Why I am not buying the game yet. Review from new player perspective.

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Why I am not buying the game yet. Review from new player perspective.

Hello gentlemen.

The following post is the game apreciation and critique from a player that just discovered the game. I have absolutly no knownledge of what is planned or already known issues. I haven't searched the forum nor read any kind of information concerning the game. I dont know if it is in alpha, beta or gold. Im reviewing this game from the perspective of someone who consider it to be gold. This is simply a feed back from someone who like many people will discover this game and it explain why he could ignore it.

So, with that being said, lets get started.

1: Graphics

I play every kinds of video games, from limbo to stalker going by portal. I have no preconception towards any game unless I try them or make enough research to know exactly what type of video game it is. From the phew picture on this website, I though graphics were perfectly fine. I quickly changed my mind as Ive got into the game, the first minute in the tutorial were fine. Old school graphics, no problem, as long as I can make out what is what and it is not too pixelated I have no problem with it. Though I personnaly apreciate more clean and clear art style, pixels are not an issue to me.

Then we see the wolfman, ouch. Mixing traditionnal art with pixel art not only make it akward but the traditionnal art didn't look good, as simply put as this is. The proportion were wrong, the pose was bad, the drawing was one dimensionnal and I wasn't even sure what I was looking at until I read the description.

Then, we exit the scientific building and get to see the real map, the map that we will get to see the majority of our play time. In my opinion, its one of the most important aspect of the game, and needs to bo done really well since its such a big part of the game. It is very pratical and clean, but these two points are also its demise. You dont feel like you are exploring a world, but more like you are playing a board game and thats perfectly fine if it is what you wanted to achieve. From my point of view, you wanted to make something similar to civilisation or heroes might and magic, but it didn't work that well. Anyway, this is not a big issue, the map itself is relatively fine, I would love hex to blend better together, especialy the city hex.

Personnaly, I would make one nice big piece of art that blend well with the environement and then place hexes over it for cities. It is more work, but in the end the game will look a lot more believable. I would do the same for mountains hexes, cliffs, rivers and lakes. In short the pieces of the puzzle would be much bigger, instead of lots of identical small hexes.

So, you get to explore that board like map, and you come accross your first urban hex. You are greated with a nice picture which is a lot better than the wolfman picture you got to see earlier. Then you see the ''scavenging'' screen. Terrible, terrible... simply terrible. The buildinds are very very small, you can barely make out how they are made, they are crude and ugly. Very, too simple, piece of art that you drag like an item. Not only it doesn't make any sense, but its a terrible eye sore. Instead of having that nice picture you got earlier in the background, you get to see one very ugly small icon, or worse, a question mark.

So, nothing useful was found, but you attracted a creature. I didn't expect much more than what we got. A picture of our enemy with his status and maybe some animations. No animations and a very crude picture with a gray background... No red flash when you get hit, no indication whats so ever, nothing at all. For a game with very minimal art, at least give us some animations.

2: Combat mechanic

You never see them coming. Just like the annoying fights in final fantasy, you walk 5 steps and get attacked. Worst of all, even if you have the increased sight ability, you wont see them coming most of the time. Well, when you are looting at least.

Anyway, so you have attracted a creature, so its fight or flee... well, I dont know if its me, but its really hard to escape especialy when you start, and in a game where fighting is not encouraged, fleeing should be a tad easier to achieve, especialy considering that you very often get attacked.

That being said, I find combats very interresting and deep, abilities are plentiful, and they make sense. You have chases and confrontation mixed in abd I can easily imagine the fight going. Problem is, it is mostly only my imagination that do the work, but that have been explained in the graphic part already.

So, even if it is seriusly lacking in the eye candy departement, I find combats deep and interresting, but it lack variety and some tuning.

3: Sounds and music.

Or lack there of... there is nothing to talk about here, since other than the menu music and the rain, there is absolutly nothing to talk about. In a game where graphics are very minimal, where there is ZERO animations, a minimum of sounds would be apreciated.

4: Replayability and gameplay

It is a sandbox, so replayability is really good. The map is random, so that also helps a lot. Items are also random which also help. The tutorial is quickly over and not annoying.

But the gameplay tend to repeat itself and it is not very varieted. The game need more kinds of enemies and a fight with a werewolf shouldn't be the same as a fight with a looter. Scavenging should be more complicated than couple of simple clics, it should be a mini game in itself especialy since it is such a big part of the game.

The fact that you can't communicate other than shouting you will smash them in the face with a crowbar is a little sad. There should always be a way to get out of a situation without fighting or running especialy in a sandbox game for those who choose more peaceful traits, it doesn't mean they should NEVER fight of course.

