Chronicles of a Dark Lord: Episode 1 Tides of Fate Review

In Chronicles of a Dark Lord by Kisareth Studios, you take the role of an atypical ‘hero’. Rather than the usual RPG kid-turned-hero, you’re taking on the role of a kid-turned-evil who goes after even more evil than his amount of evil. I know, I could’ve totally phrased that better. You still understood though, right?

The game has… some cool things, and some not cool things. But lets start at the beginning!

First thing you get when you start the game is an option for resolutions. It’s an RPG Maker game, and so the engine make the resolution choices so very, very odd. I have nothing against RPG Maker games, truly, but this one just seemed to bump into all the things I don’t like about RPG Maker as an engine. Not the least of which was trying to take a screenshot, and ending up closing the game without a warning. Hah. That was not an amusing moment, specially because the game starts with a rather long, somewhat boring, friggin’ unskippable intro scene made of text about how dark the whole thing is and will be, and the fight of darkness and light, and the chronicles of the Dark Lord, and etc, etc, etc. Yawn. Can we not learn this while we’re playing? I mean, I appreciate some backstory, but this is the first episode/installment, so shouldn’t the story begin here? And this is a game. If I want to read a book, I’ll go grab one, not a game.

I get it, it’s dark. It’s right on the title. Lets move long!

Already from the get-go I’m torn about the art. Even if I like RPGs like this, pixel art is not my favorite style, but I know you can do really neat stuff with it, and really cute (and really dark) stuff as well, but the pixel art on this looks pretty generic. The tiles that make up the world are, too me, too bold and bright, and I don’t mean it only for the story type and ambiance (which as I understand, is ~dark~). The character sprites are cute and I like them, but again: they’re generic to RPG maker. The character heads when the text pops up are also cute, but all characters are rather similar to one another, by which I mean there is a limited amount of sprite bases that had hair type and color and eye color interchanged. Some had some differences, but for the most, they were all too similar, and all too basic-RPG Maker style. It would’ve been nice if, for a change, they would’ve had some expression in the avatars that went along with the emotions of what was being said, or just… general, notable differences.

I’ll also say it’s consistently inconsistent in its art. During the fights (more on the battle system later) the enemy sprites are turned into larger, grown-up sprites with a lot more detail. This would not be so bad, except that they 1. don’t match the background with the level of detail and 2. don’t match your own sprites, which are still tiny chibified things. Reading on it, I came to find out that was actually a choice by the developer… and a (relatively recent at the time of starting this review) update. Just why you would change one sprite and not the other is beyond me.

You see what I mean? It just doesn’t fit.

Moving onto the sound aspect, the music is fairly good, but quite repetitive, so I ended up lowering the volume for it (which I often do anyway). We get a decent range of options on the menu, by the way… and a save-anytime button there too. Cookie points for that. I do like compulsively saving every five minutes and after cut-scenes.

The gameplay is rather typical of most old styled RPGs – move around the map with your keyboard, interact with enter, esc for cancelling things. If you’ve played RPGs before you will be used to checking absolutely everything, from shelves to barrels to piles of hay… and the good thing about Chronicles is, in this, it does pay off. You can get some items for your trouble and find out amusing things – like the piano not being just decoration but actually getting to make some music out of it (it’s no mini-game mind you, just the interaction sound), or the cat actually meowing at you, or how they went through the trouble of putting your wife’s photo in a frame on your bedroom – it’s a nice detail, but it’s made too obvious with, again, slightly clashing styles in the pixel art.

Some of the maps are rather big and empty, even though you can tell they tried to fill it up aesthetically. It’s a weird contradiction, but there you have it. On the upside, you can run (or ‘dash’), which is cool.

The battle system is simple and concise, and also interesting. I was quite fond of it. It’s a typical turn based, random-encounter styled fight system, however, it’s not really random at all. You have a very nifty bar at the top which fills as you walk around certain areas, and when it’s full, you have an encounter. If you stop, the bar slowly depletes. Thus, you can sort of control if you want to have an encounter or not, and it’s not entirely random. The skills you can get through leveling up make sense, seem balanced enough, and are no bloat. You’ll probably have a use for everything you end up having. The art, however… as I’ve already said, is inconsistent and slightly distracting. The only downside was I couldn’t find a way to see the enemy HP, which was really annoying.

I’ve already touched a bit on the story, but it’s basically this:

It’s been foreordained that some kid would be born that would inherit some dark powers and be evil, but would also be the savior of the world in some war or another with an even eviler evil. Oh well, the better of two evils, right? The game gets cookie points for originality in actually being (one of the) the bad guy(s).

The names of the characters are kind of fanfiction-y, and so seem to be their personality types (and there’s not a lot of personality or types in them); so is the lesbianism, which would be better if it actually made sense in the story, but ends up just seeming gratuitous (again, I have no trouble with this normally, but it either has to make sense or the game be strictly about it). By the way, the ‘fanfitcion-y’ thing was not a compliment. (Disclaimer: I know there’s good fanfiction out there, that’s not the one I was referring to).

It seems like they wanted to give you options, like being really evil or not so evil, and they promise it will affect the outcome of the story, but I couldn’t notice any major impact during gameplay on what your choices are save for the occasional option to kill a random NPC – and a few times it wasn’t even an option at all – and even that didn’t seem to have great consequences. Granted, I got too fed up with the game to see it through the end.

