I decided to play this game from start to end again and finished it yesterday. Since I didn't write a review last year, I thought it would be a good time to do so now and comment over the various aspects that come to mind. Played using the latest beta on 18-01-2013.
* Graphics and visual art: 10 / 10
- Pro: In terms of quality, Vikings of Midgard has some of the best and most detailed graphics compared to other OHRRPGCE games I saw. Tilesets, battle backgrounds and hero / NPC / enemy sprites are as good as they can get with the color and resolution limits in OHRRPGCE. Apart from that, the style is very warm, pleasant and colorful, which adds a lot to the world. Easy to tell they were done by an experienced artist.
- Con: Almost nothing bad can be said about the graphics. Only critique is that some tiles don't always connect well with others, and you can see cuts at times. It's not too visible and obvious though.
* Music: 10 / 10
- Pro: Just like drawn art, the music is splendid and very well made! They're some of the nicest MIDI tracks I heard, and once again done very professionally. The nicest thing you hear as soon as you open the RPG is the song on the splash screen.
- Con: Although the music that exists is fantastic, one thing that stands out to me is the lack of music diversity for battles. I think there are only 3 - 4 battle songs in total, and a single victory song. It would be nice if battles in each area had their own music.
* Sounds: 8 / 10
- Pro / Con: The sounds are of very good quality as well. But in their case, I believe better could be possible in some places. They miss that something that makes them special, unlike graphics and music.
* Maps: 8 / 10
- Pro: I like the sorting and arrangement of the world, it's very well put together. There are maps of many geographical genres and diverse shapes, which I appreciate in any game of this genre. The blend between modern and ancient in some places is also an unique and awesome thing. I also think it's good that Vikings doesn't have an overworld, since although those are nice they still look pretty fake and weird.
- Con: I feel more could have been done in this domain. One thing is size: Although maps are as big as you'd expect for an OHRRPGCE game, I still feel the world could be larger and offer more to explore. I'd like to see some of the main maps resized and made bigger, if that's still be possible at this stage. Other than that, it would be nice to have more optional areas and hidden / alternate routes, so you don't easily get the feeling you finished exploring everything. Lastly, large towns would be nice too. There are only two medium sized towns and a small one... it would rock to see something more here.
* Heroes and characters: 9 / 10
- Pro: The hero setup is well optimized and thought of. Vikings has a variety of playable characters with different personalities, visions and approaches. Unlike the hero / party concept in some OHR games, of the form "me, my friend and my girlfriend" where heroes don't feel like they have much personality. On top of that, some attacks and battle abilities reflect those aspect. Dare I say, this is one of the main factors that made My Little Pony - Friendship is Magic so loved Villains and the characters you meet throughout the world also feel like they belong, not that they're pointlessly there to fill the map, as you explore and talk to them.
- Con: With the upside of having many different heroes comes the downside of having to manage them. It's always hard to decide on a good party (since you can only have 4 active members at a time), understand the items each one can equip, and which attack to use in battle for which hero. It would be nice if this was made easier somehow.
* Monsters, items and battle mechanics: 7 / 10
- Pro: Most random monsters and items are ok and fit in. Some ideas I like and some not this time, but overall they do their job well. The leveling and progress system however is pretty nicely done, though it too is not perfect.
- Con: I believe some tweaking is needed here the most. My biggest issue in the entire game is overpowered bosses, who are almost impossible to defeat (for some I had to hack since there was no way at all). Most are ok, but a few have approximately 6000 HP and deal 999 damage every now and then, while barely taking 250 damage from the best hero, which in my opinion is a blocker. Otherwise, a general issue is that there are a lot of items and attacks... which by itself is good, but currently makes everything complex and hard to understand. It's difficult to keep up with learning which item goes on which hero, what spells each hero has, etc. This is a common issue in any large RPG though, but perhaps it could be made easier.
* Story and dialogues: 9 / 10
- Pro: Lastly, this is what I believe makes Vikings of Midgard special the most, compared to many OHR games. The story soon reaches a point where it becomes exciting, surprising and captivating. After you finish the whole thing, you keep thinking about it for some days (at least in my case). Fewer games have that effect usually, rather than feeling like I'm just going through it then I finish and that was it. Other than that, the story was also well thought of and put together. With the addition that some parts are actually based on real legends which is a really cool thing. On a personal note, the fact that part of the population are anthros represents another percentage of why I love Vikings so much
- Con: I feel that a little could be changed here and there to make it all even more grand and give it even more immersion. It also felt like it ended a little bit too abruptly. At some point I also lost track of things a bit, though for a large story that's understandable and common.
Overall, my mark for this project is around 9.5 / 10. Not a full 10 because of some balancing issues, things which I believe could be expanded, and some bugs (even in the stable release). Otherwise I found it very impressive in more ways than one. Never the less, this remains the best OHRRPGCE project in my book, although there are other OHR games I like (but none as much as Vikings I admit). The fact that it's all open-source and licensed as Public Domain rockets up how awesome this is even more. Keep it up and I hope development will continue.