Here’s my two cents after playing the current release.
Overall I had good time playing this hack. The start was a bit slow for me, but once I got the hang of what kind of units I got and started to reach the thresholds needed for kill combines, the gameplay was fun. I could proceed at a more preferred pace and had more leniency in when and where to use my units when I had more options for getting those 2-3 hit kills on enemies.
There are times the maps feel lengthy, though, especially the last map (which I will return to later). Lengthy as in taking a long time to beat. That combined with the minimal margin for error - since you can’t let any of your units die for the majority of the demo - can incentivize the use of save states or rewinding. However, the bigger issue I have with the approach is that at times the maps feel artificially lengthened. Allow me to explain.
I think the first contributing factor to this is the way you use reinforcements. There are times it’s perfectly fine, but there are also times where it feels like you’re just providing busywork - that is, spawn enemies for the player to kill solely for the purpose of having units doing something, and in the long run this something doesn’t take you closer to clearing the map. I don’t know if the reinforcements are turn or range-based, but quite often they spawn the moment I reach them/ the tiles they spawn from.
My suggestion here would be to make the reinforcements spawn either:
- Sooner, so that I can kill them while making my way closer to the main objective, whether that is the enemy boss who I need to defeat or an escape point I need to reach.
- Later, so that when I’m already against some other enemies, these new reinforcements are going to flank me or attack from behind unless I do something.
Right now I feel like the reinforcements I have problems with achieve neither of the two things I just mentioned. Instead, I spend a turn or two killing them before I can resume going forward. I find the reinforcements in the lower part (before the wall) of chapter 8 to be this kind of instance, just to provide an example.
The other thing that can make maps feel lengthy is the linearity of your maps. Not all the maps in the current demo are linear - like the village map, for example - but quite a lot of them are. I don’t say that is outright bad design, but it is repetitive. For example, Chapter 4 is an U-shaped map, 6 is an U-shaped map but sideways, 13 is an U-shaped map - you get the picture. Very few chapters offer any alternate routes to the main objective (and thus create opportunities to split up your army) - all but chapters 9, 11 and 12 in fact.
Adding some branching or alternate paths to many of the maps would help in making the overall experience feel less rigid and lengthy. Instead of having to funnel my guys through the one and only path provided, I could split up and have them converge closer to the end/ main objective. I don’t think you need to completely redo maps, something as simple as adding more stairs, entrances, breakable walls even, should do the trick. You also can place some of the enemies on these new paths.
The first map’s not bad as far as opening maps go. One of the things I’d add here is change to the cavalier boss’s AI once the myrmidon boss is killed. If I remember correctly this isn’t currently the case. I also don’t think enemies beyond turn 9 are necessary except the anti-turtling reinforcements who in turn could spawn a bit sooner. Then again, I don’t know how slow or fast people tend to with this map.
Chapter 2 is a good candidate for an alternate route. Move the starting positions more to the middle. Now, when/if you split up one team secures the village, while the other goes to the right and defeats the ballista (currently there’s a cliff there so you can’t split.) Maybe it’s just me, but I found the boss to be obnoxious: he took little damage from absolutely everything, even magic because of his Warding Stance. Low damage, combined with the terrain bonuses and hp recovery makes this boss annoying to deal with this early on.
The sinking ships in Chapter 6 are a nice touch for a ship map. This map is in my opinion reminiscent of the manakete map in Fe6 where you listen to Jahn exposition and then the path forward is revealed.
Chapter 8 could use one of those breakable walls I mentioned earlier. That way Stephine and her crew could join the fray much faster compared to going around all the way from the left hand side. Aside from that and the reinforcements I mentioned I think this chapter is fine.
Admittedly I am a bit biased when I say this, but the new Chapter 9 is so much more smoother to play. You still have to be mindful when approaching the bottom part of the map, but you’re no longer forced to bleed out the reinforcements while sitting on a fort. The turn count is manageable, but not too lenient. The enemy bulk is also in a good spot as is. I don’t know if you changed it or if my units were stronger this time around, but nonetheless that’s another thing that made this map more smooth to play.
Chapter 11 is probably my favorite map in the current release. This is the point where combining for kills got much more versatile, and the map uses the houses creatively. One of the things I’d change here is the new unit. They join very late to the map, so making good use of them is difficult. The other thing would be the boss. He currently lacks any means of defending himself at 1 range, and it is easy to attack him from 1 range. You’d either need one of those ever so hated 1/ 1-2 range bows or place the boss so that he can be attacked from 2-3 range only. Of course, the latter alternative limits player’s options for defeating him.
Chapter 13 took me 25+ turns. I believe I was proceeding at a decent pace, considering that the warden wasn’t close catching up to me. I killed him for shits and giggles, but I had to wait like 3 or so turns for him to reach me at the end. That 25 turn timer was before I decided I was going to kill the warden.
Vero never learned Spur Speed.
Speaking of Vero, he received a level up from simply attacking the assassin boss in Chapter 9.
Vulnerary heals 15 Hp, but the description says 20.
Emmi can’t use the Sleep staff in Chapter 12.
I think this is a bug with the skill Liquid Ooze and not a bug specific to this hack. After a round of combat where Liquid Ooze was effective, the Nosferatu user has more hp as if Nosferatu worked as expected. 2+13=15.
There’s also this guy with the Steel Sword in Chapter 13 iirc.
This chest is bugged. You can loot it infinitely.
The boss in Chapter 11 can initiate combat on Enemy Phase at 1 range despite not having a weapon that can attack at 1 range.
Like I said in the beginning, overall I had a good time with this hack. What I especially appreciate is exploring new ways of making bows stand out aside from the typical 2-3 range by default -thing, which seems to be all the rage these days. I don’t dislike that approach, but it is nice to see some variety.
The game is still rough around the edges, but that is to be expected from works in their early phase. Even so, I can’t help but feel like at least some of these issues could’ve been detected with more thorough playtesting. I don’t mean this as an insult, so I apologize if I come across as condescending. That is not my intention.
Despite the flaws or issues that are currently present, the core gameplay is on a solid foundation, and that’s probably the most important thing to nail down.
…huh. Guess I ended up writing more than I first expected, but here it is.