It’s been a while since I last played an indie game and since I got a decent PC capable of running mid-range demanding games I dived into some RPG Maker VX games. This is the first one that I played through at quite some length despite it being a “short demo”.
As soon as you start playing, you’ll be greeted with an flashy animated title screen which does look nice for the first time but it can get tiresome if you find yourself playing the game in short bursts. The text intro (which can be skipped) has actual voice acting although I’m not sure if this is actually an actress’ voice or a script feed into a computer voice program. It still works and the slight British accent isn’t that bad in all honesty.
Once you’ve made it into the actual game you’re immediately thrown into a battle. RMVX for those that are familar with it, uses a top-down turn based battle system but with scripting you can change that and that’s what’s been done here. No Active Turn-Battle though but it does look better than the default system. The enemies are straightforward to kill and usually go down in a couple of normal hits. MP limits the sole skill your protagonist although this improves as you level up. It’s obvious here that Jadem Games tweaked the battles to balance things out and even guessed when you would need healing through monster drops.
Forbidden Magic uses on screen monsters so no random encounters are to be found here. One problem however is that it’s pretty easy to run past enemies as they seem to move one tile at a time (towards the hero) unless they’re blocking your path. That isn’t a good thing to do as you’ll probably need to compensate later on as you’ll be underlevelled.
Unfortunately I ran into a game breaking bug straight off the bat. I opened a chest in the first room and obtained an item which I looked up on the inventory and I hit the shift key and the game gave an error and closed. I don’t see why this function was needed as the information is already displayed at the top (see below).
Another problem was that while the item acquired message popped up, enemies could still move and this resulted in clustered enemies where you had to fight one after another. This happened especially in the first forest area.
The first boss battle was a little monotonous, no real challenge. I just got hit for 6 damage and I just returned the favour, healed and repeated until the boss was felled.
The story itself was a bit stale. The usual chosen four have to save the world from an impending doom and you happen to be one of them. The characters weren’t given much time to be fleshed out in the demo but they had the typical traits of traditional RPGs, I found it passable as I was more interested in other parts of the game which sadly didn’t really live up to expectations.
The gambling system turned out to be a waste of time and money. It consists of you getting the higher card out of the pair and your money is returned whatever-fold. I had 20G going into my first try, won the first and got 5G. Lost the next five games or so and ended up on 16G, it may seem like it has good odds but I could never win again! I gave up and decided that monster grinding was the best way to earn money at this stage.
At the moment, there are two completed tilesets in the VX scene and other other is the RTP which I’m not a great fan of. The mapping is done using Mack’s tilesets and it’d be unfair if I said if the mapping was any good as I haven’t had any real experience doing it but houses, trees, pathways and other parts of the game world were done in a way that didn’t irritate or make me want to stop playing except maybe for those twigs that the hero just can’t seem to walk over!
Forbidden Magic didn’t really have any stand-out moments. It felt a little diluted and lacked a strong story to drive it forward. The gameplay does get repetitive and later on you’ll really need to grind a few levels to stand a chance against some of the enemies you’ll meet. This shouldn’t be a selling point for this game as I feel that RPGs shouldn’t force the player to do this but I felt a bit hopeless without doing so. There’s even a monster that didn’t have it’s transparency checked when it was being imported…
I know it’s just a demo at this stage but a demo should make you want to see and play more but this game just felt underwhelming. If another demo comes with more features and a revised story then I’d reconsider playing it again.