This is a review for the Heart of the OHR Edition of Reign of Grelock
The version I played was last edited on November 30th, 2012.
Skip to the bottom for a synopsis.
Reign of Grelok is an RPG by misac that appears to be based on something, although its source I am not familiar with. This is misac's first game and I'm glad he brought something for Heart of the OHR 2012.
Please do note that misac is a second-language English speaker. I'm going to simply put here that it shows very much in the game, and that he should consider getting a copy-editor to fix up his text boxes. I don't want to deduct too many points for this, because I understand the difficulty behind doing something outside of your native language.
Reign of Grelok immediately opens with some story describing the world. And evil demon named Grelok is ruining everything, and our hero (Wanderer) must be the one to stop him. Then, we're thrust to the fork in the road, with a sign listing our directions. There are 5 areas of the game: The plains, church, town, swamp, and mountain. We start in the plains, and each direction from here leads to one of the other areas. I decide to check out the town.
Here we have a berserker who serves to... show that... actually I don't know. He appears to be a reference to Vikings of Midgard, from his sprite to his conversation. Kind of. We also have a blacksmith who won't let us in, and a villager who is deathly afraid of the Wanderer, since he may be Grelok. Interesting. But it appears there's not much else to do. It's cool that I can choose what to say to these NPCs, but there's not really a point, as far as I can tell. A single thread conversation would work just as well.
So we can talk about the presentation thus far. Music is ripped from other OHR games as well as commercial games. It's kind of fitting, I suppose, but the Pokemon music goes a bit too far. The other stuff I don't really associate with anything, so it's fine. The graphics aren't terrible, but their placement is a bit haphazard. I can walk under bits of grass, through some walls, and stuff like that. The ripped sprites look poor next to the original stuff, which I don't really like. Wallmaps are a significant problem: I can walk through all sorts of stuff on the map. Not good. Also, when we enter an area, there's this backdrop image showing the area in detail, which is cool. Unfortunately these happen every time and you can't skip them (unlike other text boxes which you can skip but are on timers anyway, so you stare at nothing until the next box comes...)
So I head back to the plains. I actually get into some battles this time, and they are not so great. The Wanderer gets his turns far too slowly, and then can basically only attack. Fortunately, I level up after a couple fights which restores my health. But what it doesn't do is make me do more damage to the enemies. Of course, I quickly find a suit of armor (which I automatically equip and cannot change later) which changes my walkabout and makes me approximately one hundred times more powerful. I now do about 1100 damage and only take 1 out of my now 700 HP.
I think this armor is a debug thing, but I can't really be sure. But I can't take it off to check difficulties anymore, and I'm not going to start a new game because, well, you can't save in this game. So, the one thing I care about (battle balance) I can't really even comment on. Not off to a good start here.
Anyway, I then head to the church area. Again, through bad wallmapping and a ton of NPCs that don't do anything, I find that I can't open the church without the churck key. Ok, fine. I also get to listen to Pokemon's Lavender Town music. Yeah...
Ok, so next I head to the swamp area. We go through a maze-esque area which leads to the actual swamp. At this point my walkabout changes to... my old walkabout with water on it. Looks like I never get to check out the cool armor again, and now my sword shoots lasers. I can't run from encounters here (actually, I can't run from the guys that are out of the water, but the guys underwater are fine) which is ok because I just destroy everything. I eventually get to a tower that I don't have to climb, because the "door" on the bottom leads to the top. Here, the mage tells me that Grelok is his apprentice. The Wanderer is very surprised at this, but that's it. There's nothing else here as far as I can tell.
So, we get our last area, the mountain. The mountain has two distinct parts, a "cave" and the volcano. The cave doesn't have any encounters but is huge and mazelike. I find a book detailing the way you're supposed to destroy Grelok, as well as a key. Cool, the key to the church! I immediately head that way.
After annoying backtracking due to very slow encounters, I get back to the church. But I need a key to open it. So I check my inventory, and guess that this is the wrong key. It's called C Key, and its description tells me that it's the cave key. Is that because I found it in the cave? I don't really know, but I return to the mountain. After trekking through the volcano, I reach the center where a demon sits. This is Grelok, and I have some options. I choose to redeem him, which... ends the game.
I discovered 50% of the game, apparently. But without saving, I'm not going to go back to do it again. I honestly can't imagine where the rest of the content is: I explored every area quite a bit, and returned to the town after finding each item to see if anything changed. As far as I can tell, I did everything. I have no idea. But it's over now.
I think misac needs to decide exactly what this game is supposed to be. Right now it's sort of like a Dragon Quest visual novel with some walking in it. I think with more focus, this game could actually be pretty good. But right now it's just a mess. Maybe there's some unique content that I missed, but I really don't think so.
As mentioned, I don't really know what the point of this game is. I think that the idea of a short, one-shot sort of "module" would be an interesting experiment. You explore each area to find items to open up more in the other areas (like a metroidvania game) until you reach the end. It could even ignore saving, if proper death checks were used, like checkpoints or similar. But it might not use battles, or at least use them very sparingly, because backtracking and grinding through boring encounters is not fun.
So, maybe try this: Fix up the text. Make the areas more interesting (ie not linear mazes) with a few more usable items in them. Add more NPCs with unique conversation trees. Lower the encounter rate or even remove battles altogether. Have the "final battle" involve combining items properly and making the right decisions, then have multiple endings.
Honestly I think a lot of this stuff is in the game as it is, but I can't really test it because the game is frustrating to play. Maybe I can fight Grelok instead of redeeming him, but I'm not going to replay everything to find out, because it wasn't fun. I only discovered 50% of the content, supposedly, so maybe there's a lot more there. But I don't think the average player is going to find it: I searched pretty heavily through each area and couldn't find anything, and I know that many other OHR reviewers are far less patient than I.
3/10 - There's just not much of a game here. There's some story, and some effort by the author, but it really needs to be tied together.
Conversation system lets you direct the storyline
Semi-open world lets you do things in the order you want
Graphics range from decent to above average, and are at least unique
Multiple endings, I think
Very poor dungeon design
Extremely boring combat with few options
Forced backtracking makes you experience those things again and again