Tomb hunter review:
All things start with something. In this case, I would like to start this with an apology for what you will read below. Let me assure you that I have nothing against the developers of the game. I have not interacted with them live, we have not had a conflict in the past, no. Below are my honest thoughts. I will encompass as much of the game as I can, but I'm a human and thus prone to make mistakes.
My thoughts before the release:
Let's get one thing out of the way. I really enjoyed the original MOTA. I've played every version of it, and enjoyed every single one of them. Naturally when I heard about Mason working on it, I got excited. Who wouldn't be?
The first look:
After trying the demo I must say, I was not thrilled with the gameplay. Everything starting from running jumps and ending with not being able to tell how far I'm moving, but I'll go into that in a bit.
I've finished the demo, and then listened to Liam's stream. In fact, he in part inspired me to sit down and write this big old mess. I strongly agree with what he said, some of the game has large issues that testers should have caught. Strap yourself in, and remember, this is only an opinion of one man.
For anyone who hasn't played TH (Tomb hunter) demo, here are a couple of things you should know.
1: It only has 7 levels.
2: In the full version you will have access to the shop where you could exchange gold and gems for goodies. The demo, bless Mason's heart, disables it, making the game a bit harder to complete.
3: No saving! The demo does not allow you to save your game, there by increasing overall difficulty of the game.
Let's go over points 2 and 3 in a little more detail, shall we?
In edition to exchanging gems for gold, you can spend that gold on certain goodies such as extra lives, potions, weapons, and level-specific items. The demo mode makes you unable to access the shop, making you more conservative with the way you use your items. On one hand it's good because it teaches you to save your items until you're in a pinch, but on the other hand, if I'm a new player, saving items is the least of my worries. If I have to worry how many swords I use and I don't know about the shop, I might not buy the game, fearing that it may be too difficult to complete. That, in my opinion is one of the bad choices in the designing the demo mode.
In the full version, whenever you win a level your game saves. As you might have guessed or known, it doesn't do that in the demo. I can't stress this enough! As a new player, I need that saving feature, especially because I'm learning new mechanics. It took me 3 tries to get to the end of the demo, 3. All because of some poor choice on the developers part. I'm learning something new, and the game gives me barely any room for errors. That's the worst thing you could do in the demo. The shop I might understand, but not being able to save? If I didn't know better, I'd say you're trying to drive the new players off the game instead of attracting them. Hell, if someone didn't buy the game for me, I wouldn't pay for it do to those two things combined.
How can it be made better?
Add the shop and saving into the demo. This will make the game more appealing to newer players, which could potentially bring in more cash.
Right, I think I've covered the demo, let's move on to the actual game.
First up, the story.
My first question when I started a new game on the full version is why? Why didn't you allow the players to see the story in the demo? After all, it's not like they'd be getting a novel for free. They'd be getting 500 words at most. Besides, it would also explain why you're in the tomb, as right now the player is basically dropped off on level one without an explanation as to why or how they got into the tomb in the first place. The game also contains 0 of the storyline past that snippet. It's like the story was put on the backburner after you wrote those 500 words. The gate, for being a shitty game does have some story in hopes of interesting you, which is something TH despritly needs.
The amazing registration system:
Let's back up for a second. I just found out that Tomb Hunter needs to have a connection to the server for you to be able to play the full version. No! No no no no no! Mason, why! You have a history of taking your servers down, and when you do, folks are gonna raise hell on the forum. And let's face it. They will be within their right. Don't tell me that your server won't go down, a month or two ago someone had to upload the demo is a perfect example of unstable internet. I'm not saying it was your fault, but a lot of folks are going to be upset if your server goes down. I understand why you do it, but again, you don't have to be a monster in order to make your game secure. I like the system which tracks the number of pc's you register, for example, but making you unable to play Tomb Hunter without your server is just plain dumb.
It all starts at level 1:
By this point you may think that I hate the game. I don't. I just think that it has a large amount of glaring issues that should have been caught by the testers. One thing I do like is the running system. I always frown upon the characters being to run at will, and TH presented a nice surprise in that aspect. I enjoyed the new mechanic, even if it made things difficult.
No descriptions for items!
As soon as I picked up a potion I pressed every key on the keyboard to see how it looks. No such luck. I'm not asking for a paragraph here. Really, something like "A vial of dark red liquid that glimmers when agitated" would add more depth to the game. Same thing with scrolls. Why am I picking them up? What do they contain? How are they important?
The difficulty spikes:
Things started to be dumb at level 9. Please, add a feature that allows you to look from your camera's position. This, in turn will make the game a little more strait forward, as I had a really difficult time finding my way through the level.
Bullshit at level 10:
Right. Let's start with the time bombs. Let me point something out here. If you die, you need to restart the level, as the bombs will start detonating as soon as you step off the staircase and won't stop if you get killed by something like a ghost. Now, I'm willing to give the developers a benefit of the doubt here, but this should have been caught by the testers way before the game was released. What's worse is that the portal won't let you go through till you pick up a certain item, and gives you no indication of what you missed. Now, don't get me wrong, I love challenges. I really do. However, it is frustrating not understanding what you've missed and looking all over the level for 30 minutes before someone telling you that you need to restart in order to pick up those bombs that blew up while you tried to deal with those 101 enemies that patrol that spot.
