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Metal King Slime
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Gomie Vs. Festivus - Round 1 
 PostSat Mar 19, 2016 5:27 am
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The palette shifting effect in this area is too cool for words.
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That's good advice.
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Couldn't figure out what this door's deal was. It looks like a treasure chest on the map, but in actuality its two doors forming an L kinda shape that you can't get inside.
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Yes, mighty dragon! Present me with your lizardous junk/box.
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Up yours, Lyte Snap!
This is a review of Festivus.

NOTE:

This is not my definitive opinion of the game. Festivus is huge and I don't have time in my life to cover it adequately. Think of this more as a Let's Play, if you would. A brief run-down of my first crack at it. Hopefully later in the year I'll have time to sit down and go over the whole thing. My apologies to everyone, and especially Feenicks, for falling through like this.

END NOTE

I've seen so many screenshots of people trying to make First Person Dungeon Crawls. Hell, I even tried it once. For some reason though, they're almost never succesful. Hell, mine wasn't even succesful! From the very start, something felt different about Feenicks and his game Festivus. He had the RPG chops to do it, he had the scripting chops to do it and he sure as hell had the art chops. Where most of us were willing to settle for solid colors, Feenicks was going for this beautiful actual-art and textures style. Was he succesful? Of course he was! Why would I be reviewing if he wasn't?

Festivus is a first person dungeon crawl for the holiday season, featuring Verdi from witch.rpg and a different witchy friend out to buy gifts. Unfortunately the local shopping mall has been turned into a dungeon, but as the monsters will soon learn, nothing can stop a woman from shopping. It borrows from the newer tradition of dungeon crawls rather than the older, featuring an automatic mini-map and half-crafting-half-shopping system for buying new goods. Supposedly there's a sprinting option but I never noticed much difference. Shortcuts can be unlocked to make subsequent trips to the dungeon that much easier and to give you a sense of progress.

Unfortunately, for every modern convenience there is an inconvenience. You can't slide the map view around, so you're limited in just how much of the map you can see at any time, making long-term navigation tricky. If that wasn't bad enough, the mini-map resets whenever you load your game. Shortcuts you've opened will still be opened, but they won't show up on your map. Because the walls/floors are all colored the same there isn't much sensation of movement (Though this is an issue across the entire genre and thus not at all the author's fault). The textboxes do a little bit of a scrolling thing, but it isn't very satisfying and the end result feels like you're hitting enter twice to get through each textbox rather than just once. It's a good try, but it feels weird to me.

My least favorite part of the game is buying stuff. Enemies drop different kinds of "trash" that, with an additional amount of money, can be traded for items. Say, a fluff elemental drops Fluff and you can trade Fluff and money to get a dress. Items don't stack, so if you get 3 pieces of fluff, you have three entries for fluff in your inventory. It quickly gets overwhelming, trying to tell how much you have of what. Frustrating things further is the shops: They're split up into different logical sections, Dresses, Hats, Gloves, Wands, Swords, etc, which I'm sure makes it easier to find the exact kind of item you want to buy as different varieties unlock. But the downside is that it makes it hard to comparison shop: Do I want to use my fluff to buy a dress or a hat? How much fluff do I have, anyway? You gotta go back and forth making notes.. which in hindsight is a very old school thing to ask people to do!

I was wondering how Festivus was going to deal with save points: Most RPGs have a save point before a boss, or a more ominous style of map at the very least to tell you to heal yourself. Obviously that'd be different in first person. I think Feenicks' solution is very fair: Verdi's friend has a sixth sense for trouble and warns the party to restore their health while they have a chance. But like I said, every convenience has a downside.

In the case of the warnings, the downside is if you get too conservative.. which I did, and I'm not ashamed to admit that this early half-ass of a review is largely because I ragequit after running into this particular downside. As you enter the second area, you're warned: "Oh! This is the second area! We should be careful, the enemies around here are way tougher than they were in the last one!" At this point in time, I had exhausted all of my MP and most of my HP to beat the dungeon's boss and a random encounter would've been extremely painful for me. So I did the sensible thing and warped home, expecting that the grayed out "Dungeon 2" button in the hub town would now be illuminated and I could pick up where I left off after a quick trip to the inn (Which really, why is there an inn? Just going to town should automatically restore health and MP. If I had a dollar for every time I re-entered the dungeon but forgot to heal...) only to find that the button was still grayed out and that I apparently needed to wander around a bit further and find an elevator or something to unlock the ability to return.

