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Crescent Dream vs. Shadowiii
Crescent Dream
AdrianX
Download: 1.77 MB
V.S.
Shadowiii
Play Time: 0 hours and 20 minutes
Review # 25 for Shadowiii "Now this, kids, is what is known as 'Graphical Overkill'"
Them's Fightin' Words
    Quite a few games have been released recently, and most of them stunk, to be honest. People keep releasing their games without playtesting them, or without thinking about what the player would like to see and hear in a game. Other games that possibly could attain professional value tend to be lacking in some points. Games that would be wonderful rip graphics, resulting in games that are far from wonderful. Games with beautifully original graphics have poor battle balance or shoddy music. To be honest, I have not seen a game with enough professionalism to cover all four basic points (Gameplay, Music, Storyline, and Sound) since the End of the Earth series.

Until today.

Crescent Dream, though only a short demo, embodies everything that should be in great OHR games. Its graphics are amazingly gorgeous, and much attention has been paid to detail and small touches. The story, though barely brushed upon, has excellent character development thus far and seems to be promising and original. Gameplay is a bit dull at first, but the original weapons system as well as the multiple attacks to learn quickly make the game fun. The music, though ripped, is still actually placed into different scenes. There are even sound effects.

I dare say I haven't been this impressed in a long while. Crescent Dream could very well be the new OHR Game to set the standard this century. It is far above anything I have ever seen before.

Enough blather, on with the review!
Graphics
    Graphics are, to say the least, mind-bubbingly beautiful. Though a few graphics are obviously not done (the world map for instance), this is easily thrown aside after glancing upon the tremendous detail placed into each and every NPC, tilemap, and battle graphics. Though a few of the graphics aren't the best I've ever seen (battle graphics specifically), the game more then makes up for it with everything else being beautiful. Another great thing was the graphics blend well. What I mean is there isn't a clash of styles between hero, tile, enemy, or npc graphics. The game blends smoothly (similar to Halloween Quest or Ends of the Earth 2).
Something else I'd like to mention is how the game saves. I'll cover the gameplay elements of it in the appropriate section, but as for now I can say that the way the game saves is amazing. Rather then save with the hero graphics as the pictures, the save point alters the hero pics to a hero "Portrait" of the characters in your party (see screenshot). I was literally breathless when I saw this in action...it was exquisite. Wow.
Final comment before specifics: The menus use the popular "Time Flies" style, where you have icons for each attack as well as for various menu selections. AdrianX goes nuts with this, however, and puts it on basically EVERYTHING, from shops to weapons to menu items to attacks. This also helps add to the aura this game emits: it is professional grade.

Tilemaps are the best I've ever seen, better even then the ripped ones from Final Fantasy H. Detail is exquisite in these, from flowers in the village to the hut-like houses, to the cliffs on the mountain. While on the mountain, you can actually look down and see your village, and parts of it are darkened in the mountain's shadow. I was so taken aback by these, that I unpassworded the file with that evil little program (sorry!), and took a look at all the tilemaps. I opened a canyon one (one that wasn't used in this demo), and it was...amazing. Rock walls of the canyon cast curved shadows over the path you tread on. The canyon is done in that 3D style used in that shiny castle in "Ends of the Earth 2" (you know...the one you find Shadow in front of). The only bad tilemaps are a few world tilemaps. Though the zoomed-out drawing of the village and of the mountain cliff is amazingly detailed, the grass and the water's edge still lack a bit. But this is easily forgivable considering this IS a demo after all.

