RPGs like Mortis Ghost's OFF or Toby Fox's Undertale, it takes what in those games was a much more vague and secondary concept and plays around with it until it's the main point of the game, narratively and metanarratively.

However, while I praise the bold choice of stylistic narration, I have to say that the story and lore is not as strong. The game starts pretty incredibly, putting on a strong premise and for the first third of the game, the mystery is enough to push forward with strong momentum. While I think the first boss is, at that point, the narratively weakest one, I think it fulfills it's purpose of being an entry point for players to get accostumed to what kind of game this is.

The second third is, in my opinion, the strongest. I find Valerie to be the most impactful of the bosses, even more than the visually and mechanically spectacular final boss. Valerie is, in my opinion, the climax where you wonder 'what has my character done' to cause such a visceral reaction on even his sister. However, as I said, I think Valerie is the highest point and sadly I think the final third is the weakest.

With such a strong premise, there's no wonder the player would want a strong payoff. I think the game gives a strong payoff, but some details and execution makes it less than great. For starters, I love the concept that what Rose did was basically start a World War. I think that's a terrific way of conveying the "sins" the narrator pushes towards the player (even if the narrator is far from objective), and I think it fits the overall themes of the game.

However, I think the last third of the game is also bloated with exposition, backstory, random historical facts that don't really impact the rest of the game directly, and feels more like The Silmarillion than The Lord of the Rings. The Chapter, the Helenites, all of that feels like a tacked on worldbuilding that the author had in mind and wanted everyone to know, but doesn't actually enhance the game in any way. A much more simplistic backstory, with a stronger focus and less worldbuilding (of a world the player doesn't even interact with nor  see aside from a postgame screen) would have made the game be focused much more in character interaction, where it truly shines.

Also, I disliked some choices that the author made with the story. I think the assassination of Whershaff is undermined by the concept of Rose being enchanted. If the mistake was truly on Rose's part, either because this particular job was viscerally emotional for her or something along those lines, it would have made the story feel more coherent and mature. Instead, we have really a Rose that's not bad in anyway, and whose only fault in everything is the equivalent of being drugged by a third party, who should really be in this purgatory. It's barely acknowledged by the game that the real culprit of the world going to shit is someone who actually orchestrated it. There's no justice or closure on that. Instead, we have a story that tortures the main character without any reason, and there's no moral dilemma or strong decision by Rose to have done what she did.

Also I feel that Luhm's Heart undermines what could have been a strong message of "moving pass your mistakes and starting anew" in order to give Rose a superpower to "fix the mistakes that weren't really your fault, but hey, you're like super op now". I think the story got extremely close to being excellent, but these few choices for the end really felt like a let down.

In another point, I agree with @Ciclope's assessment. The movement in this game doesn't feel that great. Apart from the 8-way movement being slippery, I feel like the maps of the game were designed entirelly aesthetically, and not at all mechanically. More than once I got lost in a forest, to immediately find myself in a dead end and had to backtrack. Other times, there was a collision with a branch or bush in the middle of a path that did nothing other than obstructing the actual way the player needs to go, with no gameplay reward. 2D JRPGs, unlike more modern open world games, historically tend to need a much more tight-knit level design in order to feel good to navigate. There's no reason for the player to feel like they are navigating a labyrinth of small collisions, when they're actually in the middle of the road.

All in all, I really enjoyed the game. I feel like it's an excellent step in the right direction in so many ways, and if the author would polish it up or take some concepts from this game to his next one he could make something that actually felt great. This, however, is a nice first attempt with excellent ideas.

Keep it up!

PD: Sorry for the long review. I hope you appreciate the insight though.

Submitted

Heyho, man! Your game looks awesome, I can't wait to give it a try! Well done! 

Developer(+1)

You are pretty much welcome to do so, dude!  (i 100% real saved the img to my pc)

Submitted(+1)

Hahaha I like it! 

Developer

As of 29/11/2018, the patch 1.01 has been added! It fixes the MAJORITY of bugs, if not ALL. Collision issues are no more. For more information, check the devlog.

Cheers,

C.F

Submitted (2 edits)

Okay, let me begin by saying that I've found two minor problems in the game:

- Navigation is kinda uncomfortable thanks to the 8 direction movement system, not to mention a lot of objects which I could walk through (Piano on the church and part of the counter on the INN are some of the examples. Not to mention a lot of the mountain Tiles in the southwest part of the map;
- The information displayed in the battle system is a little bit chaotic. We have text on top of the screen, also buffs and stats poping up faster than we can read'em. 

But those details are NOTHING! The writing in your game, sir, is probably the best thing I've EVER seen in ANY game, I'm dead serious. You managed to turn a simple concept of "Amnesic hero slaying beasts" into a fantastic and immersive experience, and that is amazing.

It's really impressive when we see what can be done with the power of words. The narrative style helps a lot in the character and world building, which wouldn't be as effective if we had only character dialogue.

Also, the battle system is really fun. The way it was built makes the player cicle through the options and rewards him for doing so, which is a sign of good balancement. 

Developer(+1)

Oh god, the piano and the Inn counters... absolutely forgot those, even if I had them noted to change. Huge mistake by my part. 

In-battle information text I am aware it's mostly faster than one can read, specially the one on top. However, I wasn't able to change the speed properly, as my coding/scripting knowledge is rather limited, and the only way I had of making the popups last longer, implied notorious halts between actions, and that would've meant slow battles.

And now, sir, I've gotta say you made me happy with such a comment. You do not know how much. After struggling so much with the language, that someone says to me the writing it's *probably* the best thing they've ever seen in any game... I am speechless. 

Thanks @Ciclope for playing the game. Bugfixes will be coming in the future, but after IGMC I'm afraid.