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A member registered Oct 04, 2017 · View creator page →

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Secret Santa Review – Cumulus

I am going to preface this by stating that this isn’t the style of game I normally gravitate towards and that I am naturally keener on picking up what I don’t like about something more than I am at picking up on things I do like about something. I am not a professional, by any means, so please take what I have to say with a grain of salt. It is my hope that, by writing this the developer will be able to improve his/her product in the future! Here are the quick points for my review:

  • Your main character is a spitting image of Cloud, without the spiky hair. While this may be a witty play-in with the title, it’s not a good thing for a commercial game. Even Chase has a character silhouette that is familiar to Sephiroth… Would advise caution moving forward with your characters looking like this.
  • The combat system proposed is fine and works well; however I would argue that the control scheme holds it back quite a bit. Perhaps a gamepad would be better suited in this scenario.
    I'd propose re-configuring the controls to something like this?: A- Attack, S- Skill, D – Guard, W- Dash? Thinking about this for a while trying to discern comfort hasn’t yielded anything too pleasant on the keyboard with the already allocated buttons. Menu being tied, currently, so close to Attack yields combat interruptions. Or, you know what would make it even better? Player customizable keybinds.
  • Not sure I understand the point of dodging fireballs only to move to next screen to be auto-shot out of the sky.
  • Not being able to walk through butterflies made me sadface
  • The town is huge and the first bit of the game is just walking through it. I can see this as a world building aspect with all the NPCs, which works well, I just hope it doesn’t detract from the overall 1-hour experience this contest was meant to have. Also, the direction arrows could ‘pop’ a bit more.
  • The Earthbounder who storms the tower (main villain) is very straight forward with what he wants the power for and seemingly for no real reason other than to have it to become a god. This could be played up and out a bit for added drama and life within the writing. Having the villain spew the whole nine yards within the first 10mins seems like you're limiting yourself.
  • After getting out of the tower, I would suggest Auto-Running the event with the High Sister. Seems there is no reason not too? I personally was thinking about wandering around aimlessly looking for something, but decided against it as I wasn't playing the main character anyways and this chick just teleported us to safety only to stand in silence?
  • Skill Help Text could use some work. “An upward slash” could also tell me that it can knock down enemies, etc. It's one thing to give characters tools. It's another to make sure they know what the do. Clarity is only a virtue here and you have a lot of room to provide that in.
  • 1st boss seemed to spam Fright, which cause paralysis. He spams this until he gets close, but this can create a no-action loop where the player cannot get away from the incoming attacks and could fall over rather quick, which I can see making some players very frustrated right off the bat. I’d considering toning down the frequency of such an ability. For later encounters, sure, do this to amp up difficulty and to demand the player perform well to avoid death.
  • While I was writing the note about the boss fight, it would seem the fish events killed me while the text was on the screen by reaching me and staying under me? Animating endlessly, etc. I clicked to advance the text only to get an immediate game over lol ><

Overall, I think what I have seen so far is going to yield as much feedback as I will be able to find in the game. It’s hard to judge an RPGs story within an hour timeframe, so I’m not going to bother as it just isn’t realistic (except for the tidbit above). The battle system could use some balancing touches. I truly believe a more user-friendly control scheme would make this battle system a lot better. I found the jumping very jarring with the screen movements. When you “jump” in other such games with a battle system like this, the screen is often locked so you can keep track of your character vs. the field, etc.

I think there is potential here. The mapping is nice to look at for the most part. The story concept was rushed to reveal itself, but it sets the stage for at least 3 additional combative events with the main villain.

I hope you find this useful when moving forward with your product. I hope to see this built upon in the future!

- Talon

I am going to preface this by stating I am naturally keener on picking up what I don’t like about something more than I am at picking up on things I do like about something. I am not a professional, by any means, so please take what I have to say with a grain of salt. It is my hope that, by writing this the developer will be able to improve his/her product in the future! Here are the quick points for my review:

- Information provided in the help box was very useful.

- Game was pretty easy. Without looking at the strategy guide posted by the developer until after I had completed it, it seems he suggests what I was already doing, expect for partaking in the duels (which I didn’t). I didn’t have anything additional other than what the game gave me through its natural progression.

- Icon Text was hard to read. Perhaps instead of text, creating custom icons to clearly illustrate each effect that is possible and having them conveyed through the combat tutorial guy?

- Stat Orbs are huge and noticeable on the map. Weapons and other items were tiny sparkles. Why not make loot be denoted by the same effects?