NPC's are good looking in themselves, but the fact that they have a TON of animations makes them excellent. The NPC's are drawn in a similar style to Final Fantasy 6 (I swear a few girls in the village have Terra's hairstyle), but heck, I draw NPC's a bit like that so it is forgivable. It isn't like you see Edgar wandering around. The NPC's are drawn very well, and are defiantly in the rest of the game's style. But what make them fantastic are their animations. There are TONS of animations. Text bubbles appear over their heads for various moods (much like Golden Sun). Though this has been done in OHR games before, it rarely has been done to this degree. Rather then popping up once or twice, you'll see these things in almost every plot developing conversation. This gives the characters a lot more depth.
But text bubbles are the only great thing about these NPCs. They all have quite a few various animations, ranging from blinking to laughing to falling flat on their faces. The animations are put together excellently as well. Your sister throws you out of the house, with the appropriate animations, and you fly out yelling and fall flat on your face. It is stunning, to say the least, how much detail was put into this.

Battle graphics certainly aren't the best I've ever seen, but they are excellent. You only see a few enemies: a pallet swapped slime, a bee, and your teacher. It is easy to see that enemies are his "weakness" (I can't believe I'm calling th ose great enemies a "weakness"), in that they are not on the same level as the rest of the graphics. But dang dude, they still are great! Hero animations are fluid, and the attacks are drawn with skill. Battle backdrops are a bit dull, and your teacher's arm is in a painful position, but heck, they are still better then average. AdrianX could up them if he wanted, but he honestly doesn't have to, they are good enough as is.

Cutscenes are done with great skill. Similar to Ecopia: Shadow on Perrip, this game has quite a few cutscenes. Though not as many animated ones as in Ecopia, the cutscenes still are brilliantly done. The drawings, though they look a bit off because of importing, still look very good. The "widescreen" format, where the text appears on the bottom, is also a nice touch. I really liked the cutscenes a lot, especially because it just wasn't a hero portrait (*evil thoughts about EOTE2 and Lunar Legend come to Shadow's mind* )

Overall? The best I've seen to date, and the detail list is endless. I didn't mention above that the screen dims after a training session as darkness falls, or that shop doors ACTUALLY CLOSE at night. The graphic in this game are the best I've seen in an OHR game yet. No, really, I'm not kidding, these are amazing. The closest thing I've seen to these was FFH-2 and Blu Eternal, and these are still better. I am glowing green with envy (or maybe it is because I live next to a nuclear power plant...eh)
 
Storyline
    Story is only beginning to take shape during this game, which is too bad. The demo is pretty short, but it leaves you wanting more...much more. The basic plot is the main hero wants to train to become a warrior for his village to protect the princess. However, he has to pass an exam to prove his worthiness, so he obviously trains a lot. He is startled one afternoon when, looking up at the sky, to see no clouds in the bare heavens. So, off you go to tell your sister. But your sister doesn't care; she wants you to get some stuff to make dinner. So off you go. After getting the stuff, you eat and then go to bed. In the middle of the night you see a mysterious man (whom you follow), but you don't really learn much about this guy. You and your sister then ascend the peak the next day, where she is exasperated that you dragged her up there just to show her there were no clouds. Another mysterious guy appears, and...the game ends basically.

Ok, so it sounds a bit lame thus far, but believe me: the character development more then makes up for it. AdrianX has the great ability to use his NPC emotions to give each character unique personalities. The hero is an arrogant kinda guy, living in the shadow of his deceased brother. His sister is short tempered and thinks the hero is lazy, but it is easy to see she misses the brother (after a somewhat touching scene where she speaks to her deceased brother's statue). The characters in town say some good stuff, while others say some lousy stuff (The part about this being an RPG and how the girl will tell you the town's name even though you LIVE there is funny, but detracts from the game because having in-game characters KNOW it is a game is...well, bad), but overall it is good. The NPC emotions make the characters living, breathing entities, not dull shells that just do stuff "because."

Another neat touch was, unlike in most OHR games that start out with good character development, this one doesn't burn down over time. You and your sister still fight over trivial things even after she has joined you. Side characters donít' just stand down after joining, they keep on kicking. Excellent work.

I dare say, even after only playing 20 or so minutes of it, I was very sad to see the demo come to a close. I had grown quite attached to the characters, and I really wanted to see more of this game. Even in such a short demo, I had laughed, felt sad, felt suspense...something that few FULL-SCALE OHR games have, and this was just the first 20 or so minutes! The actual story hadn't even started! Another thing is the story seemed unique (for an OHR game), and I eagerly await the next update.

