Well, I've been playing the game for a while, so I think it's time for a review. Before playing ER, I used to rank the best games I've ever played as this:
- UFO: Enemy Unknown (a.k.a. XCOM: UFO Defense)
- World of Warcraft
- Blade: The Edge of Darkness (a.k.a. Severance: Blade of Darkness)
- Starcraft (& Starcraft: Brood War)
- Quake III Arena
That would be completely off-topic if it weren't for the fact there's been a recent change:
- UFO: Enemy Unknown
- World of Warcraft
- Elven Relations
- Blade: The Edge of Darkness
I must add that 2nd and 3rd places are almost tied, being the frequent content additions the only thing capable of turning the tide towards WoW. Also, it must be noted that ER is the only free game in the list, as well as the one developed by the least ammount of people. This doesn't mean I'll stop playing Q3A (I'll never stop playing Q!!) but no doubt I'll love this game forever! (And, as a game maker myself, I now have a quality reference to try to beat
within this genre
Comparations are hateful, so let's leave 'em there. What can be said about the game itself... first of all, the characters: well thought, nice art, excellent background and side stories, and a faultless cohesion between art, personalities, and backgrounds (on the story-line sense, nothing to do with bg graphics).
About background graphics, a bit of criticism is in order: while they are quite good, it is true that there is some inconsistency (ie: some look photographic while others look hand-drawn). I guess the deadline didn't allow for more.
About the overall plot, I've seen some posts complaining about it being "too simple", "not enough", and so on; and I want to reply: you venture into the Endless Forest, where no human has set foot in centuries, you are responsible of a historic change in the relations between two races, and you even have the chance to fight against a freakin' dragon! What more can be asked for? You don't get to save the world, ok, but... while I love that kind of epic games, I'm even tired of saving worlds (my philosophy is currently on the line "let me save the whole universe, or don't care at all, but don't bother me for just a random world").
About the endings, I've not reached them all yet (I think I'm missing one Tokho's and Asilana's "just good - not best"), but the ones I've got to see are simply great: they are quite different and all of them interesting. I'm leaving my comments about Yurika's endings for the end of the post; but I want to mention something about the path to such endings, and the combat system:
(Not sure if this really spoils out anything, but just for case
) When you're trying to get Yurika (no matter which of the endings), combats become harder by nature: she's the toughest character in the party (reflected by her 60 HP), which makes her the best candidate to take the beating from monsters. From a tactical point of view, defending Tokho makes sense, since she's the one that most damage deals (fireballing for 30 against Takuya and Yurika striking for 25) so keeping her alive maximizes the damage output of the party; and defending Asilana also makes sense, since she's capable to keep everyone else alive as long as she doesn't fall herself. To backup this, I'll just say that I only managed to get killed on one fight: the one to save the kids, trying to defend Yurika (actually, I forced a double KO when only I was standing and made a kamikaze charge to finally bring down the dragon... it was actually death when it finnished me off, since the game processed my attack before the dragon's, and I really had hope that this slight advantage could save the battle ^^' ). Anyway, I realized that, if you don't take silly choices through the game, you can afford keeping the healer and the damage-dealer alive in that combat and still can get Yurika's endings. The best I could do on that combat without wiping was to defend Yurika when I could afford it, but also defending/healing Asilana whenver the need arises. I still have to try healing instead of defending her, I think it might work.
Next thing: bugs. I played only with v.1.1.2; and I was afraid I wouldn't be able to catch any bug... congratulations for the good work (believe me, I'm quite good at crashing things XD). The only "bug" I could notice, while a really minor one, is:
During the banquet, just before you get the choice to whether get more drink or not, the text reads "I don't think it's the same as that mirall stuff from the songroom earlier, but it's good, whatever it is.". The point is that this text appears even if I declined that mirall stuff from the songroom earlier.
It's really a minor detail and, since I haven't seen anyone mentioning this on the thread, it seems to be hardly noticeable; so you should feel proud that's all what I could find in my really agressive "bug hunt".
My first attempt at Yurika's endings marked a before and an after in my opinion from the game... there were so many similarities with some real-life experiences, I couldn't help it but loved the story ^^ (btw, I ended straight in Yurika's good ending, I didn't to think twice about any of the choices). When I read that
the "semi-secret" ending 1 was actually Yurika's best, I had to find it. I didn't want to look at any of the spoilers, and only checked some non-spoiled comments about the ending... at no avail... so, there was someone that was the key to solve the "obstacle" between Takuya and Yurika... I came up with two or three hipotesis for each character, and kept "testing" them: "maybe if Makoto gets a good impression of me on the mission will want to have me on further diplomatic missions?", "maybe Asilana or the Caller himself can have some influence on Masathor and convince the king to transfer me somewhere else?", and so on... most of these were almost absurd, but could be argued for... I kept trying different paths and combiations that "could make sense" for more that 6 hours, with no rest... I had to find it!!! Then I went to have a cigarrete and let my eyes rest from the screen just before they'd have started bleeding. I went back, and took out my heaviest weapon: I took pen and paper and started keeping track of every choice I was taking, trying them in order to make sure I wasn't repeating nor missing any combination of choices... so there was I, reading carefully (and most often reading twice, just to make sure) each paragraph and basing my choices on a list of numbers on a piece of paper... luckily enough, the key choice was the first on its own menu, which meant that my "brute force" was particuarly efficient and found the answer on the first go... when she mentions him, it seems to be the answer, but I didn't want to risk and went on... anyway, a couple of lines later, her words "Kept saying he owes me a favour anytime I want it." removed any kind of doubt. Oh damn!! I had gone through this conversation the very first time I played! If I had just remembered it!! ^^; I saved (just for case, if I needed something else I could continue with my "brute force") and started a new game, taking all the obvious choices for Yurika, but then taking that choice... and at the end, the extra choice was there... the menu read just like "Yurika ending, Yurika good ending, Yurika best ending". After around 7 hours of insane and continous gameplay, I got it!!! And damn, I really loved it!!
So, I swear, this game will always
have a special place in my heart ^^
BTW, if there's still someone who can't find the ending, that's what I can suggest:
Some people have mentioned that once you know the problem you have to solve, you can figure out who might have a clue about the solution... IMO, finding the answer is just a matter of being at the right place and at the right time (just like real life
). Another point worth mentioning is that if you were at that place on that time before
you had gone through any of Yurika's paths, you could just forget about it, as it just seems like "filling chatting" until you put it in context; so it's worth checking those paths you took before trying Yurika's. And yes, as many people is suggesting, once you find it, you'll know... it's almost as if the text read "this is what you're looking for"... and if you don't see it clear enough, a couple of lines later you get an even clearer confirmation... but that only assuming you know what you're looking for
: I wasted a lot of time discharding paths that I had already taken.
If you still need more help: just take each girls paths and, unless you do something extremely weird, you'll come through it. Just keep attention, and don't
use skip mode.
And, to finish, I want to congratulate chronoluminaire & sunkitten for one of the best games ever made (at least from my point of view), and thank you both for making the game I've most enjoyed ever. There are games; there are good games; there are great games; and there is ER. ^^
EDIT: Damn! how could I forgot this... on the questions part at the end, when asking about a possible sequel:
Yurika wrote:It will be more likely if you tell chronoluminaire that you'd like to see one, on the Lemmasoft forums thread or the ToothyWiki page.
So... I'd love to see a sequel!! PLEASEEEEE!!!
Note: I realize that you might be busy with other projects right now, and that "forcing" a sequel would actually harm the final quality... but when you can afford it, and you feel in the mood to make it, please remember the people who would like to see it. ^^