Tag Archives: action RPG

Ever Oasis, a refuge from the hardness of life

Ever Oasis comes to us from the studio Grezzo and is Koichi Ishii’s latest project, who you might know as the designer who created the Mana series of action, fantasy-based role-playing games, of which I’ve dabbled in Secret of Mana back on the SNES, own an untouched digital copy of the PlayStation 1’s Legend of Mana on my PlayStation 3, and have no further experience with any other games in the series. Boo to that, boo to me. Ishii is also tied to the creation of those adorable Chocobo and Moogle characters, and the Noots found in Ever Oasis, with their rotund figure, feathery eyebrows, and bouncy walks, are sure to become another beloved trademark. Any way you slice it, there’s pedigree here and a whole heap of ambition.

In Ever Oasis, you play as either Tethu or Tethi, a young seedling, who with the help of a water spirit named Esna creates an oasis after your brother’s oasis falls victim to the evil force known as Chaos. I went with Tethi and gave her purple skin. Your main goal is to find more residents that can help fight these Chaos creatures, as well as create a safe and functional oasis for all to live in. That often requires doing specific tasks for wannabe residents and, once they’re in, setting up shops, called bloom booths, for them to sell their wares and keeping those shops well-stocked. Alas, the story is cookie-cutter basic and far from ambitious, yet the character designs are fun and memorable, and seeing a new possible resident show up in your oasis is exciting, even if the most they can offer you is a fetch quest.

However, it’s not enough to build a new oasis in Ever Oasis. No, no, it has to be prosperous, absolutely perfect. You hit this goal by completing missions in dungeons and caves outside the oasis, in the dangerous desert. Players can form a party of up to three characters and battle a range of enemies possessed by Chaos, but more on that in a bit. Dungeons also contain puzzles and treasure chests full of materials needed to restock bloom booths. Shopkeepers with popular products produce dewadems, this realm’s strangely named currency, which you can spend on various things, like building more booths or crafting new weapons/bits of armor. Bloom booths can also be upgraded by re-stocking them and completing quests for their operators.

Something the Mana games all have in common that is also found in Ever Oasis is a seamless, real-time battle system. One nice option is the ability to switch between any of your three party members at any given time, providing options for weapons and abilities, though I have mostly stuck with Tethi. Combat is a mix of light strategy and button-mashing, with an emphasis on rolling away from an enemy’s attack. You yourself have a Normal Attack, a Special Attack, and unlock combos as you level up. Because you can’t move after landing an attack, you want to ensure you don’t leave yourself open for damage; thankfully, so far, all the encountered enemies have a tell just before they lunge at you, which allows you to time your rolls and keep your HP up. One nice bonus of maintaining a healthy and happy oasis is that your health, when out in dungeons, is extended because of this. As more people swarm to your oasis, it grows and levels up, providing you with new crafting recipes and more safety net HP.

There’s little bits and pieces of things I love very much in Ever Oasis, but they are currently not enough to get me jumping for joy. Like, you can plant seeds and assign an unemployed Seedling to tend to your crops, but this is no Stardew Valley or even Disney Magical World 2. The farming aspect seems ultra basic. You plant seeds, you can either spend dewadems to help them grow faster or not, and wait for them to grow. An oasis of loyal and almost-loyal Seedlings sounds lovely, but this is no Animal Crossing, as they don’t have much to say other than their initial questline and just sort of wander down the road aimlessly. Also, the menus are clean and fine, though I found the section on main quests to be lacking; I want to be able to select a quest as a priority over others and have it drop the necessary waypoints on my map screen or at least see how I’m progressing towards it.

I do worry that Ever Oasis will turn into a grind, something I’m beginning to see as I prepare to throw my first festival, which first requires obtaining a number of stamps from happy shopkeepers. I’ll keep at it for the near future because I simply cannot fall back down the wormhole that is upping my completion rate in Disney Magical World 2, which would basically require me to craft a ton of princess dresses and outfits for girls.

The Paul gives his impressions on the first hour or so of Bastion

Like most gaming entertainment, Bastion begins with some narration. This is to set the scene, tell a little backstory, get the proverbial ball rolling. However, with Supergiant Games’ first release, there’s a hook; the narration never stops. Voiced by Logan Cunningham, the game’s narrator is ever watchful and never a bit shy to comment on the fact that you’re slashing everything in your path apart or that you need to leave that adopted pet in your stronghold alone for now or that you went left instead of right first. It’s interesting and a little creepy, but it certainly gives one a sense of their own experience, something true to only them, and that their version of the Kid is being role-played as they deem.

Bastion is about rebuilding. An event known as the Calamity has split the world into a series of floating islands, and the Kid, our silent protagonist, heads to the Bastion, a safe haven of sorts that his people created to live at protected during these hard times. Unfortunately, upon arrival, it is clear that there is a lot of work yet to be done, and so the Kid sets off across the floating map to find new resources. So far, I’ve been able to upgrade the Bastion with two new buildings: a distillery and a forge. The former is a place of potions and magical unctions, and the latter lets you tweak your current weapons with passive abilities, such as improving the speed of your bow or your chance to land a critical hit with that mighty hammer. Standard RPG flair, but the stat personalizing and slight customization is welcomed.

