A Blurred Line

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Real Men Make Fan Games
Project of the Month winner for May 2009
Title: A Blurred Line
Author: Lysander86
Reviewer: madriel222

What starts out as simply getting a man to work on time will emerge as one of the greatest epics ever told in any game, professional or amateur. To state that “A Blurred Line” is merely a classic does not do justice to its impeccable beauty. Though not without its faults, and these are few and far between regardless, Lysander86's “A Blurred Line” sets the standard for character development, pacing, and originality for all developers from the present onward. On a personal note, this was the game that inspired me to join the ranks of RPG Maker developers; I can only hope that it does the same for you.

Plot (5/5)
Lysander86 possesses literary skills to rival that of most professional authors. The plot itself is innovative, but so many other games can say the same. Pacing and character development, however, separates “A Blurred Line” from its rivals.

In the form of master film maker Quentin Tarantino, Lysander86 throws the player immediately into the action, dazing and confusing him with events years in the future. Suddenly, when the action reaches its climax, he then brings the player back to the present, in complete amazement of the events he had just witnessed and with a sense of urgency to get back to those events. Though never again in the same short time frame, Lysander86 utilizes this technique, this wavering pace, throughout “A Blurred Line.” In doing so, he keeps the player constantly entertained even while presenting less important or less exciting pieces of the plot. In total honesty, the pacing of this masterpiece could not have been any more perfect.

Lysander86 also demonstrates his uncanny talents in creating empathy between the characters and his players. Right from the beginning, the game’s central character is made human, not the prototypical monster slayer that other developers overuse. By making his protagonist so relatable, the player has an easier time believing his motivations and realizing his own faults, which are many to say the least. Starting approximately half way through, you, the player, will actually begin to feel emotion toward this hero; you will care what he is thinking and you will be engaged in his state of mind. To list off all of the techniques that Lysander86 used to create such power would take this reviewer a great deal of time, so he will show mercy upon himself and just leave you with this guarantee.

Coupled with appropriate humor, the plot of “A Blurred Line” is second to none.

Graphics (4/5)
I realize that version 2.1 of “A Blurred Line” greatly improved upon the graphics from the last version, but I still see much room for improvement. After reviewing games from master mappers such as XxNemesisxX, I leave “A Blurred Line” with the sense that something was missing graphically. This is not to say, however, that the mapping and other effects were in some way flawed, because they were not. I am stating, however, that the maps could have been fuller, more vibrant, and this would bring an even greater perception of versmilitude throughout the piece. Furthermore, some of the city maps seemed a bit chaotic at times, as if tiles were not as carefully placed as they should have been. Again, I do not see this as a flaw in the design, only a minor critique. This reviewer would have also enjoyed a greater use of fogs, lighting, and other overlays to enhance the feel.

In the battle system, the monster graphics sometimes seemed out of place. With sources ranging from the Run Time Package that comes with RPG Maker 2000 to Nintendo rips to hand drawn pieces, the monster graphics did not seem to all fit in with the game, especially the RTP graphics.

Aside from these small criticisms, the graphics do just enough for “A Blurred Line” to make traveling pleasant and locations interesting. Filled with little traps and puzzles, Lysander86 makes getting around a perpetual adventure, and that is truly what you want out of a game featuring random encounters. Mazes were confusing, houses and shops served their appropriate functions, the natural areas were certainly crafted to look that way.

On a different note, the face graphics and sprites, though not terribly original, fit the characters and their personalities. Some RTP was used for these, but unlike the monster graphics, these smoothly moved into the world of “A Blurred Line.” Lastly, I thoroughly enjoyed the system graphics, the choice was simply perfect.

Sound (5/5)
Not being much of a sound person myself, I did find myself very much liking the music and sound from this piece. The sound effects, to say the least, were spot on. From computers to traffic to shattering glass, Lysander86 spared no expense when it came to adding realism to “A Blurred Line.” Even more impressive is the fact that all of the sound came at the exact right moment and with the exact right volume each and every time. Not every sound was a dominating explosion of decibels at 100% volume. By mixing up the timing and the volume of his sound effects, Lysander86 truly enhanced his work.

The music fit the game beautifully as well. I myself have a bad habit of turning down a game’s music to make room for my own tunes, but I could not do so when playing this project. When your heart rates goes up and down to match the mood, largely thanks to the musical selection, you know the music is just right. That’s the sort of reaction you can expect when listening to this soundtrack.

Mechanics (4/5)
Nothing spectacular in this category, which defies its other qualities for sure. The battle system utilizes the default inherent in RPG Maker 2000, and not much if anything was added to it. The battles themselves were balanced perfectly, not too hard, but not too easy either. The player, therefore, is a continual struggle in trying to find that equilibrium between using healing items, blowing cash on rests, and fighting on. I appreciated the “broken items” idea that Lysander86 incorporates into “A Blurred Line” as well. Instead of finding all of your items in mint condition, ready to smash heads with, many of them are unusable when you find them. To remedy this calamity, the player needs to head to a professional who can fix that equipment for a price. As was the case for a myriad of other characteristics of this game, such as system added a subtle amount of realism.

The menu system was default as well, but on the bright side, “A Blurred Line” did utilize a few unique skill progression methods as well as a very nice looking system graphic. Again, nothing stunning in this regard, but certainly nothing that detracts from the game either.
Conclusion:
To have played video games all of your life and not to have played this one is probably equivalent to have never played video games at all; “A Blurred Line” is just that good. Any writer, for literature or for games, will want to check out this piece for a lesson in pacing, character development, originality, and dialogue. Any game developer will want to check out this piece for a lesson in how substance does indeed conquer flash. Do yourself a favor and play Lysander86's “A Blurred Line;” you have this reviewer’s guarantee that you will not walk away disappointed.

My Final Rating:
4.5/5

Game Download:  http://www.rpgmaker.net/games/92/
« Last Edit: July 24, 2008, 03:45:17 PM by madriel222 »