In the past few weeks I’ve played my fair share of RPGs, so much so that they seem to be my main genre at the moment. I’m still playing through Xenoblade Chronicles 2, still battling the many multiverse forces in Super Robot Wars V in anticipation of Super Robot Wars X’s English version release in a week or so and recently I finished building a Facebook kingdom and battling ancient evil in Ni No Kuni 2.
But for today and in the spirit of trying something new in terms of review formats, I bring you my reviews of two recently released RPGs. The first, Super Daryl Deluxe, is a Metroidvania-style RPG, with an interesting comic book style look, mostly black & white but with colour used to highlight important stuff, that seems heavily inspired by Napoleon Dynamite. The second, Azure Saga: Pathfinder, is more of a traditional RPG with square interconnected tiles serving as dungeons and random encounters.
To make things better for you, to help you get the relevant information you need I’ve decided to break up the reviews in easy to consume bullet points for each of the games. Will I continue with this style moving forward? I don’t know, but it’s worth a shot as an experiment! One thing I do know is that scores are out the window.
Super Daryl Deluxe
Release Date: April 2018
- Great look: Comic book style that is mostly black & white but with clever uses for colours, sometimes to highlight and or to make environments feel unique.
- Surreal: The school’s campus has entire world and pocket planes within its walls. Paintings lead to bizarre worlds, ducts take you to dungeons filled with giant rats and bats, The Grim Reaper is somewhere out there near a bed of flowers, and the first boss is a character so angry he turns into Donkey Kong. The world, the plot, the backstory and the characters are INSANE.
- Destructive Variety: There are dozens of combat and utility powers, all of them with witty names.
- Big Tough Game: This is a long game and tough as nails, at least it was for me. But it’s engaging throughout.
- It’s all in the Rhythm: Attacks have cooldowns. You can’t spam the same attack so you need to create skill rotations (MMO players will have the easiest time here).
- No Backup: Manual saves only, so if you forget to do it and die, prepare to redo it all over and over. Happened to me too many times. A simple autosave at the start of the last room you visited would’ve gone a long way, especially since it uses SAVE POINTS.
- Bunch of *****: There’s a very large cast but most are completely unlikeable, and Daryl himself is no sweetheart, a physical representation of every creepy nerd stereotype ever conceived.
- Rubber Bat: There are dozens of skills, true, but there are too many completely useless or difficult to chain with other attacks.
Azure Saga: Pathfinder
Release Date: March 2018
- Genre Mixup: Azure Saga’s premise is a lovely bit of Sci-Fantasy, starting with a heavy space opera theme and then switching to a medieval fantasy setting that has you wondering just what’s going on and if the powers are really magic or high tech.
- Solid Teamwork: Pick the right skills for the characters and they’ll create a new one called a Unity skill, which deals more damage than the sum of its parts even if the animation is the same.
- Some great art: The art style for character portraits is great, beautiful in fact and very detailed. The art style for the map sprites is also wonderful, tending towards cute, as they’re the classic super-deformed style.
- Bunch of ****: Seriously what is it with creating games where every single character deserves a beatdown for being completely insufferable upon first meeting them? Protagonist, unlikeable, Priestess, unlikeable, General, unlikeable. Hell, the only one you can kinda like is the doormat android. Also, too many stereotypes and clearly evil characters. Nuance, people, NUANCE PLEASE!!
- Wooden Figurines: The combat sprites are abominable. Not only do they look completely different from the other two character-art styles but they’re incredibly wooden and feel like bad 90s Flash animations.
- Skill Amnesia: Use skills in a certain combination for the first time and you create a Unity Skill, use them again in the same combination and it doesn’t automatically trigger the Unity skill, instead going through the individual skills.
- Dull Baddies: Bosses are identical, down to the sprite, so a good amount of the fights is essentially against the same boss with increasing difficulty. It’s mechanically and visually boring. At least palette swap them next time, make them feel distinct!
- Random Battles: Title says it all. I thought we’d had all moved away from random encounters and the frustration they bring? Apparently not.
- No Backup: A tile-specific autosave would’ve been a great idea here.