The game is highly stylized, with gorgeous artwork, vibrant colors, and a playing field that forms all around the Kid as he moves forward. It’s amazing to see the path constructing right before your feet for the first time, and it’s still equally amazing the fortieth time it happens. Kudos to the developers for that neat trick. The monster designs are adorable, like something from a Hayao Miyazaki film. At times, the camera zooms in for a closer look at the action, which I greatly appreciated. Every place is a place of import, nabbing a cool name that any fan of epic fantasy fiction will love. My personal favorites: The Rippling Walls and Breaker Barracks.

If there’s one complaint I could toss onto the field it’s that the dynamic narrator is sometimes talking right as a swarm of Squirts appear out of nowhere and attack the Kid. Unfortunately, at that point I am more concerned with staying alive and swiping my enemies to bits to really listen, meaning I’ve missed out on whatever he said. Granted, it might have been something minor, but it might not have been. A narration log would be nice, or some kind of codex to keep track of everything. Also, at least for me and my television from 2005, Bastion is another example of a tiny text game.

But so it starts:


The Stranger (10G): Complete the Wharf District.

Looking forward to building more of the Bastion tonight after work.

JUST BEAT: Musashi: Samurai Legend

musashi_samurai_legend_cover

Developer/Publisher: Square Enix
Platform: PS2
Genre(s): Action Adventure/RPG
Mode(s): Singe player
Rating: Teen
Time clocked: About 22 hours

The Basics
Though claiming to be a sequel to the charming and fun action RPG Brave Fencer Musashi that was released for Sony’s PlayStation in 1998, Musashi: Samurai Legend is anything but a trite re-imagining of what was once charming and fun. The story starts off with Princess Mycella summoning a hero from another world in order to help save hers. That hero—hapless and helpless as he is—turns out to be Musashi, who takes on the training of Yoda Master Mew in order to rescue the princess back from the evil hands of President Gandrake. Also, he needs to collect the legendary five swords along the way.

The Good
If anything, as an action RPG, Musashi: Samurai Legend does offer a solid amount of action. Each spot on the world map offers tons of enemies to slice apart or learn techniques from, with also a splash of platforming and puzzle-solving thrown in for good measure. Musashi himself can learn a number of special attacks, but it’s mostly hacking and slashing and occasionally blocking for him as he pushes forward. Some sections really offer a lot of action with never-ending spawn points for enemies.

The Bad
As I recall, Brave Fencer Musashi was somewhat linear…but never to this extreme. You can’t get lost in this game, and there’s only a pinch of retreading familiar grounds (which are handed to the gamer so stupidly that there’s no point in even feeling proud when you remember you can now access a certain area thanks to your new “walk-on-water boots”). One task dropped upon Musashi’s feminine shoulders is that of rescuing 28 lost villagers…don’t worry, you’ll get them all as just about every single floating blue orb hosting a stolen soul is right along the main path. Way to make it challenging, Square Enix.

Also, every time you rescue one of the Mystics, you must carry her from the end of the level back to the beginning. While fighting off hordes of enemies. This, my readers, is complete bullshit and will most certainly have you grinding your teeth at the screen. The game is very repetitive in that sense, and even the boss battles become nothing more than “learn the pattern, attack here”. A little more variety and branching would’ve been appreciated, as would’ve the day/night cycle from the previous entry.

The Fugly
Where to start?

First, Musashi from Brave Fencer Musashi dressed the part of a traditional samurai, which made sense given that that’s what he was. Here, Musashi has changed up his style to be some sort of California surfer/drug addict supermodel with no money for a haircut. Is there a reason gamers need to see his midriff?

Second, the writing. It was either the writing or the voice acting, but since the voice actors are only reading what is written in their script, I went with the former. It’s bad, people. Overtly bad, especially when it tries to lighten the mood. Musashi attempts to sound tough, comes off cheesy. The Mystic of the Void tries to sound seductive, comes off cheap and whorish. Master Mew dramatically attempts wisdom and being wizened, sounds like a dying cat.

Third, the graphics. They’re not terrible, really. Not by PS2 standards at least. They’re just…so odd. Soft lighting, with thick brown outlines for everything, and no one seems to have noses. Think Dark Cloud 2 and every Impressionistic painting created. It’s like a re-imagined cel shading technique that, while colorful, really could’ve been a lot more. It seems most of the money was spent on the fully animated intro, which is ham-fisted and replete with words like legendary and power and fate.

The Overall Vibe
I will not lie. I got this game for $4.99, and when you pay that price expectations cannot be too high. Still, I was looking for something a little deeper, a little more fun and punny like Brave Fencer Musashi. The game’s not terribly tough or deep, and beating it allows one to start a new campaign+, which means nothing to me. I have no idea why someone would need to go through this more than once unless they really missed collecting digital playing cards of enemies and such. I won’t be going back.

4 out 10