I decided to play this game mainly because of it’s large 150 MB size and intriguing screen shots, so I thought the game would be long and worth the effort.
It plays nicely on a Pentium III processor with 256 MB RAM so you’ll probably have no technical issues here.
The game starts off by treating you to an excellent intro with nice use of red but it is marred by the inclusion of full credits as this just makes things go very slow unnecessarily; the list of games that inspired the author doesn’t help either.
The story follows the somewhat familiar “get the crystals, rule the world” thing. King Richard seems bent on gathering all of these and by some ill-fated chance you’re told to get the first one as you’re in his army. It reminded me of Final Fantasy IV where Cecil questions his King’s intentions and doesn’t want to follow orders any more and leaves his home.
The characters themselves are a bit underdeveloped as in not a lot is known about them except for Epoch (the main guy). Many of the relationships are a bit superficial (eg. Elise and Epoch) and run parallels from other sources like Avatar although it works better than it sounds.
The dialogue is very well written and helps shape the background to characters deeply. There are places where humour works well but I saw most of these from other media. The setting in the game didn’t match some of the character’s speech though as the word “dude” and other similar words were probably not heard of in this castle era.
Inside dungeons there are monsters roaming the place on-screen so thankfully no random battles here. However, it’s almost impossible to avoid most of them as they’re always blocking the way. This is frustrating because many of these encounters result in heavy damage and don’t be surprised if you find yourself healing after every two turns. This in turns present the problem of shortage of inventory items which is later redeemed if you manage to get through the first few stages.
From my experiences Epoch is very weak in battles. He uses Blade Arts as a skill and the first one doesn’t really help much as you’ll quickly run out of MP and it’s only a little bit more damaging then normal attacks. The Blade Arts are learnt by reading articles found in chests and can be upgraded later through coupons but these skills consume a vast amount of MP so I don’t know if it’s really worth the trouble. Later on, there are other skills like drawing skills from monsters and inventing items to use in-battle which are unique to individual characters.
The boss battles are quite good but again they can prove to be nigh on impossible if you’re not fully prepared. I lost count on the number of times I got the Game Over screen but this game really does punish you for not healing a couple of turns in advance and the enemy HP felt way too high.
The mapping of towns is consistent and pleasing to view but in dungeons the use of ceilings makes navigating very difficult as it is hard to tell which way to go sometimes. It is quite dark too but upping the monitor’s brightness helps. The maps have minor glitches like getting stuck in walls (see below), not game killing but annoying nonetheless.
The animations in this game are probably one of it’s highlights. The battle animations are smooth and the various stances add a nice subtle touch. In villages and towns the people react believably, from hiding in their homes as you ransack their homes to the boy delivering the latest news around the town. It makes checking out the settlements worth the time and effort rather than simply heading for the inn and stocking up on items.
The sound effects are quite good. The rain sounds great but the jingle you hear in the menu is quite the opposite. The music is mostly pinched from commercial games, notably for me being Shadowhearts but it works so I have no quarrels there. I did notice that none of them looped though so when they faded out and in it lost a lot of atmosphere especially in long battles.
To conclude, Forever’s End presents the player with a game that offers very little in terms of a fresh story line but it has it’s moments in other places especially exploration. It tries to match a lot of previous quality games but in doing so it casts a shadow on it’s own potential.
The game has some balancing issues which may put a lot of people off and leave it forever but some may persevere to the end.
Overall verdict: good