Joined: 08/04/2015 15:42:38
So, I kinda felt like leaving my thoughts on the series as a whole...I'm not good at starting paragraphs so I'll just leave this like this and get into what I wanted to talk about. If I talk about anything spoiler-y I'll make it white and put a warning above it.
Speaking of spoilers, here's a really vague and not at all informative run-down of the story. Maybe play through the series before reading it since I suck at this whole recapping business.
The series follows a captain that, from what I can recall, beamed down into a village inhabited with different types of dragons and the like in response to some letter from someone. The captain meets up with Prince Max and then some stuff happens (I'm being vague, I know.) and the village is attacked. Then the captain checks back on the village and kills the person who planned the attack, but plot twist, that's what he wanted. I'm pretty sure that's when Max got murdered. (Gonna just reiterate, spoilers.) (Don't trust my ability to remember the early story either, just play the thing if you haven't.)
I believe the player then goes looking for the Soul Fragments because good ol' Arcanus used an Abyssal Shard to make himself stronger. The player gathers up a rag-tag group of heroes to assist them in their journey, including a goddess (Which is maybe just a bit OP, but you'll be happy later on.) an alchemist, 2 dragons that are the last of their species, a pirate...viking...Vikate dragon, one fellow that can see the future, some lass from a bar that's also the daughter of a chieftain, and the pet of the goddess.
At one point in time, the group gets separated (Because VR got too real.) and then the captain has to go looking around the world (or worlds, I'm not 100% certain most of it takes place on the same planet) to reunite with their comrades. The Goddess and the Lass are the only ones who got gud and so they are the only ones around for the entirety of that section.
There was a ship that was used (I would've preferred it had been my own, it probably would've been more comfortable anyway) to go to a moon, to get the last soul fragment, so that happened. Then the group heads back (No adventures during the return trip apparently.) and BAM more characters (You have to play the Intermissions to understand why they are there.) and you all need to get to Arcanus's new pad to face off against him, which was the reason behind the like 40+ part buildup.
Alright now that I've very poorly, incoherently and probably inaccurately lined up the plot, I want to get to the part I actually wanted to speak about.
Gameplay is a fairly important aspect of an adventure. Knowing what the author is trying to achieve is a hidden piece that can either add to, or take away from, the overall feel of an adventure. Given that this isn't just one adventure, there's probably some overall goal for the series rather than just the individual adventures.
Playing through the series, you'll notice a steady ramp in difficulty. (Or as steady as Spore will allow.) The beginning is a bit slow since it's just a bunch of fetch quests and plot set up for the most part, as it should be. The amount of detail and effort put into the adventures is made painfully clear if you look at the objects and characters and actually decide to track each of them down in the adventures and click on them the 5 times that are given. Clues are often given in forms of captions in the beginning, being more omens and foreshadowing than anything else. As one progresses through the series, you'll probably notice the difficulty steadily increasing as you go on.
The first like 20 or 30 adventures in the series are kind of easy on players that have decided to play through all of the Maxis-made adventures to level up their captain and get a few parts (I'd say level 5 is the bare minimum for later levels, you're gonna want 3 of the Zealot parts and at least 1 Warrior part to manage to get through. Level seven with 4 Zealot and 3 Warrior unlocked is probably the best for the series overall.) Once you get past the first few bosses, however, the difficulty might get a bit high for some. Having a few captains on the side with differing abilities and mobility is probably the best option (As well as not quitting after screwing up a few times, that usually helps.)
There are platforming stages that are absolutely brutal if you don't have flight as well as one that is particularly brutal even if you do have it. There are puzzles and moments that require the player to pay attention to what is actually going on in the story and have some knowledge of the world that they are playing in (Which, honestly, you should always be paying attention to the story of an adventure.)
The mid-series bosses are a bit more damage spongey than I personally would've preferred (and I used a mildly op captain for the most part) but at least the allies (more just one particular ally if I'm being honest) were able to help. This is when having combat parts is most important, as it will be increasingly more difficult to beat the boss, let alone survive the encounter, without them. If you wanna tackle the bosses with all energy weapons and no energy regeneration, go ahead. If you want to take them on without armor or some way to stun them, go ahead, but you will not have it easy. (Even if you have a good captain, it can be quite difficult.) The end-game bosses were harder not really because of their high amount of health, but because of damage output. Having a captain with the 1st, 2nd and 4th zealot armor equipped is probably a good idea if you don't like dying. Or you can go the offensive route and have high mobility to avoid getting hit while circling the boss with lightning strike or that freezing blast thing. Of course, your allies are able to assist at times, and you probably want the goddess to be the one that you ally (Which isn't too hard to do if you know how well your allies are at what social interactions.)
