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Bliss vs. Shadowiii
Bliss My demise. This battle killed me many times.
Camdog
Download: 208 KB
V.S.
Shadowiii
Play Time: 0 hours and 30 minutes
Review # 15 for Shadowiii My demise. This battle killed me many times.
Them's Fightin' Words
    Most game creators enter the community in two ways: with a cheap newbie game made to show that they've done something, or with a good game that shows that they really know what they are doing. Bliss, at first glance, appears to be the former of these two possibilities. Its graphics range from good to poor. Its battles are very, very badly balanced. Plus its title screen (though appropriate with the story) at first glance appears like a crappy "newbie" drawing. But this game is far from poor. In a style similar to 48 hour games (ie this game is short but sweet), this game stands and delivers in terms of story. It is unlike anything I have seen on the OHR engine before. In a sense, it reminds me of "The Sixth Sense" OHR in a way, as that the ending is completely unexpected. Unfortunatly, however, most of us won't survive to the ending. The battles need serious work before this game can be called completed.

I would also like to note that this review could possibly spoil your experience of this game. If you haven't beaten or played it yet, you'll probably want to page down to my final comments and grade and then determine if you want to download it. I don't spoil anything directly, but I do hint at some spoilers.
Graphics
    Graphics in this game range from great to poor. At first glance you will definatly think "good grief, this is ugly" and probably quit and play TSSE or something beautiful. They look "newbie"ish, in that they degerate from the game rather then add to it. However, the style of these graphics is perfect. Even though they ARE ugly, they fit the game. Of course, you won't realize this until you FINISH the game, and you probably won't last that long looking at graphics like these. They should definatly be put through one more upgrade before this game is finished. If they are improved to a MUCH higher quality (ie gorgeous) this game will most certainly get a major grade improvement.

NPC's range from good to bad. The main hero's NPC needs some work. If I am going to play a game with him being my main walkaround, I'm going to want to LIKE what he looks like. The animation for the NPC's was smooth, however, so at least I wasn't completly disgusted by them. The "puff of smoke" effects were neat, but still needed work (it looked more like a flower or something)

Hero graphics are very ugly. Enemy graphics are too boring and simple. Morgoth or whoever looks fine (though he could use some shading) but overall they all look flat. It is very obvious to me that graphics are Camdog's weakness, and it shows. Battle backdrops, however, look fine and are fitting. There are few enemies (remember this is a short game) but rather then pallet swap the three or four that he drew, it would have been neat to have all unique graphics overall.

Maptiles are the best graphics in this game. They are about average quality, ranging from bad (forest) to ok (dungeon) to very good (castle). There are few different tiles, which is bad (not enough variety) but the ones that ARE there look exceptionally well. The maps, however, are a bit bland and seem devoid of exciting things to see. Spice things up and the maps will be fantastic.

Overall, graphics need an overhall. Don't change the style (it'll ruin the story), rather improve on what you have. Then this game will be great.
 
Storyline
    Ah, the story is where this game truely shines. The art of storytelling Camdog uses is executed very well...that is, the game is reasonably fun to play. Even though sometimes the main hero (me, I suppose) says some stupid stuff after killing enemies (For justice!), the game still has well done text boxes. It is obvious after you beat the game that story was its main point, and Camdog does it very well. Even though the beginning dialogue (that is, the dialogue in the dungeon and forest) needs some work, the game is finished well.

Also a warning to those reading this, I may hint too much at the suprise ending. If you really want to experience it to its fullest, skip down and read the rest of the review and play the game before finishing this up. If you read nothing else in this section read this: You will not be disapointed.

I can't really tell you much about the story without ruining it. Basically it reminds me of stories such as "The Sixth Sense" or those "mind-blowing" horror movies. The main goal of those (and this) story is to set you up one way and then throw something unexpected that they were hinting at all along. Bliss does this very well. I remember at the end of The Sixth Sense when the mind-blowing part was reveled I said to my friends (even before the final part of the movie), "Wow. Excellent movie." When I reached the end of Bliss, I thought the same thing. "Wow. Excellent game." The ending is supurb, and the setup for it is done extremely well. The subtle hints are...amazingly done. Perfectly, nearly.

My only complaint is that the hints put in for us to notice sometimes aren't subtle enough. The scene when you cross the road by the shop needs improvement (maybe it could be shorter so you only see a flash). Also a flash in the forest might help improve the overall feel. Other than that, the story is well exectued in the game, which is something you don't see every day, ESPECIALLY in OHR games.
 
