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Kafro Hudrep

A member registered Feb 18, 2019 · View creator page →

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I played the Haunted PS1 Demo-Disc: Spectral Mall version of the demo. No idea if that's any different from the demo here, but here's my review:

Great pixel art and atmosphere. I appreciate the direction toward a hardcore capitalist numbers nightmare RPG. However, the current gameplay design leaves much to be desired.

In combat, you're forced to either use $ or your Manager's HP to attack. If you run out of $ and the enemy's still healthy, you're basically dead. On paper, this sounds like it would lead to tense decisions, and I think I was going through the intended level of pain for most of my playthrough. However, once I got exploded by the final fight of the demo, I figured out I could just repeat the Monday shift, which is really easy, and build up my wallet enough to steamroll through the last shift. Kinda ruined the "work is hell" vibe to be able to do that with no repercussions, and I'm wary of how prevalent grinding previous shifts to get through later ones will be in the full game.

Not to mention, presently, there is a very limited and unexciting pool of events for each shift. Once I memorized what does what, it was a no-brainer to pick the options that might result in my party taking a bit of damage or a status ailment over getting into a battle where I am guaranteed to lose HP and/or $ for little-to-no reward. It bugs me that this is an RPG where the bulk of interesting decisions are in combat, yet the winning strategy is to avoid combat as much as possible.

The battle balance isn't without issues either. I didn't see the use in skills that would make allies block or evade attacks as you can't predict enemy targets. Frankly, max HP totals are so low that ignoring everything aside from directly damaging the enemy feels like the way to go. As such, hiring the character who can only counter seems like a beginner's trap. Nausea damage also seems of minimal use for the same reason.

Lastly, I hate to bring up ludonarrative dissonance, but I do feel a disconnect between the mechanics and what they're supposed to represent thematically. Why am I bribing my staff to make them use skills in battle, even though I'm just as broke and presumably need my salary to live outside of work? Why does the Manager also have to pay to use their own skills, and where does that money go? Why does Goofing Off still get the job done, how do corporate repercussions get applied the moment we goof off, and what does it mean for those repercussions to kill my Manager? Why is my party completely unfazed getting bludgeoned by mannequins in a presumably supernatural manner? I haven't played "No Delivery" yet, but it seems far easier to maintain the suspension of disbelief in that game because I think you only control one human character in a more surreal environment.

Honestly, the most fun I had playing this demo was exploring the supermarket while on break. Being able to roam freely, find items, and do little sidequests throughout the store is far more rewarding than staring at the customer service counter and picking dialogue options. However, the fact that you have to deliberately go to the break room after finishing a shift and use your single industrial cleaner — which some players might be afraid to get rid of — to even know this part of the game exists seems like a failure in signposting. I've seen someone else play this demo for a half hour without discovering the areas outside the break room, so this definitely isn't just a theoretical problem.

I think if I were making this game myself, I would replace $ with "Motivation Points" for each party member as their primary skill resource, with the option for the manager to expend $ to raise Motivation. I'd also find a way to prevent players from gaining too much $ by cheesing earlier shifts and rebalance the game around the player not doing that.

As is, "Sorry, We're Open" is hard to recommend to anyone but the most brain-poisoned number-crunching "I like RPGs that kick me in the teeth" weirdos (me). I'm personally still looking forward to the full release just to see exactly what the heck is up with this spooky supermarket, but I don't predict that my future opinions will be much different barring significant overhauls to the core design of the game.

Full Playthrough with No Commentary here:

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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.

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It is true that the battles in this game are tightly crafted, but I feel that is mostly due to the very limited amount of skills as well as how they exhaust themselves for a turn. I often felt I was just going through the motions of using one skill, then the other, then the first, etc. I can't say it felt very strategic.

Regarding the spare vs. sacrifice mechanic: it's neat in concept, but also each choice felt obvious to me and I was able to get through the whole game without any difficulty. I feel like these scenes could have had a bit more dramatic weight to them as well considering the framing of killing sapient creatures. I didn't help that every character felt way too robotic; I couldn't relate to them at all.

If this had more time to be fleshed out with more combat options and more engaging encounters to use them in, I think this could have been an entertaining mash-up of fantasy with office comedy, but as is I don't have any strong emotions about it.

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Great presentation, lovely characters, but the combat design needs a lot of work. I played on Challenging difficulty, yet I never felt like I was truly in any danger; not even the final boss was all that hard. The ending was also kind of a letdown.

I also encountered several odd bugs. For one, after the first bonfire scene the game simply didn't fade the screen back in; I had to reload an earlier save and redo that scene for it to go through. Second, both times I tried using an Ariadne's Thread, I got warped out of bounds instead of to a bonfire.

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nice art, but the way this game shifts between tones looks like this and i mean that in a bad way considering the subject matter:

i haven't had the chance to check out a lot of the IGMC games, but if this isn't decidedly one of the best entries then i must be really missing out

absolute masterpiece in merging story and battle mechanics together, and also making me Feel Emotions that i forgot i had