Thursday, December 15, 2016

Breath of Death VII - 5 hours

Having finished the game, I feel justified in combining it with Cthulu Saves the World - At the entrance to the final dungeon, your characters break the fourth wall and complain that the game is too short, suggesting that I play the other game right afterwards. So, you know, I have the developers' sanction to treat the games as a group.

Which is good, because Breath of Death VII's story is basically non-existent. The characters are only lightly connected to the plot and there's no build-up to or foreshadowing about its final resolution. There are also no memorable NPCs, enemies, or locations. It's got the basic shape of an rpg, and it makes a lot of clever jokes about the genre, but it's completely shallow. It's definitely worth the fifty cents I paid for it, but there's nothing in it that tempts me to play it a second time.

The game mechanics were admirably well-thought out, though. They manage to evoke the feel of old-shcool rpgs while making a few subtle innovations that generally improve the experience. Each time you level up, you get a choice between two different bonuses and the strategy for how you want to develop your character is a long-term concern that meshes nicely with the tactics of battle. The escalating combo system makes your choices in battle more engaging and encourages you to use a wide variety of attacks.

The only innovation that I'm on the fence about is the "limited number of random encounters per dungeon." On the one hand, this neatly solves the problem of unpredictable xp curves and it makes getting lost in a maze less of a grueling ordeal. On the other hand, what I wound up doing is hanging out near a save point and just grinding through an entire dungeon's worth of encounters before advancing through the game. It just seemed easier that way, even if it was needlessly tedious. I suppose that's my personal hang-up, though it doesn't seem wise to me to have the optimal way to play the game be the least fun.

I'm looking forward to playing the spiritual sequel. As near as I can tell, it retains all of the mechanical innovations of Breath of Death VII, but hopefully there are further refinements for an even smoother experience. I'm also hoping that the plot and characters have a bit more depth this time around, or at the very least that the game lasts long enough I don't have to waste too much of my life replaying it.

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