Gameplay
    Ah, here is where things get bad. As stated before, this game is a short story, not a level up/battle game. All battles are NPC's that you see then fight (but cannot avoid), and they are all there for plot purposes only. However, because these are for plot purposes only, you can't level up to better prepare for harder ones. Which is BAD, because the battles are far too unbalanced. Enemies are amazingly difficult, there is no "Inn" area (which is good for the story, bad for the gameplay), and items are sparse. Weapons each are unique, but don't add much overall to help the bad battles. If you are lucky you might survive the first dungeon, but you'll probably be killed in the next one.

This whole problem could very easily be fixed by adding "Restore HP/MP" on level up. I played it through and noted where I leveled up was where it started going seriously downhill. Even though I know Camdog wants this game to be realistic...it is just too hard.

Another thing is the puzzles. There are a total of about two puzzles in this game (hey, it is a short game). One (the boxes one) is well executed, challenging yet not too difficult, and fun. The second (flowerpot) is so subtle it is too difficult. I had to go into the file with CUSTOM and read the text boxes until I found out what to do. Not good...you should probably put the window on the TOP of the map so you can see it...that would greatly improve this.

The gameplay takes a big bite out of this game (and its score). I'm not advising it be improved, it MUST be approved and you MUST playtest it and re-release this game. This is an amazing game, but it is ruined by this bad gameplay.

I honestly admit I almost gave up on this game at first. I entered the game and read the text boxes. "Generic RPG plotline" I thought. "Oh well, I'm sure the graphics will make up for it." Graphics weren't fantastic. "Eh...well, it all boils down to gameplay anyway." Gameplay was HORRIBLE. "Oh crap, this game sucks, how am I going to beat it and review it?" After dying 3 times (and restarting each time and trying a different fighting method), I finally went into the file and gave him maxed out stats on everything. Here is how difficult some enemies are: With max stats, one of the regular enemies (red orc) STILL TOOK 2 HITS TO KILL.

Fix the gameplay. Make it easier. It is too hard to be fun, and too many people have probably shrugged it off as "newbie" because it was too unbalanced.
 
  Battle
    Battles, as I said, are not really important in this game. Sure, they have SOME importance (plot importance) but the regular battle procedure of "lv up, heal, buy stuff, lv up, heal, move on" is NOT here because this isn't that kind of game. So, since the battles only are there for plot, WHY ARE THEY SO HARD.

The spells are also a bad idea. A hero shouldn't start with a full set of spells, regardless of game. There are TOO MANY TO BE USEFUL. Luckily Camdog added the "wait on spell selection" for battle, because in the original I got majorly slaughtered because of trying to pick which spell to use out of the 20 or so that were in there. If you are going to have this many spells, at least sort them so that the healing ones are in front (you will use them a LOT I assure you), because it is REALLY ANNOYING. Also, many of the spells are unbalanced, and in unbalanced I mean "not worth the MP." Lucky strike only does about 150% extra, and has a really low hit rate. Lighting is about the same strength as your regular attack. The spells need a serious overhall.
 
  Map Design
    Maps are...boring. There is nothing exceptional about them. The forest is extremely annoying until you realize that it is basically just a bunch of walls where the stuff you see is (ie, you can't walk behind the top of a tree, the WHOLE THING is impassable) so it gets a LITTLE easier. The dungeon is dull, and there are no other cells (adding more cells might add a nice touch to the overall gameplay and story), you basically just walk through the stupid thing. The flowerpot puzzle (as mentioned above) is to hard and too subtle to be done, I first thought it was a bug when I kept dying when I went outside.

Good things are, however, the main town's overall layout, as well as the boxes you can climb on, which takes away from the boring feel of the "pushable NPC" puzzles. The forest maze is extremely annoying, but still works out fine.
 
  Balance
    I've said it before, I'll say it again, balance is TERRIBLE. This game needed some serious playtesting before release, and it definatly didn't get it. Battles are extremely too hard, even for someone used to Wingedmene's difficult battles. There are not nearly enough curative items, and the only useful curative spell (Recover, the other spell is just plain useless) costs way too much MP to survive off of. Basically, the battles slaughtered me. I bairly survived the three Red Orc encounter, and then I had to fight another Red Orc, and THEN a bunch of forest spirits. By then I was most definatly out of MP and dead.