That was gonna take a lot of backtracking and I don't have time for it right now.. plus I was angry and my mini-map was going to be wiped the next time I loaded the game. It was a combination of a bunch of frustrations and I just wasn't gonna go farther. I don't hate the game and I really do intend to come back to it. A certain level of ball-punching is expected from the genre. You gotta be in the mood to have your balls punched though, and life's been giving my family jewels a real working over lately.

It's going to be interesting to see how the story plays out. So far it's still a funny game, but not quite as rompy as Witch.rpg was. It's trying to be taken a little more seriously as an RPG than that earlier game and I can respect that. The tone's in the right place, like, it doesn't take itself too seriously and it doesn't fall to melodrama, and equipment buying aside, the battles are a lot of fun. The enemies make clever use of buffs and debuffs to make you strategize which ones you want to take out first. Fighting is a viable option if you want to save your MP for later.

The graphics are stylish, it'd be so easy to say "I made a game in 3D guys, who needs good looking tiles?" but the tiles look FANTASTIC! I'd pay for a game that looks like this. The main characters look a little sketchy looking but still very nice. I'm drawing a blank on the music right now, but I'm sure it was good enough.

If you're in the mood for a challenge and can overlook some of the inconveniences, Festivus could be the game for you. I mean, it kicked the crap out of me and I'm still gonna go back. If you don't like a challenge and you're easily annoyed by details, maybe hold off on it. It's a good game with problems, and I wish I'd started reviewing it sooner so I could've gotten to more of the good times. Fantastic technical work and I hope to see more games like it in the future.
Metal Slime
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 PostSat Mar 19, 2016 7:31 am
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Might as well make a few comments.

-Norn's one of the bosses from witch.rpg, but that's not really all that important. The story's never really gets all that serious, in spite of one character's attempt to make it so, and I feel that's how it should be.

-Much of the inconveniences come from the fact that, beyond the actual 3d maze stuff, most of this was made within the period of a month. A lot of the shop stuff and junk stuff really deserves some serious custom menu work (that most importantly would let you sell items and not have to worry about whether or not you have enough in your inventory), and when you're rushing to get things done fancy semi-optional systems like that get thrown to the wayside.

-Map stuff may be a bit of a pain to change up, but I don't see why it would be impossible to have it move around. As for it erasing, that's sadly an engine limitation right now, and the workaround I was thinking of throwing in [once you mapped out whatever percent of the map, the rest just filled in automatically] felt a bit wonky considering how little of some maps you were actually going to traverse.

-Backtracking: almost all of the dungeon floors are set up such that the path up to the next floor is very short once all the shortcuts have been opened up, with at most a battle in between the two stairs. The fact that you can't see the shortcut markers unless you're right up against them, though, is something I really should change.

-In retrospect, I'm not really sure why I had the elevators work the way they do, when they could've just opened up when you get up to the block they're up on. That's just an easy tag fix, though.

-That one door's just an NPC error.

In any case, glad that you liked it even with all that stuff. I'm probably going to try and throw together a modified version of this for next December that fixes a lot of the issues and has a bonus or two thrown in. Maps, too
Metal King Slime
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 PostSat Mar 19, 2016 3:27 pm
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Gaah, I know, I'm sorry. It's easy to forget that this monumental piece of work was accomplished in only one month. The art and scripting are so nice it feels like years of effort. With that in mind, it's all a lot more impressive.

I did know Norn was one of the witch bosses, and I like that kind of continuity. If she'd brought along her friend from witch.rpg, there'd be no game, because they'd be smart enough to just go home.

I don't understand why the map thing is a limitation, couldn't all the data be stored in slices? I haven't tinkered with zones at all, so I realize I'm ignorant about that and I'm sorry. The backtracking is really nicely handled, my only problem was that they're erased from your map on a save-reload which makes gettin to 'em a little hard (Or at least, remembering which one goes where you want to go.) Actually, I liked the backtracking a whole lot. Getting to a shortcut was like a checkpoint, a miniboss, a tangible sense of progress in the dungeon and a means to heal and go farther the next time. I wish more RPGs did it that way
Metal King Slime
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 PostSun Mar 20, 2016 1:25 am
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The engine limitation is totally my fault. I told Feenicks repeatedly I would add zone saving as an engine feature, which obviously stopped him from going to the trouble of writing a workaround. (I'm planning to add it as a feature immediately after the Callipygous release rather than before.)
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