As soon as i put two and two together and figured that DoW stood for Drums of War, i remembered that name and knew i had to play this. It was a lot of fun! Here’s a review.
shame FEU doesn't let me upload txt files
Congratulations on successfully breathing new life into the tired institution of the world map intro by turning it into a fevered propaganda speech. It goes on for just maybe a little too long?
The first swath of enemies is too much for just two fighters. I figured it would be fine to go full aggro on them on my first attempt, but i settled on camping out in the woods to fight them after getting Calista killed. My winning strategy was to use the forests first, then wall in Calista against the river with my two other units to prevent anyone from touching her while still being able to dance.
I love how the map music keeps playing during battle animations. It plays right into my preference for animation option 1, which i like better than option 2 because the units popping out from the map like a diarama instead of whisking the player into the generic-looking battle background makes the map and the battles feel more integrated with each other.
If you’re not going to use the Guide, consider making all of the entries be locked so it never appears in the map menu in the first place. It’s annoying having to page through all the vanilla FE8 tutorials to get it to stop glowing green in the menu, and it would be better not to have it there at all so there isn’t that extra button press required to get from Status to Options.
I haven’t even been able to take care of the first group of bad guys yet when another group appears from the northwest village. I soon found that i had nothing to fear because they were set to attack in range rather than pursue, but it does feel like the game’s expecting me to be much faster. I do appreciate the FE9-style movement which is letting me hoof it across the huge map much faster than i had anticipated. Having a dancer from the get-go is something i also didn’t know i needed; units can actually catch up if they fall behind!
Text skip: “Against these ruffians, I can more than hold my own!” Felice recruitment convo
Radu’s recruitment doesn’t seem to work unless you visit the village with Roxelana. Intentional? (edit: okay, it’s intentional)
It’s excellent how the tutorial introductions to mages, archers, etc are aligned with the villages where you recruit the mage, archer, etc. Good job making them fit in.
Look into changing the music priority for the recruitment theme from map music to scene music. As it is, the songs use the same area in memory and the map music has to restart after each village visited rather than fading back in seamlessly. Or maybe it’s the events that make the music restart?
Get rid of the rests at the beginning of the enemy phase music so it starts immediately instead of taking a second to start. I’m not going to comment on music much going forward because i can tell you’re using the “import music from other game” button and i presume you don’t have a whole lot of control over fine details and/or are okay with what you have being good enough. I will say: do be careful using music with square waves, because GBA FE by default uses square waves for gui sounds rather than music, so some square waves will get cut off by dialogue blips, experience points increasing, etc. For example, the Yggdra Union music that plays during the player phase has a square wave in the background that gets cut off by the sound of the cursor moving on the map, but it’s not that noticeable since it’s just background/accent notes.
You should stagger the reinforcements that appear from the starting castle so they don’t form a weird line, or at least vary their classes so you don’t get a weird single-file parade of identical quintuplet mercenaries oozing down the road.
You should reconsider your use of the animations-off special effects such as the slash/explosion visual effects and numbers floating up from units when they take damage. They’re a cool idea, but the visual effects look bad without any sort of blending and they get layered over the “no damage!” icon as well as the information window with the HP bars and stats, which looks strange. I know you didn’t create the system, but i expected it to get more refining before being used in people’s games.
Speaking of the animations-off information window, the stats (HIT/DMG/CRT/AS) have a strangely faded palette. I suggest you change the colours to be the same as the HP numbers/bars.
I appreciate the bonuses from supports being simplified a bit. I never bothered to memorise the original game’s support effects for every affinity, only that units get gooder when you put them near each other. Now that i have two armoured knights, the blob of mercenaries makes sense.
I don’t see the point in giving description text to ordinary weapons (e.g. iron sword). Description text for weapons is usually used for gameplay purposes in GBA FE, so it’s strange that the iron sword (“a lightweight weapon”) gets text that’s flavour only (not important) whereas something like an armourslayer (“effective against armour”) gets text that’s gameplay-relevant (important). It’s not a real problem, but it’s in the same vein as my suggesting people keep character/class description text two lines long: it’s too much text for no reason.
There are a lot of enemy factions at play. We’ve got Bandits, Insurgents, and now Deserters. Could the Insurgents and Deserters be lumped into one? Yes, the distinction is (i assume) rabble versus rank and file, but they’re alike enough in that they’re rebelling against the government as opposed to the bandits who are just in it for the loot.
