Cloudfall's GIAW XI Reviews!

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So, this is going to be where I shove my reviews for the games submitted in this iteration of the Game In A Week contest! Obviously some of the games are only demos, so that will be taken into consideration upon going over them!
 

Apologies also if my scores at the end seem skewed or whatever, they make sense to me.

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--The Visitor--
by Owl


‘The Visitor’ isn’t the first RM game I’ve played made by Owl. Nearly a year ago I was skimming through the projects list looking for something when I stumbled across ‘Miserere’. It seemed intriguing, so I took a look, played it for a while and mentioned that I’d do a review of it upon completion. Unfortunately, a few days after, my computer took its last breath and passed on to a better place, meaning I never got around to getting any review done, or completing the game for that matter. I took a look at the project thread to see what comments I’d made about it a year ago, some of which being “a really cool atmospheric and stylish game”, which can also be said for Owl’s GIAW entry, ‘The Visitor’. Yet, another comment of mine was also “it’s getting to be a little more frustrating than I’d originally thought”, the same of which, can also be applied to ‘The Visitor’.

Right off the bat, we’re ushered onto a very distinct and interesting atmosphere with the game’s title menu and opening scene. Immediately we’re shown an environment that’s dark, brooding and just generally a little unnerving, with a sombre and mysterious piano piece playing over the top. A creepy old woman begins the tale by introducing us to a small family that have inherited a house from a late relative in the year 1913. The way the characters are presented is simple but in my mind, rather effective, though throughout the game, most prominently with the father, George, and the narrator, some of the dialogue feels like a bit of an anachronism, that pulls me out of the supposed time period and can questionably upset the legitimately creepy feel created so well.

You begin playing as the young family boy named Robert and start exploring the house. It feels a little ambiguous at first, because there’s no clear definition as to what you should be doing, other than the narrator stating that curiosity gets the best of all of us. I liked this idea, as it gave me time to drink in the scenery of the mansion. All of the rooms in the house are rather well made, with pretty much every object being one you can examine to further detail, though I do hold a bit of a gripe with the halls, which feel rather empty, bare if not for the odd potted plant and very interesting paintings that you can examine full size.
 
So, like I said, it seems a little ambiguous at first, but you’re just wandering, right? You explore the house and find the mother and father in separate rooms, going about their business when the father mentions that he wants you to unblock the pipes in the bath. After you find the appropriate equipment and drain the pipes, you find a key. A questionable place perhaps, but it leads us to getting out into the back garden for the first time, which leads to the harrowing woods sitting ominously behind the just as ominous mansion. You head into the woods, and everything starts getting rather dark, the music fades, replaced with the wind. It gets more difficult to see where you are, and my goodness, the tension is so thick you could cut it with a knife.

But... Then an odd piece of exposition is brought to our attention just after Robert heads into a dark cave, having lost his way in the woods. The sudden change of scene was a little jarring and quite frankly almost lost me. You then take control of George, the father. This is where my biggest flaw with the game is. The first section of the game as Robert has direction, though a little subtle. With this part of the game, it’s not too clear  what exactly it is you’re supposed to be doing, and when you figure it out, why you’re supposed to be doing it. This section involves you going around the mansion finding particular items that have no discernible pay off until two scenes after, but it feels a little too coincidental and coordinated to really make it feel well executed. And the collecting was admittedly a bit frustrating, though that may just be down to my deducing skills rather than the game’s clarity. I found myself just using items on every object in the mansion after my tenth time doing the rounds and still apparently missing out on what I needed to find. I’m not saying everything should be flashing itself in my face, but it was a little confusing at times. Saying that however, I can appreciate  meow how it has the sense of a point-and-click game, but those games were never particularly my style.

The plot continues along with not much more gameplay, other than another little puzzle that made things a little different from the exploring of before. What follows then is more or less the last 5 minutes of scenes that nudge up the tension levels some more, and pretty well I’d say. However, the ending just didn't have the right kind of pay off for me, and the dialogue, as mentioned before, just felt a little out of place in the setting that had been created, which is a shame really.

