First Impression: The Wizard – WizHarder Edition (PC – Steam) ~ Now With Less Rhymes

headerSteam Store linkOfficial website

Remember last year when I started talking about an adventure game where everything was in rhyme in the old school ASCII-art? Currently, the 3rd episode of the Pepper Prince hasn’t been released yet but Hypnotic Owl hasn’t stopped making games. In a matter of fact, last month they released their second game in early access called The Wizard: Wizharder Edition. The developers send me a press code and asked me to write an article with my honest opinion on the game. When I saw the press materials, I must admit that I was hooked right away. I wanted to play this game and write an article about it. Sadly enough, my personal life was quite too busy to finish the article around the time of the launch of the game. So, that’s why I’m writing about it a month late. During that time, the game got various updates bringing it to v0.3.11 which I have played to write this article. Now, I want to invite you to look together with me to this game to see if this game should be finished or should the developers move on to other projects? Let’s find out!

Now with less rhymes

20201226190151_1In this game you play as Kevin, who awoke from his slumber in the middle of the night. He was woken up by a strange feeling on his face. When he wanted to touch it, he felt nothing. An empty black void with two dark red dots for eyes was there in its place. He was able to confirm that by looking in the mirror. So, your face has been stolen. Kevin jumps into action since he hears a noise in his hallway so the thief couldn’t get that far.

To avoid spoilers and since this game is still in early access, I’m going to refrain from going deeper into the story. I found it amusing to read the story since I got flashbacks to the unique 3DS title Miitopia where you played with your Mii’s to recover their stolen faces.

From what I have seen so far of the story, I’m under the impression that the story is going to take a backseat and is just a way to set up the world and characters for this game. Which isn’t a bad thing since this game is a puzzle game. And a story in a puzzle game is quite difficult to pull off right. It’s either too involved or too absent. So far, this game is hitting the right balance between the two.

The only thing I would advise to the developers is give it a bit more “life”. What I mean is, don’t display the whole text in one time and play a bit with some sound effects to draw the player a bit more in. I personally feel that it would give the game a bit more atmosphere. Then again, currently it’s in a book format as if you were reading a journal which can be fun as well.

Something I find quite surprising is that this game is already translated into German. Because my native language Dutch is in some respects a bit close to German, I played the tutorial level in German. Let me tell you that the translation has been well done and I’m quite curious if they are going to be more languages added into the full build of the game. (But the game being translated in German isn’t that surprising since the developers are German after all…)

It’s a tile game.

20201226193504_1The controls of this game are quite simple. If you don’t have a mouse, you won’t be able to play this game. This game uses the left-click button to its full potential. The controls are quite responsive, easy to understand and fun to master. The only thing I would improve in terms of the controls are keyboard shortcuts. It would be so nice to move Kevin with the arrow keys or something since the number of times I misclicked and started a spell instead of moving, I can’t keep count of that.

Before I go more in-depth about the gameplay, I first want to mention something that has to do with the controls and the gameplay. I would love to see in the full version, three features to perform some actions quite fast. The first key would be just a simple “undo” key. If you did an action you regretted, you could simply undo the move and try again. Maybe this “undo” can cost points each time you use it, and you need a certain amount of points to use it.

The second key would be a key that reset the level back to your latest checkpoint and the third key is of course, a total level reset. The second and third key would be a nice quality of life feature in my opinion but the first feature, the “undo” key would be a bit more than a nice quality of life feature. Because currently there is no “undo” feature. If you either die or want to erase a wrong move, you either must restart from the checkpoint or the start of the level.

Thankfully, at the start these levels are quite short and easy to conquer, but I’m afraid that without an undo key, it might get frustrating if you get bigger, more difficult and larger levels. At one hand, I totally understand that there is no “undo” key since it might be a part of the challenge of this game that you must think of your every move but at the other hand, I think that accessibility in this way wouldn’t hurt the core experience. You even could have an option to disable it completely if people want the challenge. Think “Classic” and “Casual” modes in Fire Emblem.

Granted, you can work around this a bit since there can be only one checkpoint active at one time. So, if you want to make sure you don’t have a redo a certain fight, you can walk back to a previous checkpoint to activate it. Then again, if you are faced with several enemies, this might not always work as well.

Any who, let’s focus on the gameplay of this game. In this game you must get to the end of the stage. Each stage is divided up into tiles. You can drag Kevin to start forming a spell to attack or you could drag the green squares beside him to move to another spot. When you either successfully attack or move a tile, the enemies can do as well. The enemies only move when they have spotted you or get hurt, otherwise, they will sit in place.

By clicking anywhere else, you can drag around the map and look at what’s to come. This helps plan out your next move. You play this game at the speed you want to play. If you want to take your time and plan every move, you can do that. If you want to kill the least number of enemies to go to the next stage, you can do that as well. It’s all up to you. This gives some replay value to the game.

