Octopath Traveler demo impressions: Primrose >>> Olberic

I might blog more in the coming weeks. I’m kind of in the mood, but I make no promises. It took me a long time to type up this post, haha. Totally need to get back into the groove. Anyway, I really can’t not talk about the demo of Project Octopath Traveler, the Switch-exclusive neo-retro JRPG that Square Enix is going to bless us with next year. When a trailer for the game popped up in the Switch presentation at the start of this year, I was immediately in love with it. Visually it was amazing. Not just nostalgic, but atmospheric and full of detail. The soundtrack was excellent. The trailer also promised a large world and nonlinear gameplay – which made Octopath Traveler sound like the game of my dreams, more or less.

Last month’s demo shed some light on how this is going to work out, although I suspect that there are still things we don’t know for sure. There are going to be eight playable characters, each with their own backstory, starting location and reason to go on an epic journey. The other seven characters can be recruited into the party during the story, but the demo does not answer how exactly this aspect is going to be handled. For the most part, the demo shows off two of the eight characters, and demonstrates how their unique abilities influence both the battles and the exploration portions of the game.

The warrior Olberic can challenge NPCs to a duel, with different results: defeating an NPC in battle might get you access to a door they were blocking, or it might be the solution to a sidequest where they need to have some sense knocked into them.

The dancer Primrose has the ability “Allure”, where she seduces NPCs into going with her. You can have these characters help you in battles, or you can take specific NPCs to specific places as part of a sidequest.

Interestingly, the demo contained a few sidequests that could be solved with either of these abilities, but with different outcomes. I got the vague feeling that these different outcomes might have further consequences later on, although that may just be wishful thinking on my part. It would certainly result in every player getting a somewhat different experience, just as advertised! Especially if we assume that everyone is going to be using different characters and thus have different abilities at their disposal to solve sidequests.

But now I must talk a little bit about why Primrose >>>> Olberic.

Continue reading

Advertisements

Regarding the Bravely Second sidequest changes

Another sort-of-addendum to the old post about ethical choices in videogames, where I talked about the Bravely Second sidequests. You probably remember that Bravely Second‘s release in the west was met with some backlash due to several localisation changes. One job outfit was changed to avoid racist stereotyping, a few other outfits were slightly modified to show less skin, but most importantly: the way that the sidequests worked was amended.

Spoilers!

Continue reading

Chrono Trigger: thoughts on a certain yes/no choice …

Remember when I wrote something about ethical choices in videogames? Uh, I won’t blame you if you don’t, it was a long time ago. Back then I said that there was a specific choice in Chrono Trigger that I wanted to write about in more detail. And then … erh, I didn’t do it. Months passed! But it’s been nagging at me all this time!!!

So I’ll write about it on this fine, sunny day! Spoilers for Chrono Trigger will follow, and I recommend you play this game, because it’s vey good.

Continue reading

The fun I had last week – Sunday wrap-up

I am in a race against time: Later this month, Ever Oasis and RPG Maker Fes will be coming out – on the same day, even! Since one of them is technically not a game, but a game creation engine (for noobs), I can easily play them at the same time without getting annoyed. But I still haven’t finished Dragon Quest VII. I haven’t been playing a lot of videogames lately. Some adults would consider this proof of their maturity, but I just feel like a failure.=P  I hate having unfinished games, and when it comes to Dragon Quest, it’s like I’m cursed. But I will finish this one.

So much manga, though. So little time. I am proud of my collection. It’s not especially large, but that’s the point: it’s only titles I actually consider worthwhile or interesting! There are so many Youtube videos where people show off their manga collections, and it’s all about how many books they have, like, the sheer numbers! Many people even say that they keep buying a series just to have it complete, even though they don’t enjoy it. I don’t get that. I wouldn’t have the space for this to begin with, but I don’t see the point of spending money on something you don’t care for.

I feel very disconnected to English-language manga fandom. That’s probably to be expected, because I’m not American and I rarely read manga in English. I speak French, so I buy French manga. The quality is better, the price is lower and there’s a greater choice of titles. But English is the language I’ve always used for my fandom activities, so I’m kind of stuck in my own personal corner!

While tidying up my manga shelf corner, I found a potted plant that I had put in that corner at one point, and then … forgotten. It’s a vriesea … in red, but I cut off (ripped off) the red leaf padle because it had completely dried up. Considering that this plant hadn’t been watered for a couple of weeks, or even months, it must be completely dried out anyway. But I can’t tell, the leaves are still completely green. Apparently this particular plant dries out without turning brown? Or it’s super-resilient. It’s also growing two or three sideways offshoots, which makes me excited about this plant again. The reason I forgot about it to begin with was that it always looked the same … Is there a manga about house plants? There must be.

