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Shard Mar 31, 2016 @ 11:56am
I know this game prides itself on being 'hardcore'...
But saying this as nicely as possible, this game has legitimate QoL and balance problems. This is coming from a huge fan of Soulslikes and Roguelikes alike(s), so I've played tons of systems similar to this. And the base gameplay of this game is satisfying enough, it's just a few tweaks shy of being fun to play. Here are some of the problems I've encountered:

-Inconsistent Health: As far as I can tell, there are two ways to regenerate health in this game: killing enemies, and finding those rare green glowing 'corpses', which heal you to full. Normally this wouldn't be too much of a problem, except the health regained by killing enemies is a pittance compared to the damage you are dealt over the course of the game. This, combined with the lack of character growth linked to combat, makes me want to ignore non-boss combat entirely, running past all the enemies to the bosses/upgrades until I win. There's no incentive to battle normal enemies when you'll likely take more damage than you'll ever be able to heal without touching a corpse.

Here's a challenge: Get hit only once near the beginning of the game, and watch how long it takes to heal to full by killing enemies. Dark Souls has Estus, Bloodborne has blood vials, even Malebolgia has healing candles by nearly every door. The healing in this game is simply inadequate, and I believe the system itself needs an overhaul, not just a buff.

The closest comparison in this area that I can find is in Rogue Legacy, where healing is very scarce. You find random potions and food in breakable items, and certain pieces of equipment provide vampiric qualities to your attacks. However, Rogue Legacy is a game where the player is expected to die frequently. This game is not. Or at least, it is not implicit in the design that the game expects you to die. This is a game that expects the player not to die, and then seems to get confused when they do.

-Unsatisfying death: Death in Oblitus is sudden and common. There's a screen distorting explosion, a sudden cut to the obligatory "YOU DIED" screen, and then the player is shunted back to the title menu without another word. After dying suddenly to a boss's attack, it feels almost like a slap in the face. Knowing that everything we had done up to that point means literally nothing just makes it worse.

-Clumsy control scheme: When using a controller in this game, the shield and the spear are relegated to the bumper/trigger buttons. Fair enough, and common for a Soulslike. However, something complicates the issue: the all-important jumping and rolling commands are on the face buttons, and the control for aiming the spear is on the right stick. This means that in order to evade, you have to take your finger off the right stick, press the required button, and put your finger back on the right stick in order to continue fighting. It gives a moment of confusion just long enough to take fatal amounts of damage.

-Non-conveyant animations and sounds: The entities in the game have a sort of 'puppet' quality, which lends itself well to smooth animations, but sometimes makes it difficult to figure out exactly what is going on. It took several playthroughs to realize that the lizard enemies were parrying me rather than my blow simply knocking off their shield.

-Lack of procedural generation: Yes, I know that some cave areas are randomized, and that the floaty space dude is gonna be either under the trees or in a hanging furnace, but other than that the map is roughly identical. What's the point? I say ditch it, or at least limit it to enemies and items.

In the end, the main issue of this game is that it's trying desperately to be something it's not.

It's trying to be a roguelike and a soulslike at the same time, but in the interest of pursuing that hardcore difficulty, it lost sight of what makes those games fun.

In Roguelikes, it's the joy of discovery and the fear of the unknown that makes it fun. If you lack satisfying randomization, then it's not a roguelike.

In Soulslikes, it's the precise combat, the idea that your foe is following the same rules that you are, and most importantly, the deaths that teach you what you did wrong. Oblitus's permadeath and combat is incompatible with those concepts, at least in its current state.

But it's SO CLOSE! It's so close to being fantastic, or at least great. Here are some tweaks that Oblitus could use:

-Healing: Buff the healing that you get from enemies, or make a new original system. Maybe you can have it so the more you kill enemies without getting hit, the more HP you heal? It would support the skill-based healing idea without leaving you at un-recoverable amounts of damage.

-Death: Maybe make the animation just a little longer, or linger on your corpse. Its current state feels quite unprofessional. On that note, perhaps with the change to healing, corpses could serve as possible extra lives, reviving you at them with little health while reviving all the enemies you killed since touching them? If you die without a corpse queued up, it'll still be permadeath, but a game needs some sort of safety net to avoid being completely oppressive.

-Controls: This is simple: let the player rebind their controls.

-Conveyance: Maybe have some 'common' sounds for common situations. Like a certain sting when a parry occurs, a red glow or circle when an attack is incoming. With the art style and 2D perspective, a puppet moving their arms is not enough warning to know when exactly an attack will connect.

-Procedural Generation: Ditch it. In its current state, it's easy to miss that anything has changed at all anyway.

-The Last Resort: This may be a bit uncomfortable for you, but I think it's necessary for people to enjoy this game: Include a setting in the options menu to turn off Permadeath. What if someone just wants to enjoy the game/story, without having to worry about all their progress being erased? If you decide to use nothing else from this list, then use this, at least. If you want people to finish your game, then you need to do something.

Cause I can tell you, from what I've played, people are most likely going to stop, less of frustration, and more of boredom. There's a certain line between enticing frustration and the tedium of repeated pointless deaths, and this game has clearly crossed it. I'm a Souls/Roguelike junkie, and even now my interest in the game is waning. I'm your niche customer, and its losing my attention.

But I want to see what this game could be with just a little more polish, a little more care.

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Dentorhedge Apr 29, 2016 @ 4:35pm 
Well said. So well said.
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