The genre of this game was submitted as ‘Horror’, but it’s more of a thriller in terms of the story and atmosphere. This game had some really interesting moments, mostly created through the visuals and sounds, but the gameplay and dialogue with characters weren't so great for me.

I do love Owl’s style however, and I would like to go back and play ‘Miserere’ to obtain some more of that ‘well, this is kind of weird’ feel (though Miserere does admittedly have a lot more odd things going on than The Visitor). Clocking in at around an hour or so, it may have its flaws, but it’s otherwise rather well crafted and definitely worth checking out, if not simply for the brilliant atmosphere and vibe that practically oozes from it.

Visuals-8/10
Audio-7/10
Gameplay-6/10
Polish-8/10

Overall-7/10





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--RMRKario Ware!--
by Zylos


Two words.
Freakin’ hilarious.

This game had me in absolute stitches of laughter. The charm of Zylos’ crack at Warioware is undeniably fantastic, and it’s such a major selling point from the second you load up the game. The entire intro animation seems like something that could easily have been in an actual Warioware game! Quite simply, he hit the nail right on the head, which you’ll probably be doing yourself shortly in one of the various frenetic minigames that feature in Zylos’ GIAW submission.

I really admired Nightmare when it was released, and was aware that Zylos pretty much has RM working right in the palm of his hand most of the time, and what better way to prove that by offering the complete antithesis of Nightmare’s fear-inducing, spine tingling puzzler/thriller? RMRKario Ware is full of laughs from start to end, (which unfortunately, doesn’t take long to get to in this demo version) and I’ll admit I was a little concerned that some of the jokes would maybe go over my head, considering the esoteric nature of the jokes and my vaguely newbie status to the forum. Luckily for me, only one or two jokes came up that I wasn’t clued in on, and even then, the way they were executed still made me laugh.

The satirical take on previous RM games is a really interesting idea and for the most part, it was all great fun to do, though one tiny gripe was that a good couple of the minigames revolved around moving to a spot and doing something; opening a door, jumping off a ledge, etc. Basic stuff, but with the timer quickly burning down, it was still frantic and fast paced and mildly challenging figuring out what you’re supposed to do in such a small amount of time!

Another small thing that bothered me was that the boss stage was a little frustrating. It’s a little difficult to dodge some of the stylish projectiles being vomited at you by the evil vicious troll sometimes, and if they hit you in pairs, which they usually did, it takes off a considerable amount of health. This was the only real problem I had with RMRKware, aside from it being pretty short, but it’s an issue that can probably easily be updated and fixed, (or ignored because I’m maybe just a bit crap). As for the length, I’m presuming (hoping desperately) that more will be done with this. Whilst working off the template of another game, the ideas and subject matter are hilarious and original in the sense of the parody. Also, on another little note I do wonder whether minigames will repeat like they do in Warioware, and if they do, whether or not they add more difficult challenges in each individual minigame other than having less time.
 
This was a really fun game to play, even if only for 5 or 10 minutes. The audio is great, the visuals are nice to look at, (especially the intro animation scene) all the subtle little things like getting +rep when you beat a minigame all brought a smile to my face every time, and I think some kudos need to go Zylos’ way for an interesting experiment well done, even in its small stage of life. I very much look forward to seeing a completed version of this!

Visuals-8.5/10
Audio-8/10
Gameplay-8.5/10
Polish-9/10

Overall-9/10
« Last Edit: August 08, 2013, 04:20:24 PM by cloudfall »
"Pursue happiness with diligence."

http://soundcloud.com/progfox

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The story is pretty much made up as I went, so I don't blame you for not being impressed with it.
About the dialogue, I am not a native english speaker and I would have liked to make everything in old sounding english, but given the time limit I really couldn't.
If I had more time I would probably have asked someone to write the dialogue for me.
I would also have added more diverse puzzles, more clues leading you to them and various types of them, but again, time...
I should probably have went with mystery for this game, I guess.
Oh well.
I'm trying to work on incorporating more interesting gameplay, especially with what I'm working on right now, Reap and Sow, which I might post on RMRK sometime.
Somehow my focus always tend to shift to other stuff and somehow I forget it though, hah.

