IndiePCReviews

IGMC 2015: Reminisce / Homeless

        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…

Reminisce

Background Information:  A side scrolling adventure game made in Game Maker by the developer Jesse.

Presentation:  The beginning scene starts out with a couple lines of text and some music but then as the game starts the music cuts out.  The only sounds you’re left with is the characters jump which sounds like a horrible static sound that makes you want to turn the volume down.  Luckily after baring through that and entering a cave the music returns and though the jumping sound never goes away you get used to it.  

The art and animations of the game are simple but not poor.  It’s easy to tell what’s a rat, bug, boar, etc.  All the enemies explode upon death regardless of what they are which is odd but gets the job done.  As you progress through the game the scenery changes, each area offering their own backdrops and decor, as well as things out to kill you.

Score: 8/20

Gameplay:  The first thing that must be said about the gameplay is the very bad control scheme.  It isn’t so much that the controls are bad in themselves but it’s difficult to learn what does what.  A little experimentation is always welcomed.  Try the arrows keys and the character doesn’t move?  Okay use WASD.  Attack with space bar?  Check.  Okay how about pause with escape key like most games, nope closes the game out and you loose everything.  Upon going back to the game and continuing to find what actually paused the game or showed controls I finally found that the F1 key shows the controls.  After clicking that though (which was a key I never thought I’d use in a game so it opened up my gif capture app) pressing it again did not close out the popup instructions.  No instead you have to press escape which if you screw up like I did and tap it twice you close out the game again.

        Moving on past that annoyance the game’s controls were quite simple and it didn’t take long to figure out how to fight the variety of enemies.  Note that this game plays more like a Souls’ game than the casual side scroller it appears to be.  You will die a lot.  Which isn’t a bad thing.  It reminded me of classic games of a similar style in which beating the game wasn’t something everyone was going to pull off.  You’ll only get killed by the same skeleton guy a few times before you plan around it either by avoiding them or finding the best place to stab them form a safe distance.

        The spawning I found wasn’t preferable though.  Unlike in a Soul’s game where hitting checkpoints or returning to an area would cause a respawn of enemies, in Reminisce every time you go from one screen to another the enemies come back which can be extremely aggravating when something in the environment (be it an enemy or trap) pushes you back into previous screen meaning you have to go and fight those enemies again and return just to try and fight the enemies you meant to the first time.  There was one point where I had to climb up a series of blocks and every time I had to do so a skeleton would respawn and fall down and hit me, which if I was at all low on health could send me back a few rooms.

        Finally the end goal of the game.  It’s interesting to say the least.  There are bosses hidden throughout the game and besides the intro boss you won’t be able to get to any of them without first finding hidden abilities throughout the maps.  This means that you end up going to the end of the game and then working your way back in order to find all the abilities and then defeat the bosses, and then once you do that go and return once more to the end game.  (Not that I made it that far but the game taught you as much through how it played as well as its troll like characters)

Score: 12/20

Engagement:  Reminisce is all about exploring the world, finding characters, powers, bosses, and so on.  That play style seems really interesting and can do a game well, but it didn’t seem to be executed as well as possible in Reminisce.  If the story is told through the world you need to care for the world and if there isn’t much to it, like good music, characters to relate to, or beautiful environments, why should the player care about the story that takes place in that world?

Score: 10/20

Bugs and Glitches:  One room was impossible to pass due to being covered in traps.  At first I assumed I needed a certain power to surpass it  but upon talking to the developer I was informed it was a mistake they made and left in.  there is no way to get through that room.

Score: -5

The Twist / Growth:  You begin the game as a boy that upon entering a cave becomes a teen/adult.  The developer describes in the details of the game as a young boy he’d explore a cave with friends and go on little imaginary adventures as kids do.  This game represents that childish fantasy most of us create at some point or another in our growing up.  Facing those challenges, those imaginary creatures, are a representation of the challenges we face growing up.  It’s a nice background theme that fits the game well.

Score: 5/10

Overall:  Reminisce is a challenging game and though that brings some fun to defeating opponents, feeling a victory over something that had stood in your way several times before, the game’s rough gameplay causes it all to fall short.  The discovery of story through the world it takes place in is a good idea, but the player has no real reason to care for the world and discover that story.  In the end Reminisce is a game with good concepts and the potential to be an enjoyable fantasy game that could live in our memories like the classic of the NES era, but it lacks the power in its gameplay or a compelling story to make any real mark.

