Chain of Retribution Review
Chain of RetributionDevelopers:
Oceans Dream, Dajhail, GreatOldOne, Jihaus, K-hos, Marimo, Skie Game Engine:
RPG Maker 2k3Reviewer:
rewellsApproximate Completion Time:
6-10 hoursTopic URL:http://www.rpgrevolution.com/forums/index....mp;#entry558996Download Link
: 7.9MBGeneral CommentsChain of Retribution
. Sounds like a blast, right? I envisioned an epic about revenge, going around kicking the crap out of villains who have wronged the main character God of War-style. Well, it's not really about that; the title comes from the fact that this is a chaingame. I had no idea what a chaingame is, but apparently it's like one of those stories where one person writes a paragraph, gives it to some one else, they add to it, they give it to someone else who adds to it...etc. The approach this team took was to allow anyone to alter anyone's part of the game, and it's surprisingly cohesive. Actually, I'd say it's the best written RM game I have played. And on top of that, it's pretty fun to play. Utilizing art from the great RPGs of the 90's, this is sure to please anyone who either missed or misses SNES era games. It has a very classic feel from the opening shot and it made me want to break out Brain Lord (mad props to anyone who knows Brain Lord).Pros:
-Excellent characters. Each character has a unique personality with virtues and flaws and an interesting backstory.
-Good plot pacing. The story is revealed little by little as the game progresses and it kept me wanting to know more.
-Excellent choice of borrowed graphics and music from SNES classics like FF6 and Bahamut's Lagoon
-Neat ability system. Each character has a unique skill set that can be accessed and modified by equipable items.
-Cool optional cut-scenes. In town pubs, if you talk to the bartender your party is transported to another room and you have the option of having conversations with your party members about various plot points. And even better, I actually wanted to do this because the writing is so good.
-Very well designed towns.Cons:
-The game is very linear. While the dungeons are worth exploring throughly, there is no backtracking, no traversing the globe in a ship or airship and no side-quests (other than a super boss) that I found.
-The game is long for an RM game (6-10 hours), but it could have easily been longer given the nature of the plot.
-The battle system, while overall quite good, does get a little repetitive at times, especially near the end.
-The world map is very small. So small that it really doesn't even need to be there. There are no enemy encounters and you simply walk short distances from one town/dungeon to the other.
-The tilesets are great, but some of the dungeon maps get a little repetitive, especially the open field near the beginning where you first fight Octavia.Story
The game doesn't begin with an epic explanation of everything that's happening in the world, like so many RM games do. We get an opening scene with a dark, sinister-looking figure sitting on a throne, then a scene in which a knight receives a letter drawing him on an undisclosed mission, then the story goes back a week later and the game begins. So we have some clues as to where the plot is going to go, but the whole thing isn't spelled out, which gave me an incentive to keep playing.
The main character is Siegmund, a lighthearted kid who is a mercenary with his brother, Reinhardt. The brothers accept a job to escort a magician named Rise to the capital city. Unfortunately, everyone is trying to kill Rise. Even worse, the campaign to kill her is led by her own sister, Fiell. Of course, we find out that Rise is part of a political resistance movement against the current Emperor, and Seigmund gets sucked into the political squabbling, which escalates to a world-threatening event.
It's all pretty standard stuff, but what makes this game unique is the characters. The dialogue between Seigmund, Reinhardt and Rise is funny and flows naturally. They soon meet the goofy twins Freya and Frei, who start out as enemies but quickly ask to join forces after your team defeats them because they are afraid of what Fiell will do with them for failing. The other characters you meet have their own cool back stories that add to the overall plot. From the beginning, you hear of the legendary knight Domitian. Little references are dropped throughout the game, which got me really excited about meeting him, and the pay-off ends up being pretty good. If you explore towns early in the game, you'll meet mysterious ninjas (or nynjas, because, like hippie parents who name their kids Ashleigh, RPG designers like to spell things weird), which builds anticipation for reaching the nynja village later in the game.
