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Episode 1 reactions, review

badashbadash Registered User new member
edited September 2008 in Penny Arcade Games
Better late than never, I hope. I started putting this together a little while ago and it sort of got pushed to the side. Rather than spend another week or so trying to develop my thoughts a bit more, I decided to just post what I had so far. Also, I apologize if this is just repeating what has already been said in twenty other posts, I guess I'm just lazy. Speaking of which, if I get around to it, or for some odd reason there are requests for more details, I'll see what I can do about expanding on some of these points. Otherwise, here were my reactions to this very risky, but also very awesome venture. Thank you PA and Hothead Games!


What I liked:
- PA humor
I had heard this game described as "the video game version of the PA comic". I wasn't sure how true this would be unless the game was simply a series of three panel jokes (boss battles being the 6-9 panel jokes, of course). I think it was difficult to translate the style with which the humor is told in the comic to this new format, so there were some growing pains getting used to it but thankfully the humor itself was still very much intact.

- No voice-acting (Thank you!!)
I think most (reasonable) fans would agree that it was the right decision to exclude voice-acting. We're used to reading your humor and your banter, with our minds giving it a voice. No matter who you chose to do the voice-acting, they would have failed. Thanks for not making that mistake!

- Overall combat system
This is one of the most frantic "turn-based" combat systems I have ever used...and I mean that in a (mostly) good way. For reference, I'm playing on the PC version. Between clicking on characters, clicking on actions, and clicking on targets (which were sometimes moving) all while attempting to block attacks and perform special moves...it could get a little crazy. But I enjoyed it. There were times when I couldn't quite manage everything, so blocks were missed or attacks were delayed, but once I accepted this it as just being part of the combat system (intentional or not), it became more enjoyable. I'm definitely a fan of timed attacks/defense (ever since Mario RPG) and that combined with the semi-continuous/turn-based system kept the action moving so I was always engaged during the fights.

- Variety of Enemies
While most of the enemies had a few damage dealing attacks and maybe some status attacks, there was enough variety in the animations (and therefore the defense timing) that it didn't feel like fighting stronger and stronger versions of the same mob dressed up in different clothes. Also, the addition of strong resistances provided some more spice (and some frustration: "Crap! I keep forgetting that he resists that attack!") to some of the fights.

- Overall animation style
The animation style was familiar enough that it didn't feel like I had bought some generic RPG with a PA title screen. The fact that it was (partially) 3D also gave it a new, well, dimension. I enjoyed the in-game art and the fight animations (great overkills!). And the cut-scenes were VERY PA! This was another "must meet" criterion where you had to remain true to PA or else ruin the game. You delivered.

- Playgreenhouse
I have only just started venturing into the digital-only marketplace (I have bought a couple moonpod games and one PSN game via the download system); I tend to like the "security" of owning a physical disc. And those few digital-transfer games were bought "directly from the source". Being sent through Playgreenhouse, I was a little scepticle. Plus I doubted it would perform well with the inevitible rush on release day. However, I bought it on day one and it downloaded in just a few minutes. The process was easy and surprisingly quick. I was definitely impressed. So Playgreenhouse gets an A+ in my book.


What I did not like so much:
- Lack of usefulness of Buff/Debuff items (no effect stacking, aka "slots")
I'm the type of RPGer who can go through a whole game without using any of the temporary effect items/spells. They often seem (to me) to have little to no effect on the outcome of any battle, except maybe in one or two very specific situations...so why not just swing the sword one more time? I gave them a try in the game, but half the time the effect would be wiped by another effect from an enemy before I could even take advantage of _my_ effect. Inconsiderate enemies! After a few tries, I stopped using them at all. If you could stack buffs/debuffs (instead of just having one "slot" per character/enemy), I would have found them more useful. However, this definitely wasn't a make or break thing for me. It just quickly became a non-factor.

- Limited "sidequests", no enemy respawning (dare I say, lack of "grinding")
I tend to dislike it when a game has a specified number of encounters, each of which occurs at specific locations. It gets to feeling like the game is on rails with the illusion of an open world. This also decreases the value of any sidequests, and I enjoy my sidequests quite a bit. While there were still some things you could find/do outside of these set piece battles, it still felt like "if you complete all of the battles, then you will have found everything in the game". More on this later.