The ending scene with three portraits all loaded on the right side while Roxelana is on the left looks strange. I would load only Vivica and Renate on the right and left sides without Radu in the middle, and clear Renate and replace her with Radu when it’s his turn to quip to Vivica. Maybe you did this already and it felt weird without all three of them already on-screen.
Music doesn’t loop in the scene where you decide whether to recruit Jaro.
There’s a character in the ending scene whom i didn’t recruit. Is she from the village that gets destroyed by the deserters? I’m not going to restart to make it to recruiting her because i doubt i would get there in time. I know i missed someone because there’s an empty deployment space on the map in ch1. I don’t expect you to make a version of each scene with conditions to exclude dead/missed characters because FE players (especially those playing fan games) are perfectionists who don’t let any units die in the first place. However, it would be pretty easy to add a check in this case so that one easy-to-miss character doesn’t pop in to say something if you didn’t recruit her.
I played the chapter again, and lmao oops it turns out the units i missed were in the village where the first boss was. I swear, my mind automatically airbrushed a castle over that village because a boss had been standing on top of it, so i forgot to visit it on my first run. You might want to make the units come out and the village scene play automatically after Tiimo (Nintenlord reference?) is defeated.
The chapter held up well for my replay. It’s very satisfying how the few units you start with still pack a punch and can one-round or even one-hit many of the enemies. I originally thought i was in for the FE7 Classic Supreme of starting the player off with too few units in a too-huge map, and ended up having a great time being proven wrong. Good job.
I don’t like Renair’s Diary-style scenes where it’s a long journal entry by a character on the parchment/tablet text box. I understand the appeal of showing us a page of the main character’s diary rather than making her nonsensically talk to herself, but the presentation could be better. The world map text box comes to mind because its letter-printing sfx sound more like writing, and you could show something interesting (or just the world map) in the middle space, but it occurs to me that the world map text box only has two lines by default so that’s not ideal. Consider making the background more interesting, then, such as a map where the player can see all their units chilling in the village/military camp/etc before the diary text box opens. If you don’t want to do that out of concern that that would result in too many chapter table entries being used by scene-only maps, see if you can at least get a scrolling background (like what you see in the sound room/options menu) to work there. My default suggestion for these diary chapter intros is to completely nix them and tell the creator “show, don’t tell”, but you clearly have something going here writing from Roxelana’s point of view (i remember “the main characters aren’t the centre of the universe” being a selling point for the original Drums of War concept). You just have to find a way to make it more interesting than the FE8 tutorial text box on a regular background. Failing that, make the text more brief, like Roxelana only has a single page to write on.
The background fading from the sepia version to a black screen to the colour version is strange. See if you can make it fade straight from the sepia palette to the colour palette. I don’t actually remember how straightforward it is to do this.
Text skip: “And here was me, thinking you would be content just to stay out of danger…” in intro scene. On a grammar note, “And here I was” might sound more natural.
Clever, putting units on top of the armourer/shop so i can’t view them from the prep screen map… Thank you for giving me the prep screen as early as chapter 1, tho.
The text in the status screen (“Subdue the rebel leader”) is cut off and needs a line break.
“Sounds like someone’s kicked the hornet’s nest…” Before this scene starts, the cursor flash lacks a camera pan beforehand.
Slim weapons being objectively superior to iron ones is fascinating. I’m curious to see how it shakes out after buying several slim swords and lances from the armourer.
Central house: “The Confederation protects its own: that means citizens, not lowly confederates like us.” I’m confused. Are confederates not people of the Confederation? Does this guy mean that the Confederation commanders don’t care for those below them, or each state/other political unit of the Confederation cares only for its own citizens and not those of other states? Maybe i just haven’t been paying enough attention, but “the Confederation doesn’t protect confederates” sounds strange.
Five or so pegasus knights advanced, but Sander killed all of them just fine on enemy phase. I suppose it makes sense that they wouldn’t expect Sander to exist as a counter to them since Sander was on their side until i recruited him, but they feel like pushovers anyway.
I don’t get what Zoltan being present on the map brings to the gameplay. There were several turns where i had to lug him around and do rescue/drop stuff, but he stopped being a factor once i took care of the enemies outside the walls (nitpick: the horizontal walls are using the wrong tiles, by the way; they should be Fence and not Wall because Wall is understood to be the inside of a castle with a ceiling so flying units can’t fly over it) and got him into a safe spot. I’m sure you made him not move at all because the AI would do things that ruin the player’s strategy. Consider adding an event at some point where he thanks you and runs to shelter (you probably want a screen fade and a DISA for this so the game can’t be crashed by his path being blocked) so you don’t have this green unit hanging around on the map doing nothing for half the chapter.
