A warning for anyone reading this: There will be spoilers here! Too many to count. I'll try not to give more away than I need to, but there are certain things I'll have to point out.
Anyway, hi there Tenkarider
Congratulations on this release!
I'll admit, I didn't think I'd like this, because I'm not a fan of point-and-click adventure. I'm more a fan of the action/fps type of game. But I had a few extra minutes, and I saw this was a really new release, so I decided to check it out. Especially when I saw it involved battling wolves and other scary creatures in a scary forest, which does sound interesting. So I thought I'd at least try it, and I have to say, you've won me over. I'll certainly be watching this!
I am right now trying to fight the owner of the manner, and I have a lot of feedback myself. Most of this has been said at least once before, if not multiple times, and I'll apologize in advance if I critique something you've already addressed. but I'll just put it all out here, and let you do with it what you will.
What I love about this game
I absolutely love the sounds. I wouldn't call them realistic, but they are definitely high quality and terrifying, at least I think so. To be honest, I wouldn't want to change the sound effects at all; the texture of the sounds, if you will, is pretty neat, and I feel like it's a bit unique in the audio game world.
The turning around puzzle was pretty nifty I have to say. It of course isn't complex, but the sounds really amp things up and can scare the crap out of someone who isn't prepared. Not to mention, if you fail at this puzzle, the death scene is certainly sick and gruesome. As well as the scene where you discover you're eating human meat. I don't quite understand what happens there, but that is also a memorable scene for me. I'm hoping to see more like this in the final game!
But I do have some critiques:
First of all I like the narration being there. I find the tone of the voice a bit unfitting at times, like the narrator didn't quite know how he wanted to say things? But I still prefer it over synthesized speech; I miss the days when audio games contained human voice prompts, since a distinct voice helps set a game apart.
Personally, I would suggest keeping the built-in narration as the primary method of speech. That said, if you'd like to add screen reader or SAPI support, I wouldn't mind. However, timing the sound effects to the synthesized speech would be a very hard task, and I'm pretty sure you already said that. So if you do implement synthesized speech, you could restrict it to the tab/shift tab and other menus where critical timing isn't important. That would satisfy those who don't like the built-in narration.
Various Interface Shortcomings
Some have said that the narration is slow, and I have to agree to a point. The speed of the voice itself is fine, but there are too many instances where you have to wait for the game to catch up. For instance, when I press tab, I have to wait about half a second for the next item to be read. This is a bit of an annoyance after a while, and some Unity games are better than others about that.
I'm a bit curious as to whether the sound files themselves have silence at the beginning, or if the engine is to blame for this. At the moment, the sound files seem a more likely culprit; battles don't have nearly so much delay when pressing keys, so the menu options may need to have some silence trimmed off the beginning of the voice clips. Of course, I'm just hypothesizing.
Another annoying shortcoming is the inability to skip cut scenes. For instance, right before the fight with the manner owner, there's a nice long cut scene that I have to listen to, and I'd really love to be able to skip that. I'd say that every message or cut scene needs to be interruptible with a dedicated skip key. That way, any time you hear a message you don't care about, you can press the skip key and move on. This might take extra code of course, but it is well worth it for people like me who are used to moving quickly.
I have to agree that the voice prompts during battle, such as "blow on the left", "blow in the middle", "blow on the right", "you've used a blood vile" and "you are hit!"are unnecessary. All of those events have their own sounds. In some cases the sounds are subtle, but that adds to the challenge. Deadly attacks also don't need to be announced, since if I'm hearing correctly they have their own sounds too. So, I'd say disable those voice prompts, or perhaps add a key to toggle them during battle, so those who really really want them can turn them on.
I'll be honest, when I first realized that the game was going to give me a play-by-play during battle, I almost couldn't do it; the commentary is just distracting. I want to appreciate the horrifying enemy sounds, and try to hear what's happening without voice guidance.
One other thing I would love to see during battle is a better way of giving your life points. Instead of saying 100 percent, less than 75, less than 50 etc. I would love to hear an exact number. A number such as "73" is more concise and more exact than "less than 75". Furthermore, when reading your life points during battle, I don't really need to hear "perfect condition" or "he's lost too much blood" etc. Those descriptions are nice for atmosphere and are totally fine in the menu screen, but during battle they are again distracting, and serve as unnecessary commentary.
One more thing about battles: sounds tend to cut off a lot. For instance, the sound of me dodging or attacking will cut off the sounds of my enemy's attack. While this doesn't break anything mechanically, it does sound a little cheap. As an audio person, it really bugs me to hear the dramatic swoosh of my enemy's incoming attack being cut off by the player's actions, especially since the player doesn't block attacks, but only performs attacks of his own or dodges the attacks coming at him.
SLJ mentioned that the delay introduced while you're being chased is annoying. Personally I can live with it, but a better way to handle that scene would be to perhaps play large creature sounds and chains in the background. In other words, don't play the sounds when you press tab and shift tab, just constantly play them to remind you that he's coming, and then of course stop playing them when he sees you and engages in battle. The absolutely creepy music, combined with his constant chains, would really set the atmosphere well I think, and the delay wouldn't be needed.
Finally some questions
If you've made it this far, I have a number of questions.
1. How do you know whether dodging, attacking or a combination of the two is most effective on an enemy? The game will tell you at times, but for most enemies such as wolves, zombies etc. it won't. So do you use the speed of the enemy as a guide, or do you just have to experiment? Right now I'm mostly experimenting.
2. Can you actually beat Dracula at the beginning? Of course, to advance the story you don't have to beat him, but I was wondering if you potentially could, or if I'd be wasting my time trying.
3. When you're being chased by the monster with chains, he seems to catch you at certain points in the mountains. Are these scripted i.e. he'll always catch you at the same points? They seem to be, at least when I was playing it earlier, but I thought I'd bring it up anyway.
4. Finally, when you get enough experience and reach a new level, what benefits do you get? The game doesn't say. More life points? More attack strength? Normally I'd expect a new level to bring at least some benefit, at least going by my limited experience with RPGs. If there is no benefit, then the experience/leveling system really doesn't have a purpose.
So yeah, that's pretty much everything I was going to say about this game at the moment. While I feel that all of these points are important to the game, I of course don't expect you to get to them all at once. But I'll be interested to see your responses!
Good luck with the project!
Make more of less, that way you won't make less of more!
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