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IGMC 2015: Half Off Hero / Grist of Flies

        IGMC 2015 games will be judged following the same guidelines the official judges do. (Presentation, Gameplay, Engagement, Bugs/Glitches, and 2015’s Twist: Growth)  My score has no effect on the actual scores the game’s receive but just represent my own thoughts on the games.  Let’s take a look at today’s games…

Half-Off Hero: The World Needs Savings

Half Off Hero

Background Information:  An RPG made with RPG Maker by the creator The Dink.

Presentation:  The painted art that the game focuses on is a cute yet detailed style that really breathes life into each and every character.  The artist behind the characters really does a fine job delivering on emotion as you can almost feel what the characters feel or laugh at the troubles the main character goes through by the expressions he shows on his face.  The writing is funny and a joy to read and each character is interesting if a bit cliche.  The music fits the gameplay even if it is just a purchasable music pack, which is common for RPG Maker games.  The art of the sprites is also very basic but luckily your time spent seeing it is limited to the shop and dungeon mini-games that you spend considerably less time looking at compared to the character art.

Score: 16/20

Gameplay:  To simply call the game an RPG is a bit of an understatement.  The game is packed with story to discover, characters to meet, locations to explore, and several endings that will cause you to want to go back and play again and again.  It’s important to note the main character is not your typical RPG hero.  Instead he’s a shop owner who knows nothing about fighting monsters so even though you are meant to go face monsters and strengthen your character in combat, it is equally if not more important to take advantage of his business skills.  Going from town to town purchasing goods, taking loans, learning what customers like what items, and upgrading your own shop will make the game a lot easier and a lot more fun for those who enjoy a more strategic type playthrough.

        Combat is difficult for a family man that has hardly seen battle and this is more than just a plot element.  Running your shop isn’t necessary but it can make things a lot easier if you “cheat” your way to being a hero by buying the best gear, magical items, and getting others to help you.  In a sense you’re only half a hero, and quite honestly it’s a really enjoyable character to play as because of how the mechanics behave.

Score: 19/20

Engagement:  The story begins cliche, with an old tale and the rise of an evil god that can only be defeated by the chosen one, who turns out is a man with no idea or desire to be a hero.  But what the writers behind Half-Off Hero do is deliver a great storyline with loveable characters, laughs to be had, and even tears to be shed.  You’ll be revisiting characters just to hear more of their enjoyable dialogue, writing letters to your wife and child so they don’t leave you while you’re away on this quest that has been forced upon you, as well as working alongside some of the more shady members of society to make the most of the time you have available.

The combat and dungeon crawling is a bit ugly on the artistic side compared to other parts of the game and this could cause you to lose a bit of your interest in the game but that attention is kept by the surprising difficulty of even the simplest of foes.  You will need to study their weaknesses (done through the bestiary) and stock up on plenty of herbs, gear, and magical items.  Money might not make you a hero, but it will certainly keep you alive long enough to figure out how to be one.

Score: 17/20

Bugs and Glitches:  Twice now I have been knocked out in combat never to wake up again…or should I say, until a forced ending takes place.  To be clear when you lose a battle you are knocked unconscious and are meant to wake up a few days, to a week later in medical care.  The game even has a popup window telling you this, but sadly that never happens.  The days will continue to tick down, even by the hundreds, until the circumstances are met that you get an ending; which if you were unconscious for 100+ days is very unlikely to be a good one.  Due to the auto saving feature of the game to keep you from going back and undoing bad/unwanted choices, you have no way of stopping this bug from playing through once it happens.  During these times I lost anywhere between a half hour to over an hour of gameplay and had to restart.  

Score: -10

The Twist / Growth:  Growth within Half-Off Hero: The World Needs Savings is as uniquely well done as much of the game’s mechanics.  By that I mean growth is not always good, actually often times it is very, very, bad.  As you go on adventures your wife continually grows more stressed.  As your shop grows larger it gets harder to take care of all the customers on your own.  If you build up too much debt with any of the characters that offer tabs or loans you can find yourself in dangerous situations; and lastly simply having too much money from your successful adventures could just end up with you being robbed.  There’s also a lot of small features I could mention that also fit the theme of growth as well.  This makes growth within the game fun and good, if only in moderation.  Only grow as much as you can handle at any given time.

Score: 10/10

Overall:  Half-Off Hero is a super enjoyable experience that will have you smiling even when you lose the game.  The characters are great both in how they are drawn as well as written.  The story is nothing new but well handled in the way it blends with the game’s mechanics.  The twist was not merely something attached to the game but incorporated in almost every aspect of the game in several interesting ways.  Overall the game is a lot of fun and despite being made in merely thirty days and being completely free to play it has given me over three hours of entertainment and I’m nowhere near close to enjoying all it has to offer.  The game’s only downfall is a great one that can not be understated.  Being knocked out in Half-Off Hero might as well be permanent death because you will not wake up from your injuries until it is too late.  This can completely ruin your experience with the game unless you can convince yourself to look past it and give it another shot or two like I have.