Roxelana calling out characters by name to do various things (e.g. man the towers) makes me wonder what the game would do if those characters were dead. I guess you have Lyn Mode logic for unit deaths, but i think it’s better not to call attention to characters by name for no reason in the first place.
Helje smiling when she’s begging for her life is strange.
“We’re looking for a Captain Kallaste.” I vaguely recall that this is Roxelana’s surname, but it might be good to have Roxelana answer with her full name to remind the player that surnames exist in this mod of a game series that typically doesn’t bother itself with them.
I decided to recruit Helje, but i notice her name wasn’t added to the contract at the end of the chapter. It would be a nice touch to add a condition to check whether or not the player recruited her and show a different dialogue box with the extra name if they did (same for Jaro in ch0).
I can’t help but wonder if there’s a better song to play during Roxalana’s diary than Indignation.
Roxelana questions the war, but i as the player have more or less forgotten about the bigger picture. I know we originally mustered fighters to ship off to Aulestra to fight on behalf of an overlord, but everything else is foggy. Maybe that’s the point.
I’m going back to read the prologue world map intro again to see if i can clarify things for myself by actually thinking about and describing the situation:
Rijesca was conquered by the Commonwealth and now exists as a dissatisfied backwater with a puppet government (led by the man with brown hair and green shoulder pads) set up in the capital, Haszek, by the conquerors. The puppet government is made up of Rijescans who vainly believe (or simply preach without believing themselves) that the Commonwealth will uplift Rijesca to glory and civilization again.
The propaganda speaker narrating the intro is outraged that Rijescans are expected to be in the same army as people from Rhiannon (such as the main with black hair and green eyes), their ancestral enemies.
The people of Barossia are given special privileges by the Commonwealth, including representation in the senate, which the propaganda speaker views as a corrupt and useless institution (i am inclined to believe him because Barossia is represented by a man who has the same evil facial afflication as Riev from FE8).
Aulestra (led by the woman with blond hair and red clothing) is now the only nation which opposes the Commonwealth. The Commonwealth basically embodies the principles of pre-modern inter-state anarchy, i.e. if a neighbouring state can be subjugated, it must be subjugated so to empower your own state and reduce the threat of the neighbouring state allying with a more powerful one later. The narrator takes issue with the fact that Rijescan lives are being sacrificed to accomplish the goals of its own conqueror. The narrator is nationalistic and skeptical of political institutions such as the Commonwealth senate.
The Commonwealth is more fragile than it seems, or at least the narrator insists. I believe them, since we’ve established that the Commonwealth is made up of a bunch of different conquered states (which retain their armies, hence the need for puppet governments) that used to be rivals. It makes sense for the conquered states to retain their already-existing local nobility and military structures in a world with medieval supply logistics. Maybe there’s a token Commonwealth peace-keeper here and there to look flashy, but when push comes to shove these countries will only be subjugated by the co-operation of the people already in place there.
The Commonwealth says that freedom lies in political representation, but the narrator has a different view. The only way the narrator would call Rijesca “free” would be if it were to break free and become its own country for the Rijescan people that answers to no one. Even if it were to become a despotic monarchy, the narrator would still feel freer because at least they’re being ruled by proper Rijescans now.
Here i’d forgotten that the narrator is literally a pretender to the Rijescan throne. I assume the Covenant he wishes to drive the puppets back to is the Commonwealth capital. I also assume that this world map intro is the actual writing of Wulfram himself and that the political situation, altho it was dressed up in propaganda speech, was portrayed accurately. We’ll see how well these assumptions age.
Going back to ch2 and re-reading Roxelana’s diary entry, i feel confident in saying that “Rijesca” and “the Confederation” are synonymous. In this light, i’m still unsure how to interpret the words of the man in the house in ch1. My best guess for now is: Rijesca is a confederation of noble polities. Rijescan citizenship is somewhat like Roman citizenship in that not everyone is a citizen so easily, and if you do not hold Rijescan citizenship then your social status as a person can differ from polity to polity. A confederate might be either someone from another polity or a non-citizen person. Perhaps the “lowly confederates like us” mentioned by the man in the house are specifically people from polities that are poorer or whose people are generally treated badly in most other polities because of old grudges.
