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Lunar Wish - Orbs of Fate


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#1 amerk

amerk

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Posted 05 September 2015 - 04:04 PM

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Game Title: Lunar Wish – Orbs of Fate
Developer: LusterMX
Genre: Fantasy RPG
Current Status: Complete
Approximate Play Time: 26 Hours


OVERVIEW:
As my daughter would say: “Holy Guacamole!” Yeah, for a 12-hour game, 26 hours just seems… well… a bit of an overkill, but that was the time I clocked in at after finishing my own recent playthrough. Not to mention, having died a few times against some of the bosses, I’d wind up speeding through the repeat cut scenes leading up to the boss fight on a revisit… and I only wound up completing about 1/3 of the total quests. So add to the missing clock, and I’m probably looking at something more along the 30+ hour mark.

Just grinding to complete the skill charts alone seemed to take a lot of time and endurance; and remembering which monsters dropped which items to complete whichever quests were still remaining would seem to take an even longer time. But I digress, since in no way does my comment about the oddity between my own completion time and the developer’s suggested time impact my opinion for this game, and the fact that I spent so much time exploring its world should be enough to entice others looking to play a lengthy adventure.



STORY & WRITING:
Normally, I prefer to talk about the game play first; but in this instance, I felt it was necessary to get the weakest part of the game out of the way which, sadly, happens to be the story. The reason being, if a person has almost zero investment into the story, most likely they’re not going to enjoy the game.

Now, I don’t think the story was by any means terrible; in fact, the plot was pretty good. But there is a large difference between a decent plot, and executing that plot in the way of writing. The premise behind the game is that Falk wants to be a hero; he’s your comical character throughout, and most times winds up creating more work for the team to handle than had he left things alone to begin with. You spend the first few hours of the game in and around your home town, completing quests, and trying not to get into (too much) trouble. Then a mysterious book happens to fall into his possession, which he thinks belongs to another student because, Lord forbid he’d be caught reading a book. Soon after, his best friend Tash winds up missing, and nobody but him and another student remembers her.

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Somehow, I doubt he’s the intended hero, regardless of what he may think.

Tash, meanwhile, has been whisked off to some odd dream-like plane, where she meets up with a mysterious character called Fate. And from here, the two parties wind up going on several adventures before they wind up together near the last act of the game.

Be forewarned, that while the episode itself is complete, the story is not, and LusterMX has a sequel in mind; though when that sequel will be released is anybody’s guess. This is the first point against the story; it takes so long to get anywhere, and when it seems things are finally coming around, you are treated to the “Blurred Line” approach of the promise of a sequel that may never come around (Please refer to “A Blurred Line” and it’s vaporware “Line’s End” on RMN for further reading).

The second point against the story is the amount of misspellings, odd grammatical choices, and the fact that the game (as has been stated in other reviews I’ve read) can’t decide what type of story it wants to tell. Is it dark, is it light, is it serious, or a comedy? It tries to be everything it possibly can, and often winds up even more confused as a result.

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The end to what? The game? Already?... Oh, now I get it, you meant to say “inn”.

I enjoy comedy in an rpg, and there are some instances where this plays off well, especially in the beginning. But all too often the jokes run dry, the text speeches and symbols in place of swear words take over, and the characters become way too involved with their own personalities that it leaves me with a bitter taste in my mouth, kind of like drinking a mouth-watering ice cold beverage on an extremely hot day and having the after taste of something like dish soap.

There were times I laughed out loud…

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At least it’s better than killing slimes.

… and then there were times I shook my head in confusion. But even with all this going on, I still forced myself to play through it, and one scene in particular, near the end of the game, will stay with me as one of the best cut scenes I’ve seen in an RPG Maker game in a long while. Eventually, the game becomes a bit more serious as it nears the final act, and by the time you are fully invested, it’s over.