- Platinum and Sovereigns have the same currency icon, which doesn’t really matter considering the platinum vendor is beside the dude that gives platinum for duels, but eh… minor point for the future I suppose.

- Optimising of Accessories slots felt a little odd. Sometimes you want certain characters to have certain effects via accessories.

- Eventing could be spruced up a bit. For example having enemies move into the characters sight before a battle and having them flee after a battle they run away from. This would add a lot to the game I feel like.

- Some of the passability on the maps had be a touch confused. IE the stalagmites in the caves I couldn't walk behind.

- Being thrust into a world of political strife with such little information kept me very detached from the story. What is so wrong with the Sovereign that the Stormers don’t want to be a part of it, etc. etc.

- Accuracy was very frustrating. Nothing hurts more than using a 5 turn cooldown ability and having it miss…

- Poison effects were dealing 12k+ to the final boss. Consider having different formulas for characters vs. bosses.

- Equipment names are lazily done (Metal Armor I, Metal Armor II). I figure these are placeholder to get the point across. Hopefully these will be updated going into future builds.

- Some abilities do no perform their mentioned effects. Some do, but on different targets?
-- I noted that using “Brace Yourself” sometimes didn’t provide taunt.
-- I noted that using “War Instincts” sometimes provided no evident effect?
-- I noted that using John Guy’s “Attack” damaged 1 enemy but then Stunned a different enemy.

Combat System Points:

- Going from fighting soldiers to fighting rats (and them being the next step of enemies) felt a weird.

-- I feel like out of the 5 character slots available, you have only 1 slot that truly doesn’t have someone assigned to it alright (going into the last boss, which is mainly the only encounter that had some potential difficulty to it).
-- Slot 1 is the main character you cannot switch
-- Slot 2 should be a restoration character. I personally believed that John Guy was the best.
-- Slot 3 was reserved for Dienne due to enemies starting with or gaining buffs to steal
-- Slot 4 was reserved for a tank character so keep everyone else healthy
-- Slot 5 felt like choice was available, but at that point it didn't matter? I used the squire up until the caves because he was so powerful. After that it was up in the air / didn't seem to matter too much
-Equipment “choices” seemed rather moot as the protection system was so powerful and you got full healed after every battle. With everyone in at least Metal Armor I, I often didn't take HP damage.
- Non-soldier enemies having the protection mechanic felt a little odd (where rats get protection from?)

Overall the game went well and I feel like I would have enjoyed it had I had more information / introduction to the world and it's current state. More of a reason to hate the Soverign like that characters I was player as, etc.

Good work so far! I hope this helps.

Secret Santa Review – The Lost Kingdom by Ghorba

First Impression on the Title screen had the Font giving me a more Eerie feel than an Epic RPG feel. The intro song however sparked curiosity and implied that something might be afoot, which really vibed well with me

When starting a new game you are hit with enough information to acquaint you with the world, but not enough to bore you to death with a massive wall of unskippable text, which was good. However what I will say is that the scenes are short and uneventful and could use some sprucing up to add more life to them, but this is something you’d expect from someone’s first game.

Getting into the game you’re greeted with nice quirky, but not annoying, house music and if you choose to go around clicking on everything there are some nice tidbits to be found.

Upon exiting your house you are told to go and visit Lilth’s House. However, after searching the entire town, the only marked house is Menion’s House (Lilith’s last name). I originally went to the house sign and checked as said to myself “ok, not this house, I’m looking for Lilth’s”. Until Lilith was in my party I, the player, had no idea what her last name was.

Whilst walking around town I noticed it had a lot of ‘empty’ space. There areas between houses were huge, the houses compared to their exteriors were massive and it just felt a little unnecessarily up-scaled. Big fancy towns are fine, as long as they have the population or density to support it!

If you end up venturing into the Guard House before picking up Lilth and her sister the General guy is there but he doesn’t say anything. When you talk to him with the sister he is very, very brief… He asks if you want to be an explorer then asks if you’re ready for a test and bam, you’re battling slimes! Where’d they come from? Some of this plays back into the sprucing up of events.  After the battle, which seemed to take a while if you didn’t use Ice every turn, he gives you your explorer’s license and sends you on your way. Short and sweet, I can get behind that, sure. Feels like there could be a “you kids have fun now” or something to add a bit more life to your story-based NPCs. There was more text on the old dude that was a robber when he was young complaining about why you were in his house, for example.

