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Level 85
Real Men Make Fan Games
Project of the Month winner for May 2009
Title: Under
Author: the man
Reviewer: madriel222

Plot (7/10)
If anyone is familiar with the introduction to Final Fantasy VIII, then you may have a decent idea of how Under begins. Finding a group of elite warriors in training, the player takes control and enters a series of trials. Should they emerge, they will successfully complete their training. Should they fail, death will not be far behind. Slowly yet surely, however, the story evolves into something far more complex as the students enter a world not meant for human eyes.

Not especially engaging, the man provides a story and dialogue that is just good enough to make the player continue. Much of the dialogue is fairly predictable and slightly cliche, but is written well nonetheless. Spelling and grammar, two things that I stress in judging amateur games, were certainly not overlooked, making the game seem cleaner and decisively more professional. The plot itself was not filled with the twists and turns of the classic RPG, but still had the depth to encourage players to continue. Little by little, new layers were added to the storyline, new dimensions that while are not surprising by themselves, made the game, as a whole, more enjoyable.

In my honest opinion, if you play games based strictly on the plot, this may not be the game for you. Should you be a bit more open minded, however, there are more enough reasons to pick up this title.

Visuals (9/10)
Lighting and solid mapping lead the charge for Under. Small details such as cobwebs, lighting, water puddles, and other unimportant yet aesthetically pleasing elements grant this game a rarely seen versmilitude. Being set mainly in dungeons, the novice game designer can learn much from the man when it comes to intriguing indoor design. Various exits, off colored yet important tiles, and moving tiles keeps the player on his toes for sure. At least in my mind, the use of lighting really sets apart the visuals for Under. Torches and cracks give off just enough eerie light to make an unforgettable atmosphere.

Enjoy the mapping, enjoy the backgrounds, and enjoy the fantastic use of scripts to enhance the outstanding visuals of Under.

Regarding solely his mapping style, I would have given the man a perfect score in this department. The battle system graphics, though, forced me to retract that score. Generic monsters and animations just did not do justice to the fantastic job he did on the maps. Though the man claims that Under is complete, I just may fix those battle graphics if I were him. A small weakness in his armor, but one that was necessary to point out regardless.

Audio (7/10)
Like the vast majority of my reviews, I will not delve too far into the music. My only real complaint about the soundtrack of Under was that, at times, it seemed far too monotonous, not changing enough as the player entered new areas. Sound effects were nothing amazing, just enough to get the job done. Not a bad job in this area, but nothing overly fantastic to increase the score.

Mechanics (9/10)
Puzzles and traps anyone? the man pulls out all the stops when it comes to trying to foil the player while he is still on the map. On countless occassions I have had to bare complaints from individuals claiming that the game is impossible. Rest assured that every puzzle can be completed and every trap can be avoided. A shame that people are so abject to thinking, as they may actually smile when they encounter the clever devices inherent in Under. Switches, off color tiles, object manipulation, and countless other puzzle types are utilized to perfection. Playing through these puzzles is reason enough to play Under, and the single most impressive characteristic as far as I am concerned.

I refuse, though, to give the mechanics a perfect score with the battle system the way it is. I can honestly say that I was able to rapidly press the space bar to complete every battle, most without a scratch. This may be too outlandish of a suggestion, but I just might eliminate the battles altogether, and let the puzzles and traps shine all the more.

Take a break from the mundane, battle oriented RPG and play Under. Embrace a game where brains are actually more important than power leveling and item hunting. Download this project if you are feeling like a much more sophisticated title.

I give Under
8 out of 10

Game Download:  http://www.angel-spire.com/games/under.zip
« Last Edit: July 24, 2008, 03:46:29 PM by madriel222 »