My rate for Story is 5/10. The characters were funny at times, but annoying at others. The plot was intriguing, but wound up taking second place over the antics of our wanna-be heroes, all of whom seemed to be operating against one another. While it’s refreshing to see the challenges in a party of heroes where nobody really gets along with one another, it might have worked better without trying to minimize the seriousness of the game’s plot.


GAME PLAY & COMBAT:
So if you’re still with me, then perhaps it’s because you’ve decided you can stomach the story long enough to actually enjoy the game, and for that I’d say you’re in for a real treat. The game is massively engaging, and one of the reasons I spent so much time playing it was because of how immersive the game play is. Right away, you’re going to see the game offers a bit of the standard features you’d expect in a well detailed game, from a quest log to a diary, from a skill tree to side-view battles, and from a heavy amount of exploration to a variety of sub quests and treasure hunts.

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A monster guide that would have told us what drops what would have also helped, but I won’t complain… too much.

But what really makes this game shine are the amount of gadgets you get that allow you to explore even deeper; these things remind me a bit of Wild Arms and Breath of Fire, where tools allowed you to delve further into the game and open up new secrets in areas you may have previously explored. The first gadget you get (several hours in) is a pair of goggles that will allow you to detect hidden items. Later on, you get a shuriken you can use to get out of reach treasure and switches, followed by what’s called a Zippo that lets you move super fast and break through some obstacles, and finally another pair of goggles that detects traps.

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Now you’re playing with Power!

I’ve spent so much time revisiting some areas because of the new gadgets. This doesn’t even begin to cover the dungeon designs, some of which had challenging puzzles; the best one was the switch puzzle that controlled the bomb in another section. And of course, once the parties come together, and new characters join, you wind up with a total of 11 characters by the game’s end, each one with their own unique abilities. Usually I pick a team I like and stay with them, but I was switching them all back and forth so many times because they all offered something of value depending on the area you were exploring. It also helped playing as separate parties for awhile so you didn’t feel as if you were ever stuck with one character who was severely under-leveled.

All that said, there were a few annoyances in my play through, the largest being it was hard trying to figure out what items were necessary for every quest, and rare items were so rare that it made it difficult to do the quests I wanted to do. Regular enemies were often way too easy, but the boss battles usually revolved around strategy more so than levels, giving it a nice touch. The other thing that was a bit on the dry side, you’ll play through the same forest in the beginning area of the game multiple times before getting to advance the story any further, simply because of all the quests you have to do at various times. By the third run through the forest, I was getting tired of the layout.


My rate for Game Play is 8.5/10. Minor issues aside, it is chalk full of well designed game play mechanics and dungeon-based puzzles, so much that it even allows for some replayability if you discover you’ve missed something along the way, or have traded something for one quest over another.


RESOURCES & LEVEL DESIGN:
The resources here aren’t anything really new, and most of the game’s music have been pulled from other games along the way. However, overall the resources were handled well. LusterMX knows what chords work best in relation to the area the player is in or the scene, and ranges from happy and energetic to moody and sulking.

The area that I think deserves the most praise, however, is the mapping, and playing through this game helps a person to easily forget they are playing a VX game. And like Luchino and her Enelysion game, I believe most of the maps were made in the editor without special parallax gimmicks. There were a few areas that seemed to clash in design, but nothing too drastic…

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Silly me. Forget the fact that a tree was somehow growing over the bridge to begin with, but seeing as the tree has already been cut, do you think maybe we could just jump over the durn thing?

… and the amount of detail that went into each map, along with the proper touch of lighting effects, created a very tranquil atmosphere that drove me further into exploring the game’s world.


My rate for Resources is 8/10. Nothing very original, but handled with much care and respect.


Game Overall Rating & Final Thoughts: 7.16/10
If only we could do something to clean up the story, otherwise this is a very solid rpg. So much attention has been put into the game’s atmosphere and level designs and game play mechanics, and it pays off well. Here’s hoping LusterMX hasn’t given up on the sequel.

~ amerk

After all to the well organized mind, death is but the next great adventure.

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