Just finished a play-through of the demo tonight:
(I'd like to apologize in advance - I have no ability to be concise, so when I do give feedback it has a tendency to become an essay, especially when I find something engaging/interesting. I have a lot of thoughts/critiques - because I care.)
Lets do the good first:
First of all, the GUI is amazing. So pretty - well-designed and impressive. I was also really impressed by the animations - the rain and other background elements. Very well done, and it added so much to the mood/feel of the game.
The music is really good - moody, doesn't intrude on the story, just overall suitable and pleasant to listen to.
The world presented is really interesting, I like the urban fantasy aspects and the hints to what could have happened earlier to create this lock-down on magic. It feels like a well-crafted world that I'm just beginning to figure out, and that is incredibly interesting to me. I also like several of the characters -
Leonard is intriguing and I understand where he comes from just wanting to run away from everything.
Legato is very
intriguing, both personality-wise and the seeding of other info about him.
Leonard's sister wasn't as fleshed out on the path I took (I chose to stay with Legato), but she feels like an older sister that really loves her brother and is trying to be supportive while frustrated that he's pulling away from her.
The twins are interesting, and by the time Legato mentioned their protectiveness of Leonard I was happy to hear they'd be an important part of the story.
The other characters I'm kinda neutral on. The 2 other love interests (again probably because of the path I took) kinda just show up and say "Hi, I'm here" without telling me much about them, but then I'm way more into world-building, mysteries and meta-plot than I am romance, so naturally I ended up being the most intrigued by the character that offers me that. And I didn't dislike any of the characters.
The switch to hearing the story from Legato's side was a nice surprise and I wouldn't mind if the rest of the story is written from different view points like that. I was wondering if we go back to Leonard or not though.
-- Overall I really wanna know more about the world and Leonard and Legato's backstories. The hooks delivered on this front are really effective.
I just wanna iterate again that I really liked what I played and I care about this project, so I'm really sorry if anything I say next feels mean.
Things I noticed:
The character art is a bit inconsistent. Leonard in particular is really well drawn and looks pretty throughout the game - Legato and Theodore are also well-drawn and attractive, while "handsome boy" just feels a bit.. generic? I didn't really feel I understood what Leonard saw in him. The size discrepancy between Leonard's sprite and some of the others is also quite noticeable when several sprites are on the screen at the same time.
None of these are big concerns, and I'd play through the entire game with the art like this, no problem, but if you're planning to go commercial it might be an issue.
Leonard's flashback to how he got hired kinda comes out of nowhere, it took the twins showing up for me to finally figure out that that's what it was. Until then I was really confused about why the bookstore we'd taken shelter from the rain in had the same background as our workplace. I also kept wondering if the note was part of the flashback and what happened with it, until it was finally revealed that it wasn't and Leonard was still trying to deal with the issue.
What is Leonard's thing about food?! He talks about/thinks about/does things related to food so much during the demo. I'm guessing from his disturbing thoughts during the flashback that it has some sort of plot relevance - maybe something to do with magic energy? But having it consistently be a topic of discussion/importance without any context became a bit annoying after a while. I hope there's a pay off for it further into the story.
Does he or does he not remember what happened with the contract? He seems to know that Legato is a.. demon? Familiar? Something supernatural - but he keeps getting upset about Legato giving books away for free, even though he also acknowledges that it's a trick to get ppl to come back and even sees it work with Daphne(?). By the time I got to Legato's path he'd had 3 freak-outs over this, just to be reassured it was fine every time, and when Legato said he got "something else" out of it, Leonard was weirdly surprised.
With the ever-present magic and his own recognition of the store being a special place I just don't get why he keeps reacting like that.
I'd look into getting an editor to go through your script and help you with the language and things like prepositions, phrases and tense consistency. There's not a lot of misspellings, but there are quite a few instances of awkward sentence structures and just the wrong word for the situation.
Not that I really need a break, because working days are mostly slow, but it's not going outside. I'm more of an outdoors type.
Should be something like this:
Not that I really need a break with work being as slow as it is, but it's just not the same as being outside. I'm more of an outdoors type.
Just the slightest suspicion of being an illegitimate magic user without a warrant is enough for them to take anybody in. - And guess who has no warrant.
I think I understand what you mean - A warrant is defined as:
Wikipedia wrote:A warrant is generally a specific type of authorization, that is, a writ issued by a competent officer, usually a judge or magistrate, which permits an otherwise illegal act that would violate individual rights and affords the person executing the written protection from damages if the act is performed.
But I was really confused when I first read this, as a warrant is usually associated with the police - someone in power using it to be allowed to do something they otherwise wouldn't be able to do.
Since the magic users are not in the same power position it'd probably be better to call it a "license" or at least further define what you mean by "warrant".
-I wouldn't mind helping you with editing if you'd want me (for free of course).
Small bug(?) issues:
The sound effects
on the menu are incredibly loud. I had to turn sound effects down to around 40% to even be able to hear there was music playing. They also have a tendency to overlap in a cacophony of noise when you move your mouse around quickly close to the choices.
He doesn't look up, and just cards a hand through his ponytail.
Cards? Anyway, from this sentence (day 2 in the bookstore) the dissolve from one sentence to the next changes to a much slower dissolve - the previous sentence lingers on in the background while the new is written out.
(I chose to go to Esmeralda and it went back to the original transition)
This happens several times at the end of the bookstore scenes after this one. It always resets back to normal after a scene change.
Lastly, and this is purely a personal preference, I found the demo to be a bit too long. When I play a demo I want a quick introduction to the story, the major characters and what type of game it is. This feels more like the first 2 hours of the game, and it just drags on a bit too much. I was left wondering when it'd get to its point, and by the time I got Legato's flashback it was like being jolted out of a daze. (I have the same issue with "No, thank you!"'s demo, a game that sells for 40$, so this is not a unique occurrence in any way.) I think you could have cut a bit of the "normal days at the bookstore" parts to let us discover them in the full game, so that the first few days of the game won't just be a retread when playing again.
I am, in general, much more accepting of establishing scenes in a full game than I am in a demo, since I know I will be playing awhile and there's more story coming later.