I bought Dungeon Meshi vol. 1. In the USA it’s being released under its Engrish subtitle, Delicious in Dungeon, but I got the French version, which has the superior title: Gloutons et dragons. Admit it, that’s brilliant! One thing I’ve found surprising about the reception of this manga is that no one is mentioning how very many JRPGs contain a cooking feature. It’s been in some older titles, like Tales of the Abyss, but more recently it’s been in I Am Setsuna and in Breath of the Wild! Just to name some. The feature felt a bit out of place in I Am Setsuna, which really made me wonder when and why “cooking in jRPGs” even became a thing. This is an excellent opportunity to promote the blog Pixelated Provisions, which is dedicated to the worthy cause of recreating meals and food from videogames.

The weather is nice and I am feeling much more energetic than I’ve felt in a while! I’m a loser who’ll spend that energy on videogames, manga and hopefully on blogging.

Videogame music analysis!? Be still, my heart.

Great news! I stumbled across a fairly new Youtube channel, Game Score Fanfare, which is dedicated to analysing music in videogames. Awesome! I’ve been waiting for a channel like that! There are only four videos so far, but among them are an analysis of “You’re Not Alone” from Final Fantasy IX and an analysis of the use of character themes in Bravely Default. (Both videos contain spoilers.)

Memories! Back when I had just finished FF9, I asked a friend about his own progress. He replied “I’m at the part with the really awesome music!”, and I knew exactly what he meant. Even though the soundtrack of Final Fantasy IX is generally excellent, You’re Not Alone somehow stands out as something very special.

As much as I love videogame music, and thinking and talking about videogame music, I am really noticing my own lack of education in this regard. :/ Recognising theme repetitions and instruments … It’s not that I am totally deaf to that stuff, but I am still capable of missing the obvious. It is probably a matter of training, but in the meantime, I enjoy listening to someone more knowledgable explain these things!

Will RPG Maker Fes take over my life this summer?

The 3DS has been a revelation for me as a JRPG fan. New installments of old francises like Zelda and Dragon Quest, remakes of games I hadn’t previously had the chance to play, and completely new stuff like the Bravely series or Fantasy Life … The thing about being a thirty-something gamer is that you are always, to some extent, tying to recapture the excitement you felt as a child, when everything was new to you – but I’m glad that my 3DS RPG experience so far hasn’t been just about replaying and rehashing familiar games and concepts. The genre is living and developing, including on the 3DS.

So, I’m thrilled by the announcement of RPG Maker Fes, set to be released this summer in North America and Europe. I’ve always dreamt up all sorts of RPG ideas in my head, but I’ve also never had the discipline and long-term commitment to turn any of them into an actual game. Compared to the previous PC versions of the software, RPG Maker Fes might end up a bit limited in its abilities. Being able to use one’s own art and music is something experienced users wouldn’t want to miss. But having to work with limited, pre-made resources actually sounds a bit … freeing to me. It sounds like a good idea for beginners like me, who’ve never made a game before, to just focus on the game itself without also having to worry about creating all the art (and make it look nice!).

OK, to be honest …. looking at RPG Maker communities, I think that using one’s own art over the standard chipsets and sprites is a little overrated. First of all, it often leads to people combining mismatched art styles, with an end result that was probably a lot of work, but looks incoherent. The other issue is that it’s not just about having great, unique resources, but also about how you use them. Good mapping is an art, and a constant challenge. It can go wrong in various ways: sometimes maps look empty and boring, sometimes they are stuffed full with distracting, pointless details. Maps are usually too big (which is probably why they end up either empty or purposelessly crowded with random nonsense). The challenge is to create towns and dungeons that are no bigger than they have to be, interesting to look at and never confusing.

The most exciting thing about the 3DS RPG Maker is that you don’t have to own the software to play games created with it. There will be a free, downloadable app for this. I wonder how this will play out in real life. Will there be a lot of games worth trying? Will there be some kind of rules concerning the content of games hosted online? Will people have access to games created worldwide or just in their region? Questions, questions.

When RPGs give you ethical choices …

… it is also your choice whether to accept them at all.

When I play RPGs, I like having the feeling that my actions and my own choices actually affect the story, and be it just in some small way. I’m totally fine with linear stories, but it’s always cool to be feel like you’re not just along for the right, but an active participant instead of a passive observer. I’ve noticed that even when the choice turns out to be an illusion, I still feel a little bit more involved in the game. It makes the experience more immersive for me, because it prompts me to really think about the characters and their world … Hmmm …

Then again, an abundance of pseudo-choices can have the opposite effect. In Golden Sun, I was constantly given the choice between saying Yes or saying No to questions and suggestions – but for the most part, giving the “wrong” answer just resulted in my opinion getting ignored or overruled by the other characters. Pfff! Stop asking me this stuff if you don’t care!

What actually prompted this post was an old-ish SiliconEra article about Bravely Second‘s sidequests, titled Bravely Second’s Job Options Overshadow Sidequests’ Difficult Decisions – the headline actually tells you the core argument of the article, which is really refreshing in this age of clickbait titles. Still, I disagree completely with the sentiment.

Continue reading