Hello, I found out about your project through Indeed, applied for testing the game, & played your demo.
Now that I’m done playing it, I decided to post my review on it along. As you read this review, keep in mind I think your demo did a fine job demonstrating what you wanted to do with this concept & I did enjoy my playthrough of it, enough to start thinking of concepts for the project.
Monochrome RPG Review
This will be long, so I’m gonna try to structure this review via sections & sub-sections as well as the order going from the least to most critiques/opinions & improvements I have about the subject. None of which HAVE to be implemented or even be considered until a later state of the game.
-The music is alright, but the theme downstairs from the basement party is a swinging jam, the best song so far. I only wish that the battle theme either changed into the basement jam or became a party version of the battle theme.
-This demo needed more of them. Mostly for how Otto & enemies react to damage or jokes through the battle system. The enemies hardly make any sounds when interacting with them & there’s nothing playing when you click anything related to Otto’s options.
-The name of the project should be changed to something more unique. The current title, “Monochrome RPG”, sounds like a subtitle like “Otto’s Journey: A Monochrome RPG”. Looking up gameplay videos only yielded 2 results of your game & other RPGs, including one called Monochrome Order.
-Personally, I don’t like Otto’s design. I don’t hate it, I just think it should be changed or at least tweaked Otto’s design. He’s supposed to be a rabbit, but his ears don’t stand up & hardly move. It’s weird, but he seems more of a dog than a rabbit to me. I dunno, maybe it’s just his head. It looks more like a robotic head/helmet than a hood or whatever he’s supposed to be wearing because of the line splitting the middle of it. His eyes should change depending on what he’s doing. I thought the left eye was the norm for his era of cartoons, but the other one makes it look like he’s continually winking. It works when he’s in the pose the game program icon, but in game, it makes me think someone damaged his eye & this is just how it looks now.
-The Writing: The simple pun-based interactions are wonderful. You’ve delivered important information without straight-up telling the player using puns & play-on-words. It’s a little detail but I adore it. The only weird thing moment was Gackle, sorry, THE GACKLE’s dialogue since the cuss-word came out of nowhere.
-The Automatic Text: The text goes by automatically, which wouldn’t be a problem if it didn’t last seconds. For most dialogue, I can keep up, but some of the longer ones disappear before I can finish reading the entire time. You should do 1 of 3 things…
1: Just let the player click or press a button to progress.
2: Change the time limit for EACH & EVERY dialogue box existing to match with how long it takes most people to read the text within.
3: Do 1 AND 2, turn them into dialogue “modes”, & let the player to switch between them on the fly. DO NOT make the player have to enter a pause menu to switch these “modes”.
*Cleaning Up (The Nitpicks)
-The title screen: that ribbon that says “Monochrome” has 2 white specs on the top on the opposite sides of its eyes.
-Credits: The typography needs some work. The “Founding Artist” title on the left side don’t line up with their corresponding text on the right side. Increase the max-width for the right side or just center everything. Titles should either have a different font or be bolded. Also, alter the spacing for between the names & titles, specifically the names. Having the titles & names so close together and some of the names possibly being split into 2 lines really makes reading the credits incredibly disorienting.
-Inconsistencies. Since this is a community project, it’s somewhat inevitable the following points happen. However, they don’t need to be fixed for the moment, but should be polished by the Alpha version of the demo. Some of the characters or objects in the “background” have different, noticeable outline widths. Some of the animation loops don’t sync up with each other (as in they tend to have different FPSes) & that’s kinda distracting when you notice it. Not something that needs to be changed, but something that would be real swell if fixed.
-This demo would’ve been less frustrating the one time I died if it had these. You only really need one anyways & it’s when you get down to the basement. Now to be fair, this concept demo was hardly annoying or even hard, but it was tedious for how short it was. And it’s all thanks to the encounters. Fighting the creepers, or any enemy, is not hard BUT you have to either attack or tell jokes the entire match or else you will die, due to the weird duo health enemies have for some reason. Yes, you can heal, but the creepers & Gackle deal so much damage with one attack that it’s useless. Anyways, dying, which only happened to me once, restarts your progress. So if this concept demo was actually hard, this cycle of failing & restarting like a digital phoenix would be super annoying. Luckily, it isn’t & I’m sure this project will get checkpoints for future builds.
*Controlling Otto, Overworld Movement
-Otto himself controls fine, I haven’t even encountered any animation errors & he’s relatively fast enough for this demo. In a new build with much more content, having a faster mode of transportation (a running mode and/or even just teleporting to previous areas) would be greatly appreciated.
