Fantastic game! I found the story to be very addicting and with a lot of interpretation for the player to dive into. The gameplay was also unique and to its own. Great job! And feel free to check out my play through of it in the video below:
A downloadable game for Windows
Coping with the loss of a close friend, Elisa Mayer finds herself on a quest for answers. In her friend's drawings, she believes lies a hidden message.
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Parabéns pelo primeiro lugar Ciclope! Bom trabalho :)
Oh man, this hit home in so many ways. Thanks for sending me a note online to check your project...! It was an interesting journey. Brace yourself for the text wall! Let's see...
- On the method chosen to transmit your message: I believe that the decision to use metaphorical language to deal with the themes of the game was wise. This way, the situation adapts to the player's perception, instead of forcing an extremely descriptive reality which they (possibly) have not previously experienced, and therefore reducing the impact generated through empathy with the situation. The language was, one would argue, perhaps a little too simple, but I see the merit in making things less prone to misunderstandings .
- On visuals: I applaud the use of custom art for the scenarios depicting the art pieces themselves. I believe a little more variety on the tileset would have been nice though, and it's a little too bad the house doesn't have similar art as well. I also must add, the character portraits' colors looks too bright when over the scenario (and mood overall, to be honest) You may want to consider having someone focusing on making sure art style is consistent for a larger project... Unless you want it to look like a patchwork (sometimes that's the point, or it just isn't as important as other things, which is understandable).
- On audio: I'll say... Neither music nor the sound effects appealed to me very much. But again, that wasn't the focus here. A wider variety of SEs and ambient sounds would have been nice. When placed correctly withing a scene, sound can have an appeal as high as visuals to increase tension and expectative (which can then be broken the same way as any other, cue laughter or shock afterwards, etc). Maybe try and challenge yourself to do something audio focused next, as an experiment?
- On game design: I like that the game was very straightforward with the story. The maps, while not exactly confusing, didn't make me feel very challenged, though the plot was nice and interacting with the beings within the artworks was interesting. Maybe if there was a little more puzzling out how to work through them (and not necessarily more maps) it would feel more rewarding for the player to complete each "art world". I like that the red signals an exit/passage for example, and the golden pigs... Maybe amidst all the gray, the colors could have been used as some sort of clue. The main character was making interesting references to common meanings of certain imagery, after all. Also, the candles. Please give some sort of inner monologue as to where they are when the lights go out, such as the character trying to remember where they saw them last.
- The main characters: I'll try to not spoil things here, so no names and bigger details. The MC and her friend sound a lot like some people I know... Actually, her friend reminds me a lot of things to an uncomfortable point (brrr) so kudos to you. You hit the nail on the head. As for her mother... She sounds believeable, but not *quite* yet. You see, the thing about most people I know that fit her role is that they are sometimes really good people, but they just *don't understand* even if you explain it to them. Maybe if she were just a teensy bit kinder, but oblivious to how the MC perceives things, you will make the conflict within the story even bigger. It's difficult to disappoint someone who goes out of their way to be kind (even, sometimes, when their view of kindness is warped). Finally, I believe the lady at the end was perhaps too harsh (speaking as someone who talks frequently to a very close person that studies psychology and can't shut up about it *laughter*), but it depends on what exactly they focus on as a psychologist that made it seem the correct way to do things? You may want to check on the Major schools of thought and think thoroughly how this individual approaches her patients (and perhaps why she choose so). There are a bunch of books and videos recording how certain people were approached and treated, and why, and some stories and downright bizarre. Could be entertaining?
Personal notes: I'm slightly disappointed the "tie man" scenes were so short, and that the "water art" felt so empty after the two first ones. I was expecting seeing at least one misterious NPC. *chuckle* Truth be told, the umbrella challenge, while made just so for the difficulty, felt a little more frustrating than anything. While I didn't die, there wasn't nothing to "solve" or "understand", no patterns or anything, just a lot of reflex and turning your umbrella around. It was somewhat hard to be sure that the water was coming on the same line/column I was at. That made me a bit sad. It's important to reward the player for understanding your game, not only story-wise, but also your challenges. If it's just chaotic, it feels like blind luck. ^_^' Finally, I'm not 100% sure about what to think on the door bell thing yet. I may have missed something, or maybe my guess that the main character is going a bit crazy even if she doesn't want to admit is right. I just want to point it out it isn't very clear, I'll go through it again and see if I missed anything, but neverthless I believe the ending needs a little polishing.