In terms of gameplay, I do have one complaint and that’s about the health system and potions. Currently, there is no bag or anything of the sorts, so that means that when you pick up a health potion at hull health, the potion gets used and disappears.

A big hint I can give you is to make sure that you draw the right spell. Currently, there is no way to undo or stop the spell when you drew the wrong one. I learned this the hard way.

Oh, maybe one minor thing about the controls. The camera and dragging mechanic stop you from going off screen. Maybe being able to follow it would be quite nice. But that’s a minor complaint after all. Since as soon as I got the hang of the game, I fell in love with the game. Honestly, I think I’ll keep an eye on it since I really want to see where the game goes next.

Into The Sewers

20201226184144_1Visually, this game has a lot of pixel-art of pixelated visuals. And they look amazing. I think they would look even better when they are a bit more animated but hey, if these are the final pieces of art for the full game, consider me extremely impressed already.

The nice visual presentation extends to the great animations in this game. As if it’s a theme in this article, I think that the game would be better if there were a bit more animations. For example, to give the enemies a bit more life.

It’s always quite difficult to give your opinion on a game that’s in early access and in full development since you never know what developer art is and what’s already finalized. But I really hope that the audio is finalized since the music and sound effects in this game are excellent.

If I didn’t know better, I would say that this game is almost complete. Apart from the game lacking some polish here and there, this game is enjoyable to play and I would recommend it to everybody who enjoys playing strategy, adventure and/or puzzle games.

Now, there is one more thing I would like to touch upon and that’s a few strange UI things. First, when you press “ESC” in an option menu, you don’t go back one level but go back to the pause menu. I would love to see this changed to the “ESC” button going back one level.

But the biggest mistake of this game is that there is no logo at the main menu yet. I found this extremely strange since everything else has been carried over from the original. Yes, you read that right. This game is a remake of a browser game. Well, calling it just a remake would be a dis-service. It is an extended version of the original game. If this game looks interesting to you, you can give the original game a try for free in your web browser by following this link.

Now, why would you pay 19€ for a game that got a graphical upgrade and more music when you can play a free version? Well, that’s because there are a lot of things coming to the full version of the game. Things like a level maker, a roguelike challenge mode, more levels… So, yeah. I honestly think that this will be 19€ well spend if you are interested in the full version and the additional upcoming features. Honestly, I’m quite curious to see what the “Mario Maker style Level Maker” means. Will this mean we will be able to share our levels through the Steam Workshop? Will we be able to make a level pack? Well, only time will tell.

And with that said, I have said everything I wanted to say about this game for now. I want to thank you for reading this article and I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it. I hope to be able to welcome you in another article but until then, have a great rest of your day and take care.

Review: Fantasy Life (3DS) ~ Joyful RPG at it’s near finest.

Fantasy_Life_box_artLink to the Wikia – First Impression article

And the award for the most generic title goes to… Fantasy Life… Wait, what? I’m copying my buddy’s latest article title and making my own joke out of it? Oh sorry, I’m sure he won’t mind. I have been delaying this review again and again. But after nearly putting 75 hours into this game, I think it’s fair for me to review it. While I haven’t completed it 100%, I am already far beyond the point of beating the full game and the DLC story. So, without me reading the first impression article, this is the taste this game left in my month. As usual, feel free to leave a comment with your opinion of the content of this article and/or this game. 

Story time

Fantasy_life_e3_2014_screenshot3

So, one of the weakest points of this game is the story, apart from the DLC story. But don’t read me wrong: the story is solid and the characters are memorable. The huge issue is that thanks to the 12 different paths you can take, there are so many. Too much even for my young brain to remember. On the other hand, this makes each life unique with different characters and personalities.

The main story is a bit generic. It stands out in it’s writing, though. That’s extremely well done. People would easily skip over the story since it’s one you have experienced before: save the world. Yet, when you actually take the time to enjoy the story, you will be pleasantly surprised with it’s well done execution.

This is one of the first Level5 games I played where there is no voice acting. Well, apart from the few grunts from enemies, but I can’t comment on that.

So, let’s move on to the DLC. It truly expands on the main game nicely. It even adds more story and expands the game in nearly every area. The DLC is truly worth it, because the story alone has such a perfect ending, it actually touched me and made me laugh. Just the way how it’s written… Amazing.

All right, enough said about the story of this game. Let’s dive right into the other parts of this game. First of all, the sound design and music.

Just that

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The music and sound design is good. Just that. Good. It isn’t bad, nor is it great. It helps to immerse yourself into the game, but I don’t see myself listening to the soundtrack on my mobile any time soon.

While I think Level5 generally makes great scores for their games, some tracks got annoying to me. “The theme of intrigue” is an example of a track I don’t like. While the “Theme of Courage” is such an amazing track and really hyped me up.

Also, the enemies don’t have a distinct cry. Well, not all. And in my mind, this is a really big issue. Some enemies start to feel bland, generic and cut-outs. Some enemies have some nice sound effects, but not enough.