(side note: quite a few of the weapons commentary is hilarious. "Butter Knife - Look out, or you are toast!" Very good job)
 
Gameplay
    Gameplay is unique in many aspects. First off, AdrianX decided to go the way of "See NPC, Fight NPC" instead of random battles. In all honesty, this approach is much more appealing then random battles, probably because you can then avoid all battles entirely (to a certain extent). Plus, you can see which enemies are harder and which are weaker, which is always a nice thing to know when you are level 1 and have a weak little sword.

Another gameplay element that was nice was the weapons system. Basically it works like this: Weapons have either attack numbers or critical percents. The stats for any given weapon can be viewed when it is in the inventory (or in a store). Weapons had both stat-rising abilities (attack goes up, aim goes up, speed go up/down, etc.), as well as either a multi-strike or a critical percent. If a weapon has more then one strike, that means that the attack will always be linked to a second attack of the same strength, against the same monster (some weapons have more then two strikes). If it has a critical strike, the weapon will have a given % in its stats (say, 67%) and that is the chance that a second strike will do critical damage. Critical damage cannot be viewed (i.e. no number pops up, only the word "Critical!"), but I'd guess it is around 1.5-2x normal attack. Critical damage also is semi-"smart", that is, if the enemy died on the first hit, the critical will hit the next enemy in line (rather then the double strike, which strikes the same enemy twice regardless of whether or not it is dead)
So, when you choose weapons, you have to take quite a few things into consideration. First, do you want a weapon that is weak and attacks quite a few times? Maybe a weapon that is weak but with a large critical attack percent. Or you could nab a sword with a set 2x attack, but it isn't as strong as the Steel Sword with its 67% critical chance. So...which weapon do you choose to equip? There is where you come in. If you want to do set amounts of decent damage, grab yourself a double strike weapon. If you want a weapon that deals a decent amount of damage on first strike, but only has a chance of doing more damage, grab yourself a critical weapon. I found myself switching weapons often to decide which ones I liked best. It gets even better when you get your sister to join; then you can balance out your weaknesses with her strengths. I equipped myself with a critical sword, while I gave her a multiple attacking weaker knife. Basically she killed the weak ones, while I whacked away at the stronger ones, and if I criticaled, yay!

That is basically the weapons system. Sound simple enough? Yeah, I'll bet. I can imagine in upcoming updates where you get weapons with only a single strike but do amazing damage, or really weak weapons with huge critical percents. The possibilities are endless, and the system is simple. Excellent.

Another thing I'd like to comment on is the incredible detail that was put into the maps. If you see fish in a stream, you can catch them. You can climb up rock ledges to grab items. When you enter the world map, caterpillar party is turned off and your hero speed is decreased, making it more like you are covering longer distances. These details, though simple, really add a ton to this game. Great games are made on tiny details, and this one certainly has a head start.
 
  Battle
    Battles are, in a sense, spacebar smashers for the most part. At least at first, when you only have one weapon and a few herbs to keep yourself alive. Luckily you learn magic spells fast, so you can then strategize where to use your spells. I'll be blunt though: battles are still, generally, bland. I'll blame this on the fact it is a demo, and that the strategy shouldn't really be done in battle but BEFORE battle when you equip the weapons. You get two spells in the whole demo thus far, which is better then Blu Eternal did. Battles seem to be on a good start, and I'm sure they'll improve as the game progresses.

A neat thing is that one of your base abilities is a "scan" type spell. This is pretty dang useful, to say the least. Though I mostly used it on fighting a boss (my "master"), I still thought it was neat to include it.

Overall, a decent start. I await the update and more spells.
 