What I really liked are the bar sequences, where you can choose to engage in banter with your teammates. This way, if you're into the story you can get more character development, or if you're just trying to breeze through the game you don't have to sit through long cutscenes. I actually did sit through every conversation because they are interesting and well written. Presentation
The game is very pretty. There is some custom art, but most graphics and music are taken from Bahamut's Lagoon, Final Fantasy 6 and Romancing Saga 3. Bahamut's Lagoon is a very cool SNES title worth checking out if you haven't played it (it's only been officially released in Japan, but there are English translations floating around) and it's obscure enough that most people haven't seen its art used 1,000 times before (says the person who designed a game using entirely FF5 art...). Having drawn from multiple games, everything meshes very well and it doesn't look like the hodgepodge that it actually is. One very simple technique the game uses that improves the visuals a lot is the use of lens flares in some outside scenes. This gave the game a cinematic feel and adds more distinction between indoor and outdoor maps.Gameplay
It's the usual town > dungeon > town > dungeon fare, which is totally ok with me. Encounters are not random, and there is a neat system where an encounter gauge fills up as you defeat enemies, and once the gauge is full you can open locked treasure chests, so there's an incentive to slay as many enemies as possible (besides leveling up).
Battle is side-view, and each character has unique battle animations, so it actually looks like they are fighting instead of just flashing at each other. HP is restored at the end of battle, and MP rejuvenates overtime (more on this in a sec), so it's impossible to get "stuck" in dungeons and each battle presents the threat of death.
The game's skill system works as follows: each character has equipment slots for an Ability Gem and an Elemental Gem. The level of the Ability Gem determines the number of skills the character has, and the Elemental Gem sets what kind of element the skills take (a quick note - after equipping new gems, you must exit the menu then reopen it to view your new skills - that's just how RM is). Most enemies have elemental strengths and weaknesses, and some elements even heal enemies, so you have to really pay attention to which elements to use. Each character has his or her own skill set, although there is some overlap, and most of the elemental attacks are essentially the same (Fire Smash, Fire Orb and Fire Strike are all pretty much the same attack, but at least the animations are different). The end result is that every character has his or her strengths; however, there is little difference between healer characters like Frei and Rise.
However, to give the characters a little more individuality, each is one of three classes: Striker, Balance or Passive. Strikers regain a lot of MP when they attack, Balances gain a little bit of MP for every move they make, and Passives regain a lot of MP by defending. While Frei and Rise have similar skill sets, Frei is a Balance while Rise is a Passive, so I like Frei better since she can regain MP from attacking. The battles do get repetitive at points, and the game could have benefited from introducing another mechanic or two later in the game to make it more interesting (limit breaks, maybe?), but it's very decent as far as RM games go. My favorite part of the game is when you have to split your party into two teams and switch between them to navigate a dungeon full of switches like the last dungeon if FF6. It's not very elaborate and I wish there more dungeons like it, but I'm glad it's there.
Another cool thing is that equipment changes multiple parameters, so a heavy sword may grant stronger attack power but lower a character's speed or defense. Elemental gems also grant different status bonuses, giving more incentive to play around with them.
The towns are remarkable. All NCPs are interesting to talk to and there's plenty of incentive to explore. Here is a list of things you can do in the game's second town: shop at the regular stores or a super expensive store that sales rare items, view optional cutscenes in the pub, find the Nynja NCP to unlock more cutscenes in the pub, track down frogs (which has no immediate benefit, but you eventually get rare items from this), find treasure chests, and talk to the wandering knight. The wandering knight travels throughout the world asks things like "Are we in the town of ____?" I thought this was cool, because how often do you just go town to town in an RPG and not pay attention to the town's name? Oh, that's just me? Oh well, it should have helped me pay attention, although I didn't really and just went with my gut each time I talked to him and he thanked me and gave me an item, so I don't know if I just got lucky every time and got the right answer or if he gives different items based on whether you're correct or not.
A couple of very nit-picky things: There is no in-game time counter, which I missed because I like to know how much time I've wasted *cough* I mean spent playing video games. Also, you can save anywhere, but there are no save points. This just gripes me - save points are supposed to let you know when a big battle is coming and help pace the gameplay. And sometimes I just get in the zone and forget to save, which really sucks when I unexpectedly get to a strong boss that kills me and sets me back an hour. There are also the usual RM bugs, like NCP's walking on doorways, but nothing bad enough to merit complaint.Summarized VersionChain of Retribution
captures the magic of the SNES era in a way that no other RM game I have played has. Had I never played Bahamut's Lagoon, someone could have told me this was an original work for a 16 bit system and I would have believed them. This is a must-play for budding game designers and anyone who misses the RPG golden age.