Unless the Confederation is the Commonwealth, in which case disregard the entire previous paragraph.
EDIT: while proofreading this review, it occurs to me that half the stuff i said of Rijesca in the former paragraph was actually what i meant to say of the Commonwealth. Does the Commonwealth have an actual name aside from just “the Commonwealth”? I tried to make sense of the politics and still managed to get myself lost in a mire of nouns.
I wonder if Roxelana’s diary is going to be found and used as evidence to brand her a traitor later?
The square wave in the music when the enemy ships pull up gets cut off by the sound of dialogue using the same square wave voice. I know i said i wasn’t going to say anything else about music, but it’s really distracting.
The first few turns of gameplay are a bit of a slog. I fight the units at the southern end of the starting ship and then have to slowly file everyone into a blob crossing the planks. Consider shifting the starting ship to the south so the planks can be put down more in the middle of the ship and you can have more units doing more things sooner (e.g. one party goes to the south to attack the enemies already there, the other starts down the planks immediately). Granted, i recruited Helje so i had her deal with the northern group of pegasus knights and my main party didn’t have to fight them.
I perched Helje on the front non-walkable part of Etienne’s ship to cheekily draw away one or two units and the cutscene soldier frantically exclaims “we’re being pushed back!”. It’s not actually a problem; i just thought it was funny. I assume i just switched the bad guys onboard to pursuit AI a few turns early, which is neat.
Sander is really good. Mine has hit 20 speed at level 14, and all other stats except resistance are in the 10s. It’s been fun having such a powerful unit, but you may want to take a look at myrmidon bases since they’re very high in the original game if memory serves. Maybe he peters out as a swordmaster.
I’m not sure why Sappers need to be differentiated from Legionaries. I get Eubans’s Mercenaries vibes from the Ecorcheurs.
Since he didn’t have the boss icon on his sprite, I baited Etienne into a setup where i could test each of my units to see if i could recruit him. If he’s recruitable this way, i didn’t bring the right person.
Text skip “Ugh! Truly, well fought…” Etienne death quote
“Huuurk… !” You have a recurring issue in your dialogue where you have characters move while leaving their speech bubble hanging in the air. Use a [CloseSpeechSlow] or [CloseSpeechFast] (i don’t remember what are the conditions whether to use one or the other) before moving the character to properly clear the speech bubble first.
“Hard to imagine we came up against Aulestri regulars and won.” This dialogue of Roxelana’s doesn’t feel that well-deserved; the Aulestri didn’t feel any more special than the insurgents we were fighting last chapter. I would recommend going for more quality over quantity in the enemies and deleting some of them in exchange for giving others higher character base stats, but the Ecorcheurs are right there as the guys we’re supposed to fear. Why not get rid of a handful of the Aulestri, beef up the Ecorcheurs, and add a few more for good measure? It would be interesting to have them more dispersed among the enemy too so you’d have the tangibly powerful units amid the cannon fodder.
Perhaps the enemies already are powerful and i just glazed over it because all my good units were concentrated in one place rather than having to spread out in different directions. I like the basic concept of the chapter, but it feels a few map edits away from being truly interesting gameplay-wise.
The cricket chirping ambience plays for a second between the victory scene and the “decide what to do with captured enemy boss” scene.
“Hey, these those Rijescans we’re expecting?” Post-chapter blue soldier talking to man with green scarf scene, minor grammatical error. I try not to proofread too obsessively, but this seems like a word you forgot to delete. (edit: it’s actually fine; i realise now the guy’s just talking like a burly man)
It’s Senator Riev! I’m rubbed a little wrong that he’s so unsubtle right out of the gate with his evil appearance and speech; i immediately feel that the propaganda writer from the prologue was actually absolutely correct. I get that i’m supposed to hate him, and i expect there will be story payoff that i’m hating him immediately rather than in a few chapters, but i think his “sickly bad guy” appearance is a little much, even coming from Fire Emblem where “ugly” is short-hand for “evil”. I’m supposed to hate this guy because he sees Roxelana and co as sub-human, not because he’s got a puffy face.
I would separate Roxelana’s “pissant” remark into a different speech bubble from her “I’m coming, Senator” one. As is, it looks like she’s calling him a pissant in the same breath rather than in an aside. I expect the diary to be found even more since it’s been acknowledged in-universe.
“And surely, you must trust even an unknown over a creature like Micah.” Is Micah the senator? I don’t think his name has been mentioned yet.