        Half-Off Hero is nearly perfect  from what you can expect from an IGMC submission and offers a great experience to have in one, or several playthroughs.  Game breaking bugs can entirely ruin your experience though and they’re not uncommon.  Fix the bugs, clean up some of less interesting parts of the game, and throw on a price tag because Half-Off Hero is worth your money, savings or not.

+Art

+Story

+Characters

+Game Mechanics

+Great Use of IGMC 2015’s Twist

+2-5 Hour Campaign (Depending on playstyle)

+Replayability

-Game Breaking Bugs

-Sprite Art

-Unoriginal Music

Overall Score: 52/70, Must Play!

IGMC Page (Download):  Half-Off Hero: The World Needs Savings (Be sure to upvote and share the game if you enjoyed it, reward the devs for their work and allow others to enjoy what you have all at the same time)

Grist of Flies

Background Information:  A RPG centered around turn based combat made with RPG Maker by the creator Razelle.

Presentation:  Grist of Flies is not a horror game by any means but it is still a very dark game.  The majority of the game takes place within an underground tunnel system in which your characters serve as the main light source.  The look and music fits the game and though none of the art is that beautiful on its own it all fits well together.  The characters’ portraits focus on their eyes and gives a serious vibe for each of them which fits the end of the world scenario that they face.  The dialogue is decent though nothing too memorable.  There is a total of fifteen playable characters though most of them are optional to find.  Being optional it would be easy for the developer to avoid interactions between all members but they did not; some of the characters you can find earlier in the game will chat with characters that can be found much later.

        The music may fit the game but after an hour and a half into my playthrough I was more than tired of the same two tracks playing over and over again.  (One for combat and one for traveling)  The combat is very simplified artistically and just has single frame battlers for your enemies and your character portraits for your team.  It works for the game, but it’s nothing great to look at.

Score: 12/20

Gameplay:  Most of your gameplay will be spent in combat in Grist of Flies.  Luckily the game brings some new and interesting mechanics to the nearly outdated combat system.  Instead of a focus on equipment and items Grist of Flies focuses on building your teams in what way fits your playstyle best.  The system seems a bit complex at first but to sum it up shortly you can have up to three teams with up to fifteen characters in them.  Any character can play as any class but each character is better at certain roles over others.  The “teams” essentially act as single characters.  When it’s your turn you don’t choose what all fifteen characters do but instead what each team does.  Meaning if you have a medic and a dps character on one team you will have to decide which of them takes a turn and what they do.

        At first the list of classes, abilities, power ups, power downs, and monsters strengths and weaknesses can be a bit much to comprehend but it’s only as complicated as you want it to be.  For me I made my teams simple, one was physical DPS, the other was served as a medic and mage combo, and the last team acted as a guardian like role providing buffs to the other teams and taking a majority of the damage.

        Outside of combat you get to explore dungeon like tunnels, which basically comes down to this…Do you make your way to the next set of tunnels, or do you look for every possible place a survivor could be hiding so you can recruit them into your team.  (Take my advice and recruiteveryone.  This game can get very hard without multiple teams being able to support each other)

Score: 16/20

Engagement:  The engagement of Grist of Flies is perhaps its weakest point.  Despite having fifteen characters you never really have a chance to grow attached to any of them outside of perhaps liking what they look like and if they are good at killing things for you.  Each of them say a couple lines when you find them and a couple lines throughout the remainder of the game.  The story is nothing new either, zombies and monsters are destroying the world and there’s been some weird experiments going on that possibly lead to the disaster.   I’ve played the game for an hour and a half, and the only thing that may entice me to continue playing is to see what sort of combinations I am encouraged to experiment with as the combat grows more difficult.

Score: 8/20

Bugs and Glitches:  In the time I played I didn’t encounter any bugs or crashes.  The game seems to be well tested in that regard.

Score: -0

The Twist / Growth:  Growth within Grist of Flies lies within it’s unique team building system.  At first you’ll just settle for team members being placed wherever as long as you get more people to help but as time goes on you’ll be moving people around, changing who belongs to which team, and building a fighting force that best fits your playstyle.  It’s something that I haven’t seen to this degree in an RPG and it does pretty well.  It’s an indirect way of including growth throughout the game and it is good, not great, but good.

Score: 5/10

Overall:  Grist of Flies brings interesting mechanics to the traditional turn based RPGs that I grew up playing.  It’s enjoyable but outside of the combat there isn’t much that stands out as memorable in the game.

+Combat

+Class System

-Repetitive Music

-Little story/character building

-Single Frame Battlers

Overall Score: 41/70, Good Game

IGMC Page (Download):  Grist of Flies (Be sure to upvote and share the game if you enjoyed it, reward the devs for their work and allow others to enjoy what you have all at the same time)

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Dakota B.

Dakota Barrett is an indie game developer and journalist. His goals are to create high quality experiences and supports those that do as well.

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