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Bliss vs. JSH357
Bliss An ugly but well-drawn dungeon.
Camdog
Download: 208 KB
V.S.
JSH357
Play Time: 1 hours and 30 minutes
Review # 10 for JSH357 An ugly but well-drawn dungeon.
Them's Fightin' Words
    Bliss is an OHR game that is lots of fun to play- the battle system requires you to strategize almost consistently, and the game has its share of innovations. The only real problem with this game is that you REALLY have to read the manual to play it. I was doing great up until the final enemy and had no idea why the final battle was taking me so long to finish. Of course, I had skimmed the manual, but I did not notice that you were supposed to raise your stats with items! Maybe this is my fault, but I felt a bit jilted for some reason. In any case, I recommend this game to all RPG lovers, but read the manual first.

Bliss is about a hero named simply "You." "You" escapes from a dungeon, has some weird mind lapses, and tries to kill a wizard. I don't want to spoil anything about this game other than that; its ending actually surprised me!

A neat feature that this game has is its scoring system. I'm not entirely sure how it works; but you are ranked by order of your battle prowess. Are there multiple endings? I do not know; but this game could surely benefit from having them.

Finally, a bug. This almost made me think that the game was over prematurely. This is specifically a note to the game's designer: In the part where the hero jumps from one building to another, he can go through the door and will end up in the wall! Fix this, if you would.
Graphics
    If I had to pick one thing that I disliked about this game, it would be the graphics- most notably, the hero's graphics. The funny thing is that the graphics actually flow fairly well. They just look pretty bad.

This game's graphics suffer from what I call "FFVII syndrome." The environment looks pretty good, but the graphics as a whole just look immature. See the first screenshot. Obviously, the maptiles are a bit blocky and the hero looks pretty bad. All in all, however, the picture looks close enough to a sewery dungeon for me to call it adequate. This does not mean that it looks great, though- much work is needed.
 
Storyline
    This game had a pretty interesting and original story, and I really don't want to spoil any more than I already have. Instead, I will make a comment about its story scenes in general.

The text boxes scroll way too fast! I didn't even have time to read them all! I'm not sure why the author made the text boxes scroll so fast... music issues, maybe? It was very annoying.
 
Gameplay
    This is split into sections, so I will do it as instructed.

Here is my new disclaimer for the 'Gameplay' section. My reasoning for several attacks may be based upon what is written in the disclaimer.
These can be taken both literally and in a figurative sense.
Also, my disclaimer will change as I write reviews, since I pick up new rules along the way.
1. No game should be played 'just for fun.' That's like taking drugs.
2. Shock value is useless.
3. Effort does not equal quality.
4. The movie can indeed be better than the book.
5. Most games are just bad remakes of other games.
6. A game should explain its features without a manual.

An explanation of my latest addition: Call me lazy if you like, but come on. Game designers must learn to have empathy for their audience. If there is an abnormal feature in a game, it either needs to be so obvious that the player can figure it out by looking, or the player needs to be given an explanation. Game players, in general, do not want to have to read an outside source unless it's a FAQ (And I hate having to read those too, personally.)

A good commercial example of this issue is in Roberta Williams' King's Quest VI. Basically, to prevent you from being able to share the game with friends, you must refer to the manual to complete one section of the game. (An original language code) This is so evil that it isn't even funny. What if the player loses the manual?!

The reason that this came up in Bliss was the final few battles. You are provided with a store that sells 'stat up' items. Now, you've had 'stat up' spells since the beginning of the game, so naturally, I disregarded the items entirely. When fighting the final boss I noticed that almost an hour had passed, which seemed a bit crazy to me. I referenced the manual and discovered the explanation: 'stat up' items can raise your stats permanently; effectively making the final battles a cakewalk using the correct combinations. Great. I spent almost an hour killing a boss when it could have taken fifteen minutes or less!
 