“Not all who wander are lost” feels like an out-of-place reference. This man is telling Roxelana this to re-assure her that her comrades might return alive? Or is he calling Roxelana a wanderer?
Starting the scene where Hesterine and other player characters are shown coming back from the front, i feel like i’ve missed out on an interesting chapter in which you have to fight under Bennett (incompetent green units, oh boy!) without Roxelana (game over if all your units die, or perhaps the chapter simply ends since they seem to retreat instead of dying in-universe). It could’ve been a short chapter with a limited amount of units in which you have to move along a road with a few groups of enemies waylaying you while Bennett and requisite green soldiers are left for dead on the opposite end of the map. The triumphant player phase theme that’s been playing all game so far would abruptly change to something panicked one or two turns in. Such a frantic retreat chapter would really help the player to feel the exhaustion that the characters are currently feeling.
“What are we even doing here?” makes me feel even more confident in my belief that we needed an extra chapter here. Actually experiencing a futile battle being led by an incompetent commander would be a much better way to get the player in the mood (“the war machine is grinding us up and no one cares!”) than merely reading Roxelana complaining about the senator.
“I must retire to my quarters.” Baros moving from Left to FarFarRight doesn’t really work here. It looks goofy and feels more like he’s leaping/tackling across the screen than abruptly shuffling away. I’d just clear his portrait instead.
Perhaps Baros should be the required unit (if still alive) in the ch3-that-wasn’t? I would’ve liked to see the noble paladin getting his orders overridden over and over again by ratty incompetents.
“(CRASH)” Use a sound effect instead of a silly speech bubble from off-screen. Perhaps the sound effect of on-map walls/snags getting knocked down, since the player already associates that sound effect with things being knocked down? Might be worth your while to briefly trigger the earthquake noise for extra “oomph”, even if the visual effect doesn’t show in backgrounds.
Calista saying Roxelana is “so close to the epiphany” feels like an unnecessary tease. What does Calista expect Roxelana to do? Disavow loyalty to Rijesca, then Calista reveals the personal history she’s so closely guarded to have Roxelana join her on some other mission? I wonder if Calista herself is going to be the one to find and give away the diary to force us to betray Rijesca.
“Either us, or the Magistrate, can command them.” Since you’re going all in on clarity and telling the player in no uncertain terms who can recruit the units, mention Baros by name instead of just his title.
The deployments in the prep screen place some units on top of braces (impassable walls). I’m sure you’re already aware of this.
The description of the Luna item (“A subtle spell that cuts through wards”) is an example of the flavour text on items making things worse by fixing what isn’t broken. We went from a straightforward gameplay-relevant description (“ignore target’s resistance” if memory serves) to something about wards. I suppose calling Luna “subtle” is funny.
The layout of the map strikes me strangely. The middle part in particular seems to have what i call the “Requiem problem” in reference to a game full of maps where you had to spend several turns moving before getting to do any fighting. Maybe the gameplay will prove me wrong, but it looks like this map could be vertically shrunk by one-third to one-half and not lose anything. The outdoors area north of the castle (it’s a few rows of grass tiles) serves no purpose either.
On a more nitpicky esthetic/in-world note: it’s interesting how there are rooms in this castle that don’t connect to others at all, assuming the castle was not built intentionally to be traversed by cracked wall. In particular, the main large eastern/western rooms don’t have any sort of doors leading to the middle part. Put some staircases somewhere to at least imply there are passages below that connect the parts of the castle?
You may want to thicken the walls of the castle separating the indoors and outdoors parts. It’s a little silly that the enemy longbow archers outside immediately go for the prisoners (let’s be honest, they’re prisoners) inside.
Cool, i have the supply wagon now! I’m not sure why i didn’t from the beginning, but thanks. Maybe i’ve had it since last chapter? I just remember not being able to send items from the shop in ch1 will a full inventory.
Please put the amount of turns that you need to hold out in the Status screen (it just says “Protect the Senator and hold out” right now). I had no idea how many turns i needed to defend until i thought to turn back on the “objective” GUI box (which i always turn off because it’s useless screen clutter most of the time).
The player phase music is such a bop, the enemy phase feels like a letdown. Wasn’t this used as scene music before?
I thought destroying the tents would get rid of the reinforcements in that particular direction, so i tried to push and ended up destroying the western one. I have no idea if it had any effect, but the reinforcements keep coming from that direction so i figure no, it was really just for the red gem.