Overall, the series is very combat heavy with a few puzzles that will check to make sure you've been keeping up with what's going on. The feel of the environment in each adventure is enough to warrant multiple playthroughs of the series since you will probably miss something at some point in time. Maybe don't rush into the series though without a tough captain or a good amount of skill and strategy.
The design of an adventure is the second half that works with the gameplay. It's the atmosphere, the sounds, the way the creator makes everything feel alive. It can be heavily involved with the gameplay, or stay away and just keep in the distance. This series more kept a fairly even balance for the most part.
As I said in the gameplay section, the amount of detail put into each of the adventures is painfully clear. The buildings, objects, the characters, they all have some sort of description on them. The amount of information that you can get on the characters is enough to make you mildly familiar with them, which is saying something considering there's like 100 characters total probably and you don't even see a lot of them for more than like 10 minutes each or something. The main characters themselves are a bit more of a topic I'll go on about later. Also the amount of time it takes to go through levels, like I wasn't really sure if it was just the amount of time I spent traveling from point A to point B or the time I took just clicking on everything. So if you like holding down some keys or clicking (Which is basically all you do in Spore or most games for that matter.), you'll probably enjoy that aspect of it.
Sound is more something that goes unappreciated in my opinion, and this series uses it to it's advantage whether you notice it or not. It's able to make or break the atmosphere of an adventure, and I think it's really been the backbone of the series. I didn't notice the sound my first time through I don't think, but the second time through, the later half of the series really started using sound. (Which is most notable with the last SF getting rekt) The use of the audio tools given in the creator makes the adventures sound appealing consistently, which is extremely satisfying once you actually recognize it.
The actual visual design of the adventures is painful to look at. It's well done, but just...the amount of time to make things is a real pain. I don't like to think about how long it must take to make basic adventures, let alone cram a portion of a story into it. The placement of things feels very planned out for the most part. The times when it feels spontaneous and senseless, it's probably because it's an environment where things aren't going to be planned. The diversity of areas is usually refreshing, while getting the chance to revisit old areas is quite enjoyable if you actually took the time to look around the first time.
The Main Characters
The main characters are a bit strange in my personal opinion. I'll be sure to keep the major spoilers marked and in white once I reach them, just be aware that if you want zero knowledge of the characters, maybe just stop reading now.
So...I want to go out of order of who I noticed first and talk about Overwatch for a second. I was aware of Overwatch being a character since you can talk to her pretty early in the series but I honestly have no clue when she joined the party. I didn't even notice her on my first playthrough until I had gotten to the city. I don't really have much to say about her, I was just really confused by her the first time around.
I'm pretty sure that Rex is there for comic relief. (Mild spoiler up ahead, just like, skip over it. It's nothing to bad as far as the story is concerned.) So while Ryleigh is looking at pets for the captain, as soon as the Dragtor came up and it said something along the lines of "Can speak multiple languages" I immediately wondered if the captain would be able to actually understand the animals, which can't really talk. In the campaign (Just in case you haven't played through the beginning of the space stage for some reason), your captain is given a universal translator. With that in mind, my biggest concern was that this wouldn't be utilized in the series. I was pleasantly surprised to find that it was brought up and that captain was able to talk to Rex, although I can't remember if any of the other characters could understand him or not.
I'm just gonna skip over the pirate and leave it at that. He's pretty cool as far as I'm concerned.
Lo'Reea felt almost conveniently forced in my opinion. I like her as a character, as she is more of the optimist of the group, which is nice to see when the story gets a tad bit tense, but it's like...too convenient. The position her father holds, the timing and location of meeting her, her one use in the story that I can remember. Her particular story felt strange to me even though she's one of the more likable characters in the captain's party.
Bluefall and Eturnal feel like background characters that raise more questions. The backstory is sound, but it feels like they're mostly there for the input and not as much for actually doing stuff. The second to last part that has so far been posted (51) did bring up one of the questions that did cross my mind during my first playthrough, and I'm glad to find that the question of genders was cleared up in one of the other ones (even though I forgot almost immediately.) Like, you get to know them a bit more than some of the other characters, but y'know. They just feel a bit awkward at times. It's best not to want them to do much really.
I didn't play all of the intermissions my first time through, so I was really confused when Gwen just appeared. She's probably the second most useful character the entire series, since she actually knows where she's going and what she's doing. Like really, what would the captain have done if one of the other options had been chosen? Wander around aimlessly and hope for the best? Sure, Ryleigh would probably step in at some point in time, but really. She's also one of the more sassy and aggressive main characters from what I gathered, which, similar to Lo'Reea, is a tad bit refreshing when there's been a lot of light-hearted stuff being thrown at the player. She seems to react appropriately to most of the situations given her character in my opinion.
