Fennec Fox
I love independent games and appreciate the work of developers who make something beautiful, thoughtful or entertaining even for a small audience.
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A first title from new developer Arctic Pixels, Tales of Esferia:Araxis is exactly the type of game I like. Sci-fi story, puzzles, no combat, lots of world-building and exploring. I would recommend it strongly to anyone who likes sci-fi or point and click games. It reminded me somewhat of the Space Pilgrim series, though with more of an emphasis on puzzles and less complicated character development. This is a full-length adventure with easily 15 hours of content. I spent longer playing as I was putting together a guide and redoing some sections. I enjoyed the entire time I spent with it. While I bought it on sale I would say it is worth the asking price. It doesn't feel like a beginner's effort at making an adventure games. They've clearly learned from the mistakes of other developers and produced a nicely polished, ambitious project.

The difficulty level is moderate, on the easy side for point and click style adventures. I found this good as the pace of the game was never slowed down too much by being stuck for hours because of something overly cryptic. The few times I did get stuck were honestly because of not noticing things or missing fairly obvious options. There are no convoluted "choose the right dialogue order while alternating a switch in a different room or you can never get the object you need" type scenarios. While there is some 'adventure game logic' the whole thing is pretty intuitive and nothing is wildly complex. Inventory puzzles and finding lost objects make up a large part of it, with several puzzles also added in. The puzzles are mostly fairly simple once you figure out what to do. They often look complicated but then have trivial solutions, but are varied enough to keep from being tedious. Most of it is linear, but there are times when you can explore a large areas and need to collect inventory items from different locations in order to progress.

There are no timing challenges and no arcade sequences. It's impossible to die or get irreparably stuck. So the whole experience is pretty relaxed and non-stressful. You do have to think a bit, but never so much that it gets frustrating.

The story is pretty interesting and full of discovery and secrets. The character development is straightforward, with a 'serious guy' and 'slacker guy' as the main characters, and assorted researchers and others as side characters. Don't get too attached to the NPCs, there are a lot of casualties throughout the story, but it somehow never feels too serious. There is some dark comedy, though not too much. The main characters can be obnoxious, but it doesn't really feel out of place with the type of story that unfolds.

The graphics will be very pleasing to people who like 16 bit SNES style environments. The music is also good. I encountered a couple of crashes, but it is very easy to save your game almost continually, so the odd crash isn't a big deal.

The only improvement I can think of would be dividing the story into chapters. For a fairly long game, this makes it easier for players to discuss and give hints, and also provides some definition for the narrative.

In all I was really impressed and I hope more people will take a chance on the Tales of Esferia. There is a sequel in the works, as the story doesn't just end with this episode. If you have been wanting to play a space adventure without a lot of stress or fighting, this one is for you.

löyly Jan 20 @ 5:52am 
True, and one more reason why good reviews are invaluable :)
Fennec Fox Jan 19 @ 2:27pm 
Yes, it sees like a heavy game but a very helpful one for a lot of people. At least it is upfront about it. So many games just have like a cute exterior and then really ark subject matter thrown in without warning.
löyly Jan 19 @ 5:54am 
It is! Fair warning that it also has heartbreaking moments though, but I guess that's to be expected with such a topic.
Fennec Fox Jan 18 @ 7:17pm 
I have that one wishlisted. Looks really nice.
löyly Jan 18 @ 5:07pm 
I think the only platformer with any halfway serious platforming that I've finished is Spiritfarer. And yeah, that one is about much more than platforming, and you can always do something else in the game instead and try again later.
Fennec Fox Jan 18 @ 2:32pm 
My patience for platformers and the like has definitely plummeted in recent years. I have to really like something else about the game to bother with it.