May 30th, 2014
I still don’t know what that means.
Skipping the usual preamble, most of what I did this week in gameland was mess around with the trial for Out Vegetables, Softhouse Chara’s upcoming… thing featuring an super awesome thief and the two high school girls he takes under his wing trying to become super awesome thieves too. I also thought a number of times about how many of the games I’ve looked at over the past couple months spend hours pissing about before getting anywhere and how Galaxy Angel began with planetary bombardment. Galaxy Bloody Angel knows better to get to and stick with its central and unique factors than half of this nonsense.
Anywho, the premise is kind of handicapped right off the bat since being a super awesome thief is just something people do, and that there’s an entire bloody cabal of them running around the city, getting points for doing thief things and the goal is just to get enough points. Even for a SHChara game, that’s a pretty damn flimsy premise and supposed driving factor. The trial’s also let down quite a bit by the sheer number of incidents of “graphics not here yet!”
But since this is one of the rare times that the game doesn’t spend two hours pissing about before getting to actually playing it (probably because there’s nothing to piss about), let’s move on to the thieving. You get a limited number of turns for each season, a certain set of targets, and off you go. Your three options are scouting out a target, doing prep work for stealing, and actually stealing. Scouting uncovers more of the ‘map’ and shows the type and difficulty of each room. Prepping gives you basically items to use during heists. The goal of a heist is to get the items in the places. Every item is one point to level up the girls’ cards and/or add skill cards to the deck.
The stealing isn’t challenging, but does have its appeal. Every room has a point value which can be modified by various things, and you need to capture a room to be able to move on to the ones beyond it. You have a deck of five cards and have to use a combination of them to exceed the room’s total. Certain combos of cards or things like using the entire hand give bonuses to your total. Sometimes failing a room just blocks you, but if a room has cops or a trap, that’s an instant end to the round and a penalty for being caught. It’s just challenging enough to keep your brain engaged when you’re trying to be efficient (and you need to be), and generally moves quickly with nice little animations for capturing (or failing to capture) each room.
Unfortunately, scouting and prepping are literally mandatory. You can’t even see rooms except for the ones uncovered by scouting… and you’ll often need to scout 3-4 times just to see where all the items are. If it was a risk/reward thing, I could see it working, but when it’s required, it’s just grindy. Also, your deck is only 6 cards to begin with, and you’ll generally need a hell of a lot more than that just to get a single item, which means doing the +3 Card prep over and over and over again, so it’s a grindy bit of nonsense too and would benefit by being replaced with some kind of currency system for on the job stuff, making that more strategic too. I also don’t see it progressing in any way but getting more and more trivial as more things are unlocked. It does look like you’ll eventually get differing amounts of prep ‘items’ as things go on, but I imagine there’s going to be basically one best strategy for maxing card values and all the options will just fall by the wayside.
It passes the trial test in that I want to play more of it, but I don’t think I want to play that much more of it. The story/characters are probably a little worse than typical Softhouse Chara faire since their entire motivation is “just ’cause,” and while I like the way they’re presenting the gameplay, the grindy parts are dumb and without some kind of antagonizing factor to the card things, I can only see all that stuff getting more trivial and less amusing as more things unlock. I’m expecting it to top out somewhere around “A neat way to spend a Saturday afternoon,” and that’s about it.
Re;Lord’s trial just came out today too and early buzz (aka one person) says it’s pretty good, so I’ll be giving that a whirl this weekend and post something about it next week. Maybe even Monday if I’m feeling productive.