First try on Steel&Steam: Episode 1Updates will be posted boldly in the respective part of the reviewHere is an update video concerning comments and questions about the review:http://youtu.be/UURusg9pYc8
The video is available here:http://youtu.be/aiQW71D1ggAFirst impressions on RPGs are always difficult, but I'll give it a try nonetheless.
First off, the user defined tag "RPG Maker" is as accurate as a single tag can be. That does not necessesarily mean, you can't do great things with it as well. But first things first:
The options are not accessible via the main menu, but you can access them while playing the game. 3 different sliders for audio options are available, which is a plus. Other than that you can change the default walking speed, the text speed from scrolling to instant and you can toggle battle animations on or off. Graphical options are not available, but this is not bothering in this case.
Into the game we go and we start off with a little tutorial in which movement, interaction, inventory manangement, as well as comat are shown to you. You move around using the arrow keys and interaction works via the spacebar or the enter button. You don't really need any more than that controlwise, since the combat is turnbased.
But the combat is not your typical run of the mill turnbased combat. Apart from critical hits, evasion and normal hits, there are different status conditions in which you can be set by the enemy or vice versa. For example, some hits or special abilities have the potential to knock you off balance which skips your turn until you regain balance.
So, after beating the first encounter you will be teleported into the first town. I didn't count each house and every npc individually, but I have to say that for a game of this format this has been one of the largest towns I've ever seen. The same applies to the second town as well.
In the town you can do what you can do in RPGs: Walk into some people's house, steal their stuff and talk to the people like nothing's ever happened. Sometimes it might occur that they give you some items or even quests as well.
And when you think that you have to listen(well, actually read) every dialogue, which by the way is recommended, because the dialogue is rather well written, you are mistaken. You can find the quests and their description in your controll panel.
In terms of the quest system I have to say the quests(side quests included) so far were rather enjoyable and I didn't expect to gain xp and gold from doing quests in a rpg like that, so I was positively surprised.
The control panel also includes your inventory and character information. Equipping your characters is relatively simple, since you have an autoequip button, which selects the best gear in terms of stats for you. Otherwise you can also equip the items yourself one by one. Other than that the inventory system is simple, but it fits its purpose.
So far there has been nothing negative to say, but as we progress through the main storyline we come to the point on which I start to scratch my head so hard that my scalp is coming off. By simply doing the necessary steps and encounters in the game, you gain 2-3 levels until that point, so you have your special ability. The game also gives you a healer, but not that it would matter in any way, because when you take on the 3rd quest(if I counted correctly) in the main storyline and venture towards the zone, the game suddenly turns around and gives you the finger.
From enemies which you killed in 2 to a maximum of 5 turns, the encounters suddenly take 10+ turns for no apparent reason. There are even some enemies which only take an average of 15-25 damage each turn while having 300-350 hp and not being the only enemy in an encounter. What spices things up even more is the fact that their attacks deal about 33-60% of your maximum hp. I've only done one encounter which took me 10 minutes and turned off the game, because I thought it was bs. Either I am missing something, which is obvious to other people who are playing this game, or the balancing is completely off.
So, the tl:dr.... I cannot recommend it, I am sorry. The last point completely killed it for me.
If you can forgive the game for that, it might be right for you, but I can't be bothered. I might re-review it, if there is a solution to that, but at the current state, as much as it hurts, I have to give it a thumbs down.Update: Even after doing all the sidequests in order to see if there are balance issues, I can't recommend this game. The problem with the trashmobs before the first boss is cleared that way, but even with best in slot geared characters the boss twoshots two characters within the first 2 turns and giving me no chance to heal at all.
I certainly hope not that the game expects you to reach an excact level before being able to kill the boss, because that would be crappy design.