Secret Santa Review – The Lost Kingdom by Ghorba
First Impression on the Title screen had the Font giving me a more Eerie feel than an Epic RPG feel. The intro song however sparked curiosity and implied that something might be afoot, which really vibed well with me
When starting a new game you are hit with enough information to acquaint you with the world, but not enough to bore you to death with a massive wall of unskippable text, which was good. However what I will say is that the scenes are short and uneventful and could use some sprucing up to add more life to them, but this is something you’d expect from someone’s first game.
Getting into the game you’re greeted with nice quirky, but not annoying, house music and if you choose to go around clicking on everything there are some nice tidbits to be found.
Upon exiting your house you are told to go and visit Lilth’s House. However, after searching the entire town, the only marked house is Menion’s House (Lilith’s last name). I originally went to the house sign and checked as said to myself “ok, not this house, I’m looking for Lilth’s”. Until Lilith was in my party I, the player, had no idea what her last name was.
Whilst walking around town I noticed it had a lot of ‘empty’ space. There areas between houses were huge, the houses compared to their exteriors were massive and it just felt a little unnecessarily up-scaled. Big fancy towns are fine, as long as they have the population or density to support it!
If you end up venturing into the Guard House before picking up Lilth and her sister the General guy is there but he doesn’t say anything. When you talk to him with the sister he is very, very brief… He asks if you want to be an explorer then asks if you’re ready for a test and bam, you’re battling slimes! Where’d they come from? Some of this plays back into the sprucing up of events. After the battle, which seemed to take a while if you didn’t use Ice every turn, he gives you your explorer’s license and sends you on your way. Short and sweet, I can get behind that, sure. Feels like there could be a “you kids have fun now” or something to add a bit more life to your story-based NPCs. There was more text on the old dude that was a robber when he was young complaining about why you were in his house, for example.
Now, I have my explorer’s license and I’m ready to go. I find my way out of town into the field. First think I notice is that, last I recall I was walking South (down) and all of a sudden, I come out of town face West (left). Ok, sure. That’s not entirely terrible. However, when I head over to the other side of the field and I exit facing West (left) and I appear on the next map facing East (right), which is jarring. Try to develop a flow between your maps. You can twist the player around however you want on the map itself, but when it comes to a transition, try to keep it smooth.
Now, this is the part that is most important to me, as a player; the battle system. The first think I notice is battle sprites. The enemies are super small! Those cute little bats couldn’t harm a soul, let’s be real lol. Overall, that isn’t super important to me either. However, what is important is player tools and the flow of battle. Player tools are important and what goes hand-in-hand with that is information of said tools. The help text for the spell “Age” simply says “Ages the target rapidly”. Ok, that doesn’t really tell me anything, but after a use or two I notice that it acts like a Demi spell from Final Fantasy which shaves of a % of the targets current hp. Those feels when you try to use it later in the fight and hits for 9 damage… megaSadFace. Try to work on providing the user with the information they need to succeed. The bestiaries does great at that, but extend that further to filling up the Help Text box to convey what skills do.
My last point and probably the one that made me struggle the most with this game was the overall flow of the character development vs. commitment to combat. It took me 15mins to get to level 5 which was about 4-5 battles. That’s fine, but those battles… omg… very, very drawn out. On my first attempt through I died to a nice encounter with 2 Magic Toads, 2 Toads and 1 Slime to the left of the first floor. Potentially the first enemy you will ever encounter. The Magic Toads would either heal the Slime for 250 HP or they’d attack. The Toads would pound me with Water or attack and the Slime would just attack. That is 5 enemies vs. 3 weak player characters. Not a good scenario to introduce your game your players with. My advice for improving your combat would be to Start with the following: - Lower the MP cost of spells that are required to make battles a bearable speed. I’m fairly certain I went 6 rounds with a bat because all they do his heal themselves and I was out of mana on my two characters. - Tone down the HP growth of the enemies. For the first round of encounters you have slimes at say 400 HP (not sure if I remember correct) but then bats at 700. Enemies of a similar “level” should feel similar. - Tone down the number of enemies within an encounter. The toad scenario is one thing, but the 3 Goblins, 2 bats, 1 slime was crazy. The Goblins spam an attack that can paralyze you… I would imagine there is an item to cure that, but if not it lasts forever. In 1 turn, 2 of my guys got paralyzed and it was gameover shortly after that because 2 turns later my 3rd guy was paralyzed and I just had to wait to die. Permanent character-impairing effects in an “every day” battle scenario are scary. Using them as boss mechanics are one thing, but with the cost of items, equipment, inn stays, etc. there is no way I could heal, grow AND have supplies on hand to brace for a scenario. Even still, you presented 3 goblins. Luck could have it that I get 1-rounded by the encounter if each goblin paralyzed 1 member. I hope you can see the downside to that.
Now, I’m not good at being personable or anything so I hope you take this all with a grain of salt, for sure. I am also not an expert. However I do acknowledge that this is your first game and I believe you could develop this up with the right direction/advice. Your game seems to be based on crawling through the dungeon to unlock its secrets (which felt like a rather loose story plot to begin with, but there is so many options to expand it from what you have I think you’ll do alright). Dungeon diving games come down to one real aspect: Slaying boat loads of monsters and feeling great about it. With that said, the combat system is the #1 thing you’ll need to emphasis on. Give the healer character a damaging spell, give the time mage a spell that isn’t based on current % health, lower mp costs, etc. Make killing monsters fun, making your players feel exciting about destroying beasties as they move forward. Balancing isn’t easy, so it will take some time.
1400 words later…
- Battle System is currently bland and takes too long to get anywhere with.
- Character Development is very, very slow. This is timed to combat speed.
- Information relayed to the player is lacking, but you have a good basis. Use of those Help Text boxes!
- For a beginning your maps are doing alright. Tighten up those towns or really bring them to life. I did like the field area though. You're on the right track and with more practice you'll be doing just fine!
- You’re able to write to get a chuckle out of the player when they least expect it. Play to that strength and flesh out your events a bit.
Overall, if you’re able to draw from the long post here and work on it, great! Growing from feedback is very important! While it may not have been what you wanted to hear, I believe in telling it how it is. Your game got boring fairly quickly because I felt unable to progress right from the start. We all go through this, at one point or another and it is nothing to worry about. Chin up!
I wish you best of luck in the future!