The Death of Von Stabbingmore
They say first impressions are the most important, and my first impression of The Death of Von Stabbingmore was indeed good. Of course, the name intrigued me, it was silly enough to pique my interest, yet no so overly silly as to be ridiculous. So, on to the review.
The graphics were very well done to say the least. The colors are vibrant and work well with each other and the art style is reminiscent of old adventure games (definitely a good thing in my book, but we'll get to that later.) Though I am very pleased with the graphics, I do have a few gripes.
That horse and carriage is easily one of the best I've seen in games. But, it isn't without it's problems though. Look at the carriage, very well done, the wheels and spokes are easily distinguishable (not an easy feat, so kudos to the artist) and the small inner mechanisms are visible. You can see the ornate design on the side, the tiny little handle, and the suspension bars at the base. There's even a tiny little stepping area for the occupant. The details even go so far as to depict the gilding and the gentle graceful curves worked into it. This is easily a nobleman's carriage.
But. Of course, there must be a but. Look at the horse, very well done, the shading is right, you can make out the features on the horse, it's ears, eyes, nose, even the bit that it's biting onto. The reins are easily seen, along with the gold (bronze?) piece of metal holding the harness together. It's well groomed, hair trimmed well, a proper nobleman's horse.
So, wtf, BMR? What's your problem with it then?
Nothing much, they're both exquisite pieces of pixel art, but my gripe is that they're not exquisite pieces of pixel art together. The horse particularly seems to be pixeled and shaded in a different manner than the other parts of the scene. The carriage blends in with the rest more nicely, but the horse looks a bit too much on the realistic side for it to really match with the rest of the artwork. That is not, however, to say that it's bad. On the contrary, it's amazing. Speaking as a pixel artist myself, I know I would be hard-pressed to create a horse that well drawn. But on the other hand, it's in a rather different style than the rest, so it seems to jar with the rest of the art.
Another gripe I have is that the sprites are very well drawn.
What? That makes no sense BMR!
Schizophrenia aside, I firmly believe that the sprites are extremely well done. Very reminiscent of old Sierra and Lucasarts games. This however, contrasts with the background for the battle scenes.
Those are amazing battle sprites, but a black background? It may have been a design choice, but personally, it seems to be a shame to not put such lovely sprites on an equally lovely background. A well done and detailed background seems well within the ability of the artist of this game, and adding one to these battles would definitely improve on the game.
All in all though, the artwork is extremely well done, and with a few minor tweaks, it would all work together extremely well.
I got a potato! I got a potato!
Wasn't that always the case in King's Quest, Monkey Island, Space Quest, or any of those old games? Granted, here, it's a bit more obvious what the potato is for, but it's a nice addition that harkens back to those old games that I so loved in my youth.
Generally speaking, the gameplay is simple, yet effective. It's fairly linear, yet works well for such a short game. There are no parts where you're wondering what you're supposed to do next or are at a loss for how things work. It's all presented simply, and effectively, and it works.
A gripe I have though, is that there isn't more to do, but that may be a limitation of the timeframe of the creation of the game, rather than any design choice.
Sound and Music
There isn't really any music in the game, but with such a short timeframe, it may not have been possible to create any original music for it. One plus side though, are the sounds. The mumbled gibbrishy dialogue is reminiscent of some games that I played in my youth such as [url=http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gobliiins]Gobliiins[/i] and it works very effectively with the game. Indeed, there doesn't really need to be much more than the sound effects already in the game, though music would have been a nice touch.
Tale as old as time, evil baron, sweet innocent young lass, evil baron kills the father and the sweet innocent young lass swears undying and bloody vengeance on the hated oppressor.
Well, granted, that last bit may have been a bit of an exaggeration, but you get the idea. It's a simple story for a simple game, and put quite simply, it all comes together very well. There are no hidden twists or deep side-quests that take hours to complete, but what is present in the story by itself works excellently for the game. It doesn't need twists or corkscrews or loop-de-loops, the story leaves you satisfied at the end, not unlike reading a short story. It's not lengthy, but it doesn't need to be in order to be a good game.
All in all, I was satisfied by the game. It's a bite-sized morsel that one can easily finish in a single sitting, yet has enough in it to let you walk away without feeling cheated or left hanging. Overall, it stands well as a game and doesn't need much more added to it than the few bits I've mentioned above.
Final Remarks and Total Score
In closing, I should say that I recommend this game to anyone who liked those old adventure games like Gobliiins, yet do not really want to spend hours figuring out what the doofus that candied turnip has to do with opening the arch-lich's secret bathroom entrance. Come to think of it, I would play, in a heartbeat, any game that offerred me the opportunity to open the arch-lich's secret bathroom entrance using a candied turnip. But that's neither here nor there, so I close this now with a strong recommendation to give this game a go.
Being from the third world, I reserve the right to speak in the third person.
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