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Game Maker Games - Eve of Sadness
 Eve of Sadness by Jeremy LaCroix
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Review by Joewoof
Making an RPG is always a huge undertaking. The intimidation from the sheer amount of effort required is so great that it often deters many of us amateur developers. Some of us are exhausted from putting together the game engine alone. Others spend an eternity trying to complete an RPG. Worse, many people are too ambitious to begin with, setting the goal so high that it can never be achieved. It has been ages since a full RPG is released around these parts. Fortunately, a few developers do manage to pull through on their own. Eve of Sadness, the second episode in a planned trilogy, is the fruit of that labor.

Eve of Sadness is a story-centered action RPG that begins with a powerful, thought-provoking introduction. Early on, the game presents itself to be an exceptional experience. Ultimately, however, it fails to live up to that expectation.

Thousands of years ago, before mankind came to inhabit Earth, they existed elsewhere, as emotionless slaves of the Apostles of God. For ages, humanity was used to perform tasks that gods cannot do so in the physical realm. Among these humans, there were "Defects", individuals who are capable of experiencing emotion and have the ability to rebel against their masters. Eve is both the savior and the mother of all these humans. She set about on a journey to destroy the Apostles and free the rest of humanity from the control of the gods. She succeeded in her struggle.

The story continues from the first episode, Eve of Emotion, with Eve and her friends traveling on their spaceship. After a long search, they find a planet with the last remaining humans in the universe. However, these humans are afflicted with a mysterious plague. Eve must seek out the cause before her beloved fellow humans die.

Eve of Sadness stays true to the traditional RPG, using many familiar elements. This game is complete with an impressive full-sized overworld to explore, save points, items to collect, battle encounters, leveling up & stat-building, and a "magic" system. There are NPCs to interact with and hidden treasures to collect.

The battle system is simple. When Eve comes into the range of a monster, she immediately equips her ray gun. Her hit points also appear in a neat little window. Eve fires her ray gun in the direction that she is facing. As she can only fire one shot at a time, timing is very crucial. She can also activate a blue forcefield to block incoming projectiles. This innovation adds that important spice to the gameplay. As Eve explores the world, she gains access to a small number of magic spells called "ESP abilities". These create a level of strategy.

= Target Appeal =

Good.

This game puts a spin on the Christian religion. This is a classic concept that is very attractive with the right execution. The game manages to do it well, presenting this old theme in a decent new context. The result is a level of depth and sophistication that RPG players come to love.

The main character, Eve, is a mysterious, alluring young woman. The game puts her in the spotlight, which definitely creates good appeal.

On the other hand, the graphics in this game are obviously taken from known external resources. Many people dislike this lack of graphical originality.

= Immersion =

Lacking.

The majority of the graphics are taken from several external resources. The problem this creates is a serious lack of graphical unity. Character sprites greatly differ in quality, with some sprites being actually smaller than others. Some portraits are fully vivid, while others are rough and lackluster. Many objects, such as furniture in homes, are obviously different in quality compared to their surrounding tiles. Even projectiles differ in effects. While character fire has trailing effects (which also contrast badly with the rest of graphics) enemies do not. The dialogue message background is also not representative of the futuristic context of the game, since it is a paper scroll.

Not only that, a number of graphics need refinement. The clouds in the overworld have unfitting fuchsia-colored edges. Also, the sprite used for the "Psychosis" background should be circular instead of rectangular. A few of the backgrounds (the hands) used in the introductory sequence seem out-of-focus, when compared with other, clearer ones (the clouds).

Overall though, these graphics do work together to create a moderately convincing world.

At the very least, the speech text uses a good engine that does not suffer from the common one-frame oddity where a word tends to go over the text box boundary.

Sound effects are nothing amazing, but they work. A number of them, like graphics, are obviously taken from resource packs without any alteration. This may bother a few people.

The music scores are good. They all fit the main theme really well and many of them make up for the problems with the graphics.

Unfortunately, both sounds and music need adjustments in volume. Some sounds are annoyingly loud, while some music pieces are almost inaudible.

Sadly, while having a good story can potentially alleviate poor immersion created by the above issues, this game fails to do so with its story. That is because, while the underlying story concept is very deep, the plot structure does not follow a good dramatic curve. The characterization of both the protagonists and the antagonists are also neglected. This game also uses a non-linear exploration approach, which worsens the situation as there is little driving force within the story to begin with. Additionally, the game focuses too much on the antagonists, while it should instead revolve more around Eve. This also destroys the suspense and tension of dealing with the unknown. In short, the story has great context, but the content lacks substance. Worse, the little substance the story has works against the creation of suspense and tension.

Eve should act as the narrator that speaks aloud all her thoughts throughout the whole game. This allows Eve's circumstances of appearing emotionless to remain intact, while conveying the reality that Eve is highly compassionate and sentimental. This game desperately needs that.

