21 people found this review helpful
Recommended
0.0 hrs last two weeks / 8.2 hrs on record
Posted: Nov 29, 2018 @ 2:40pm
Updated: Nov 29, 2018 @ 2:40pm
Product received for free

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Nepenthe is one of those games that you learn to appreciate the more time you spend with it. It's There are 3 endings available and the overall game is rather short. But each ending is rather unique and you will definitely want to go back and replay to see the others.

There is dark humor, there is light humor, and there is goofiness in between, interlaced among the serious emotions of the developer hidden within the texts. The developer clearly put a lot of thought into the game and it shows from the snarky dialogue and environmental responses to the hand-drawn tiles. If nothing you can tell after playing that the developer had a lot of fun making this game. I am not saying that the dialogue or the tiles are outstanding, but they sure stand out in their own ways.

Personally I am a big fan of the hand-drawn tiles, because it makes the game look unique. Nobody should expect high quality CG renderings in this game, but the charm of the hand-drawn art is not to be brushed aside. It is an important part of the identity of this game.

The game has two difficulties, "Story" and "Adventure" modes. The story mode goes through the same game, but the battles are essentially removed from the game altogether, other than perfunctory appearance on the screen. Whereas in adventure mode, the turn-based fights are given life in the Undertale style with basically an avoidance mini-game when you are being attacked and a simple two-button timed press when attacking. I personally have a little bit of difficulty with some of the more difficult fights in the game.

One thing to note about the flow of the game is that actions taken on by the player has consequences later in the game. It is not a simple get to location A and trigger event B. How you decide to act will influence the way other NPCs view you as well as the things that they say. This not only leads you toward one of the three possible endings, but also goes to show that the dev has taken time to consider the different outcome trees and to write separate pieces of dialogue that fit and make sense.

At the end of the day, I find myself having a good time with this game, even after having gone through all of the different endings and revisiting it to look for other smaller details I did not find before. Because the game is so short, these revisits seem reasonable and I am perfectly happy to revisit on Story mode just blast through the game quickly in the way that I want. The only difference is really the battles, and I have been through those already.

Controls
Keyboard controls preset or you can use a controller. I was playing on a XBox One controller, both D-pad and Left stick worked to move the character around, and the A button was in place of the "Z" confirm button on keyboard. B button was in place of "X"--only used in battles. and Y brought up the character stats and inventory. Though the on-screen prompts were still the keyboard keys when I played. The dev is planning to update to reflect controller prompts.

Graphics and Music
Hand-drawn, looks really nice. I am a fan of the art style. The music is nothing exciting, I wasn't really paying attention most of the time.

I did notice that the contrast between the characters moving and the background could be a bit more dramatic, especially in a couple of dark or very dimly-lit areas.

In addition, on a laptop with 1366 x 768 screen, I could only open and play the game in the smaller window, the maximize button wasn't working. It did work when played on a 1080p screen.

Audience
Someone looking for a goofy experience within a nice art style. Very little is serious, and it's a short experience. Casual player or not, there's a way for you to play this game. Look at the game store page, if you cannot get used to the art style, this game is not for you.

Pricing
I think the price is fair, $4.99 USD to reflect how much time the developer likely put into this game. All of the sweat and tears mixed together.Though a lot of RPG Maker games of this length goes for a bit less, so you may want to buy it on a sale. It had already been bundled once already as well.

Positives
+Unique artwork
+Humor
+Degree of complexity embedded within the short and casual game
+Multiple endings
+The small things that you see and pay attention to on replays and to really appreciate the game more

Negatives
-Could use some QoL improvements

Meh
~The writing is pretty good, but it's not outstanding
~Length of game (to me seems a bit short)

Conclusion
Nepenthe is interesting, it's not a life-changing experience, though it is worthwhile. The unique artwork and personal messages found within the game, along with the style in which they are presented, made for a memorable game.

I received the product for free. I did not receive any compensation to write this review. The opinions represented here are entirely my own and were not influenced in any way.
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