First Impression: Fantasy Life (3DS) ~ Strangely Fun.

Fantasy_Life_box_artNintendo.com entry

I was very surprised that Level5 published a game like this. While I was silently hoping to a sequel of Professor Layton, or a spin-off, they published a game with similar graphical vibe. But don’t let it fool you, the fantasy and the life is quite different in this game. After playing 3-ish hours of it, it’s time to write an article about it since I’m quite enjoying myself. And as usual, feel free to leave a comment with your opinion on the game and or the content of this article. 

Graphically Layton?

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Maybe it’s only me, but this game gave me a Professor Layton feeling. At least, on the surface. Possibly the used some assets from the Layton game. But hey, let’s not think about the biggest series this developer created, in this article we are talking about Fantasy Life.

This game must have been a nightmare to develop. Since all the different classes play differently. I’m quite curious if the overall story stays the same in the different classes. Also, the fact that you can change your class in mid game, is just mind-blowing and quite a risky move of Level5. I hope the game stays challenging and doesn’t make the mistake that The Legend Of Zelda – A Link Between Worlds made. That game was also more free then other games, yet the difficulty curve was off.

While the story has some plottwists, I was able to see some coming. But I’m quite sure that to a child or a casual gamer, the plottwists might come more as a surprise. Overall, the writing is excellent. The characters can be a tad bit generic in some cases, but they are written so well that I had a few moments that made me smile, not only as a critic but also as a writer.

Quests

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I was on the fence for buying this game. I actually had it pre-ordered but cancelled my pre-order since I lost interest in the game. But now that I gave it a chance, I was quite surprised. The gameplay is nothing what I expected. If you aren’t doing a story quest, you can roam around freely and solve people’s daily needs.

The quest system, while quite fun, isn’t 100% perfect. Sometimes quite important information isn’t in the quest log, the quest log is out of order and you can’t have a map where all the accepted quests are located. The quest logging could have been done better in my opinion. While I’m beating it, I’ll surely try out all features of the quest log. Maybe I’m overlooking some things and bashing it, while it’s not needed at all.

You have three sorts of quests. Each give you a different reward. From dosh (currency) to stars (allow you to grow in your class) and bliss (expand the game.). The different quests yield so many different yet satisfying rewards that I explore the world in quite more depth then I usually would. Then my coin dropped. (Dutch expression for releasing something.) This was totally the designers intention to help you explore the world. It’s quite deep honestly. Apart from some aspects that is.

At the moment of writing, I’m in the magic class. They actually passed on a great oppertunity for the magic combat. When you use fire attacks on forest mobs, they don’t increase the damage. Also, your mana replenishes so slow, it’s painful. And the quite expensive potions only give you 10 mana back. Yup, only 10 mana. And the free water bottles you pick up, give 5. That’s so not enough!

So, the magician is long ranged combat. What I love about this game is that the target system works so nicely. I can easily circle around my enemy while trying to defeat it. If only there was an easier way to switch weapons. It would have been less of a pain when I would have been able to quickly switch to my dagger if my mana ran out.

Gamesystems

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In the last section of this article, I want to talk about the overall game. I can’t judge on the box and such, since I own this game thanks to the eShop.

The game controls quite fine. While I sometimes have the impression that they switched some buttons around from similar games, I can easily adjust.

Graphically, this game is just amazing. This game gave my impressions of Professor Layton, while it’s really nothing similar. The look, the animation, color pallet and level design is just really well done. Maybe they should have planned out the shops a bit better. Like the furniture shop closer to the wallpaper and flooring shop. Also, why can’t I sell furniture?  I bought by accident two items when I needed one. -sigh-

Something I would have done differently is the icons on the touch screen. They take up quite a bit of space on the map. While it’s not a big deal, I honestly don’t like various icons on my map. I would have made a bar at the bottom of the touch screen with the buttons on it. That would have been way easier to organize. Speaking about the map mode, it’s quite handy. I can safely say that it helped me out of some tricky situations. It’s clear and you can’t get lost thanks to it. If only you were able to have an overview map. Since if you tap on the map button, you get an overview of the map of the whole game. Thankfully there are buttons to quick travel.

Anyways, I’m nearing my usual article limit. So, it’s time to wrap this article up. I still have quite a lot to talk about, but I will keep that for my review if I beat this game. I hope you enjoyed reading this article as much as I enjoyed writing it. I can honestly recommend this game to you. Also, feel free to drop by on a later date! I try to publish an article each week. So, maybe until next week.

Review #020: Evoland (PC – Steam) ~ I’m Sorry Smashy.

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Official website

Alright, after such a long time of teasing this game… I’m going to review it. I’m sorry Smashy for two reasons. One, that I didn’t finish the series. Yeah, that Smashy in the series’ll be disappointed. And two, sorry NekoSmash, brother that we didn’t the planned co-op review. I wanted to get this review out of the way. Maybe we write something better together. I have something in mind. Anyways, Evoland. What an evolution. Puns. Okay, I’ll stop. Let me know in the comments what you think of this game and / or this review. But without further ado, here is the review.