Also, good thing you mentioned Miserere, I forgot to put the latest update on RMRK, actually, so I did that now, hah.

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The story is pretty much made up as I went, so I don't blame you for not being impressed with it.
About the dialogue, I am not a native english speaker and I would have liked to make everything in old sounding english, but given the time limit I really couldn't.
If I had more time I would probably have asked someone to write the dialogue for me.
I would also have added more diverse puzzles, more clues leading you to them and various types of them, but again, time...
I should probably have went with mystery for this game, I guess.
Oh well.
I'm trying to work on incorporating more interesting gameplay, especially with what I'm working on right meow, Reap and Sow, which I might post on RMRK sometime.
Somehow my focus always tend to shift to other stuff and somehow I forget it though, hah.

Also, good thing you mentioned Miserere, I forgot to put the latest update on RMRK, actually, so I did that meow, hah.

I totally understand the time thing, no worries ^_^

From what I played of this and Miserere, I'd say it's just sometimes a little difficult to understand what you're supposed to be doing. The parts with the mixing recipe, George didn't really have a reason for doing it other than 'it was there', and it just seemed a little odd I guess. I'm not sure if I got across the point of the parts as Robert being good in spite of the ambiguity. The narrator says 'all boys like to explore' or something along those lines, so that's what you do, you explore! But when it came to being George, it wasn't particularly clear, and I saw a parallel between this in The Visitor and Miserere, the latter of which was really difficult to understand. I remember thinking 'this is really experimental and different' when I first played it, haha! I do genuinely think you have a really interesting style of visual design, I'd love to see more from you in future ^_^
"Pursue happiness with diligence."

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--MLP: Snowdrop's Journey--
by Octavia

This is more of a general feedback and thoughts post I guess, considering there isn’t too much to actually review. I have quite a few things to say about this, so, let’s start with what’s not so great in this, so we can look at ways that they could be improved!



I’m not the biggest My Little Pony fan but I can’t deny it has some sweet charm to it. Octavia’s tried to recreate some of that charm with Snowdrop’s Journey, and some of it works... Other parts? Not so much.

This demo is pretty text heavy and all about the exposition. Unfortunately the majority of the dialogue is riddled with spelling mistakes and grammatical errors, which make it difficult to read, but not as much as the fact that quite a few times the text goes off the screen and becomes completely unreadable.
 As for the content of the dialogue, I feel that there’s way too much talk of Snowdrop being blind. To a character like Snowdrop, who’s presumably been dealing with this for many years (since birth) it seems odd that she’d go on about it so much. Not just her either though, I could understand if she was feeling incredibly self-conscious about it, but pretty much every other character is either pitying her for it or making fun of her. I know that in some cases, it’s good to address the elephant in the room, but it seems that the characters in this game aren’t only content to acknowledge it, but repeatedly poke and prod it with sticks. It’s difficult to empathize with a character that is consistently having their blind spot (sorry, that was awful) constantly exposed and referenced. It seems really forced and contrived when everyone’s talking about it and it isn’t a good way of developing character.

I’m a little curious about the way the characters in this act in places... During Snowdrop and her mother’s slightly elongated and unnecessary exposition during the beginning, her mother decides it’s cool if her blind child goes off to wander the world alone. It’s a cool idea as I suppose it’s all about her overcoming her disabilities and being able to live life against the odds. But it seems kind of far-fetched. There were 3 other particular moments in the demo that I found very questionable alongside this.

1-   There’s a prison in a small town that seems mostly safe, except for the FREAKIN’ MONSTER IN THE HOUSE RIGHT NEXT TO SNOWDROP’S. Which killed me in two hits, resulting in a ‘bah humbug’ from myself.

