IndieRPGs.com Checks Out Celestian Tales: Old North
Celestian Tales: Old North has been on my to-play list for quite some time, and I finally got around to giving the start of the game a go this past weekend. As per usual, I recorded as I went–here is the result!
This strikes me as a quality jRPG. The characters are distinct, with believable dialogue and personalities informed by their various backgrounds.
With the exception of a few grammatical issues, the writing in this game seems solid and mature. In contrast to an awful lot of RPG developers, Ekuator Games seems to have a firm handle on what story they’re telling–and more importantly, exactly why they want to tell it. The first not-quite-an-hour of play leaves me feeling secure in the sense that this storyline will be worth following to its conclusion.
Or should I say “conclusions”? It’s almost unheard of for a jRPG to let you choose a main character and then get a totally unique beginning to the game based on your choice–if that were all Celestian Tales did, that alone would be impressive. However, the devs tout this game as containing not merely six different beginnings, but six entire story arcs–one for each of the six main characters. If true, that represents a pretty colossal achievement on their part, and promises to give this game some serious narrative replayability of a sort that I haven’t seen since The Spirit Engine 2.
On the visual front, Celestian Tales has big, competently animated sprites and lovely character portraits. I’m not sure what made them decide to mix pixel art with painted backgrounds; it’s not a very aesthetically consistent choice, though in practice it mostly works.
Most jRPGs opt for a series of relatively low-difficulty fights that offer a cumulative, resource-management-focused challenge rather than a per-battle survival challenge, but Celestian Tales goes full-bore in favor of the latter, with health and SP recovering fully after every single fight. To this end, enemies do an unusual amount of damage in combat, though I never felt particularly challenged by the game’s early encounters. It remains to be seen if battles get more interesting as the game progresses.
All in all, I was left with a very positive early impression of Celestian Tales: Old North.