Meowskivich’s Ar-Puh-Guh is a game that I really didn’t know what to expect going into it. Having never played it before, all I could go off was the screenshots and reviews I had seen before. Neither form of media really seemed to praise the game, unfortunately, but I always do my best to formulate my own opinions on games that may even be unpopular with most people. In the case of Ar-Puh-Guh, I was pleasantly surprised at many aspects of the game while feeling a bit let down by others.
Ar-Puh-Guh uses a class-based hero system, and allows you to pick one of them in the beginning. I initially picked the Berserker, but then decided to go with the Warrior shortly after that (more on that later). After class selection, you are pushed into a tutorial map, so to speak, that gives you a general idea of how the game works. I thought the pacing and the explanation of the different elements present were well done.
I do wish that there was a little better explanation on the different types of equipment and items though, because you will often find yourself buying stuff just to see what it does (and many times it not being worth the money). Ar-Puh-Guh features a plethora of different items and equipment, so the issue with not knowing what some things do can be a tad annoying. The author did include an item list with the game, but it doesn’t begin to list everything currently available to you.
You get the gist of the story during the tutorial dungeon, though it seems to be put on a halt after you leave that area. It seems that there is more open ended-ness to the game at this point rather than a specific objective to tackle. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it felt a bit incomplete in its current form. In some ways it feels like your main goal will be to tackle dungeons, defeat its boss and gather loot. The tutorial dungeon gives you somewhat of a different idea of how things are going to go though. Either way, it seems too early to tell exactly which way the story will go. It leaves a little bit to be desired in its current form, though.
The combat is somewhat of a mixed bag. I liked the idea of the resting system, which basically forces you to “rest” in combat in order to continue using abilities. Almost every ability costs EP or SP, and the only way to recover EP is by an inn, consumables, or by using the rest command during a fight. While the system itself isn’t necessarily groundbreaking, it is definitely a nice change of pace from traditional button-spam JRPGs. I do think that there are improvements to be made to this system though. I believe that the author upped the speed of battles slightly already, but I think that it still needs a bit more oomph to be acceptable. The average speed of heroes seem to hover around 12 or 13, unless they use heavy weapons and armor, which can drop it down to 7 or less. In theory, the tradeoff of heavy defense at the cost of speed is a sound idea, but all it really does is drag out fights longer than they should really go.
I only tried four of the nine classes available in the game, but many of them seem underpowered and/or broken. The most questionable class by far is the Berserker. The author claims that it is for advanced users only, but I’m not sure that I’d put it that way. It plays much like the Zerker class you find in many Final Fantasy titles, but has one glaring problem. His abilities use SP rather than EP, and you do not gain SP from resting (even though the Berserker has the “rest” command, which seems pointless if none of his abilities (thus far) benefit from it). In other words, it’s near impossible to start as this class because you have to go back to an inn after every battle or two to get your SP back. I don’t find anything “advanced” in this style of gameplay. Instead, I find it pretty annoying to have to do that just to play the class properly. Perhaps the Berserker gets more oomph later on in the game, but currently he is pretty terrible. At the very least, I would suggest that the author tweak the “rest” command to allot for SP-based abilities (if that’s even possible).
The healer class is pretty bad too. Even if you have the best INT-enhacing gear, his healing ability is less than stellar. With consumables generally being cheap, it leaves no real point to have the healer class when his healing is worse or barely on par with a freaking $1 apple you can eat. I would suggest buffing his healing abilities, and maybe including a heal-all spell at some point too.
On the opposite side of the spectrum, the Warrior destroys everything. His Whirlwind ability can wreck most things in one hit. With his ability to wear heavy weapons and armor, he’s impervious to most damage (at the cost of reduced speed, of course). I imagine that a group of Warriors could probably steamroll anything in the game with ease. I like the idea of choice with how you build your team, but each offering should stand out from others. I wouldn’t recommend offering a multitude of class options just for the sake of it. All of them need to work properly for it to be a viable feature.
Ar-Puh-Guh, so far, seems like a very lighthearted game, with dry humor that reminds me a bit of Earthbound. I don’t feel like the author tries hard to be funny, he is just being himself. I tend to respond to this sort of humor, so I really enjoyed it. The graphics also add to the Earthbound-ish feel. The author has designed some really strange inhabitants of this world, and all of them have a unique feel to them. While the graphics themselves are nothing amazing, the distinction of the author’s style is prevalent throughout the game. I also enjoyed the music and found it very fitting to the feel of Ar-Puh-Guh’s world.
There were a few bugs present in the current form of the game. For example, I don’t believe that the bestiary worked properly. Even though you could “learn” entries, I could never find a way to pull the bestiary up itself. There was also one bounty or hunt that I could not turn in for reward. With the game being in “beta” stages I guess that is okay, though labeling a game as “in a certain stage” doesn’t make up for neglect either.
After playing most games, I usually have no problem reflecting on my overall feel for it. In the case of Ar-Puh-Guh, I’m a bit torn on how to “grade” it, so to speak. There are many things I really enjoyed, but a handful of things that left a little to be desired. I think with proper care, this could become a pretty cool OHRRPGCE title. It is definitely my favorite game from Meowskivich thus far, and am looking forward to what he comes up with it in the future. I just hope that some things I’ve mentioned are implemented before the next release.