Some traits need balancing and buffs. For exemple, looting while hiding shouldn't decrease the chance of loot, but instead take twice as much time while having the same looting chance.

5: Interface

It is monochrome and ugly. It need a revamp, simple as that. It is relatively pratical and simple, but it is terribly ugly and cheap.

6: In conclusion.

While the game is a great idea in itself, the execution is not so good. There are good aspect such as the randomisation and the combat which is relatively interresting. There is a good amount of loot and the game have the possibility of crafting and trading. The core is good.

Its biggest downside is the TERRIBLE art direction. Everything related to art need huge improvements; the icons, the butons, the backgrounds, the interfaces, the enemies, the main character(which is nothing else than a gray shade), the items, the map and its assets... etc.

Also, the fact that there is absolutly zero atmosphere or sound is a big down side. Not only that but with the terrible art we get ZERO animations of any kinds. Huge disapointement.

In my opinion this is not a retail game, far from it, it is obviously far from done and it needs A LOT of work. The core idea is good, but it needs better direction. Worthy of any flash game website, not worth a buck tough.

I am a 2d artist working on 3 games and 2 projects, and I don't find the art style to be a blunder. Despite a few areas that would need a reboot, (Like when you exit the cryo-facility, that screen image looks a little under-done; despite you only seeing it once) I don't see many things wrong with it.

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Hey daedrick,

Thanks for the candid feedback. You cover a lot of ground in your post, so I probably can't address every detail, but I'll try to respond to the overall points.

First, a clarification: the game is currently in beta. Some folks prefer to call it alpha, some others say it's good enough to be gold. But in my mind, the game is not yet complete. I call it a beta since I plan to continue working on the game, but it still gives a solid idea of what the final game will be like.

1. Graphics - I think the type of art you want to see is also the type of art I would like to have. However, the art you are describing is currently beyond my budget. This is predominantly a one-man show, and a labor of love. It's funded entirely by my savings account, and whatever I can sell in copies.

If sales pick up, I may decide to hire an artist to help, but for now, it's just me and my Wacom tablet :)

2. Combat - It sounds like you enjoy the combat overall, but have frustrations in retreating and avoiding combat. I think the game is fairly reasonable on allowing you to avoid combat if you desire it, but it requires you to make certain sacrifices (plus learn a few strategies). That said, I agree the game may still need balancing, and I intend to make it seem challenging but fair.

3. Audio - You are correct. There is little music and sound in the game so far. Josh is adding music when time allows, and I think he's doing a great job. We should be seeing more music over time. Sound effects, on the other hand, will largely be stuck with the same problem as art: budget. I try to add what I can, but it may not be what we both think of as AAA.

4. Gameplay - It's true that the game uses a lot of the same mechanics multiple times. That's just the reality of the shoestring budget again: use and re-use as much as possible. I would love to have each apartment building lovingly illustrated, so players could choose which cabinet they check for food, and have to spot traps and avoid holes in the floor. That would be awesome.

Similarly, I would love to have NPCs that conversed with you and could be negotiated with. If there was a magic button which produced these things, I would push it now.

5. Interface - It's true, the UI needs lots of work. I'm glad to hear you think it's at least practical, as that is the hard part. There may be time to make it pretty as well, but until other features are finished, making the UI pretty is a lower priority.

6. Conclusion - You are correct, this is not a retail game. It has neither the budget nor the staff to compete in that domain. It's a niche game, an indie game, a cottage industry game, and I'm ok admitting that.

The folks I'm designing this game for are a small set of the total game playing public. Folks who are willing to look past graphics and sound shortfalls, overcome the hurdles of lots of text, and relish the hardcore, crunchy strategy and role-playing that I do. They see this game and think, "I really dig what he's doing here. Damn the quality, it's fun, and I think it's worth any price."

I think you would like NEO Scavenger HD. Maybe someday I will be able to afford that budget, and re-issue NEO Scavenger with all the production values of a retail game. It'd still be hardcore as hell, but it'd look and sound awesome :)

Dan Fedor - Founder, Blue Bottle Games

Nicely said Dan. I'm sure candid feedback or the feedback above is prolly more valuable than me just saying the game is awesome. But you know what the game is awesome and I really do enjoy it!!

Well, I'm 30 now, have been playing video games since I was 7, I have them all, including PC.

I have absolutely no complaints about the art or music/sounds, I really love hearing only the background sound of birds, rain and wind, makes me more connected to the experience.

I love the retro and "ugly" graphics.

The only thing the game needs is more items, a better resolution and more plot encounters, a lot of them! Lots of missions.

Dan I think you should start a kickstarter, I would gladly contribute with US$50.

Yes this game is not for everyone, maybe one of those love it or hate it things... I LOVE IT! So addicted to it.