+Challenging gameplay

+Creative use and layout of maps

-Poor instructions or guidance provided to the player

-Animations

-Sound

-Poor spawning

Overall Score: 30/70, Okay

IGMC Page (Download):  Reminisce (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)

Homeless

Background Information:  A RPG made in RPG Maker VX Ace by the developer White Ravens.

Presentation:  Homeless’ sprites and tilesets are all basic RTP (graphics that come with the variable versions of RPG Maker).  While RTP isn’t necessarily bad it’s not too great to look at.  The characters are 32×32 chibi style sprites with basic three frame animation.  Walking animations aren’t the best as a result and can even be a bit worse in Homeless as some characters will stop with their feet sticking out for no reason.  (Who walks like that?)  In fact almost all the characters you see in the introduction stand there with their legs out.  It’s very odd and pulls you out of the game.

However not all the art is of a lower quality in Homeless. The character bust and user interface is custom art that looks rather well.  Though to should be noted the character bust are not represented by their sprites very well.  Hair, facial features, clothing, none of it is the same between the character’s bust and sprites. When it comes to map design once again the game falls short.  Rooms are often far too large with nothing to fill them.  A store will be seventy-five percent empty space and just have a few items in the back.  

[A note to the developer, make use of your environments and only include what’s needed.  Some decor is fine but do not create useless space.  Your maps should either serve a purpose in gameplay or help tell the story of your world.  Make everything matter, even just a little and players will want to explore the world you have created.]

        The music and sound effects within the game are also basic RTP aside from a character scream at one point in the game.  The one song that plays each and every day quickly gets repetitive and isn’t interesting to hear the first time.

Score: 5/20

Gameplay:  The game features an interesting concept, survive until the tenth day and lookout for your sister.  But the execution of this mechanic falls short.  You have a choice between being helpful to people or harmful but after a few days the helpful options run out and you are forced to be bad or die.  The gameplay is extremely repetitive in the thirty minutes it has to offer.  You walk to the right and do a job, then you buy food or potions to stay alive, and you go left to go to sleep for the night.  After a brief flashback about your parents you wake up and repeat it all again.

Score: 5/20

Engagement:  Homeless fails to ever grip the player’s attention.  The world and its characters are bland, all the characters repeat the same lines regardless of what you’ve said to them or done for them.  (You could work for a character day in and day out and he will treat you like a stranger every time)  You make more money being good than you do being bad so there is no incentive to go down a corrupt path and upsetting Hannah (the protagonist’ sister) unless you just grow tired of how people treat you and decide to steal from them in return.  Which can happen as many characters are just plain unlikeable.

        Eventually the work you can do for shops runs dry and you’re forced to steal or sell “black potions” at night.  Taking away any feeling of control you thought you may have had over the story and it’s outcome aside from a very direct choice right at the end.

        There’s also quite a list of contradictions throughout the game.  The boy at one point talks about being a soldier like the rest of the armed guards throughout the city and practices with a plastic sword.  But if the technology to derive plastic through crude oil and other materials exist in the world of Homeless why is the military still using swords and metal armor?  The mayor herself is a contradiction as well.  She was given the role after her father died but mayors by definition are voted into authority, not passed on through a royal bloodline.

Score: 1/20

Bugs and Glitches:  During my gameplay I didn’t notice any bugs or glitches (aside from some poor animations) that had an impact on my experience with the game.

Score: -0

The Twist / Growth:  There is no growth in Homeless aside from a single line thrown in at the end claiming you grew up as a character.  But that is arguable as you were never given a choice in what you could do and thus never overcame any real challenge.  You could perhaps state that Lucian’s (the protagonist) personality changed but there was nothing noticeable.  He was the same thirteen year old boy at the beginning that he was at the end.  Only difference was instead of beating his sister in the face with a plastic sword he was trying to make sure she didn’t die like the rest of his family.

Score: 0/10

Overall:  Homeless offers an interesting concept but nothing more.  With some effort the concept could be pushed much further and give the player actual decisions to be made and challenging gameplay.  As is you are so left out in choice or interaction with the world it fails to deliver what a game is meant to be.  Instead it ends up playing out like a really bad short film with no spirit behind it.  With the right team Homeless could have been much more.

+Interesting Concept

+Character Bust

-Poor continuity throughout the character’s art

-Animations

-Sound

-Music

-Story

-Maps

-Linear choice system

Overall Score: 11/70, Inadequate

IGMC Page (Download):  Homeless (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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