Illusions is an interesting game in the fact that it has a few unique elements to it and does seem to show promise but ultimately falls short due to several factors. I am aware that it is a demo, but that doesn’t mean that one should expect issues because of it. If anything, most authors would want their demos to be extremely polished in hopes of drawing in a large crowd for future updates. I’m not saying that Illusions is bad, but it does need some work.
The story itself seems like it could turn out to be pretty decent in time. You play as Zack, who meets up with a strange girl named Alanna that is constantly chased by entities known as “illusions”. Zack has dreams about the girl before they meet but says he cannot personally see these “illusions”. During the course of the demo, you will be confronted with many illusions, but Alanna can “identify” them in combat, which allows both characters to see their true form AND grants the ability to deal damage to them.
I was a bit skeptical in the beginning, but I really liked how this idea panned out in combat. Though it is nothing really groundbreaking and it doesn’t really add any depth to the combat itself, it is still a nice change of things from the usual JRPG combat. I think that entire story itself is a good start but suffers from a delivery standpoint. I’m not saying I’m the best writer in the world, but I felt like the dialogue was a bit weak in most places. Perhaps tweaking the dialogue some in addition to correcting a few spelling errors could go a long way into making the story shine a lot more.
I like the author’s style of graphics though they are a bit simplistic in their current form. There isn’t a whole lot of shading but the color choice is fair and relatively easy on the eyes. I think it is important to define your own unique style of graphics and improve on them as you can over time. There did not seem to be any ripped graphics, which made me happy. The only real issue I had cosmetically was the walkabout and character portraits. I didn’t think that there was enough distinction in them to make them really interesting. The differences between Zack and Alanna’s portaits, for example, are so minor that it almost looks as if Zack throws on a wig to portray Alanna. I think further distinctions between the two characters would go a long way, especially considering they are of opposite sexes.
The combat itself is somewhat mediocre, though a few of the boss fights actually do pose a decent challenge. Unfortunately most random battles are way too easy. This is partly due to the fact that you fight squirrels from some of the earliest maps all of the way to near the end of the demo. A little more variety in battles and a bit more of a challenge would be great in my opinion. Toning down the frequency of battles in some areas would help as well.
The music was pretty good, but I did not understand why the author chose to use both MP3s and MIDIs. I am really not a big fan of MP3s in OHRRPGCE games, but at least they did choose relatively tasteful tracks. Most of the MIDIs I hadn’t heard of, but some of them I recognized from Vikings of Midgard. Overall, I thought the sound was okay, though nothing really stood out in my ears as “stellar”.
There were a handful of bugs that ranged from being annoying to game breaking. In the first village, there are a few doors that have buggy entrances and exits. Entering into one house can lead you to exiting another house in another part of the village. The Sword of Jade-ish time cycle was pretty cool, but would often leave your heroes misaligned on the map when triggered. Fortunately this could be fixed from exiting the map, but it was still pretty annoying nonetheless.
I wasn’t able to test the “crafting” system because I was never able to get enough ingredients to make anything. If I were to make one suggestion it would be to maybe reduce the amount of reagents required for each potion. As it stands you have to have 3-4 different items to craft even the weakest of items, and it is questionable whether it is really worth that amount of effort in the first place.
The biggest issue was the bug I ran into during the cave puzzle event. If you go to “reset” the puzzle, your hero remains motionless and you are forced to exit the game. This is probably due to not “resuming players” within the script, but was still aggravating as I lost some game time in the process. I ultimately did not play beyond this point of the game because I had no desire to retrace my steps and potentially glitch out again.
Illusions needs some work, but I could see it eventually being a respectable game if enough effort is put into it.