Title: Fire God Saga
Program: RPGMaker 2K
Fire God Saga is a game set in a world that doesn't seem to know what it wants to be. As a result, you can't really lump it into any particular genre because there will be something in the game that contradicts whatever it is you want to call it. The game basically has a little bit of everything you could possibly get away with sticking in an RPG, which can be a bit disorientating if I'm being honest. Overall, intentionally or not, the main bulk of this game focuses around goofy comedy and overblown situations that, as far as I'm concerned, makes this a less-than-serious project.
What originally drew me to this game were the maps I saw in the screenshots section. Such zealous use of panoramas and overlays isn't something you see that often in RPGMaker games because the result is usually kinda tacky but it looked like this game wasn't doing a bad job of pulling it off. In practice, though, the results are fairly hit and miss dependent on the panorama that's used; some of the panoramas fit really well with what's in the foreground but the majority of them don't fit the perspective that the rest of the map uses, making the whole map look really skewed. The same can be said for most of the backgrounds used on the battle-screens as well; a lot of the backgrounds used in this game simply don't match the graphics used throughout the rest of the game and it makes things look incredibly weird.
Sometimes it works, like in this screenshot. Most of the time, though, it doesn't.
Just as the graphics are a bit hit and miss, so are the sound effect choices made in this game. The game mixes sound effects from the RPGMaker run-time package with sound effects that sound like they came from Duke Nukem with sound effects that are generic Windows sound effects etc. Everything is incredibly mismatched and, as with the graphical choices made, it results in a fairly disorientating experience. Sometimes it can be amusing to hear a sound effect that clearly shouldn't be there, but most of the time it's just annoying. I get the feeling that making people laugh was the aim of using silly sound effects now and again but... it just doesn't work often enough to make it worth while. It's more annoying than anything else.
So, what about the gameplay? Well, it's just like the graphics and the music; hit and miss. The most obvious example of this are the battles, which are haphazardly balanced to say the least. Most of the battles are fine and you'll have only minor problems getting past them, but you can sometimes encounter enemies that will wipe the floor with you if you happen to have a little bit of bad luck. For instance, there are some enemies that, if they happen to use their spells twice in a row, are probably going to take your whole party out. Obviously, this isn't actually supposed to happen and I suspect I just suffered some bad luck over the course of my playthrough, but that doesn't mean it is any less annoying. It's annoying because, as a player, there's nothing you can do except resign yourself to reloading the game. Luckily, I'd just saved the game each time this happened so I didn't lose too much time, but I might've stopped playing if I'd lost a significant amount of my playthrough due to something like this. Something for the developer to avoid in the future, me thinks.
"So here I lie, in the belly of a shark!"
(Also an example of the strange graphics: why is a shark swimming in a shallow pond in a forest and why is that shark represented by a small fish on the area map!?)
The other problem with the battles, aside from the haphazard balancing, is that there isn't much to do apart from attack. You get a handful of skills, but most of them are just stat-boosting/degrading skills that you're only likely to use when you come up against stronger enemies, meaning they're useless in 90% of the battles you encounter. Fortunately, the battles are generally very short and they aren't random so they don't get a chance to become annoying, but they certainly aren't entertaining. A lot more work could've been put into them. The same is true of the area-map gameplay; there just isn't enough to do. Most of the maps are just straight lines from A-B without any puzzles to keep you entertained. The game doesn't even resort to mazes to keep you entertained, although I've never really been a fan of pointless mazes so that's probably a good thing to be honest.
As for the storyline, it's all over the place. I was never really sure what was supposed to be going on as the game seems to drop one storyline and introduce another without really tying anything from the original storyline up. The game starts with the main character being hunted by a church and, although that comes back in every now and again, you spend a lot of the game doing odd-jobs for other people that don't really tie together into anything major. Now, I'm not going to lie, I didn't finish this game; the mediocre gameplay eventually got to me and I just couldn't go on. Because of this, if the game happens to have an overarching storyline towards the end then I wouldn't have seen it. However, there was nothing in the portion of the game that I played that suggested this would be the case; it just seemed like random quest followed by random quest over and over. Maybe if the gameplay was better I would've continued, but that wasn't the case.
This game is very hit and miss, but the emphasis lies very much on the miss side of things. The gameplay is dull and uninspired, the dialogue tries too hard to be random (although it can elicit giggles at times) and the graphical aspects are all over the place. 3/10.