Monday, June 10, 2019

First Impression Review of RPG Maker Game "To Light: Ex Umbra"

Game: To Light: Ex Umbra
Developer: Branch Games
Year of Release: 2019
Game Engine: RPG Maker MV
PurchaseSteam

     

Score: 79/100



Concept

The queen of the land may not have the best interests of the people in mind, and your job is to protect and help the princess. But before you can get any real idea of what’s going on, you need to chase an overly fed chicken to feed your hungry belly. You track the chicken to a hut deep in the woods… and it’s then that the story gets really interesting.



The Score

Story: 10/10

To Light delivers an orginal, engaging story with mystery, humor, and drama.


Characters: 10/10

Each playable character and NPC is unique and relatable with real flaws and strengths to their personality.


Writing: 6/10

The narrative and dialog is well-written but often gets long-winded. Some of the descriptions of items and attacks are vague, leaving the player guessing what effect they’ll actually have. There are also a few typos in the dialogs.


Mapping: 10/10

These maps look fantastic! The world is also quite expansive, so there’s plenty to do and explore. Many of the maps are mini-mazes, which adds to their complexity and appeal.


Art: 7/10

The character busts are all original artwork, which adds a nice level of aesthetics to the game. Unfortunately, the character busts only have one expression, so what they’re saying doesn’t always match well with their artistic representation.


Creative Game Design: 5/10

To Light doesn’t do anything extraordinary. Its strengths are in the mapping and the story. There are a couple of puzzles, though, that deserve mention.

Perhaps the highlight of the game’s creativity in terms of mechanics is offering a Story Mode that bypasses the random battles.


Gameplay: 3/10

As I mentioned, Story Mode delivers more of a narrative experience. Normal includes a ton of random battles, way too many random battles for my taste. And each battle is incredibly easy. At no time did I feel in danger of losing.

Instead of splitting the modes, I would have rather seen a balanced game that cut the number of random battles back but made encounters more challenging to defeat.

The dialog between characters also happens too frequently and extends longer than it needs to. As a player, I felt myself waiting to take back control of the game pretty frequently.


Technical: 10/10

While the developer didn’t seem to make too many changes to the system, there are no problems with running or playing the game. I do appreciate the changes in the menu to show the character busts and a simplified display.


Music: 10/10

The original music is fantastic for setting the mood of the game.


Sound: 4/10

The sound effects are a little piercing. They’re the default RPG Maker sounds, which can be somewhat annoying, in my opinion. There are also aren’t many added sounded effects for the environment, map events, dialog, or voiceovers.


Recommendation

There are a lot of strengths to this game. If you enjoy a good story and can be patient to read through frequent dialog, you’ll likely enjoy it. If you’re more into the challenge and strategy of turn-based combat, you probably won’t.


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