Once in a while someone will come out with a game that is different than the norm. The horror genre of the OHRRPGCE is pretty much nonexistant spare a few titles. I gather that this is because it is one of the more difficult categories to develop on the engine given its limitations. However, I think that OOIA’s Bloodlust has the potential to be one of few games that actually has the ability to be successful in the horror genre. You will likely never jump or shout in fear, but because of the game’s great atmosphere and superb storytelling, you will always be wondering what is going to happen next.
You start the game as Reed, a young man who has just woken up in his room, alone. You walk into your living room to view what looks to be hell on earth. There is blood all over the place, your sister has been mutilated, and your parents are missing. After coming face to face with a hellish demon in your home, and overcoming the initial shock of it all, you decide it is best to travel out and see what is going on elsewhere. Are you dreaming? If not, why is this happening? Are there any survivors? Are your friends and parents still alive? Only with bravery will you find out.
I have taken the liberty of reading the review of version 0.4 written by Surlaw, and would like to address a few things that have been adjusted since then. It was suggested that the rural area where Reed lived was large and a pain to traverse. This has been remedied with a script that automatically makes Reed “run” through a large portion of these areas. Looking at the screenshots in the review, it seems that some of the graphics have been updated as well. Cutscenes have been rendered a bit more realistic rather than their original anime look, which fits the mood of the game better. Also, areas have had some things added to them to break the monotony (such as cracks in walls and pavement, support beams inside buildings, etc). For instance the huge, open area in the school has been revamped and looks much better.
The plot delivery is solid. The game tells the majority of its story with the help of a large amount of hand-drawn backdrops. A lot of games use this approach, but I have never seen so many different ones in a single game before. There is no doubt that this helped add to the dark mood of the game. Along the way, you will find several “diary pages” that will fill you in on some of the character’s back stories.
Even though you will face enemies in a traditional RPG manner, most of the core progression is done by solving puzzles or finding items. I found it a relief to actually have to think about some of the puzzles in order to solve them instead of them being simple.
The map graphics are very dark and dreary, which helps add to the game’s unsettling atmosphere. Enemy sprites, inside battle and out, look fantastic. Hero graphics are less exciting than the rest, but are still alright. The only real complaint I had about the graphics were the battle backdrops. They looked nice, but I just did not like the flashy, animated style at all. I would have personally preferred dark, still backdrops. The music selection is not only original, but also top notch. Artimus Bena did a wonderful job of creating some creepy music to go along with the game. This is also one of few games that has the ability to use realistic sound effect, and does so flawlessly.
There are three difficulties you can choose from: Easy, normal, and hard. A choice of difficulty is a refreshing idea, as most will want to begin on easy to see exactly how the game works. I ran through hard on my last time through and it was much more difficult than my initial run on easy mode. The game features a unique level down system where your character will become weaker over time. In theory, this is a neat idea, but I never once felt hindered by the supposed debilitating effects.
Battles are relatively quick and simple. Most of the time you can just spam your melee attack and come out victorious. However, most bosses are a bit more challenging. There are special abilities that you can use, called Prep, that allow you to raise certain stats. Some of them help prepare Reed defensively while others can help him have an offensive advantage. Again, this is another great idea, but I never really felt the need to use them.
You will find a lot of different melee and ranged weapons, as well as armor, throughout the game. Some prove to be extremely useful, while others you will never consider using. For instance, in your house at the beginning, you can find a knife and a piece of wood. The knife is stronger than the wood but is less accurate. I used the knife all the way up until I found something stronger and most likely had a 99% hit rate with it. If you could really tell a difference in the accuracy between the two, I might have actually used the wood. But because I almost never missed with the knife, the wood was pointless for me to use.
I also hardly ever found myself needing to use a ranged weapon. Besides the pistol, weapons such as the rifle felt too underpowered for the time you take to prepare a shot. I did not find the other ranged weapons, so I cannot say whether or not that is the case with them. Also, I really hope that in future releases that you will not lose ammunition when you swap to different ranged weapons.
There are a few issues that I feel I should address beyond battles and equipment. There is one area where you can see the city on the horizon, and if you walk around it enough, you will find that certain areas on that map will pit you against never-ending fights with the eyeball creatures. Once you defeat your enemy, you will immediately fight another one, forcing you to restart the game. There is also one of these “endless” fights in the church. I do not know if this was done on purpose or not. I suppose that the engine version I used could be to blame.
There are also several spelling errors throughout the game (movee, meacingly, wat, pedistrian). However, with it being a demo, and the amount of text present, it is not a huge deal yet. Another thing I noticed is that the Blood Diary that you find at the beginning of the game can be found twice. If you choose to go left from your house and find it, you can go back and also find it on the right side.
Laying the issues aside, OOIA has built the framework for a solid game. There are several issues that I hope are addressed and tweaked before the full release, but I am really looking forward to the conclusion of this tale.