Now, I have my explorer’s license and I’m ready to go. I find my way out of town into the field. First think I notice is that, last I recall  I was walking South (down) and all of a sudden, I come out of town face West (left). Ok, sure. That’s not entirely terrible. However, when I head over to the other side of the field and I exit facing West (left) and I appear on the next map facing East (right), which is jarring. Try to develop a flow between your maps. You can twist the player around however you want on the map itself, but when it comes to a transition, try to keep it smooth.

Now, this is the part that is most important to me, as a player; the battle system. The first think I notice is battle sprites. The enemies are super small! Those cute little bats couldn’t harm a soul, let’s be real lol. Overall, that isn’t super important to me either. However, what is important is player tools and the flow of battle. Player tools are important and what goes hand-in-hand with that is information of said tools. The help text for the spell “Age” simply says “Ages the target rapidly”. Ok, that doesn’t really tell me anything, but after a use or two I notice that it acts like a Demi spell from Final Fantasy which shaves of a % of the targets current hp. Those feels when you try to use it later in the fight and hits for 9 damage… megaSadFace. Try to work on providing the user with the information they need to succeed. The bestiaries does great at that, but extend that further to filling up the Help Text box to convey what skills do.

My last point and probably the one that made me struggle the most with this game was the overall flow of the character development vs. commitment to combat. It took me 15mins to get to level 5 which was about 4-5 battles. That’s fine, but those battles… omg… very, very drawn out. On my first attempt through I died to a nice encounter with 2 Magic Toads, 2 Toads and 1 Slime to the left of the first floor. Potentially the first enemy you will ever encounter. The Magic Toads would either heal the Slime for 250 HP or they’d attack. The Toads would pound me with Water or attack and the Slime would just attack. That is 5 enemies vs. 3 weak player characters. Not a good scenario to introduce your game your players with. My advice for improving your combat would be to Start with the following: - Lower the MP cost of spells that are required to make battles a bearable speed. I’m fairly certain I went 6 rounds with a bat because all they do his heal themselves and I was out of mana on my two characters. - Tone down the HP growth of the enemies. For the first round of encounters you have slimes at say 400 HP (not sure if I remember correct) but then bats at 700. Enemies of a similar “level” should feel similar. - Tone down the number of enemies within an encounter. The toad scenario is one thing, but the 3 Goblins, 2 bats, 1 slime was crazy. The Goblins spam an attack that can paralyze you… I would imagine there is an item to cure that, but if not it lasts forever. In 1 turn, 2 of my guys got paralyzed and it was gameover shortly after that because 2 turns later my 3rd guy was paralyzed and I just had to wait to die.  Permanent character-impairing effects in an “every day” battle scenario are scary. Using them as boss mechanics are one thing, but with the cost of items, equipment, inn stays, etc. there is no way I could heal, grow AND have supplies on hand to brace for a scenario. Even still, you presented 3 goblins. Luck could have it that I get 1-rounded by the encounter if each goblin paralyzed 1 member. I hope you can see the downside to that.

Now, I’m not good at being personable or anything so I hope you take this all with a grain of salt, for sure. I am also not an expert. However I do acknowledge that this is your first game and I believe you could develop this up with the right direction/advice. Your game seems to be based on crawling through the dungeon to unlock its secrets (which felt like a rather loose story plot to begin with, but there is so many options to expand it from what you have I think you’ll do alright). Dungeon diving games come down to one real aspect: Slaying boat loads of monsters and feeling great about it. With that said, the combat system is the #1 thing you’ll need to emphasis on. Give the healer character a damaging spell, give the time mage a spell that isn’t based on current % health, lower mp costs, etc. Make killing monsters fun, making your players feel exciting about destroying beasties as they move forward. Balancing isn’t easy, so it will take some time.

Summary Points:

1400 words later…

- Battle System is currently bland and takes too long to get anywhere with.
- Character Development is very, very slow. This is timed to combat speed.
- Information relayed to the player is lacking, but you have a good basis. Use of those Help Text boxes!

- For a beginning your maps are doing alright. Tighten up those towns or really bring them to life. I did like the field area though.  You're on the right track and with more practice you'll be doing just fine!
- You’re able to write to get a chuckle out of the player when they least expect it. Play to that strength and flesh out your events a bit.

Overall, if you’re able to draw from the long post here and work on it, great! Growing from feedback is very important! While it may not have been what you wanted to hear, I believe in telling it how it is. Your game got boring fairly quickly because I felt unable to progress right from the start. We all go through this, at one point or another and it is nothing to worry about. Chin up! 

I wish you best of luck in the future!

- Talon