Curative items need more power. It was nice to put a store near the end, but since there are no random battles you can't get more money for items. Because of the way this game is set up, balance is delicate. It has to be perfect, or it will be too hard. It is too hard, my friend. WAY too hard.
 
Music
    I don't know if the music is original or ripped. Yes, I am that stupid. I'm sure I've heard SOME of those songs before, but I honestly can't remember. The dungeon theme is fine and fits the scene. The battle theme is repetave and bugs the heck out of me (especially because I heard it through about 5 times or more per battle because BATTLES WERE SO LONG). I liked the forest theme, but it shouldn't have been reused for the Final Boss' lair, get some new music. RPeG provides decent free music so you shouldn't have a lack.

The main theme (that is, the theme that plays throught the opening and ending cutscenes), however, was ingenious, and first PERFECTLY. DONT ALTER THIS SONG AT ALL. It is placed very well and adds to the shock and horror of both the opening and ending. Great selection there.
 
Enjoyment
    When I first started playing this game, I hated it. I got so sick of it I actually thought it wasn't possible to beat (maybe a demo or something, but it isn't, it is a complete game) and almost wrote a review stating that. I don't know if it IS possible to beat, because after dying so many times I finally went into Custom and made my hero Superman (TM) so I could actually enjoy the game.

After I recovered from being pissed off about the crappy battles, I was amazed by the story. It had a lot of depth, and I actually liked the main character (me). He had personality, was believeable, and was well executed. Overall, don't change how the story works (except that one road scene should probably be shortened), because it works very well. I was flabbergasted by the end of this game, which is something NO OHR game has done to date. Your storytelling and writing worked out excellently for this game, and I can't wait until your next one. That is, after you've playtested it and assured me it can be beaten. :P
 
Final Blows
    If you read nothing else (as to spoil the game's experience) read this: This game has an amazing story. It is told with skill rarely shown in OHR games (I think the last time I said that was for "Powerstick Man"). Your first opinion of this game will definatly be "Newbie game. Sucks." BUT IT ISN'T. Even thought the battles majorly suck, this game is one that every OHRer who wants to write a good OHR story should play. If Camdog never fixes those battles, he left the RPG file unzipped so just edit it to your liking. Just don't read the text boxes (it'll ruin the story).

Overall, fix this game, and it will be amazing, truely a major break away from the mold of OHR games. It is disturbing and shocking, as well as somewhat sad. I loved the story. Fix it, and I'll give it a score in the "A" range.
A BAD bug when you roof jump, you might hit a door. I got stuck here and had to reload, BAH.

A BAD bug when you roof jump, you might hit a door. I got stuck here and had to reload, BAH.
Final Scores
Graphics: 5.5/10.0
There is nothing horribly bad about these graphics. They are not ripped (thank God), and actually look decent. However, they do take away from the feel of the game, especially the hero and enemy graphics. But graphics haven't, and will never make a game, so this is still acceptable.
Storyline: 10/10.0
Words cannot describe how good this story is. In truth, it isn't the story that is wonderful, but the fact that it is done on an OHR game (and done well for that matter). This game is worth the download for the story, I can say that much.
Gameplay: 2/10.0
BAD. VERY BAD. Luckily he left the file unpassworded, or I might not have ever finished it. This game needs to be playtested many times until it is perfected. The style of gameplay that Camdog wants is difficult to achieve and needs to be precise to work. It is far from precise. It is downright horrible.
Music: 6.5/10.0
I don't know if it is ripped or not, but it sure works well. My only complaints are the battle theme and the fact that the forest theme is repeated. The opening and closing song is wonderfully placed and sets the theme for the entire game. A decent job, but could use a bit more improving.
Enjoyment: 9/10.0
Despite the fact that the battles flat out sucked, the memoriable story more then made up for it. I'll probably remember this game's story whenever I am designing a story for my game. It is something to remember, and it is downright amazing. That alone made the game for me, and I commend you for that. I never thought I'd give a B- to a game with bad graphics and worse gameplay, but it seems you have changed that. Excellent work.
Overall Grade: B-
Final Thoughts
    This game has the worst battles I have ever seen in an OHR game to date. They are unbalanced, have a poor abilities selection, and are certainly not beautiful looking. However, this game's amazing story makes up for them and more. Get your hands on this game and play it as soon as possible. The longest it will take you is 30 minutes (maybe less if you cheat), and it might teach you a thing or two about good about writing a unique story for a game. Fix the few things I commented on, and this game will easily get an A.  


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