IndieRPGs.com Checks Out Festival of Magic (Alpha)
I admit, I had been deliberately holding off on covering Festival of Magic. The developers stated publicly they they’d spent $1 million on making the game, and that they needed roughly another $1.15 million to finish it. These figures made me suspect that they might actually be a mid-sized development house trying to pass as a small indie team. Well, apparently not–after emailing the devs, they told me that their team is only 9 people, and that their budget is so huge because (a) they live in Norway and (b) jRPGs take forever to make.
After hearing that, I felt a little bad for doubting their indie credentials, so I resolved to sit down with their Kickstarter demo and see what Festival of Magic is about. (And, of course, to record the whole thing with commentary!) This was the result:
My first impressions:
The exploration portions of the game feel a lot like something from Playstation 1-era Square Enix, but with a more coherent and characterful visual style. The stylized art and animations are very good, and lend the game a lot of atmosphere.
I quite like the interplay between Amon and Gnarf as well; their relationship gives the demo some much-needed zest. (I’m somewhat less enamored by the interplay between Amon and Ive, however, which from what I saw consists mainly of Amon making dumb boasts and unwanted advances.)
The music in the demo is good, though the game’s single battle track wore out its welcome quickly. Being able to spot enemies and sidestep encounters was a welcome touch.
The battle system itself has some interesting ideas: I like that each character has limited ammo of various elemental types, and I think the idea of having to grow your own ammo could help set the stage for an enjoyable game economy. I also like that characters are prevented from using their most powerful abilities right off the bat during battles; having to wait until characters had taken significant damage before I could cast a Guardian Shield during the boss fights definitely made things a lot more challenging than they would have been otherwise.
However, the combat system is still just a little bit too simplistic for my tastes. With only two characters on the stage at a time, no apparent class specialization, and little in the way of combat status effects, there are only so many tactics there to avail oneself of. Snowcastle are going to need to spend more time developing the combat if it’s going to remain engaging throughout an entire game. Given that the game is still in alpha, I’m sure they’ll be able to make it happen.
The Festival of Magic Kickstarter still has 17 days left to go; head on over if you want to contribute, or simply try the demo for yourself.