Games of chance:
Before you enter level 13, you must play a game of rock paper scissors. If you win, great! You keep your stuff. If you lose, you lose all of your inventory, and the game saves afterwards, so you can't just try it again. This pretty much put me off the game for a while. If the dev can't do anything but take your equipment and items away, chances are they weren't that creative to begin with.
The nonsense of level design:
Come on, guys, you've seen this bit coming.
So, let's start with birds. Name me a bird that sounds like a crow that lives in tombs. You can't, right? Well, TH, for being, uh, tomb hunter stile game puts crows in the tombs. For me that was the first clue that whatever I was playing was, in fact, some ideas slapped together without any connections.
Ah, here's your second clue. The ambiance at level 9:
Why the hell does it sound like you're outside? Mason, if you're gonna do that, please, add some story to it. Why does it sound like your outside? Are you crossing trees to get into the next tomb? Something is better than nothing.
Another problem I have with the levels is rain. Tell me please, have you ever seen it rain in a tomb? No? I haven't either. I also haven't seen snow, ice, and Molotov cocktails, though I could get my head around the last one.
The, uh, level-specific items:
For anyone who doesn't know, you must buy a parachute for level 20. The game does nothing to alert you of that fact. So you'll spend about 10 minutes looking around for an imaginary platform before hitting the Z and discovering the item. I was really annoyed with it. It's like my maps in SBYW, you spend 30 minutes looking for something, or solving a math problem which will give you the coords you need to hit enter at to progress. Notice that I said like. My maps and the game are two different things. My map gives you a hint, while Tomb Hunter gives you nothing.
The second time the game pulls something like that is either at level 27. I don't remember which one. You must dive into the river, because that was something you could do with underground bodies of water you encountered earlier... Not. Again, the game sticks the item in the shop without telling you, so you could spend 30 or so minutes swimming around and not understanding why you're dying.
Now, there are people that are happy with those kind of puzzles, and that's fine. It just shows how important it is to have testers of different skill levels, which, as it currently stands, Tomb Hunter failed at.
The difficulty failure:
What? I hear you scream. You were wining about the game being too hard a second ago, and now you're saying it's easy? Make up your mind already! While it is true that I complained about the game being too hard, past level 10 it felt really repetitive. I didn't feel like I was going deeper and the things growing more difficult, no. Quite the opposite, in fact. I felt really bord until level 30, which should not be the case with this type of game. Let's take adventure at C as example. It had a great difficulty curve. Anyone remember playing Windows? The first level was easy, right? System 32 was a bit more challenging but still easy to a certain extent, outer fortress brought it up to a new level of hard, and inner fortress was pure hell. With this game it feels like Windows is levels 1 to 8, outer fortress 9, inner fortress 10, and all the rest between system 32 and Windows. I'm sorry, but for 25 bux I expect to be challenged at least 3 quarters through the game. I grew tired of doing the same thing by level 20, and I didn't feel anything but relief when I got to level 30, which, again, should not be the case for a game with this kind of price tag.
The ability to win, not!
Ok, the biggest complaint of them all. I got told that there was no scroll at level 30, making the game unfinishable. So, you're telling me that I spent god knows how many hours on this game and I can't get a satisfaction of finishing it? Really, Mason, really? Why? Why couldn't you wait until the game was able to be won before releasing it? I understand the excitement, but seriously? The Gate is worse than this, and yet it has an ending. A crappy one, but still. I swear, I was about to delete the game from my computer. It's not ethical to leave your customers with an unfinished product. I would have been happy had you finished the level and just returned me to the main menu, but nope. Level 30 is the highest point, apparently.
To wrap this up:
Here are some questions folks have asked me. Would I ever play through Tomb Hunter again? Nope. Not unless the game gets scrapped, re-scrapped, and polished. What is your rating for the game on a scale of 1 to 10 with 10 being the best thing ever? A 3. It feels way too unfinished, it has large holes in the design, and I think Mason reused some parts of levels from Crime hunter. Do you feel like it was 2 years in the making? No, I don't. Honestly, I feel like the name Tomb Hunter was used as a marketing strategy. Mason did take some concepts from MOTA, but it seems like he just tried to add a bunch of ideas instead of trying to preserve the original game. Are there other issues with the game besides the ones you listed above? Oh yeah, plenty. Those were the major ones for me, however. What comes after you finish the game? I don't know, and frankly don't care. Like I said above, I won't replay the game unless there is some major cleanup of levels, adjusting of the difficulty curve, and a decent story to go along with it. Why are you writing this? A question I tried to answer myself as I went and edited this giant mess. I guess I just feel like this needs to be heard.
We're almost done:
I wana say thanks to the user known as Audiogame here on the forum. Without him you won't have seen this review. Audiogame also helped me with the levels of the game, staying on teamtalk and patiently waiting through me dying, reloading the game, and muddering curses under my breath.
Well, I think we're finished here.
I will update this if I feel the need to do so. Thanks for reading this monstrosity, and have a good night, day, or what have you.
What is hard is dynamic coding, coding that accepts different input at different times.
This is what truly takes a large amount of effort on a developer's part.