- Limited walking speed across long empty areas
Especially after you had cleared all of the battles, walking through some of the long empty areas, it got a little annoying. This wasn't horrible, I was just eager to experience the next thing. So maybe I should just deal with it. But it felt like after you had completed an area, then you should be able to instantly jump to any of the exits from that area. I think that would be sufficient.

- Limited equipment options, no vendors
Obviously you had to limit the scope of the game in some ways. I liked being able to upgrade the weapons (including the overkill upgrades, nice touch), but it still felt like there was too little to "collect" or "upgrade" in terms of equipment. I guess in some ways I was expecting something more along the lines of Iron Dukes. I was looking for deeper RPG elements, I suppose, though with a PA spin. Related to this is the lack of vendors. With consumables being the only items that one might buy at a vendor, it might not be that useful for what would have to be added (i.e. adding a currency system so that you could have a vendor instead of just running around breaking boxes). But if there was additional equipment to buy/upgrade, then a vendor would have greater utility. Plus this universe that you have created clearly won't be burdened by the typical RPG vendor question of "Why the heck are you charging me for ammo when I am humanity's last hope for saving the world?" I'm pretty sure you would be able to come up with a humorous explanation that we all would enjoy. An alternative to the vendor system would be to expand the upgrade system. Provide more types of equipment to upgrade and different things to collect. In other words, make a more robust crafting facet to the game. And all of this would also benefit from my earlier point of allowing for respawning of monsters.

- Lower tier special attacks made obsolete when new attack earned
I enjoy leveling up and earning new special attacks (similar to my lust for new, better equipment). But instead of gaining additional special attacks, and thereby expanding my arsenal, the new attacks in this game simply took the place of the old attacks. After I gained the second tier of attacks, I stopped using the first tier. Could you somehow make the different attacks do different things so that more of the "lower tier" attacks are still useful later on in the game? Maybe the lower tier one attacks one target and causes bleeding while the middle tier attacks multiple targets with no status effect and the top tier heals your party members (instead of damaging enemies). The higher tier attacks were, technically, harder to perform, but I only screwed up a few times. Not enough to make me consider using the easier ones.


Overall comments:
One thing that I'm curious about but have no real answer for is the limitations (and also the possibilities) created by the episodic format. Is this more like a series of independent small/short games or is it like one big game chopped up into smaller pieces? Some of the shortcomings I saw in the game were because it felt too much like the former. It felt constrained in terms of depth. In a big game you can provide more character/equipment development and customization, side quests and additional content; is there a way to still deliver that in the episodic format? I don't know. But at the moment it doesn't feel like it can, though maybe this feeling will change with the next episode. On the other hand, the smaller game side of things allows for more adaptability between releases, and it at least sounds like you are working on taking advantage of that. So really, I'm not asking for much...just the moon: the depth of a large-scale full release in a series of bite-sized, adaptable chunks.

- badash

badash on

Posts

  • ClordClord Registered User new member
    edited June 2008
    Not to mention way too effective defend and that characters are healed to full health automatically.

    Clord on
  • Mustachio JonesMustachio Jones jerseyRegistered User regular
    edited June 2008
    Clord wrote: »
    ...and that characters are healed to full health automatically.

    How is that a bad thing? It honestly makes it more enjoyable when I don't have to chug eighteen potions before marching into my next battle. Sure, sometimes it adds some tension, but at that point there's obviously something wrong with the game if you're relying on lack of health items to create a tense environment. As it is, they let you handle that in combat rather than in the overworld, which lets you, you know, soak in the beautifully crafted backdrops and such rather than worry about crunching numbers.

    As for defend that is too effective, it's entirely possible to beat the game without being good at timing. My last playthrough of the game I tried to just "block" and not "counterattack". You get rewarded for being better, but I won't say you aren't punished for not being good, because you are. Really though, it works pretty well when you take into account that this isn't a Final Fantasy game. Grinding is boring.

    Mustachio Jones on
  • OpunayaOpunaya Registered User regular
    edited August 2008
    I could've used more enemies as well, but I had absolutely no trouble getting to level 15.