-You should also let players move with the arrow keys, but WASD works just fine as well since you have to use the mouse to click the options in the battle menu. Speaking of which…
*The Battle/Joke System
-It really needs work. It is lacking even for the basics of basic RPGs (attacking physically, attacking with magic, using items, running away, and maybe even a block) but ignoring attacking (through Otto at least). Not that it really needs THOSE options, but all the game is so far to me is just attacking or telling jokes until the battle ends with you or the enemy being defeated.
-Another personal opinion: I don’t like how most RPGs’ battle system work. You throw either attack, heal, or run away. The problem I have with it is that the player & AI are forced to wait taking turns where all they do is select an action. For me, there’s not enough player interactivity that would keep someone like me invested or drag others like me to game on this system alone, which is (from what I understand), the focal point your game’s system is built on & what the players are going to spend most of their time interacting with. Yes, the story & writing are also parts of the game they’ll interact with and could even be the best part of the game. However, if someone wants see the story and/or writing FOR FREE, all they have to do is wait until someone uploads their gameplay videos onto YouTube or any other video/streaming platform.
-The hearts were kinda confusing to figure out at first. When any health bar is colorful, I assume the colored part is my remaining health because that’s how that works in most games but with this demo, I think it’s reversed somehow. Also, and I’m not sure if this is a glitch or not, I think the enemies have different health hearts for attacks AND jokes because you can attack an enemy & tell a joke on the next turn, but the heart’s updates are different depending on whether you attacked or told a joke.
IV. MECHANICAL IMPROVEMENTS
The following sentences ending with question marks are just barely formed brainstorms.
Now for what I think you can do to expand upon your current system for a later build…
*The Overworld System
-Otto can jump and run, in & out of encounters. This can be used to avoid enemies & their attacks.
-If Otto touches, jumps on, or is attacked by an enemy, the Encounter system starts.
-Enemies will chase Otto once they see him.
-If an enemy chases Otto or encounters him, nearby enemies (should only have max 5, but only 2 different kinds of enemies) can join in, increasing the difficulty & health limit for each copy an enemy has.
*The Battle/Joke System->The Encounter System
-1: The fight doesn’t progress unless you, the player, chooses an option by clicking 1 of 3 areas: Mike the microphone to tell a joke, Otto to sing/heal, & on a member of your troupe to have them aid you. If you haven’t chosen an option for a while, the enemies and/or Otto start playing idle animations?
-2: Enemies launch attacks but Otto can dodge the oncoming sequence/barrage by moving out of the attacks area of impact. Attacks are visually TELEGRAPHED, the players should be able to know that they’re coming & on repeat fights with the same enemy type, know what those attacks are & do.
-3: If a player can tells a successful joke, you gain a small amount of health when your enemy’s attacks miss during their next attack sequence. Enemies regain a small amount of health when they hit you.
-4: You should be able to add multiple copies of a enemy to your troupe (through jokes of course). The more copies of enemies you collect, the more powerful their attacks or moves are & collecting enough of then unlocks more options for them. For example a ladybug’s starting move (a ballerina spin kick) can becomes a team move (the cha cha).
-5: Your troupe doesn’t specifically physically attack anymore, but prank or even help tell jokes instead?
-6: Of course, when you survive an encounter, you gain DOLLOPs depending on your performance during the encounter. You can spend DOLLOPs for several things, but you can also spend it to get an XP. You can exchange XP to increase your health, joke efficiency, or a clip ticket. When you get 3 clip tickets, you get a Snaz Klip.
-7: Snaz Klips, a possible kind of perk system, giving or improving Otto’s abilities. Just some examples:
Yukulele Ho!: Lets you hold a key to heal during your enemy’s turn.
Magic Hat Exit: When you encounter an enemy, you can either automatically & randomly win or run away. Your possibility to win increases when your troupe outnumbers the enemy troupe (your copies don’t count).
Moodtrix: During an encounter, your options get boosts when used until the end of that encounter. In the overworld or during the enemy’s turn in an encounter, Otto’s jumping & running is boosted to a certain limit until you stop jumping or running for a few seconds.
Jokestar: If an attack barely misses you or hits you & your health becomes half or less, tell a random joke with its efficiency depending on your dodge’s timing or how much damage you took.
-Enemies sing and/or dance/sway to the music.
-Encounter screen’s aesthetic should be a comedy/entertainment club. The seats should be only be filled by the enemies you add to your troupe. Before the encounter starts, Otto should have some kind of quick, nervous preparation animation, like uncomfortably & nervously tugging at his bowtie while looking away from the enemy? The front should have a band, playing the encounter theme diegetically?