Furthermore, the items collected within the game are not placed within the context of the story.

= Polish =

Horrible.

There is little attention given to details within this game, resulting in countless disruptions of the game flow. The first major problem is the lack of a seamless environment. To go from one room to the next, you have to press "Enter", while standing on an arrow. Having to do this everytime makes the game world seem overly artificial.

Another big issue is the collision system. Eve easily gets stuck in corners and when she bumps into monsters. This happens very often and usually results in a Game Over. This common problem is easily fixed through the use of mask sprites, but it is not done.

The game also slows down when Eve is travelling on the overworld map. This problem can be alleviated by using a smaller room, separating the map into one room per continent or so.

The save system is highly problematic. Since the game makes all its rooms Persistent, the save file grows to a ridiculous size as you progress. Later, this causes an excruciatingly frustrating 30-second delay every single time you save. Worse, due to the fact that the only way to restore your HP and ESP is to use a save point, you are forced to stare blankly at the screen for half-a-minute innumerable times. That half-a-minute is quite painful, because there is no "Saving. Please wait." message to tell you that the game has not frozen. Not only that, your HP and ESP are restored after you save, not before. When you load the game, this does not happen automatically. This means that, in areas where you die often, you have to save twice in order to load with full health. Later on, it is so easy to die (one or two hits can kill you) that, before long, the amount of frustration may overwhelm you.

The load system is not better off either. The game actually has a 256MB requirement with all tasktray programs turned off. Otherwise, trying to load the game will result in a perpetual freeze, in which you have to use the Task Manager to force-quit the game.

When you die, there is a Game Over sequence where you end up in hell. Considering that it is very easy to die in this game, having to go through that every single time is a nuisance.

The EXP rewards are imbalanced. You may only get 10EXP higher for monsters that are 3 times as powerful.

Additionally, there are also a couple of spelling errors.

= Originality =

Lacking.

As mentioned earlier, the concept of putting a spin on the Christian religion is not a new idea. Putting that in a futuristic setting is also not new. In fact, some people may consider it to be overdone, as it is apparent in a number of popular commercial RPGs.

Due to a lack of deeper characterization, Eve can be categorized as just another generic female lead who hides her true compassion under a layer of apparent indifference.

On the upside, these concepts are not yet truly explored within this community.

The gameplay has a small number of innovations, but they are neither strong nor developed enough to create a powerful impact on the players. This action RPG plays like any overhead shooter, but only with less freedom.

= Smooth Learning Curve =

Lacking.

Instructions for this game are not integrated into the story. You have to memorize a long list of unrelated keys that are not introduced anywhere else other than a help window. Furthermore, the game starts with 3 sets of stats to choose from. It is likely that you will not know what those stats do at that moment, making the concept pointless. Other game elements, such as pressing "Enter" to go to another room, saving at a save point to restore HP and ESP, and so on, are never covered in the game itself. Another problem is that ESP abilities do not have descriptions, and even the information outside of the game is a little misleading. Most of the instructions, some of which are very important, are in the included PDF file that few people will read before going into the game.

To make things worse, the controls are awkward. Instead of being close together, the keys for each function are placed far apart all over the keyboard. You have to memorize five keys for ESP abilities, which is completely unnecessary, as they can be instead compressed into only two keys (one for casting, one for switching). Another method is to have ability-equipping, where you open the menu to choose one of the five ESP abilities, pausing the action in the meantime. Since there is so little ESP that you can only use one or two abilities per an entire dungeon, dedicating five keys to allow all of them to be quickly used is pointless.

= Variety =

Lacking.

There is not much variety within this game. The three points of focus are the settings, the monsters and the ESP abilities.

Although the overworld map is large, it is mostly barren and largely devoid of places to visit. Between the few locations that are there, there isn't enough distinction between them. The first area, the forest and the plateau all look almost identical. Even with a limited tileset, great, memorable settings can be created with a little imagination.

The difference between monsters are merely cosmetic. Just about all of them behave the same way, moving randomnly in several directions while occasionally firing a projectile directly towards Eve. There are subtle differences in monster stats, but it does little to prevent the battles from quickly becoming highly repetitive.

There are five ESP abilities (all with radically different purposes), which is a decent amount, but as mentioned earlier, there is so little ESP that you cannot use any of them beyond one or two times, even right at the end of the game. This means that, for most of the time, all you will be doing is shooting at the monsters with your ray gun and blocking - the same thing you did since the beginning of the game. However, it becomes even more repetitive later on, as monsters are tougher and harder to hit. Having ESP abilities still does add variety, but not enough.

= Challenge =

Fair.

For the first half of the game, the amount of challenge scales nicely, but afterwards, it jumps to great, uncomfortable heights. Usually, RPGs have an automatic difficulty adjustment system. When the next area becomes too difficult, the player can spend a bit of time training in the current area and level up. This decreases the difficulty of the next area. Unfortunately, it does not really apply in this game because monsters level up as you do.