I now understand the existence of Sappers as a faction; nice payoff there. I still question if it’s strictly necessary to differentiate Sapper from Aulestri, but i get it.
“A war criminal’s poisoned weapon.” Does the concept of a war crime exist in-universe? And more importantly, do i have any means of curing the poison? I suppose the concept is not to let yourself get hit by it in the first place. If i recall correctly, it’s just the one unit that has a poison weapon, so it doesn’t really introduce any new wrinkles to the gameplay in a chapter that already has enough going on.
This chapter has that problem where the camera wildly pans everywhere to load the reinforcements at the different edges of the map. That is a consequence of game mechanics to some extent, but you can and should mitigate it by smartly manipulating the camera and unit blocks (manually pan the camera west, load the western unit blocks, pan the camera south, load the southern unit blocks, etc). There’s still going to be a lot of camera panning, but the current state of affairs is absolutely ridiculous-looking with the camera going east to load some of the eastern units, then south to load southern units, then back east to load more eastern units, etc.
There’s something funny about Nei (the boss who gave me the most trouble, by far) not having a death quote. Did it get turned off by flag 0x1 because i defeated Ramond first?
I was excited to use the Luna tome, but Vivica doesn’t have the weapon rank to use it. This may just be that i haven’t used her much, but i also wonder if using her would’ve been enough to bring her up from D anyway. Consider increasing the amount of wexp granted by Flux; unless you’ve added more tomes, dark magic is pretty straightforward progression lacking lots of options like physical weapons.
I promoted Sander to swordmaster at level 19. He capped skill and speed already, so i’m not missing out on much.
Spending ages watching enemies move across the map is a drag. This map really wants to be smaller, both for ease of movement between the sections (which is expected of the player to do; i don’t think i would’ve survived if i’d kept my parties separate) and to reduce this effect. Especially during the latter turns, cease loading reinforcements from the edges of the map and add more places within the castle for them to load in as sappers so they don’t have to make that boring trek. Stop loading reinforcements at all for at least the penultimate turn because there’s no way they’re going to reach the player anyway.
This chapter was an exercise in murmuring “PLEASE stop STOP killing shit PLEASE”. I felt there was whiplash between the chapter wanting me to hold choke points or fall back to lure the enemy into my units’ formation. I also feel that this could be solved by going for quality over quantity with the enemies. Why not load three strong units each turn rather than ten weak ones? This would make it happen less often that i choke a point only for the point-choker to kill five enemies with counterattacks and then get defeated by the sixth. I also get the feeling i should have retreated all the way back to the throne room rather than the central area where i ended up having my units meet after recruiting the allies and getting the treasure (more on that next bullet point). Have powerful units outdoors so the player is discouraged from going on the offensive and trying to “solve” the map by going where the reinforcements load in in the first place. You should not be hitting the enemy unit cap of 50 this easily.
I get the appeal of putting treasure chests on the map to make it interesting to use the thief or chest keys. However, as it is, the chests are basically fused with the recruitables as points of interest: Laszlo/master seal and Kestut/master seal. I think it would be smarter for Laszlo/Kestut to say “oh by the way, i found this” when recruited and the game gives you the master seal automatically. It would be a nice gesture to streamline things for the player when they don’t necessarily know yet that they’re going to be time-crunched by a flood of reinforcements. If you don’t want to do that, put the chests in a more interesting place that doesn’t amount to sending two units to recruit the allies instead of just one.
Add a condition to check if Auberdin is still alive and make her give the order to retreat at chapter end instead of showing us generic mook portraits. Tho i don’t see why they would retreat just because of nightfall. Usually that stipulates that the battle is going on outside and the enemy has the advantage of hiding in the terrain in darkness, but the Aulestri have already committed to a meat-grinder assault within the castle. I think it would only be the arrival of another army (or fear thereof— “out of an abundance of caution” i guess) that would make them retreat.
Roxelana’s maniacal laughter feels silly with all the text pauses amid her laughs because it causes her mouth to remain mostly closed (i’m using fast text speed). A different portrait for it would really sell the effect too. I’m not saying to commission someone to design FE7 Eliwood-style portraits; a few pixels to make the eyes look sunken in and the mouth more crazy go a long way. Might help to disable blinking for her until she tells Calista she’s alright, too.
“But first, I…” Using a text skip to cut off character dialogue isn’t effective; it just makes it so i have to rewind my emulator to see what was said. Personally, i like to edit the font to change the underscore (_) character to an em dash (—) to represent characters being cut off, but the hypen and ellipsis work just as well too.