2-   The ‘Kitchen Utensil’ shop... Yeah, I get that this is obviously going to have fighting in it, but on that note, I really don’t think Snowdrop’s charming and cute adventure of finding herself and exploring the world is so cute and charming when she’s potentially slaughtering beasts the world over with a knife and fork. Again, it’s an interesting idea, and I liked the idea of the ‘Cutie Mark Points’, but I didn’t really get to see anything about it other than the training book. It’s possible that it could merge fighting and this story together, but I think there’ll be trouble pulling it off without making it super weird. And uhh... Pic related to the shop...


Uploaded with ImageShack.us

3-   So, I get that Snowdrop is bullied for being blind, but... Uhm... This... Seems a bit much for something that
I presumed was sort of meant to have a bit of a lighthearted feel. Kinda.



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Yeah.



Onto the visuals. The ponies themselves look nice, but I think that aside from the maps looking a little bare in places, they would benefit a lot more from being smaller. Why give an area so much room if you have nothing to put in it?

I liked the audio, I thought it went well with the areas, except for the school flashback where there is singing, and featuring the line ‘You cannot see’. Rubbing salt in the wound for poor Snowdrop methinks :

I think this game would benefit from some simple stuff.

-Smaller, more concise maps=Less empty spaces!

-Big spelling, grammar and punctuation overhaul.

-Fighting system slotted into the game in a more intelligent way, rather than just being there for the sake of it (I mean, it just seems crazy that this cutesy pony is going to start killing stuff on her journey to find herself and overcome her issues, no?)

One real big thing I thought of almost immediately when Snowdrop said she was blind at the beginning, was “oh, maybe we’ll have some interesting visuals with the environments”, but it’s just normal environments. I think it would be a lot more interesting and unique if the world as the player sees it is a direct visual representation of how Snowdrop sees it. She’s been blind all her life, so she has no idea about stuff we see all the time, like colours and everything, right? So, you could potentially have some really weird artsy areas and stuff that look way more interesting than say, a standard old library. Snowdrop’s ability to visualize the world around her through what I presume is sonar could be a really interesting gameplay feature if thought about more in-depth, I’d say.

This game has the potential for a nice charming adventure, but it needs a lot of touching up. 
"Pursue happiness with diligence."

http://soundcloud.com/progfox

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--MLP: Snowdrop's Journey--
by Octavia
Thank you for reviewing and it was a real fun to read it your pretty cynical, I laughed sometimes, like the thing with "cute llittle pony goes out and kill creatures". :D
But for real, I'm really embarassed, that there are some unreadable text lines. :-[
Well the blindness theme is kinda funny, one said it's to less of it and well here the oposite. :)
The ethical problems I know, but I guess they are not a way to exclude it. The kitchen utility store was a joke, well that doesn't comes so good. ;)
Well I thought myself, the maps where to big, but less then 20x15 isn't possible, because I use the larger resolution of Yanfly. But after all I can make them centered and small, there you are right. ;)
Well I thought the school song fits perfect, but maybe I change it with an instrumental version. ;)
I really want to do a sonar like thing, but a script like this should be disable, because later there join seeing ponies. ;)
Plus maybe you missed these sections in my mini demo, (I hope the judges didn't missed them):
1. Is by investigate the mirror in "Snowdrops House EG"
2. There is a secret stage by talking to Primsrose two times after doing the mirror secret.
3. If you go on the small cloud in "Cloudsdale" a small sequenz start, who explains the back story of Snowdrop.
Plus there was a font to install in the folder named:
Equestria
I looked that all screens and texts matched with it. ;)

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I did see her backstory, tis where I got the picture from 'Questionable issues' numero 3 B) If the dialogue was touched it for it, it'd be a pretty good backstory scene!
"Pursue happiness with diligence."

http://soundcloud.com/progfox

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Well did you get the two here?

1. Is by investigate the mirror two times in "Snowdrops House EG"

2. There is a secret stage by talking to Primsrose two times after doing the mirror secret and enter yes.

I think I should put some sparkles or hints in the game, or else the secrets would be allways secret. This secret section is about 2 hours long. ;)
But you need to install the "Equestria" Font to get it correct displayed, here the prove:

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Thanks for writing these, Cloudfall! :) It's good that the participants can get a little extra advice for their games!
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