16 people found this review helpful
Recommended
0.0 hrs last two weeks / 16.8 hrs on record
Posted: Dec 10, 2023 @ 4:35am
Updated: Dec 10, 2023 @ 12:43pm
Product received for free

Early Access Review
A masterpiece in the making

Every now and again, a developer takes a well-known and loved tale and creates an original variation based around it. Less often, a visual novel will appear which can boast an enthralling storyline, strong reader immersion, every in-game feature you'd expect to find, and throws in some extra design triumphs on top for good measure. Made Marion delivers both of the aforementioned.

Overview
Beginning with a fully voiced narration in the prologue, the game introduces us to the pre-story history of the area with a tale of the mystical Fae and druids, and how this relates to the modern-day society of Marion's era. Upon restarting the game, the option is provided to skip this section and jump straight into the main storyline, with the player cast as the titular character.

We begin with Marion acting as surrogate lord of Glastonbury holding in her father's extended absence, a situation which ends promptly with his return and intent to marry her off to a well-positioned noble.. who happens to be none other than Geoffrey of Woodthorpe, the new lord of Nottingham, more commonly known as The Sheriff. Will Marion accept her fate, or choose to defy her father and forge her own destiny?

Although this game is based around the tales of Robin Hood, and at the time of writing, only Robin's route is currently available; have no doubts that this is Marion's story and as such feels very original, with nothing lost to the reader who is familiar with the legend.

Graphics
The standard is set immediately by the beautiful portrayal of Marion on the opening title screen, and the level is comfortably maintained and occasionally outdone throughout the content which follows. The screenshot below demonstrates the background quality perfectly, just look at the detail and those textures.

https://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=3107542728

All major characters have very well drawn and appealing sprites, with minor players (presently shown as silhouettes) also promised to have full sprites as development progresses. This shot shows two characters in an external location, where the background has a softer, yet no less detailed, appearance; which rings true to the reality of indoors and outdoors.

https://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=3107542279

There are also some pleasing animations. I particularly liked the flying dove within an inset graphic.

The obvious attention to detail can be found everywhere. It hit me the moment I first started the game with the appearance of a beautiful, bejewelled arrowhead as a cursor. This has to be seen to be believed.

Sound
I don't usually write a separate section for game audio, which should tell you everything you need to know. From the opening rendition of Greensleeves over the title screen, played on a lute for absolute time-period authenticity, the sounds in this game are wonderful. There are several musical accompaniments throughout the action, which fit their respective scenes ideally, and effects are spot on, too. Even animal vocalisations are included, and they sound great.

I put the coding to the test when the tune changed at the turn of a new caption, by immediately backstepping once. After a fleeting pause the previous tune kicked back in, only to be replaced again by the new one when I progressed forward once more. Again, attention to the tiniest detail. I was well impressed.

U/I and accessibility
Accessibility needs are so thoroughly catered for. Anybody who finds it difficult to read a typical VN is going to have a much easier time with this one. Text size, spacing, font style, assisted voicing – everything you may need is here for you, as can be seen in this shot:

https://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=3107541743

For the other options, nothing is missing here either. All the regular features are available, including windowed/fullscreen, backstep, skip, plenty of save slots, history log, a multiple-feature gallery, and more.

Presentation is visually attractive and easy access. During the main gameplay screen (refer to the outdoor screenshot above), there are just three buttons, one which takes you to the log and title menu options (plus a glossary, more on that in a moment), a help button which lists all of the game controls, and a double arrow which is the skip button – and when you reach some text you have previously seen, this extends to include the word “Skip”, so that you know the narrative is about to speed ahead. Nice.

More
Once in-game with the story underway, a glossary button appears within the menu options. This is well worth visiting, as apart from a list of all terms used within the text, there are some suggested name pronunciations and, perhaps most interestingly, a map drawn by a bard of the period which has some resemblance to England and Wales as we know it today, and helps to put into context the other “nations” referred to throughout.

There are some bad endings to be found in game in addition to two good alternatives for each route. If you should stumble upon an ending you weren't aiming for, afterwards you are given the opportunity to return directly to the last choice you took, whether you have saved or not. I cannot recall ever seeing this feature before in a VN, and (where the game structure allows it), I think it's a brilliant, innovative inclusion.

Positives
Everything. On top of all described above, the writing itself deserves highlighting. Not a single caption is wasted, and it's also written in first person perspective. Every single line adds value to the whole. Typically, even the best visual novels have little spells where some building has to take place to arrive at the next point of high entertainment. Not Made Marion. It never lets up.

Negatives
Oh, come on. Be reasonable, what do you want from me?
OK, OK, if I can be really pernickety and try to find something – that suggested pronunciation of “Geoffrey”. Really? My neighbour who shares the name might not be too thrilled. And, honestly there is nothing else I can pick out as not praiseworthy.

Value for money and verdict
I have seen it written that for a game with only one available route upon early release, it is highly priced and this may temper people's will to jump in. Sure, I can appreciate waiting for the full game to be completed, but I cannot imagine why anybody who enjoys these games would not want to be a part of this.

To put into perspective the one route available, see my game time. None of that was idling in the background. Admittedly, many of you will read through more quickly than I choose to, but to give you an idea: I spent 7.7 hours on the prologue and common routes, a further 5.7 on Robin's first alternative, and 2.6 on the second. Additional time was used double checking things for review purposes, and once you have finished a route, there is an option to replay some sections from the LI's perspective. Yes, I've enjoyed some of that, too.

In summary, bearing in mind that there are five (and possibly six) more routes to come, the purchase of Made Marion should be a foregone conclusion. It hasn't so much met my expectations, as completely blown them away. And with this initial release being available in time for Christmas, it would make a fabulous gift for any Otome lover – including yourself.

Be sure to check out Otome Lovers other excellent reviews of this game by Amjara & Francisca

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4 Comments
Lovely review there! Sounds like a great VN
puritysuewho Dec 15, 2023 @ 1:18pm 
What a fantastic review - I had to pile on the rewards for you for it, hahaha. So great for other devs to read to know what matters for players!
Foxxelle Dec 13, 2023 @ 12:08am 
Glad you found it helpful :) Although there is only the one completed route at present, every player controlled function is fully implemented and working and there is a fully enjoyable game already there. If the next route is as long as Robin's, then I'd say there would already be enough material available to justify the price, even with more to come.
FantasyKT Dec 12, 2023 @ 2:02pm 
Thanks for the review! I'll definitely keep my eye on this. I'm a bit wary of unfinished early access at the moment, but once they add a few routes and I can feel safe that it is not being abandoned, I definitely want to jump in!