With how much importance is placed on Chasimir, i feel that he missed an extra scene giving him characterization before this chapter. I put it together that he was enigmatic and not just another soldier/commander/etc of Rijesca, but there should be a little something extra telegraphing this. “What’s a bishop doing here?” The player will handwave it as being an excuse to give the player a courtesy pre-promote Physic user for the huge chapter map, but in the post-chapter scene it’s revealed that The Church sympathizes with the Rijescan rebels. As it is now, it’s sort of a response that’s missing a call, you know?
You might just want to go with “Reach ship” for the objective text instead of “Reach Bertha”. It’s funny that Bertha is the ship, but it’s not worth the joke when there’s a good chance the player has forgotten it entirely and is wondering who Bertha is.
Soldier vs Guardsmen among the Rijescan enemies feels like a useless distinction. The Soldiers strike me as being the elites since their descriptions call them citizens, but it feels irreconciliable with my mental assumptions from the original FE8 where the enemies called Soldier were cannon fodder. If you have to make the distinction between foot soldiers and elites, i recommend calling the elites Guardsmen instead, but i think promoted vs unpromoted class already speaks enough without having to have unique names/descriptions for them.
The lake in the middle of this map is made of River tiles. Use proper Lake tiles.
I had enough vision to see a bunch of monsters suddenly load in on turn 2. Why not just start them on the map to begin with?
Saszkia feels too little, too late, but honestly i’m not sure where she would fit in in the first place. I mostly used her to ferry Micah around. If i hadn’t recruited Helje, Saszkia definitely would’ve been a sight for sore eyes tho. Might be i was just afraid to use her in a fog chapter where longbowmen could come running out of the fog.
“Sound the horns, men! Let’s slaughter them!” I thought i had nothing out of the ordinary to fear because Auberdin already attacked me with her long-range tome and said her battle quote, so i figured it was okay to commit to fighting her already, but the game rudely loads a bunch of units when i step into a certain area. I get that i was already told not to pick the fight in-universe, but her units were already attacking mine and here i am feeling out the forbidden rectangular area that i can’t step on lest the game hit the “wrong! you lose!” button. It doesn’t feel good. At least load the units as reinforcements on the following turn so they’re not a Ragefest-style “gotcha” ambush spawn. It also feels a little insulting that Auberdin chides me for picking a fight with her while she attacks me with a 10-range tome. Like no, girl, i’m miles away; it’s you who’s picking the fight.
I actually moved Sander all the way across the no-no zone to ORKO Auberdin no problem. Of course, she calls in the soldiers after dying anyway.
The wights look threatening enough that i don’t want to engage with them at all. I elect to take the path above the woods instead.
Ramond has no death quote.
Pour one out for the Hanger, which finally broke on this chapter. Thanks for giving me a main character who’s fun to use and starts with a great weapon! Roxelana also hit level 20 this chapter.
I hear glopping sounds coming from the southwest, meaning i’m going to have to deal with more undead. Isn’t there an army of them to start with? This chapter doesn’t really let up with the enemies the way i thought it would after last chapter’s Dynasty Warriors-ian affair.
The necromancer and her army are near enough to the enemy Rijescans that it’s strange they aren’t also fighting each other. I don’t know the current state of three-way battle hacks, but it might be worthwhile to investigate applying that effect for this chapter (and temporarily changing the NPC faction to use the red palette instead of the green one). You’d just have to do something about Micah, who’s dead weight and could easily be excluded as a unit anyway.
Speaking of the necromancer, i finally have vision of her and it’s strange that she’s apparently just a wanderer who’s passing through. It follows that a necromancer would hang around warring armies so they could necromance all of the fallen soldiers, but she received absolutely no introduction in the chapter intro scenes. I would expect her to be surrounded by just a few undead and raise more as you engage with her (similar to what was intended for Auberdin and the soldiers) rather than the gigantic host you end up actually fighting. My objective says to lift the fog before getting to the ship, so i assume i have to fight and defeat her.
The master seal’s description in the items menu is cut off.
It was smart to make the undead units give less exp. It really does give me the feeling that i shouldn’t be concerned with fighting all of them and should instead go straight for their leader.