  Map Design
    There are really only three maps in the game, and one of them is incomplete (the world map). The other two (village and mountain peak) are nothing special. The maps are definitely improved by the fact that you can see the enemies you attack (that aspect can make even the dullest maps enjoyable), but still are just linear. The path down the mountainside is simply obvious, there are no mazes or traps (but still, remember: demo). The village is designed quite well, actually. Different houses have different designs and different people in them that say different things. Shops are scattered decently through the city. And (I love this part), the inside of the house looks like the outside! Your house, which is two parts, is actually two parts inside! Details like that are rare in OHR games, and they really make this game cool.

Savepoints in maps are interesting as well. To save you need a unique coin (I forget what it was called...), and when you hit a save point you have two choices to spend your coin on: Full heal (inn, basically), or save. Unlike most games where you have to "pay to save," this technique actually works pretty well. Coins are moderately priced, and you can stockpile a ton at the store if you want. Also, you generally don't need to full-heal in this demo, so not having enough coins certainly isn't a problem. I actually was first annoyed by this system, but after a while I enjoyed it. It was a neat way to save, and also an interesting way to eliminate inns.

I heard from some people that they didnít like the ďfind the ingredientsĒ puzzle/side-quest that your sister assigns you too. Too hard? Not enough hints? Not quite. In all honestly, most OHR players/reviews start a game somewhat biased. That is, most of us donít even bother to talk to village NPCs anymore in OHR games, because they donít say anything important. Well, this time youíd better, or youíll never solve that puzzle. It was a neat touch to have the NPCs actually say something useful to help you beat that side-quest. Few OHR games have actually interesting NPCs.
 
  Balance
    Balance is interesting. First off, you'll level up quite a bit at the start of the game. Stat increases are relatively small, though. Attack bonuses are barely noticeable, and HP bonuses are small. Also, you don't heal HP/MP on level up (thank goodness, or it would be too easy), so you'll be eating a lot of herbs. Which reminds me, you'll need a lot of herbs to survive at first. The battles get a bit easier later on (after you get the chance to buy armor and such), but at first you'll be healing quite a bit. Luckily, it seems the game designer playtested this game (THANK YOU. THANK YOU SO MUCH), and herbs are easy to find. Though the don't heal much, you can use them outside battle and heal yourself up before the next encounter.

The balance is also pretty much polished with regards to the weapons system. I can't kill a bee with just one hit of a critical sword; I NEED that critical strike to kill it. Of course, my double sword would take it out with two swipes, but then you have to rethink...both the critical AND the double sword kill green slimes in one hit. With the critical sword at least I have a chance of after killing the slime hitting another enemy with critical. Or I could just keep the double and waste the second slash. The gameplay is excellent, though I dare say it is probably going to get a bit more difficult to get it this polished as the game progresses. But it is simply wonderful in this demo.
 
Music
    My only complaint for this game: music is either ripped or taken from RPeG audio. *Sigh*, and it was doing so well too! But besides that, the music does something barely any music has done before in an OHR game: sets a theme, and is actually placed with the plot. Different songs play when different events occur. Though the music-implemented scenes are a bit few-and-far-between, at least AdrainX gave it a shot. There are the sound effects of crickets at night, for instance. For an OHR game, the music implementation (is that a word?!) is above average, and if the game was continued in this manner it certainly would be an excellent job.

Get some original tunes, my friend! There are many people here who have tons of original midis just lying around (me, for example), as well as others who love writing music for other people's games (Setu and Jazz Man come to mind). If the music you place in this is original, then you have most definitely created a great game.

Final thoughts on music; I am pleased to not have heard too many Final Fantasy songs. Though there is one or two, the majority of the songs I didn't recognize, or recognized from sources that weren't Final Fantasy. Thank you so much for not putting in lots of Final Fantasy songs! You have no idea how happy that makes me.
 