Later in the game, the difficulty level jumps so much that monsters in each new area is almost twice as hard to defeat. The fact that monsters respawn after an amount of time makes it even more difficult. This, coupled with having less leveling-up advantage, results in unnecessary frustration.

= Depth =

Good.

Beneath the surface of the shallow plot, there is a sophisticated philosophical theme that can be interpretted in a number of ways. It raises many serious questions regarding human freedom and the rule of the gods. Freedom may be an important thing to be cherished, but is there a darker side to freedom? Is the rule of the gods completely worthless, or does humanity actually require that sense of divine order? Even if love towards someone is determined by destiny, does it mean that it is any less significant? Perhaps it may be because this is a transitional episode (being the second in the trilogy) that no conclusive answers are given.

Even though the gameplay does not offer much variety, there is a decent amount of strategy involved. Due to the fact that ESP is so incredibly limited, deciding when to use an ESP ability becomes highly important. You also have to choose between the five ESP abilities and determine which one is most important for the situation. There are distinct usage tactics for each ESP ability. For example, "Energy Blast" is extremely useful for gaining EXP within a certain forest area. It instantly kills certain monsters, but is completely useless against enemies that wear clothing. "Forcefield" is a defensive ability. However, it can be used offensively as you can shoot enemies point-blank without losing HP. Another use for "Forcefield" is within tight corridors, where it is better to avoid fighting altogether. "Recover" fully restores HP, but due to its massive ESP cost, using it is always a gamble. Its effectiveness depends on whether you've raised your HP (from leveling up) really high or not. Other ESP abilities also have good balances of usage risks & rewards.

Unfortunately, since enemies all behave the same way, situational differences only depend upon how each area is structured. As a result, a potentially deeper level of strategic depth is lost.

= Overall =

Lacking.

Eve of Sadness is a lackluster action RPG with a strong conceptual basis that greatly suffers from poor execution. It has a good amount of depth and appeal, but they are suffocated by a myriad of problems.

This game is worth a try, but it may leave you with a feeling of disappointment.

~ Joewoof




= Author's Description =

Eve of Sadness is the second part of the "Eve" trilogy which started with the previous game, Eve of Emotion.

Two years after destroying the Apostles, Eve must come to terms with her decision to free mankind from slavery. Along the way, she discovers a planet that holds an even darker secret, a deadly plague that is quickly killing off what few humans are left in the universe.

Note: Due to a problem with Game Maker 6.1, it's recommended to play on a PC with at least 256MB of RAM free, or at the very least close open programs to have more free memory while playing, to avoid problems saving your game.

Download Eve of Sadness (EXE, ~11.96 MB , Suitable for everyone )

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Recommendations: The 4 people who like Eve of Sadness also like the following games.
Comments (Add your own):
2006.07.22 jlacroix
Rating: --

Thanks for downloading the game, though. You should check to make sure you have the correct drivers for your hardware, because the game works fine on all the computers I tried it on.
2006.07.21 operating_thetan
Rating: 5

hmmm...i was initially very excited to play this game because i love story driven rpgs and since i haven't seen one done with gm yet i was eager to see what this guy pulled off...i downloaded...i opened it...i started it (much to the displeasure of my cpu which sounded like it was ready to blow trying to load this thing)...and what do i get? an error prompt. not exactly what i was hoping for. so i didn't get to play but i'll give it points for at least catching my interest. i'm sure i would have found it somewhat appealing had i even been able to play it.
2006.06.24 wolfprograming
Rating: 3

zzz I am sp sleepy after playing this game. But nice grafik!
2006.06.24 Yaywalter
Rating: 7

Nice, but oo hard and could've used better spriting.
2006.06.22 Hugzmeister Games
Rating: --

Argh I hate it when this happens.
'Unexpected error'
Ive unzipped it all and ive got a good computer
ARGH!
2006.06.22 trippledean
Rating: 4

well i HATE!!!RPGS!!i like 3d games and some fps gaames but ony if thier good.6 for badness and 4 for story.
2006.06.21 sc(+)pe
Rating: 1

OMG!!! Will the cutsceens ever stop. I got bored before even playin it. Besides the graphics werent all that great anyways. I give you a 1.
2006.06.21 jlacroix
Rating: --

With all due respect, since this is an RPG, cut scenes are to be expected.
2006.06.20 Pie_4
Rating: 9

Nice RPG! A little slow, though, and a bit hard (well i was using a joystick so i guess thats why.) I Don't understand why you use a gun to attack and that glowing thingy to shield...
2006.06.20 Chaz
Rating: 2

Ugh ! Don't try using game maker defualt particles ! And don't use the resource pack ! It's just so cheesy !
I give it a 1 for crap, and a 2 for storyline.
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