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Sharing my first impressions

Xilconic

New member
Build: 0.12.16
Gametime: 9 hours

Background:
I've played and loved both Reus and International Explorers. Reus for the theme, the exploratory gameplay and fun puzzle is presents to the player. International Explorers also because of the theme, the exploratory gameplay, the great easthetics and the meaningful choice it offers.

Impressions:

I've played about 4 games, none of them to completion, each with a different ideology. I've started out with War, proceeded to check out the other ones (I think I've played each about 1 hour or so) and then continued playing the War saved game.

Keep on doing:
I really like the easthetics of the game: the arts style, the visual feedback, and music were all pleasing to me. For example loved how the tree react to your mouse movement. The music did become a bit samey after about 5 hours into the game, which can probably be solved with 'more of the same'.

I liked the ability to customize the appearance of your god and characters.

Aiming for a game that always autosaves seems well suited for the intended purpose and kudos for offering players the option of explicitly saving the game through the settings.

Interesting concept that each attack is chosen from a limited set of attacks at random. (Feels like potential for some kind of 'deck building' gameplay options available to the player in the future, of which the idea gets me a bit excited about) Especially the concept of 'doubt' I found very interesting.

I like the idea of characters reacting, chaining/comboing of other characters by jumping in front of the attack or reacting to something that has happened.

Uncertain or confused about:
I felt unsure if the placement locations of the various buildings matter or not. If they don't, I'm kind of missing the point of why I have the ability to place buildings instead of them being placed automatically as part of my village. I personally didn't get any special satisfaction from plopping down the buildings, as it felt more like needless busywork. If it has a purpose later in the game (current or future), then it might be worth explaining it to the player?

Why is there a limit on the number of inspirations? If it's an intended design choise, perhaps it's good to more effectively communicate it from the game and give visual feedback/reinforcement about this limitation. Consider having a reminder that when the player ends their turn, they have unspent inspirations left.

The game seems to allow spending the 3 inspirations and still have the characters affected by the inspirations go battle in a Sacrement. From the tutorials I got the impression that you either go on a Sacrement or spend inspirations. So I found that a bit confusing. I think I like being able to have my characters inspired for tasks and still be able to perform Sacrements, due to the Broken and Resting states that already form a limitation of being able to combine both of them.

Layout of text is sometimes a bit akward. But I guess that'll be fixed a time goes by.

The 'detail mode' of the Sacrement could be better explained. Perhaps make that part of the tutorial experience?

I didn't understand how 'muti-group' sacrements worked until I actually when into one. This left me feeling unprepared; A needless negative emotion that could have been prevented if I was better informed on what to expect.

I'm not really sure how the character targeting works. I wonder if I would be more advantageous to the player if that mechanism would be more transparent, as it might help make better preparations prior Sacrements.

The game doesn't really seem to present a clear goal? I can see that I win if I reach God level 10, but that seems rather anticlimactic?

I didn't play long enough but it still left me wondering: What is the relevance of the 4 ages?

Being able to unlack upgrades for the future character batches seems fun at first, but the improvements seem to be so big that the render all previous characters obsolete really quickly. I'm not really sure if that is as intended? But if it is, I wonder if that is really to the benefit of the game as it will likely cause the player to be less personally invested in their characters (experiencing them as replaceable people until the next batch arrives).

When I dismissed a charcter, I received quite a lot of resouces. The game didn't inform me that this was a positive consequence of dismissing a character. The large amount of resources even seemd to fuel a lot of options afterwards, giving me more the feeling of 'fatting the pig before selling it'. Might not really be the perspective you are aiming for?

Things I did not enjoy:
Transparancy of the characters screens make no sense to me and decrease readability for me. I would consider an opague character screen background better suited.

Core gameplay loop of 'Inspire 3 people -> Perform Sacrement -> End turn' isn't fun, interesting or meaningful in the long run and is the main reason I gave up my playthroughs and cause me to be uninterested in continuing to play the current build out of boredom. :(
* Having to inspire people to 'farm up' their happyness in me as their god to have optimal Miracle outcomes and suffering the opportunity cost of going 'slower' vs risking less favorable Miracles while keeping a high 'tempo' didn't feel like an interesting choice. In the end I quickly settled for trying to juggle my people to be Happy at the minimum when they would nearly have a Miracle charge, and use the remaining inspirations to gather Resources.
* I severly disliked the Sacrements for their complete lack of interaction. The first hour I experienced them as novel and then it quickly grew stale because it's essentially the same thing happening over and over again without any meaningful choise by the player. A possible way on improving the experience of the Sacrements could be by taking a look a what the (Paper) Mario RPG's have done, where they introducing various timing based minigames that would impact the effectiveness of attacks and defence. Such a mechanism would fit the design goal of having a god with limited influence on their people while still keeping the player engaged. Consider that the player might not only represents the God, but also the individual characters and the faith as a whole.
* The reaction stat seems to have a too big of an impact in deciding if a sacrement will be succesful or not. This seems to heavily favor classes that can deal big damage combined with High reaction stats. Executioners for example feel one of the best options available as they enable going first and win a game in the first exchange. Therefore War seems to be a highly favored Ideology compared to the rest, due to the Violent skill synergies that combine well with Executioner and Beast Walker.

The gameplay outside the core loop also feels lacking. Building placement doesn't seem to matter. Order of the Miracle buildings is mainly determined by the Prophet at the start and the stats rolled for the starting characters. The choice between Monasteries or Human Sacrefice felt low impact to me. Chosing the classes for characters is mainly determined by the stat rolls, and perhaps the limitations of the Ideology (no Nice people when going for War for example, or Violent people when going for Peace)

At one point in my War Ideology game, I had a character (which I made a Beastwalker) that kept falling asleep during all Sacrements. I have no clue what was causing this affect, but it rendered that character completely useless and I had to wait until the next batch of characters to replace him. I suspect some kind of bug is in play here, of someone through it would be funny to implement a hidden 'narcoleptic' trait or something. As you might have guessed, I didn't experience this as fun. :p

In summary:
+ Continue with the current easthetic design
? Perhaps make some mechanisms more transparent to the player
- Drasticly invest in introducing meaningful player choice and find a solution to making Sacrements more involving and engaging the player.
Would I recommend the game in it's current state to a friend: No
 

RickSo

Abbey Games Developer
Developer
Abbey Games Developer
Want to get in here and thank you for the extensive feedback and first impressions!
I'm going to go to bed now, but will be reading this tomorrow :) From skimming, I can tell I already agree with a lot you say and think the stuff we're working on right now will most likely address a couple of your concerns!

Thanks for helping out with the Early Access development Xilconic!
 

Xilconic

New member
You are absolutely welcome, and looking forward to what you all have in store for us in the near future. :)
 
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