Stone Wings is interesting as it is one of few OHRRPGCE games that are (A) fully complete and (B) offers over 20+ hours of gameplay. The only other OHR game I’ve played of that length was Tales of the New World, and I did complete it. I must admit that I did not come close to finishing this one, though I hope I can retry the game when and if some things are adjusted. The biggest difference between this game and something like Tales of the New World ultimately boils down to polish. Tales was extremely polished and though quite difficult at times, was still an enjoyable experience. Stone Wings in its current form just makes you want to punch babies.
You play as Iki, an elf that is cursed by a demon and is banished from his people because of it. It is a pretty terrible curse as it causes you to kill people in your sleep. Anyways, you set off in the world in hopes of breaking the chains of curse bondage.
The little bit of story I experienced was decent enough. I liked that it was more personal to the main character as opposed to the typical “save the world for everyone” epidemic that most JRPGs use. Unfortunately many times it was unclear as to what you should do next. Having to backtrack and try to figure out stuff in itself is just fine, but is too much when other factors of the game make it even more difficult to do so. This is one reason why I almost gave up playing this game about 50 times. Right before I stopped for good, the human in my group had to prove she was a princess. I could not figure out how to do this to save my life. Perhaps I missed something obvious, but I couldn’t figure it out after wandering around for a solid 10 minutes.
Be prepared to fight A LOT, and expect to run from tons of battles as well (especially in the very beginning). You can buy equipment from shops, but often times they are extremely expensive and only raise your stats by a fraction of what you would expect them to do. Luckily, all of your stats appear to raise with each level, but both money and experience is hard to come by. If you thought Fantasy Under a Blue Moon X had crazy grinding, you haven’t seen anything yet. At least that game rewarded you with meaningful equipment upgrades rather than a new spear that gives you +1 to strength and requires 90% of your total funds.
The graphics aren’t great, but are clear enough to at least know what is going on most of the time. My only real beef was how the author portrayed the elves. I’m not racist at all, but these guys have their fingers stiff and pointing behind themselves when they walk. It gives the appearance that they are trying to take flight, or that they are doing some sort of strange powerwalk. Their battle sprites are even worse, as it looks like they are getting ready to jump off the high dive or perform a pirouette. Fortunately the human character that joins later in the game had a much better look in and out of combat.
I know I’ve fussed about a lot of things in Stone Wings, but I did enjoy one aspect of the game tremendously; the music. The author claims that the soundtrack is completely original, and I believe it. In fact, it sounds almost like he threw his local band together to record the tracks. Although they are sometimes way too drum-heavy (this is coming from a drummer, mind you), most tracks fit extremely well to the feel of the game. The World Map theme is hands down one of my favorite original tracks in any OHR game period. This is coming from someone who generally despises MP3 tracks in OHRRPGCE games.
The only thing that seemed a little out of place in terms of sound were the sound effects. You have this beautiful MP3 soundtrack and then sound effects that could have come out of the Zelda II on the NES. It’s not that it is horrible, but I think the choices could have been a little better. Either way, the music is by far the best part of this game in my opinion.
I want to like this game, I really do, but things have to be changed to make it more enjoyable. As I was sitting there grinding away I was wondering if this is what I’d be doing for the next 20 hours. I don’t mind a bit of a grind, but only when it offers a reasonable reward at the end. If you’d like an example of what I’m talking about, check out Fantasy Under a Blue Moon X. It is easily considered one of the most “grindy” OHRRPGCE games out there but does it properly. If you are going to make a grindfest at least give the player a little incentive to continue on in your game.