A Simple Critique from a Fan(Spoiler Free)

Visual Novel / Simulation game set in a zombie apocalypse setting
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pahldus
Woods ranger
Posts: 151
Joined: Wed Sep 30, 2015 8:30 am

A Simple Critique from a Fan(Spoiler Free)

Post by pahldus » Fri Oct 09, 2015 3:01 am

The subject might lead people to believe that I will be too easy or maybe too harsh, I will try to be as fair as I can in my assessment.

A couple of disclaimers before I begin: 1) I am not a fan of Zombie games, movies or anything else. I think the genre is overused and played out at this point. 2) I have liked or loved every Winter Wolves game I have purchased(Loren & DLC, SOTW & DLC, Roommates, Planet Stronghold and Spirited Heart Deluxe)

Okay, now on to the critique. I have 2 complete playthroughs of Dead But Alive and feel I have pretty much reached conclusions about how I feel about the game. I am going to lay out a list of the pros and cons as I see them.

PROS:
*The atmosphere is pretty solid and true to itself. The game is a zombie survival game, and it makes constant reference to this throughout.
*The game makes you make apparently(I will get to this more in detail later) tough decisions right from the start.
*The writing is true to the game's atmosphere and does a solid job of conveying character development
*The game is largely glitch free and is pretty clean in the writing with few typos or grammatical errors.(This is a big one for me)
*Having 3 ways to complete the final quest was a nice touch

CONS:
*While the writing is solid and conveys character, I find it lacking. It feels unnatural, largely because people don't say just one sentence at a time.
*This leads to the second con, which is that with no text speed adjustment, I occasionally missed things that were said and just had to guess. I think this also created the issue with why the first con happened.(This and the first con were big ones for me)
*The combat system was just clunky and unwieldy as far as I was concerned and it didn't take long for me to just turn it off
*The rewards for the red, green, and yellow zones along with the resistance seemed contradictory to what the game states and to what seemed logical
*The romances appeared so late in the game that I completely missed them the first time around due to finishing the last big quest before any of them had the chance to start, only realized after choosing a different approach to that final quest in the second run through.

Conclusions: I think the game is okay, but a few things really bugged me, while the writing was solid in content and emotion, is was sorely lacking in the delivery. I think this was heavily impacted by the way the dialog was delivered. No ability to change the speed of the dialog and the fact that it just advanced automatically was a big thumbs down for me and probably(I am guessing) led to all the one line dialog that is simply not natural. I hope that can be blamed on the game engine. The next big issue for me was the slot machine combat. That just really broke immersion for me, I understand the attempt to create drama, but there just has to be a better way than that. Also, not having any of the romance initiating dialogs occurring until such a late point in the story was a bit off putting. Also being able to follow up with some of the characters on their personal quest would have made each character more memorable, you know like the personal quests from Loren. I don't want people to think I hate the game, just these things really kept me from liking or even loving a game that I would not have played normally. I tried out a genre I don't generally like because of Jack and his track record of delivering great VN games, and were it not for these issues I would be here gushing about a genre that in general I don't like.

A few other smaller issues, that I had were things like my base camp was never attacked by zombies on my first playthrough and only after starting final preparations for the final quest on my second playthrough. This could have increased that dread feeling. Another small issue, probably a bigger issue for others, is that no matter what decision you make in certain situations, the only thing it seems to impact is how you are viewed by certain other NPCs. I have kind of gotten used to this in games, but it would nice for a game to really have a truly branching storyline sometime.

There you have it.

TL;DR I think it is an okay that could have been so much better with just a few changes.

highcliffe
Young scout
Posts: 26
Joined: Sat Jul 18, 2015 5:53 am

Re: A Simple Critique from a Fan(Spoiler Free)

Post by highcliffe » Sun Oct 11, 2015 7:21 am

Hi,

thank you. I am working right now on an update that should change some of the issues you have with it.
*This leads to the second con, which is that with no text speed adjustment, I occasionally missed things that were said and just had to guess. I think this also created the issue with why the first con happened.(This and the first con were big ones for me)
I am going to slightly decrease the text speed. If it´s still too fast then, I can slow it down further.

There is currently also the option in the options menu for the text to only advance if you click.
*The combat system was just clunky and unwieldy as far as I was concerned and it didn't take long for me to just turn it off
Well, some like it, some don´t. In retrospect I should have released this as a pure visual novel, which I will do with the sequel. I possibly turn off the combat system by default and those who like it can turn it on in the options menu.
*The rewards for the red, green, and yellow zones along with the resistance seemed contradictory to what the game states and to what seemed logical
Can you explain this? Maybe one or two examples? If you copy text snippets that you think don´t fit, this could also help.
*The romances appeared so late in the game that I completely missed them the first time around due to finishing the last big quest before any of them had the chance to start, only realized after choosing a different approach to that final quest in the second run through.
Well, the "finale" (where in the uncensored mode you can see them nude) are meant as a reward, so they were intentionally not placed at the beginning. The romance scenes do start right at the beginning though. These are most of the scenes you talk to a single character. What I am going to do in the sequel is to maybe make it more obvious what the state of the romance is (like a romance progress bar).

And while I am at it, the future games will use RenPy as an engine, which appears to be much more reliable.

pahldus
Woods ranger
Posts: 151
Joined: Wed Sep 30, 2015 8:30 am

Re: A Simple Critique from a Fan(Spoiler Free)

Post by pahldus » Sun Oct 11, 2015 9:53 am

highcliffe wrote:Hi,

thank you. I am working right now on an update that should change some of the issues you have with it.
*This leads to the second con, which is that with no text speed adjustment, I occasionally missed things that were said and just had to guess. I think this also created the issue with why the first con happened.(This and the first con were big ones for me)

I am going to slightly decrease the text speed. If it´s still too fast then, I can slow it down further.

There is currently also the option in the options menu for the text to only advance if you click.
Somehow I missed that option. Good to know it is there. I just tend to be a slow reader, so slowing down probably won't help many people, but I appreciate it.
*The rewards for the red, green, and yellow zones along with the resistance seemed contradictory to what the game states and to what seemed logicaL

Can you explain this? Maybe one or two examples? If you copy text snippets that you think don´t fit, this could also help.
What I noticed is the rewards for the yellow and red zones were often times smaller than what I was getting in the green zones. I had quite a few occasions in the red zones where I only got 1 or 2 of the primary items available while quite often I would get 5 or more(10 for food) from the green zones. Also the percent of times, combat would occur was nearly identical, but that could just be an issue of small sample size.
*The romances appeared so late in the game that I completely missed them the first time around due to finishing the last big quest before any of them had the chance to start, only realized after choosing a different approach to that final quest in the second run through.

Well, the "finale" (where in the uncensored mode you can see them nude) are meant as a reward, so they were intentionally not placed at the beginning. The romance scenes do start right at the beginning though. These are most of the scenes you talk to a single character. What I am going to do in the sequel is to maybe make it more obvious what the state of the romance is (like a romance progress bar).
Well the first playthrough I didn't get any offers for romance, but as soon as I initiated the final quest(scouted a certain place and was given the three options, I initiated the final phase the very next day and was done. The second playthrough, at the last quest, I chose to repair a certain item, and that ended up taking several more days to complete and from each of the romance characters I suddenly got 2 or more additional conversations. I didn't really make any different decisions from playthrough 1 to 2 except for the final quest. That is what my frustration was from.
And while I am at it, the future games will use RenPy as an engine, which appears to be much more reliable.
I think this will help immensely, I read/play a fair amount of VN games and haven't had any issues with those done of the Ren'py engine.

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