Evolution in RPG’s.

624041-evoland-windows-screenshot-unlocked-mode-7-a-somewhat-popularThe first thing that falls victim to my criticism is the story of a game. If there is even one. Most RPG’s have a generic story like: “Save the princess” or “Kill evil dude X”. Yet, the way how it’s written is always different. And in this game it’s a lot different.

The game is based around the evolution of RPG’s. And some dialogue is based around that. The story gets from extremely simple to a deep story. And I like it. It’s extremely interesting. While it’s nothing unique in terms of new stories, it mixes a lot of great and memorable scenes from big legendary RPG’s.

The game raises a lot of funny moments when you play it. I had moments I’ll never forget. References to famous game creators and various references to RPG’s. From Zelda to Final Fantasy. A bit of Golden Sun even. And Dragon Quest. I adore the style of this game. And what blew me away is that there is a Diablo part!

Yet, with the story comes already one issue with the game. It’s on the short side. This game could have been longer. A lot longer. Sometimes it jumps a bit too quickly from one generation to the next. As a retro game addict, I know when there is something skipped or gone over too fast. I wish they payed a bit more attention to certain parts.

Frustratingly easy, I mean difficult… Ehrm, no easy.

624053-evoland-windows-screenshot-kaeris-apparently-is-a-healer-whichIs Evoland easy? Well no, at some places it’s really harsh. And that has to do with the controls. Maybe it’s just me not being used at PC RPG’s but the controls feel strange to me. It feels like I’m playing a game on an emulator. It doesn’t feel natural. I’m used to play my RPG’s on my PS2 or DS.

But even with the free movement update, the movement feels a bit stiff. And this has mainly to do with moving extremely slow. Well, not extremely slow. But the speed of yourself is sometimes a bit too slow. And this is an issue because some enemies are so fast they can drain your life easily.

Another issue with the game is the save points. I absolutely hate it in RPG’s. I can see them used in platformers, action games or adventure games but not in RPG’s. Why? Because grinding that’s why. And the battles are sometimes brutal. The enemies hurt a tad bit too much. One or two bad moves and you can die. Okay, you can level up. But you can barely see the stats. What’s the point then of placing stats while leveling up?

Where I pull the hair of my head is one of the biggest irritations I have with this game. Potions. Yeah, because of several reasons. One, you can heal your enemies… Two, you can only use it in battle. And three, you can’t use it at the parts when there are hearts. Speaking about hearts…

They are a bit flawed as well. Enemies can hit you for one heart. And when you pick up a heart, it fills up just 1/4th of a heart. Well, wait what? This doesn’t seem right.

Sadly enough, that’s not all…

Let’s take a look at this… messy diamond?

624054-evoland-windows-screenshot-oh-3d-graphics-and-16-bit-musicIt almost seems that I try to rip apart this game. I’m actually not trying to do that. The gameplay is extremely excellent. It takes you on a nice trip. Yet, it’s clear that this game isn’t for everybody.

Some secrets are not that well hidden for veteran gamers. Yet, some options are locked until nearly the end of the game. And that’s something that could have saved this game a lot.

The upgrades and treasures are given to you with chests. There is a reason to replay the game since you have collect-able stars. And the card game is lovely. And like I said earlier, the witty writing benefits the game a lot.

If you have played various older generation RPG’s, you’ll find this game even more fun. I loved the references. But truth to be told, I have something for references. It always puts a smile to my face.

One of the best things in this game is the music. Man, they may claim that they top the charts since the release of the game. But I wouldn’t be surprised they do. The music is lovely. I would even call it perfect for this game. The sound design is also great. I have nothing to point out that is bad about it.

The animation is pretty. It fits the generation and it doesn’t try to break the immersion with newer generation. I think games loses their charm when you try to make some new generation effects in an 8 / 16 bit style game. A problem that the Angry Video Game Nerd Adventures suffers from. It’s almost like the developers couldn’t decide which generation to put it in. Or which theme to take.

Lastly, the graphics. I can’t really judge them since they change an awful lot in the game. But in short, they are spot on for this game. I loved them from the start to the end.

Oh, one last thing. You know what would be amazing? If you finished the game, that you could play the original flash browser game as a bonus. But now with save points or something. Just an idea though.

Conclusion

The good:

+ Great story.

+ Challenging.

+ Has good replay value.

+ Unique gameplay concept.

+ Amazing music!

+ Amazing graphics.

The bad:

– Some gameplay flaws ruin the game.

– Mediocre controls.

– Way too short.

Conclusion:

So honestly, this game isn’t half bad. Some reviewers hold this game high in the ranking. Others go rip it apart. My opinion? Well, it’s an amazing game. I loved the experience a lot. But I can understand why people dislike this game.

It has some issues with it’s gameplay. Like I forgot to mention that you can’t change the options in game. Or like I heard in another review with my research, this game hasn’t an identity of it’s own.

So, in short: this is a great game IF you can look or agree with it’s flaws. Otherwise, it’s the best that you play the original flash game. If I remember correctly, it’s on their website.

Score: 60 / 100