I'd like to start this one off with an addendum to my original "mission statement": I will now be reading the download pages for these games carefully before playing. You'd think I would have been doing that already, wouldn't you? D'oh...
My apologies to the first three reviewees if I missed anything pertinent in your description pages. This game's page shed a lot of light on the proceedings.
Tonight's game is L'Sol Nocturnal Tears No Ingles by SDHawk. I spent about an hour with this game, roughly double the author's recommended dosage.
The graphics were not to my taste. The author appears to have hand-drawn the tilesets (whether by using a tablet or through scanning in actual pieces of paper I can't say) and then built the map out of these drawings. The sprites seem to be pixel-by-pixel creations made to appear hand-drawn (or maybe just shrunk down from larger drawings?). The effect is kind of cool but ultimately I just wasn't digging the art style itself. Not really a fan of the grayscale color palette either. The blue and yellow of the OHRRPGCE's basic menus stuck out like a sore thumb.
This game had no music or sound effects. I was not pleased. I'd rather it had straight-up ripped a commercial game's soundtrack than nothing. I couldn't stand the silence after a while and so I started up my own playlist which I dislike doing. Music sets the atmosphere in a game just about as much as it does in a movie.
The storyline was somewhat like a melancholy fairy tale. After the end of humanity, a lone boy regretfully trades puns with and then kills a dragon. He takes but a single treasure from the noble beast's hoard: a princess's diary. And then Newbie Newtype deleted his game. Clunk!
I dunno, having since read the description, I now realize that this game is apparently the author's tongue-in-cheek tribute to someone else's game (the original L'Sol). I'm probably not the intended audience here but I would have much preferred this thing to be played straight. It sounds like it could have been interesting.
After the initial cutscene (read: series of text boxes), nothing much else happens plot-wise. You kill a demon horse. I don't know why, but you do. But then it kills you, because you're a maroon who didn't read the game page at first and didn't realize the demo was over after that.
An "end of demo" text box woulda been nice, though! Just sayin'.
The gameplay is the reason I think this game deserves some attention. It's a good, easy-to-emulate example of how to avoid Space Bar Syndrome.
The battles are difficult and fast-paced. While there were only three enemies, each one provided a unique combat experience. The snakes were weak with high damage and a powerful poison attack, the gophers were beefier with low damage and the fire elementals were kind of in between.
Each one was also weak to a different one of your spells. Gophers could have their defense weakened with ice magic, fire elementals could be changed into their true forms with earth magic and snakes could be set on fire. In practice only the gopher thing is really useful. In fact, in the fire elemental's case, revealing its true form seemed to actually make it more powerful.
Each enemy also drops its own unique pickup that you can use at your camp to create new weapons and armor. You can also forage for mushrooms to create potions and ethers to replenish you on the road. Very rewarding.. until you have all the equipment and then you just wonder what the hell you're supposed to do with 30 snake skins...
You need to stay close to your tent early on lest you risk getting killed for wandering too far out. And yet the mushrooms entice you to do just that (you can game the system by resting which makes mushrooms you've already grabbed come back, though).
Later on, after you get comfortable with the three basic enemies, you start to encounter them in groups and the difficulty ratchets right back up. The demon horse boss, in the grand tradition of Magus, changes its elemental focus every so often, forcing you to change up your tactics as the fight progresses. I felt pretty accomplished after beating him but it was sort of ruined by the demo not informing me that it was over. Have I beat that drum enough yet?
The downside of all this is that the game is super unfinished, even if you set aside the total lack of music and the fact that the story is obviously cut short. Par example: your camp's menu options are all pretty nonsensical within the game's setting. "Inn"? Which costs zero gold and yet I still have to "Pay" for it? Am I really "Buy"ing the equipment I get? I thought I was supposed to be creating it.
Right before you get to the demon horse, a text box appears informing you that he's nearby. If you walk north or south after getting this text box it will trigger again and again with each step. Kinda ruins the mood.
Finally, and most damningly, when loading up a save game the engine experiences about twelve "slice already deleted" errors. I used the packaged game.exe but this happened every time. Unfortunate!
Ultimately, this game demands very little of your time and I think I can safely say that it falls under the category of Download It With Caveats. The missing music, the fourth-wall-breaking-intro, the difficult battles leading up to no ending; any of these things could easily be a deal-breaker. But what the heck, I liked it.