Also, the game is trying too hard at everything. It tries too hard to be dark and gothic, and then they throw out “funny” lines that make it try too hard to be funny in a not-dark-at-all kind of way.

Finally, there’s no steam overlay. That was sad. Very, very sad. But it’s to be expected with RPG Maker games.

The game offers some 20 to 25 hours of average, generic gameplay, so if you’re very into old styled RPGs and don’t care much about the downsides of it, or if it’s on sale, then it might still be worth the money. Otherwise… steer clear.

TL;DR: Generic art, decent music, meh story, undecided style, cookie points for an attempt at originality.

Would I recommend it? Not unless you’re very into RPGs.

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Never Alone – Kisima Ingitchuna

Data Break Up
Game: Never Alone (Kisima Ingitchuna)
Genre: Action, Adventure, Platformer
Developer: Upper One Games, E-Line Media
Publisher: E-Line Media
Release Date: Nov 18, 2014
Platform: PC / Windows 7
Overall rating:  7/10
Graphics: 9/10
Controls: 7/10
Level/Puzzle Design: 6/10
Sound: 9/10
Story: 9/10
Replay Value: 6/10
Community: N/A

Never Alone is an action-adventure puzzle platformer in 2.5D that will take you through a wonderful folk story told by the Iñupiat (Alaska Natives) through the ages. While I’m not familiar with the story itself, so I can’t speak for how close it is to the original or how well adapted it was, I can say it is (at least in so far as I played it) definitely a very beautiful story, with gorgeous graphics and sound effects/music to match.

Visually, the game is striking. Playing it… it leaves a lot to be desired.

In Never Alone you switch between two characters: a young girl named Nuna and an Arctic Fox, who go in search of the source of a neverending blizzard in order to stop it and save her people. The puzzles are fairly average, and the controls for the game aren’t what I would call the most comfortable ever but they are also not too bad (WASD, space, and a couple other keys)… when they work. For you see, as beautiful as the game is, the performance leaves a lot to be desired.

It took 4 levels of menu to reach the detailed video settings, and even at its lowest, it performed poorly on my computer. This is rather undesirable, particularly when your introduction to the game involves being chased by a polar bear who likes to glitch back and forth when performance falls, and having to jump lots. Failure to run from it or jump properly results in your death and having to begin from the last checkpoint. Or, you know, glitching the game and running as an invisible form until you reach the fox and then running on and on and having to restart yourself because that’s clearly getting you nowhere…

The game does have many glitches and annoyances. Walls are sometimes impossible to jump onto, the camera can become uncomfortable, the fox can become a little bit unhelpful, you may fall forever from the map, and you will die because of all of these… a lot. It’s one of those games that when it works, it’s a wonder to play for the story and visuals, but when it doesn’t you just want to flip a table and never touch it again.

Never Alone Kisima Ingitchuna Review

If you manage to get through the entire eight chapters, you will be rewarded by unlocking the entirety of a documentary on the Iñupiat. What little I managed to unlock of it looked both interesting and very well done, but as beautiful as the game was, the annoyances were much greater than my desire to watch the documentary.

All in all, for the story, looks and sounds, and the documentary, as well as the obvious interest in making more people aware of the Iñupiat, I would like to rate this game higher; but the amount of times low performance and glitches caused my death ended up bumping it down quite a bit. If you have a low specs PC I would definitely not recommend you try it. If you have a decent PC you may still get some glitches, but if you’re interested in the story, it might be worth seeing if it works.

Brilliance of the Moon by Lian Hearn

Brilliance of the Moon (Kisah Klan Otori, #3)Brilliance of the Moon by Lian Hearn
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

Ugh.
I don’t think there’s a whole lot I can say about this book. I really liked the first one, the second one was nice, just a bit on the boring side, but this one…

I don’t quite know what happened, I just couldn’t get past the first 100 pages. I tried. I honestly tried, but the characters were being terribly stupid and the pacing terribly slow, and every time I picked it up, I didn’t find the heart to read more than one or two paragraphs before being bored to death and thinking I shouldn’t bother, they were going to do something stupid for sure and ruin it further.

No motivation whatsoever to finish it, sorry! I gave up even trying. The first couple of books were OK, though.

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A Cruel Harvest by Paul Reid

A Cruel HarvestA Cruel Harvest by Paul Reid
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I got this through Goodreads First Reads, and although I’m very grateful, I have to say, I did not manage to finish this book.

Like with some other reviewers I agree that this had a great premise, but as I read on and on I found the characters to be rather bland and boring, and the only thing I enjoyed was the carefulness with which settings were described.
It had more of an angst-factor than I expected it to have (I mean, I expected angst, but not like that), and I also expected more pirate-action, which there was very little off.

All in all it seemed like a good read, but I just couldn’t bring myself to finish it even when I was past halfway into it.

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La Casa de los Espíritus by Isabel Allende

La casa de los espíritusLa casa de los espíritus by Isabel Allende
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

Just not my cup of tea.

I actually won a book of my choice a while back, and out of the few, poor amount of books I had to choose from, I chose this one. I figured I’d read it- it sounded amazing! And Isabel Allende had such good reviews all the time, so why not?

Great mistake. I found her writing to be tedious to my personality. I couldn’t get past the first pages as it failed miserably to catch my interest and was clearly not the type of literature I enjoy, for it was full of socio-political commentary and sounded too pretentious.

I guess I’ll stick to the genres I know I enjoy, because clearly my incursion in others has failed.

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