  Battle
    This game surprised me, big time. I saw the immature graphics and super-fast intro, then assumed that the game would be lacking in this department as well. I quickly realized how wrong I was- this game has some of the most well designed battles that I have ever seen.

Battles are encountered through the use of NPCs. There are only around ten battles in the entire game, which although disappointing, was probably for the best. You can affect which battles you end up actually fighting through the use of some ingenious puzzles that I will talk about later.

At first, it will seem as though the main character has way too many spells, but as the game goes on, you will learn the truth. This game is not about gaining power, it's about conserving power. You gain very little (or at least, I did) from the battles themselves. The game is short and the battles are difficult- you have to know when to use which spells and when to equip what, etc.

I should mention the equipment system as well. You are given several items to choose from for equipment, and will be shifting constantly. Some enemies use lots of magic, and some are physical. Some enemies are weak magically, some physically. The only problem with a system like this is that it caused me to save then reset quite a bit. Perhaps save points would have remedied that problem, but then, that would have made the battles far too frustrating. Even though you can 'cheat', I believe that being able to save at any time was the best choice.

Another great thing about Bliss was its enemy combinations, especially early on. I can think of one in particular. There is an orc and three rats. The rats are weak but cast a Strength spell. The orc has good HP and Strength, so naturally you would want to kill it initially. The strategy that the author probably intended was to kill the rats before the orc so as to prevent its stat gain. It is an effective combination, indeed. One loophole, though: you also have a few spread magic attacks that can waste all four enemies. I didn't pick up on this until my second try but it was there nonetheless. (Or maybe that's what the author intended- I don't know.)

This game was very difficult to me. Battles required careful thought beforehand and during times of action. It got a bit hectic, but was a good challenge. Best of all, the game is short, so it never really gets old.

Finally, I must point out another bug to the designer: the boss that uses 'Shell' followed by 'Hellfire' does not reset his Willpower properly. It remains impossibly high but displays that it is returning to normal. Fix this, please.
 
  Map Design
    This game actually had some interesting maps! I mean, they were pretty linear, but there were lots of neat ideas thrown in. I'll try not to spoil any of the puzzles, but I must at least mention this one because it is so... cool.

Look at screenshot #2.

I have never seen a puzzle like this in an OHR game. Not only must you push the boxes around the room, you must also climb onto them and crawl on the counters. The puzzle actually took me a few minutes to solve; I was very impressed.

In any case, this game has good puzzles. They are few in number, but interesting enough.

One little issue, though: I found a key at one point that I could not find the door to. I guess I just missed it. Ah well, maybe I'll replay the game.
 
  Balance
    This is mostly covered in the battle section, but remember- without reading the manual, this game will appear extremely unbalanced toward the end. I didn't have a problem at all until the status items popped up.  
Music
    N/A  
Enjoyment
    This game was definitely fun to play, if only for an hour or so. I think that anyone who likes RPGs should give it a go, at least to see the features. It isn't the deepest game I've ever played, but it is interesting enough.  
Final Blows
    Give it a play or two- try to beat my score of ~4700!
A really cool Zelda-esque puzzle.

A really cool Zelda-esque puzzle.
Final Scores
Graphics: 3.5/10.0
Not very good, unfortunately. They were a bit bland. Okay at times, but overall, too immature for my tastes.
Storyline: 6.5/10.0
Interesting. A bit hard to follow, but you may chuckle at the end when you finally see it. Not the best, but certainly not the worst.
Gameplay: 8.5/10.0
Quite the interesting game! You may not be overly impressed, but it certainly seems well designed apart from a few glitches.
Music: 10/10.0
Nil
Enjoyment: 9/10.0
Enjoyment Comment:
I enjoyed it. I think that most people will enjoy it. I'm glad that it wasn't any longer than it was- sometimes a short game can be blissful. (Teehee)
Overall Grade: B-
Final Thoughts
    Bliss is an interesting game that is worth playing once or twice. It's short and sweet, like Gary Coleman.  


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