    Opunaya on
  • RandomfoolRandomfool loofmodnar Rochester, NYRegistered User regular
    edited August 2008
    I really enjoyed the game. Thank the lord there was no grinding. It could have been a little bit harder. More variety in attacks, rather than just having stronger versions, would have been nice. My biggest complaint is that the control scheme on the PC was highly inferior to the 360.

    Randomfool on
    I do Pokecrawl things. Professor Team Instinct, Hufflepuff supporter.@loofmodnar

    B4o6XD4.png
  • EgosEgos Registered User regular
    edited August 2008
    Amazingly petty complaint, but I really wish they had noses for the male PCs that didn't look crooked or bulbous in the cutscenes.

    Egos on
  • OpunayaOpunaya Registered User regular
    edited August 2008
    ^ Yeah, a more variety on the customization would've been nice, but I think I got myself fairly well...

    Opunaya on
  • rubicsrubics Registered User regular
    edited September 2008
    The lack of grind is something I ended up really liking about this game. I wanted a PA story with interactive elements. I didn't want to spend a ton of time customizing characters.

    rubics on
    Pearl Code: 0903 0254 5784
  • theSquidtheSquid Sydney, AustraliaRegistered User regular
    edited September 2008
    I actually found the items incredibly useful. Because of the fact that you'd often have one fairly useless character and one strong character in a fight (ie Gabe & Tycho vs hobos) you could just have one cast the debuff just before the other attacks.

    Actually pretty much the most enjoyable RPG system I've played (not that I've played that many)

    theSquid on
  • trentsteeltrentsteel Registered User regular
    edited September 2008
    I just got this game and I love it.

    I love trying to get the overkill bonuses.

    trentsteel on
    http://www.botsnthings.com/
    I made a TD for iphone and windows phone!

  • ZyreZyre Registered User regular
    edited September 2008
    In all honesty, I was curious about this game and the last time I was at my friends house who owns a 360 and this game I had him load it up and show me what it was all about.

    To be fair, I'm quite cynical when it comes to games; I was a QA Software Test Engineer for five years. I did the whole work on one title for three-six months and lot check where games get submitted to be published on a system and you have to make sure they meet all the company requirements and standards before they get approved.

    What I have to say about the PA game; While the dialogue was interesting (as I've found this is what actually seperates a lot of good games from bad, the writing), the game mechanics were something I've seen in a hundred games before.

    Once you've played one FPS, one RPG, one racing game, you'll find that pretty much all games in every genre are very similar, and I found the PA's combat mechanics reminding me of Final Fantasy and Chrono Trigger and similar games.

    Zyre on
  • XaquinXaquin Right behind you!Registered User regular
    edited September 2008
    What Final Fantasy had timed blocks?

    Xaquin on
  • GoatmonGoatmon Companion of Kess Registered User regular
    edited September 2008
    theSquid wrote: »
    I actually found the items incredibly useful. Because of the fact that you'd often have one fairly useless character and one strong character in a fight (ie Gabe & Tycho vs hobos) you could just have one cast the debuff just before the other attacks.

    Actually pretty much the most enjoyable RPG system I've played (not that I've played that many)

    Yeah, I played a lot of RPGs in my younger days but now nothing really gets my attention unless it's pretty different.

    This, Mario Paint 1 & 2, and FFTA are the only RPGs I've really gotten into in a long time.

    Goatmon on
    Switch Friend Code: SW-6680-6709-4204


  • GoatmonGoatmon Companion of Kess Registered User regular
    edited September 2008
    One thing that irritated me, was I never did figure out how on Earth there were so many Fruit Fuckers that I apparently missed in the final zone.

    Is there some glorious hidden area there, or what?

    Goatmon on
    Switch Friend Code: SW-6680-6709-4204


  • trentsteeltrentsteel Registered User regular
    edited September 2008
    I liked that there was no grinding, it's Episodic anyway so it was more fun that way.


    Only major complaint was the buffs/debuffs not being stackable or at least the game should let you know this early on so you don't keep chugging potions that only replace each other.

    trentsteel on
    http://www.botsnthings.com/
    I made a TD for iphone and windows phone!

  • IncenjucarIncenjucar VChatter Seattle, WARegistered User regular
    edited September 2008
    Something about the OP has me thinking that they could benefit from looking at Septerra Core's combat system.

    Incenjucar on
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