Arcanus feels like some run-of-the-mill bad guy right now, but I'm sure that we'll get a bit more information on him later that may or may not convince me otherwise.
Then there's Ryleigh. I'd rather talk about Ryleigh more in the part where I talk about any personal, really stupid and not at all reasonable issues I have with the series, but I'll do my best here. Ryleigh is easily the most useful character in the series hands down. But like...the motives behind why she's helping the player (sort of) is a bit sadistic really. Like, I understand not controlling the lives of those who you've created, but uh...wow. It's a bit dark to just have this amount of trauma and despair to befall the planet just because you don't want to control what one thing does. But whatever, not my business I guess. Speaking of omnipotence and stuff (which will come up again later) she really likes to remind you that she's a goddess a lot when you first meet her. Just throwing that out there. As an individual character though, the dialogue and situations are extremely varied compared to the other characters (which makes sense) and grants more life to her than the other characters, which makes her more likable in my opinion.
Another thing was how Ryleigh worked in battle. Both times through, I used a bit of an op captain (mainly because they weren't made with the campaign, they were made in the captain creator) so I was happy to do a bit of combat. But some part of me absolutely hated getting out damaged by really any of the characters. It's completely irrational, but it does bring up the issue of the underpowered captain vs. the other main characters later on.
So the Captain is typically given the middleman neutral route in terms of dialogue. I can't really say I'm surprised considering that they've got a goddess on their side to constantly point them in the right direction and do the occasional bit of all of the work in an adventure even when you're just trying to do it alone but eh details. The way the player's character is represented is usually a fairly difficult thing to do, considering that different captains might have different personalities of tendencies in the eye of the player, so usually playing it safe and making the captain actually care about the task seems like a fairly safe bet.
I can't really think of anything else, and I've been typing this for a while. This is a lot to read so...
Tl;dr it's a good series overall, with some things I find to be a bit bothersome and that others might find more irritating but that's because of difficulty. Definitely worth a playthrough, just be sure to be prepared before going into later levels.
This message was edited 2 times. Last update was at 04/23/2018 09:58:13
Joined: 12/08/2015 00:52:02
Okay, before I say anything else, I APPLAUD you for writing that! There needs to be more reviews on this in general, not just positive ones, either! I'm gonna be brief on my responses to each paragraph since I don'y exactly want this to be an essay's worth, but bear with me!
Your summary is not entirely accurate, but I can't blame you for forgetting a few things along the way since the series is ridiculously long. For one, I like your way to describe Dunkelviking as a "vikate" and how you perceived the hotel/island/resort as meeting Lo'Reea in a bar. I find the summary in general fairly funny.
Your recommendations are definitely interesting, and I didn't really see Penguin give any tips like that before. I try to model my series as an RPG with a lot of story, so it is expected to have a good ramp of difficulty without it surprising the player and screwing them over. I will agree that some of the bosses had too much health since I didn't know how to outfit things very well, nor was I confident in my outfitting abilities at the time, but you can definitely notice the change.
And YES, I pride myself on making every prop, all the novel's-worth of dialogue, and all the characters with their little personalities involved! Personally, I've never heard the sound to be praised before, which I never really thought the sound in the series was anything to gawk at. The visuals are kinda why it takes a while to make new maps for areas like cities and such due to the amount of props I need to place. The Halloween special I made last year was rushed out the gate as soon as I could, but I STILL made every prop and character!
I really like how you caught the translator part with Rex, but he's mainly meant to be a tiny, adorable meatshield with some comic relief added in. Lo'Reea was there for the sake of the captain's escape and her traveling the world despite her parent's warnings since she was sick of life in her village, if you recall. And I don't know if you know, but let's just say Lo"Reea isn't just all light and magic, heheh. The two Abyssal Dragons to have mysterious pasts that they don't talk about for a reason, and that they mainly tag along to avenge their fallen brethren and for the sake that they have nowhere else to go that's safe at the time that they know of.
Arcanus may seem like your average villain, but I can assure you that he's not if you're able to tie up some loose ends that I've been leaving around in the most recent parts, heh heh. Ryleigh herself is supposed to act more like a guide, and is "sadistic" by your description so that she can teach her people the joys and sorrows of life, as life would be meaningless in her eyes if nothing ever went wrong. Life would be a boring, vapid existence that could potentially drive millions, if not more to suicide. Pretty dark, right? With the underpowered issues, it's mainly because I can't scale the damage of the captain properly and to instill a sense of teamwork instead of the player just running in, all gun-ho like.
Anyway, this was a breath of fresh air to read after a really long conference I had to attend to, so I thank you very much for this! I'll be sure to work on Part 53 as much as I can, and I'll be sure to share it when it's done!