I activate another rectangle of doom when i move too close to the necromancer (well, at least i thought at first, but this one doesn’t seem to instantly load units like Auberdin’s did). It’s funny how Roxelana remarks about fighting the dead now when i’ve been fighting them for several turns. Meanwhile, a Rijescan soldier shouts to summon reinforcements when i’ve already killed them all. I feel i’m not playing the way the chapter expects me to. I took the path immediately west, north of the woods, and only started moving south towards the necromancer when i remembered the full objective and figured i had to kill her.
I promoted Hesterine and Helje this chapter. Seraph Knight’s class name is cut off in the promotion screen.
It’s funny how you can kill Bertha since it’s technically an enemy unit. I mean, it makes sense in-world because the ship was in service of Rijesca and makes sense in-game because you don’t want the enemies attacking the ship (or do you? “that ship is moving in to aid the traitors! destroy it!”), but still funny. I assume i make the chapter unwinnable by killing it, but the game doesn’t acknowledge this at all and happily lets me keep playing (i used emulator states to see what would happen if i killed the ship, because who hasn’t tried killing Fargus in FE7).
I didn’t expect to be able to recruit the necromancer! That is fascinating. I wasn’t going to, but i recruited her because i haven’t been using Vivica and a dark magic user who can use more than Flux might come in handy.
I don’t think you should have the portraits bouncing around in the scene where Roxelana and sword lady fight each other; the screen fades and sfx are enough. Making the portraits bounce around makes it feel rather comedic.
The music after Roxelana is defeated doesn’t loop. I understand you have little control over the music, but even if you intended for it to do that you should have some ambient noise playing after the song proper is done so there isn’t dead silence.
So… what? Roxelana got into a fight with sword lady (her name isn’t sticking because i didn’t fight her in-game) because she was the last one to board the ship, was defeated, thrown into the water, and dragged out of the water onto the ship but sword lady decided to let them go? I’m fine with sword lady letting us go because of honour and/or technicalities, but there should be a better reason for these two to get in a fight than “Roxelana happened to board last”. Perhaps Micah gets cold feet at the last moment, decides not to go (“they won’t kill me; i’m a senator”), Roxelana has to go back with someone else to drag him aboard the ship, then she sends the other person and Micah back to the ship while staying to fight sword lady? It already almost happened this way.
END OF ACT I
It’s interesting that Roxelana has been disarmed by her items being put into the supply cart, but i can still access the supply cart itself. See if there’s a hack you can use to deny supply access by chapter number.
“I have to find…” Text skip. Again, it’s not good for representing characters cutting themselves off; no matter how long the […] afterward, it still feels sudden.
Defiance should say that it nullfies crits in its description. I shouldn’t have to go into the “use items” menu to see what a passive, unuseable item does.
I assume 17-year-old Roxelana getting recruited will get a new portrait eventually, but since they’re silhouettes you pretty easily could’ve made a smaller version of the regular Roxelana portrait with a less spiky silhouette. I suppose the point is that it’s supposed to be recogniseable as Roxelana, but she already introduces herself in full and it might be a better effect to see a small-looking portrait introduce herself (“wow, this is the kid that grows up to be the badass captain”).
“Got an Ardour.” I know it’s a weird thing adding exceptions for articles with item names, but these dream-items really want to be just e.g. “Got Ardour.”. I assume the dream-items aren’t final and might differ in the next version.
Thank you for making! I thoroughly enjoyed your game and it gave me that “man, i gotta get back to it and make something too!” feeling. I look forward to seeing where it goes (i’m curious to eventually meet the propagandist from the prologue intro), but even if this were all there was, the five-chapter demo we have could easily be its own small game. I understand you’re going for a shorter game length in general, but i expect to see lower enemy counts next version. You can reduce the amount of bonus experience given for killing enemies to make the player’s units level a little more slowly so they’re not ramming 20 by chapter 4, but the real x-factor is all those enemies the player ends up plowing through, especially in ch3. It’s fine having a few chapters at the end that feel more puzzle-y because most units are at max level already and the player’s got to work with what they’ve got, but at this rate that’s shaping up to be an entire third of the game, assuming there are three acts. It’s a nice gesture to set up infrastructure to let players continue with their old saves, but i think it’s in your interest to streamline and re-balance things a bit. These are five chapters i wouldn’t mind playing again! (assuming in the next major version ch2 is made a bit more interesting, ch3 is less of a slog, and ch4 gets its layout and pacing improved and otherwise works a little more seamlessly)
I’m interested in helping out with music. I’ve already told you on the Discord server that i have some ideas on unifying all the songs into having the same esthetic while still sounding good, so i’ll let you know if anything immediately comes of that.