Додано: 27 березня
Zeboyd's first commercial RPG, Breath of Death VII hearkens back to oldschool 8-bit RPGs like the original Dragon Quest, but with more character customization and a significantly deeper battle system. Unfortunately, the absolutely terrible dungeon design and awkward difficulty dragged this game down for me.
The character customization - where at each level, you pick one of two choices of what to gain - was fairly neat, and something I appreciated, because it allowed for frequent interesting choices about your character build as you played through the game, even discounting that some of the choices were obvious once you chose whether certain characters were going to be physical attackers or magic-users. It could have used a respec option in case the player chose poorly or just wanted to see some of the alternate abilities, but given that the game's only 3-4 hours long, just restarting it isn't too much of a downer.
Likewise, I appreciated the battle system, at least as it applied to boss fights, which added a "time limit" in terms of enemies getting stronger each turn and a "combo counter" that you could build up to deal out powerful attacks to the standard JRPG formula. I felt it fell down in terms of random encounters, however, because the game used completely replenishing your health between fights as an excuse to make random encounters quite difficult, such that mashing attack would be a poor way to get through them... but didn't replenish your MP very much at all, only in towns and at rare "save points" (in quotes, because you can also save anywhere) usually found at the end of dungeons only. Since using MP was the only thing you could do other than mash attack, but the game rewarded not using MP very much against random encounters, I found the random encounter difficulty to be awkward and leading to game overs that felt avoidable, but also which I didn't want to avoid because it would have meant taking the fight seriously from the start, which would have been a large waste of MP had I not needed to.
The dungeon design is just awful, though - half of the time it's corridors and rooms branching in all directions with no rhyme, reason, or in-game map, and the other half it's navigating around ruins where small shrubs or cracks in the ground block your path and require you to loop around the entire map to get around. Of course, despite the awkwardness of fully exploring these dungeons, it's also rewarded by chests scattered around them... except that due to the minimalistic nature of the inventory system, much of what you find in them (healing potions that I rarely bothered using, or money) is useless. Except, of course, there are also unique pieces of equipment that can only be found in chests, including most of the best items in the game, so ignoring the treasure chests is also not a good option.
The chest situation reflects one of the other places I felt the minimalistic design detracted from the game, because with very few exceptions, none of which apply by the end of the game, equipment and items never become interesting. Almost all equipment is straight upgrades in every stat from the last piece with little to nothing in the way of special effects except for Lita's guns, and the only non-equipment items in the game are healing potions. With the effort the designers put into character customization, it felt like a bit of a letdown that equipment wasn't a part of it at all.
I figure I should also mention the story - while Breath of Death VII bills itself as a parody, I didn't really find it funny except for one scene midway through the game, and the story was rather minimalistic and barely present in general. Of course, that's accurate to the 8-bit RPGs that inspired it, so ultimately I didn't really fault it for that, it's just something you might want to know before playing.
Ultimately, partially because of the extra-hard random encounters and partially because of the abominable dungeon design, despite the very short 3-4 hour length of the game I felt that it had overstayed its welcome by the end and was glad to be done with it. While I can't be too negative about the length given that it's $3 bundled with a second game, some of the design decisions - especially the frustrating dungeon design - mean I can't really recommend Breath of Death VII too much.