And at the end... Anyway, let's see... I say 4/5, extra star for effort. I know there was a lot of criticism above, but that's how one develops yeah? We can't grow on praise and sun alone. *chuckle* I'll admit, there is always more to point out and more score to take away if we're being picky, but you are beginning to spread your winds out there and the work looks... Soulful. Which is somewhat rare to find and counts as a giant bolds extra points from me. Whatever your guts is telling you, it's poiting you the right way. Follow it, polish things, and have no fear of scrapping parts of your work to keep inconsistencies and bugs from happening. Best of luck!
YES! This is why I make games - wall texts <3
> About the art in general - I'll have to agree. My main focus was always the storytelling. I consider myself good at "concepts" but not so at "execution". Everything that you've pointed out was a concern during the development period, but we decided to focus on the core and let the result of the contest decide for us, whether or not we're going to spend time (and possibly money hiring someone) to improve the visuals.
> The portraits' color, yeah, we sometimes try to keep the "VideoGame" look to keep the player's guard down. In other words, a serious story can hit even harder when the player doesn't expect it from a colorful and simple game. But sometimes it can be bad to try getting the best from both worlds - we'll definitely make some changes adjusting the visuals to fit in the game's tone. Thanks a lot for pointing it out.
> Audio: I was kinda afraid to use music and SEs, due to the dangers of copyright infringement (Most of the SE sites make it hard to understand their policies about the use of resources) - I really thought the contest would reward original resources, that's why I didn't use Scripts or SEs that I use in my main project. Making music was painful and the result wasn't satisfactory at all. Improvements on sound in general are definitely a priority for the future.
> I'll have to go into Spoiler territory, but don't worry: You're right, I focused on story and only one type of mechanic per Stage, thanks to the fact that every Stage will be revisited when Dr. Laura "joins the team". She, as a psychiatrist, will be the one solving puzzles to help Elisa understand the real meaning of every clue/character that she had interacted with.
Color clues: well, the Red Moon is Laura, so that kinda emplies that she already went through all the drawing with Elisa before.
Blue Moon is Elisa's Denial mechanism giving you health so you can keep your delusions - unfortunately, the story process didn't allow me to show these details so early in the game. I could do it, but it would be forced, so I decided to wait for the right timing.
> Gawd damn those candles... I'm gonna put a thousand arrows pointing to the basement =D
> Characters: They were inspired by real people. I think this is the best way to connect with the player. We all went through similar paths in our lives, I guess, and I'm glad to know some of the characters managed to bring you memories from real people - it's always my goal.
>The mother is... basically my mother =D It's really hard to flesh out a "binary" character, as I call it. Every conversation has its goal, but it's easy to get off the rails when portraying a complex character in simple dialogue. I'll definitely study her persona and try to show her colors in a more effective way to the player.
> You're absolutely right about Dr. Laura. The Psychology element wasn't well portrayed at all, but there's a reason. Think about it this way: Laura is not talking to Elisa, she's trying to break her delusions created by Denial, guilt and defence mechanisms. After the last scene, she'll calm down and talk to the real Elisa, because they've been through all that before.
BUT, yeah, I'll study/read a little bit more when the time comes to portray an actual psychiatrist. I've tried to watch movies about it, but they too tend to exaggerate things a bit for the purpose of entertainment.
> Short scenes: they'll be revisited from Laura's point of view, don't worry o/
> Water Stage: the mysterious NPC is the Red Moon =D The stage was shorter given the fact that Elisa was running against time, also... I was running against time in the game development - kinda meta, one could say, tee hee - But yeah, I agree it was a shallow stage...
> You got it right about the Ending. It' more like "Elisa was twisting some of the clues and interpretations in order to fit in her own version of the story". There was a discarded scene in which the player sees Elisa going to the basement and picking up the box - I'm gonna add it as soon as I return to the Dev process.
Abso-f*cking-lutely. That's exactly how one develops, and I really appreciate true criticism. I'll definetely read your text along the Dev process to make sure everything is receiving the attention it needs.
Thanks a LOT for your comment! And I'm glad you enjoyed the game despite its flaws.