For the sound design or music, it isn’t worth it to get yourself a headset to enjoy it. As I said earlier, it’s good, but it won’t be memorable. Some tracks are catchy and I remember some battles but that mostly wasn’t because of the sound and music design. It helped, but it wasn’t the most important factor.

The design of this game is something that is actually really well done. Apart from one major issue I will talk about later.

The game world looked bright and colourful or dark and gloomy when it needs to be. They give off the right atmosphere and the area’s are pretty well crafted. The animation looks crisp and neatly done. Some could argue that due to the overload of dialogue some voice acting would benefit the game, but the animation does such a nice job that the voice acting isn’t really needed.

So, about that major issue I had with the design. Well, it is something I feel really mixed about. Visually, it looks lazy… but game design wise, it is a great move. Some enemies, like the spirits, return in various area’s, but they have just a different colour. Looks lazy right? But on the other hand, in some lives, you get the quest to kill a certain amount of some enemy. This makes finding that enemy in later area’s much easier.

Oh, and one minor design flaw is that it’s sometimes really tricky to read an enemy’s name. Because if you come too close, the target marker pops up above their head.

The other parts

112516_3ds_fl_merc_pr_ukSo, in my first impression I think I touch upon the controls. They are quite well done. Apart from the mercenaries life. They are quite flawed. It’s really unclear how you pull off certain moves in that life. Sadly enough, you need to do them in order to finish that life. “Press 4 times A”. Ehrm, I tried it and I wasn’t always able to pull off that move.

I still find it very remarkable that they made such a neat looking and easy to understand interface to display while you have some much content to offer. A nitpick I have is that the bounty clerks are sometimes too far apart.

The main story and the DLC story will take you around 15-20 hours to complete. Nice length. But the game can be a lot longer then that! You won’t be able to complete each and every life in even double the time. I have played this game for over 60 hours and I only fully completed one life.

The difficulty of this game is decent. While some area’s present some challenge, I barely died in this game. The game is also very forgiving in that regard. When you die, you can either revive (if you have a Life Cure) or go back to the nearest check point, or go home. You loose nothing. Also, when you are trying to mine a major gem later in the miner’s life… When you run out of SP, you can stop mining and drink some potions. When you then continue to mine the gem, the gem didn’t heal enough to loose that much of your progress. You aren’t able to do that in the fishing life and that’s one of my other nitpicks.

Before I wrap up this review, let’s talk about some of my other nitpicks. One is that some lives play similar to each other. While they are different and require a different play style, they can give off the same vibe. Mainly the crafting lives, they are all quick time event based. The animation is different, but the core mechanic isn’t.

Talking about crafting lives, the menu system is a bit flawed here. You aren’t able to see your quests when you start working.

The next nitpick is one that annoys the heck out of me. Certain lives have a dedicated shop. Like the carpenter and the woodcutter have a dedicated shop. But when you want to craft all the carpenter items, they won’t sell all those items in that shop. This means that you run around sometimes to get each and every item.

The next nitpick I have is that Flutter and your pets can only be accessed in one house: your starter house. Maybe I haven’t unlocked it through the bliss system, but I don’t think you will be able too.

So, the game is a nice experience but flawed. It’s really addictive and hard to put down for the people who enjoy these kind of games. But it lacks some polish. That also shows in the map. You can’t control the map at all. You can have an overview of the map, but you can’t see where all the shops are located.

Well, I think I talked about everything I wanted to talk about in this review. Time to wrap this one up.

Conclusion

The bad;

– While the writing is excellent, the story is one we have seen in different games a million times over. (Apart from the DLC one)

– The music and sound could have been done better.

– The game is overall too easy.

– The lack of bounty clerks in some area’s.

– Some small issues can hinder the experience and make it irritating.

The good:

+ Amazing visual world.

+ 12 different play styles to enjoy.

+ You can switch class when you want.

+ Very neat UI.

+ The character creation has a lot of features.

+ The animation is extremely well done.

+ Addictive.

+ …

Conclusion

So, is this game worth playing? If you enjoy games like Harvest Moon, Tomodachi Life or anything similar, odds are you feel right at home here.

The characters are memorable but they suffer from a weak(ish) story. The writing is funny and won’t get boring, but they also suffer from the weak story.

This game lacks some polish. While the game has a lot of polish in certain area’s, not every part of this game has been polished enough. This is one game that could have benefited from a bit more development time.

Be warned when you play or start playing this game, it’s difficult to put down. I haven’t played many other games for over a month because I wasn’t able to stop playing this game. It truly took me be surprise how fun it can be.

I love this game, I think it’s near perfection. But the reviewer side of my character disagrees and sees the flaws in this game. It isn’t perfect, but it’s near its finest form.

So, that wraps up my review of this game. I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I did writing it. (and playing the game in order to write this review.) And I hope to meet you another time here on my blog, but until then: take care and game on~

Score: 85/100