It's with bleary eyes and a yawn that I write this, so bear with me if this isn't the most concise of (reviews?)
I've just finished my first playthrough on Normal and I can without a doubt praise the experience as one of the most entertaining games I've played in years.
As we all assumed it would be the writing was absolutely superb; fantastic little one-liners and 'gabeisms' throughout the story were just the beginning. I was pleasantly surprised to find the comedy running through in to combat as well, with hilarious classes, ability names and monster descriptions to keep you laughing all the way through. Classic PA.
The graphic style was absolutely spot on as well, and was delightful to watch in fullscreen and evoked a great feeling of nostalgia for the old days of pixel-graphics (and specifically for me, some good ol' FFVI!) Without heading in to spoiler territory the environments were constantly interesting and enjoyable, with areas throwing back to even earlier graphics and games at times to mix things up.
The gameplay held up well with each fight feeling fresh and different with a huge selection of enemies and special conditions. The MP system was strategic enough to keep me on my toes, along with having to keep a constant eye on the (ATB?) bar to plan ahead, tempered by the increasing power of monsters as the fight progresses resulted in a well-paced and superbly executed battle system. The range of classes and skills available is pretty big but not dauntingly so, allowing you to set up your characters in conventional roles or create a hybrid team for a more reactionary playstyle.
An honourable mention also has to go out to the soundtrack, which further immerses you into the 16-bit ambience and nostalgic, yet quirky, feel. (A soundtrack album would be amazing!)
I'm sure I could go on about this fantastic game for much longer, but I just wanted to quickly sum up my experience and hopefully find out what everyone else made of it!
(P.S As you can probably tell it's my first time posting so be gentle! :P)
It's one of the most addictive games I've played in a while and at 4 euro, it's a steal.
Nicely done guys!
Now, storywise this is pretty much what I've come to expect from these games:stellar. The writing was punchy and original and always entertaining. Whether ir be a quip or exposition each of the characters were very well written and the overall storyline was intriguing and I can't wait for the next part. Jerry (and whoever else may have had a hand in the writing) really has a gift for both humor and flourish. While not as expansive a storyline as a classic like Chrono Trigger this games story and writing definitely stand out as excellent and following the third part of this story was a treat.
The areas were diverse and interesting although some areas tended to drag (I'd take now to remind I was playing on Insane and it did take me 18 hours to go from start to finish). The graphics were really top notch, characters were well retro inspired and could have possibly used some more animation frames but were otherwise distinct and interesting. Enemies were varried and other than some possibly reused inspirations were unique and fun to look at. One area in particular (two really, one came after) bares mention for its spectacularily cool switch in art design. I was blown away and incredibly excited playing through the whole area. Some more character appearance changes would have been nice
I forgot to remark on the music which is absolutely criminal of me. A few tracks were a bit eh and seemed rather bland but the rest was so well done, Alex Mauer and everyone else really delivered. I'd love to get some kind of Soundtrack.
I had a few issues (only a couple bugs which I'll list later). Unlike other Zeboyd titles everything felt obscured, experimentation only can reveal so much, why were enemies suddenly no longer weak to certain elements? How much damage does this attack deal compared to this one?
While I understand the gameplay choice to obscure facts I always love being able to compare numbers on the fly especially in an Insane run where knowing how all of the abilities work is a fundamental necessity to survival. Particularily buffs and speed ones in particular. Do they stack? How many times? Is it a diminishing return kind of stacking if so? It can be hard to guage how much of an increase with as many monsters (constantly getting quicker every round) as there can be on the screen especially when they zip by so quick. All in all this doesn't hurt the game much (if at all for many) but I'm crossing my fingers for some Zeboyd Design notes like they've released for previous titles.
Another problem is the clunky somewhat unintuitive UI, it can be hard to know which classes have new abilities I haven't seen or if an ability was upgraded/replaced instead of simply gaining a new one. It's also somewhat tricky to manouver and pick classes when you first get them and the UI does you little favors if you begin to feel overwhelmed.
Another big let down is the complete lack of end game, save for a single bonus boss. Even the single unlockable(?)
Two bugs, the bonus bosses music loops weird and music loops in general have a weird few second delay and the second bug occured once I beat the game and attempted to load the cursor was apparently on the second slot and would not update as I moved, but it moved fine (so the cursor didn't display where it really was)
All in all I just want to say thank you for this amazing game. This partnership could not have been a better idea. Zeboyd Games continues to deliver the high quality I expect and Episode Three is definitely my all time favorite. The new style is more than welcome. I cannot recommend this game enough, for 5$ it is a steal and if you haven't tried out the previous Zeboyd Games they come bundled with it, or it's a good way to get some on the fence friends into them.
I eagerly await Episode 4.
I've become pretty invested in the "mythos" (so to speak) of these games over the past couple weeks. I always really liked Jerry's Episode 3 chapters, even though I never played Episode 1 & 2, and I've always been a big fan of the way Jerry writes so with the announcement of Episode 3 I breezed through the first two, and I enjoyed them immensely. Jerry's very good at building worlds, and he's very good at writing dialogue. Between all the gags and epic mythos moments, there's a couple of small moments between Tycho and Moira that were a little heart wrenching and it really caught me off guard, in the best way. I know it'll never happen for a lot of reasons, but I'd love to see Jerry do more with these characters.
But I think the best thing about Episode 3 is just how fresh it feels gameplay wise, even with the Retro-Art aesthetic. I've been playing RPG's for a long time, as I imagine a lot of us have, but the battle system in this game is really fresh and exciting. Jerry summed it up perfectly in today's post saying "Because it is not about resource management, as JPRGs tend to be, each fight is more like a puzzle - but you can level up your pieces." It didn't even occur to me until I read that, but it is completely true. A lot of RPG's have that problem when you wander into a fight and it suddenly dawns that you didn't buy any potions, and you almost feel a little cheated. I'm being punished in the battle for a mistake I made outside of it. Rain-Slick 3 does away with this problem and lets you completely focus on building a strategy with what you have.
All in all, I think the game is fantastic and I can't wait for Episode 4 to see how it all turns out.
Zeboyd Games Development Blog
Steam ID : rwb36, Twitter : Werezompire, Facebook : Zeboyd Games
This is not by any means a major problem, and I am enjoying the game thoroughly regardless, but it stuck out to me as feeling slightly odd, as if I was missing some option.
Obtuseness in the menus is probably the games greatest drawback.
Which is saying something because it's not really a big deal at all.