Enjoyment
    Did I enjoy this? Oh yes, I enjoyed it! The graphics were beautiful enough to probably keep me playing even if the gameplay had sucked. That is to say, the graphics did what they are really supposed to do: lead me by the hand into the game to present me with the story and gameplay. The gameplay, though it started out a bit slow, gradually grew into a unique and fun battle system. The characters were probably the most "real" I have seen to date in OHR games. They had emotions, they did funny stuff, they played off each other's weaknesses, and they were emotional as well. I have honestly never seen characters in ANY OHR games appear to be this real. We are given more then just the "heroic hero" side of the characters, we see their personal sides and their human sides (it is surprising the dialogue is so good, considering how AdrianX uses poor grammar on CP's boards. :D ). The music, though ripped, isn't bad and is placed well, especially in the cutscenes. The cutscene anime is great as well...the artist does an excellent job portraying the characters (the chibi scene after you sister beans your noggin with a pan is pretty cute :P).

So, did I have fun? Oh yes I did. I haven't enjoyed playing a game this much since Ends of the Earth 2, which was years and years ago (Ends of the Earth 2 is my favorite OHR game of all time, by the way). Even though this game is relatively short, it was well worth the download. It is games like these that make reviewers actually start to enjoy their job.
 
Final Blows
    If you read all this, you probably already got the picture: this game is great, and is on its way to greatness. I have never before wanted see an OHR game updated this badly. Ever. This game is superb on every aspect. It is the only OHR game I have ever seen to correctly use Gameplay, Graphics, Story (dialogue/characters), and Music. This demo in itself is better then probably 80-90% of OHR games on the gamelist, and it even surpasses many completed OHR games. This game also does what no OHR game has done to date: Play like a completely professional game. I swear, I felt the same way I did when I first played Final Fantasy 6 so many years ago. It brings new hope to me, who has spent the past few years playing simply awful OHR games, that OHR games are actually getting better, not worse. And I certainly need that motivation.

On a side note, I sure praised this game a lot, maybe too much. If you are sick of it, then I'm sorry, but you probably shouldn't have bothered reading this entire review anyway, considering you could probably download and beat it in less time. :D

AdrianX...if you read this...heed these words:

FINISH
THIS
GAME.

This could very well become one of, if not THE, greatest OHR game yet.

Those who know me know I tend to review most games harshly. I honestly have given only two games A+'s, and very few have received 10/10 in the various categories. Even when I loaded up this game, my initial intent was to give the game a B or a C. But after playing it, I dare say no game has ever taken my breath away quite like this one.

Perfect score.

This literally took my breath away. Wow.

This literally took my breath away. Wow.
Final Scores
Graphics: 10/10.0
I thought Blu Eternal had excellent graphics, and these far surpass it. Consider it an 11/10. This rivals professional games.
Storyline: 10/10.0
I first thought "Oh boy, here we go again, another great graphics game marred by lamo characters." (I'm a pessimist, ok?!) But I was much suprised. The characters are developed excellently, and the are made real by their emotions. Not only that, the story flows very smoothly, even for a simple demo. I was much impressed. This is the start of something great.
Gameplay: 10/10.0
Simple? Yes. Easy to learn? Yes. Brilliant? Oh, yes it is. What starts out slow quickly becomes a very fun weapons system. It goes to show you don't need a unique battle system to make gameplay very fun. Superb.
Music: 10/10.0
Though I am probably grading this higher then it deserves, I couldn't honestly give it a low score. The music, though probably not perfect, was used well and placed perfectly, which is something I really want to see done in OHR games. I really hope you replace the music with original music...then I will not doubt my perfect score here.
Enjoyment: 10/10.0
I enjoyed every minute of this, from the time I booted it up, to when I quit. Ok, so I didn't enjoy the very end. That would be the part where I turned green with envy at this game. Why is it so damn good? I don't know, but I can definitely say I love it, and I canít wait for the next update.
Overall Grade: A+
Final Thoughts
    This is the start of what could very well become one of the greatest games in OHR history. Beautiful graphics, engrossing characters, a unique yet simple gameplay, and decently placed music set this demo up among the elite. Even though it is short, get this game. It is professional grade. Perfect score.  


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