Wednesday, July 18, 2012

RMN Review Drive: A Metric Buttload of Games

For the past two weeks I've been involved in RMN's NaGaDeMo Review Drive.  For those who aren't in the RPGMaker or indie game-development scenes, NaGaDeMo stands for National Game Development Month.  It takes place over the course of the month of June, and is the indie game developer equivalent of NaNoWriMo in November.

This year, RMN held an event encouraging developers to release demos and finished products during June.  The event was quite the success, with 31 Official Submissions, with that number roughly doubling if you include releases during that time that were not submitted to the event.  With such a large number of games released at once combined with the website's long-standing issue that only about half of the games on the site that are eligible for reviews actually receive them, RMN decided to hold a Review Drive as a follow-up event.  The Drive began at the beginning of July, and will continue through mid-August.  Since posting reviews on RMN has been something I've been planning on starting for quite some time now, I've been rather active in the Drive, and I thought I'd echo my thoughts about some of the games I've been playing here.

The Greats:

Maximus Jones: It's Sokoban.  It's a Zelda Trading Sequence.  It's Recettear.  It's Blackjack.  Maximus Jones is a collection of puzzle games all rolled into one.  No excessive plot, no filler scenery where you walk across the world in real time to get to the next puzzle.  A Game that sells itself on pure game.

Vagabond:  This one falls somewhere between the Greats and the Not-So-Greats. With only your trusty monster as a companion, travel the world and defeat monsters to bring peace to the land.

Doppelganger: A Visual Novel Demo by the same person who made RE: Alistair.  Wonderfully atmospheric and attention-grabbing.

The Not-As-Greats:

Uchioniko: A Mahou Shoujo RPG, which the world could really use more of.  Unfortunately, the current release is only a demo, is rather light on gameplay even for a demo, and what gameplay there currently is could use just a bit more balancing work.  When this becomes complete, though, I have quite the high expectations for it.

Arbiters From Another World: Another RPG by the creator of Uchioniko.  Sataro, a mage kicked out of school for failing the exams too many time, must travel the world and communicate with the elemental spirits in order to prevent an ancient power from being awakened.  Features a few balance issues between bosses (Fire Spirit: Defeatable at level 20.  Mercenary boss reached immediately afterward: Must Grind to level 30)

Lost Dreams: The Last Magus: A rather interesting piece about a bunch of students in a post-magic society who must venture into the forest to study wolves for a report on the long-dead werewolves that used to populate the world.  Technically the demo for a longer, not-yet-released game, but I thought the premise was interesting enough as it is.
Shards of Xar:  Situated towards the lower end of this category.  A soldier in training deals with the intrigue of an instructor who has been consorting with demons.

Pixel Brady: The Dungeon Crawler:  An attempt at an action-based combat system with randomised floor layouts.  Has some balance issues where damage quickly becomes trivialized even as the damage-oriented character class, as well as some instances where the game became to processor-intensive for my netbook to keep up.

The Terrifying:

The Outcasts: Siblings Chris and Ashley must work together to defeat the evil Zio and the Earth King in this badly-spelled adventure!

Shadowsong: Episode One: A somewhat incomprehensible game featuring a retired war hero who spends his days rescuing children from the woods.  Features some of the worst map transitioning I've ever seen.  May still be in progress.

The Unclassifiable:

Mana Quest: Will probably end up in the "Not-So-Great" category, although I'm perfectly willing to be surprised for the better in this case.  Was unable to get a good judgement for this due to a game-breaking bug that trapped me in a cave with no way to escape.

Dragon Kingdoms II: Legend of the Great Sword: A "Demo" for a game that doesn't really demonstrate anything.  Too bare-bones to get a good impression of it.

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