(This is an old article and will most likely be revised at a future date)
Welcome to Tales of the New World! This is the second complete version of the game, and the eighth actual update. Before you delve into this world, be warned: This is one of the longest OHR games I have ever played. My first time through clocked in at about 25 hours.
A mysterious empire is on the rise, and through several chapters, you guide various heros in quests which ultimately lead to their decisions to fight this growing power. It is a somewhat typical story, but its delivery makes it a more refreshing experience. Each chapter is written and executed convincingly. Dialogue from the townspeople is also good, despite a few repetitive text lines (“I hate housework” and guard text comes to mind).
The only chapter I disliked was the one starring the Morphs. I personally thought there story was a little weak, and although in battle they were interesting, they lacked nice physical features. I think I would have enjoyed it more if maybe the morphs were human-like and could shrink or “morph” to the various sizes called through the story of the game. Overall, though, I enjoyed the story.
You can tell that the gameplay has been fine-tuned. The initial chapters of the game are a little easy, but it gets progressively harder as time goes on. It is rare to find a game that balances difficulty just right, and I think this is one of those games. Weapons and armor become hard to acquire the deeper you get into the game, and they are always worth the cost. Each hero in the game has unique spells and abilities, and none ever seem to be over or underpowered. Towards the end of the game, most battles require more than just mashing buttons to win. You are often required to use all 12 heroes to accomplish certain tasks, which also adds challenge. The only thing that bothered me is that towards the end, even though it was fairly difficult, items such as the MGHerb (restores 25 mp) were way too easy to buy, which made it painless for your heros to just use their strongest spells and have their MP replenished with ease. Items such as the Escape Ball (teleports you out of a dungeon) and the Wind Ball (teleports you to the last place you saved if you are on the world map) are also a nice touch.
Battle frequency is really the only beef I have with gameplay. As of now, battles are frequent, and you cannot run from the vast majority of them. Although this does add some difficulty to the game, it is a little frustrating considering the amount of backtracking that is done. If it was up to me, I would slightly decrease the frequency of battles, and turn off the “wait on hero menu” feature in-battles, to add difficulty and lower stress induced by such frequent fights.
The real problem with this game is the graphics. Although I am a firm believer that graphics alone are not what make a game, this is an exception. They really make you feel like the author did not spend any more time than he had to on them. Towns and villages all look the same and use the same tilesets. All of the npcs are spawns of the heros, and occasionally have different colored clothes on. The problem with this, especially in the length of this game, is the fact that it makes it hard to remember locations. If every town and every person looks about the same, you can’t remember where or what Enipol is when somebody says you should go there.
Moving on to battle graphics, they are even worse. There is just not enough variety to keep things exciting throughout the game. It is hard to stomach the battles when you are fighting the same three slimes and snakes to the end. To make things worse, there are no battle backdrops. On top of that, hero battle graphic sets are incomplete, meaning they flash in and out of existance when you attack or use an item. I really do not understand why it was made this way, and I would love to hear the reasoning behind it. To sum the graphics up, they are not great, and they are not unique. Things will start to bleed together after a couple hours of gameplay, and battles will be somewhat dull due to the blank backdrops, same enemies, and “flashy” heroes. I will have to mention, though, that towards the end of the game the author uses more of a variety of enemies, which was a welcome change.
I don’t think it is asking much to add some flavor to the graphics. Regardless of skill level in graphics, variety would work wonders for this game.
Tales has a nice score, and the majority of it was composed by the author himself. I commend him for tackling such a task, as I know it is tough to compose music from scratch. Songs such as the overworld, Imperial, and cave/forest tunes were quite pleasant. However, I do think there were a few pieces out of place. I did not feel the battle music at all, and considering it is pretty much the only piece heard throughout the game it dampened my experience a little. Also, I think the town theme is too plain. Overall, we have some great music, but it is all a little short and repetitious. In a game this long, I think it would be wise to add a few more tracks, and spice up/extend current tracks.
There were only a couple of errors/bugs that were present, and they were minor. This is surprising considering the length of the game. Some scripts, such as the script in the keep where you must sneak by guards as morph to reach a gate switch was a little buggy. I noticed just a few grammatical errors, such as “surrendur”.
With all of this being said, I think this game has a lot going for it. I strongly urge Msw188 to make another revision, and focus mainly on the graphics and fixing a few battle issues in gameplay. This game has a great foundation, and if some more work was done we would have one fantastic game on our hands.