Operation Backlog Completion 2017
May 152017
 

I recently mentioned my work on new video game projects, and it’s time to unveil one of them.

As we finish up work on Ascendant Hearts, I’ve begun a new project with Visualnoveler: a fantasy RPG called Destiny Chronicles.

Destiny Chronicles follows a young squire named Celeste on a journey to reclaim an ancient artifact that was stolen from her. On the way, she’ll cross paths with a mage named Ruby and a mercenary named Valana, among other characters.

We’ve drawn inspiration from JRPGs, especially action JRPGs. In addition to action RPG combat, it will have a talent tree, an upgrade system, and more.

As the writer for Destiny Chronicles, I’m responsible for both the overall story and the character interactions. We’re aiming for a fun, lighthearted tone that nevertheless tells a compelling, intriguing story.

Here are a couple screenshots showing Celeste in two of the environments you can look forward to exploring once the game is complete.

We have a few sample songs from the soundtrack available, too.

You can check out the official Destiny Chronicles website here, and take a look at the press release here.

We’re currently in the early development stage and intend to launch a Kickstarter in the future. In the meantime, if you have any questions about Destiny Chronicles, especially about its story or characters, let me know!

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May 032017
 

Several months ago, before Nintendo revealed the Switch, a rumor circulated about a launch-day crossover between Mario and Ubisoft’s Raving Rabbids series.

That sounded pretty weird, and even though it was supposed to be an RPG, it left me skeptical.

Then the Switch was unveiled, its upcoming lineup of games included no Rabbids crossover, and I assumed it was just a weird rumor with nothing more to it.

Now the rumor is back.

Kotaku says they’ve gotten to see art assets for Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle from an anonymous source.

Apparently it’s a turn-based RPG starring Mario, Luigi, Peach, Yoshi, and four Rabbids dressed up like them (why?) as playable characters, and they wield laser guns.

Can this possibly be true?

On one hand, it sounds plausible. Weird video game crossovers have come out before, and some have actually been good. On the other hand, even art assets can be faked.

This new rumor claims Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle will be out in August or September for the Switch, so if it’s true, I’d expect news at E3.

I’ve never played a Rabbids game before. Nothing about them appeals to me. However, I love the Mario RPGs (the ones that actually are RPGs). Still, I feel less enthusiastic about a Mario x Rabbids crossover than I do about Paper Mario: Color Splash, which I still haven’t played.

What do you think? Is the bizarre Mario-Rabbids crossover RPG real or fake… and do you think such a concept could be good?

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Apr 242017
 

Over the weekend, I finished Mass Effect: Andromeda. In the time leading up to its release, I was conflicted about it… and I’m still conflicted.

I can’t say wholeheartedly that Mass Effect: Andromeda is a good game. But it’s not a bad game, either… it’s just kind of bland.

Let’s get the technical issues out of the way first. Yes, it had some problems with facial animations, although a patch fixed some of that, and it still has glitches here and there. Aside from a couple bugged side quests, however, it’s perfectly playable.

I don’t have a lot to say about the combat. It’s enjoyable enough, but I really play a game like Mass Effect for the story, characters, and world galaxy.

Andromeda doesn’t suffer from the same problem I had with Inquisition, where its story and open world felt entirely separate. The story quests here take place on the same planets you explore for side quests and optional content.

Unfortunately, I never felt compelled to explore. The planets just don’t have many interesting things to see or discover, and following side quests around the map often showed me everything. It often felt repetitive, with similar goals and locations in each world, along with 2-3 types of boss fights you’ll encounter repeatedly.

Click for Mass Effect: Andromeda boss types

Many of the side quests are fetch quests, although a few are more interesting. The more in-depth quests often send you from planet to planet, a task made frustrating by the slow galaxy map navigation, and result in a choice at the end. Despite what you may have heard, Andromeda does have some tough choices, although they don’t impact the game overall. These choices may become more important in any sequels.

What bothers me more than the lack of impact from major choices is the lack of impact from dialogue. Dialogue choices affect your character’s tone, but little else. The persuasion system is also gone, and I missed the ability to earn additional solutions. It felt like nothing I chose in dialogue really mattered.

But Andromeda’s story has issues beyond the player’s choices.

Story

Before the game came out, I worried it might de-emphasize the story. It didn’t do that. Andromeda has a clear plot and also presents mysteries, like the origin of the mysterious “Remnant” structures scattered throughout the cluster. The mysteries caught my attention and kept me intrigued. I wanted to know more.

The main plot, however, only occasionally kept me interested in what would happen next… mainly because of the lackluster villains.

When I reviewed Dragon Age Inquisition, I mentioned how Corypheus disappointed me, because after his ominous start, he stopped feeling like a true threat.

Andromeda’s villain is somehow less compelling than Corypheus.

The start of the game introduces an alien race that rejects all attempts at communication and attacks the Milky Way travelers immediately.

They are the kett, and they are also newcomers to the Andromeda Galaxy, hostile invaders fighting the native angara. The kett’s leader, the Archon, is obsessed with the Remnant technology and searching for a way to control it.

Click for Mass Effect: Andromeda spoilers

I didn’t find the Archon interesting or threatening. The kett overall provided a credible threat, but the Archon himself came across as a cartoonish villain, or like a little kid throwing a tantrum.

Fortunately, the Archon is the low point for characters in Andromeda.

Characters

While the dialogue can be awkward at times, I loved the main cast. My party members and crew aboard the Tempest were all lovable (except Liam, who annoyed me more often than not), and I looked forward to each new round of dialogue with them. Their loyalty missions were exciting and had some of the game’s best choices, and they also had some interesting minor quests as well.

(But I’m so disappointed that I never got to see Firebreathing Thresher Maws of Doom. Was that scene unfinished?)

Interactions between the Andromeda crew lead to some of the best dialogue and scenes, and those were the moments where Andromeda really shone.

There’s only one thing I’ll criticize about the character interactions, and that’s the small role filled by the other Ryder twin.

Click for major Mass Effect: Andromeda spoilers

Despite this, at least the main cast was strong. By far, my favorite party member was Jaal. Jaal is an angara, the alien race native to Andromeda, and he’s wonderful.

Jaal and Xeha Ryder, my Xehanort-inspired Ryder because I’m weird like that

Jaal’s conversations with the other party members are endearing and funny, and he’s such an entertaining and sweet character that he became my romance option of choice.

Click for minor Andromeda romance detail

The angara in general are good characters. Some are excited to get to know us aliens, while others are violently opposed to dealing with outsiders, and still others fall cautiously in between.

At its best, Andromeda gave me fun conversations with my party members, entertaining scenes, and enjoyable interactions with both the angara and the Milky Way travelers trying to make a home in Andromeda. At its worst, it gave me repetitive worlds full of fetch quests as I fought a boring villain and worked through a lackluster plot.

So, do I recommend Mass Effect: Andromeda or not? Well… I give it a maybe. I enjoyed it… but there are so many things it could have done better.

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