Fish Chronicles Volume I: The Omega
Review by Only One In All
When I had last reviewed The Omega, I could hardly consider the game playable, and found it could only serve as a version for playtesting, rather than release. That was about a year ago, and now come July of 2008, The Omega has made a lot of progress in pretty much every aspect. (If you would like to check the original review, it is found in Issue 7 of Hamsterspeak.)
This game is the final, complete version, as opposed to the 50% one. It's amazing how much development and progress can be made to finish the last half of a game, so much that, often times looking back, the 50% version tends to feel really lacking.
This is indeed the case with The Omega. Graphics have generally improved. Older designs of heroes and enemies look better and more anatomically correct, and while the graphics are not really much of a marvel, there are a couple of bits and pieces here and there that look better than the rest.
The music is chosen well, and the battle theme is more exciting and upbeat. A good choice. Most of the pieces I assume are ripped, and while most are ripped well, there are a couple of choices I found a bit of a poor choice (like the boss theme against the Mage Blob).
The storyline has become a lot better, and is now fully complete, giving meaning to the title. Before, dialogue was sparse, and character motivations were merely mentioned once. Now the game has balanced it much better. There could have been more storyline related dialogue or a couple parts where more details would have been welcome, but it isn't a problem enough to detract, I prefer more dialogue over less (provided it isn't skewered and terrible).
While the story itself is a bit cliche and does not add anything particularly exciting and new to the OHR, it is still done well enough and complete that overall, you will enjoy the experience. My only major complaint is the main characters don't have any real distinctive personality aside from Gluep. Also, people tend to die suddenly, though that is not so much of a complaint as a surprise. Another thing that is interesting is the ending, which is kind of anti-climatic. Not that I care, but others who have played a lot of RPG's may find it disappointing the way the game ends (I personally was relieved).
My favorite part would have to be where the heroes are about to face execution, which is undoubtedly the coolest part of the game.
Gameplay is well done and a bit different. It still plays much like a traditional RPG, but adds variety compared to what we usually get on the OHR. Battles don't give a whole lot of experience, and only human enemies will give you gold. This does up the incentive to fight human enemies since the economy in the game sucks due to the earthquakes and monsters, and trying to purchase needed goods can be difficult.
Because of this however, there is more incentive to do less level grinding, and more sidequests and collecting materials (ie. mining and chopping wood). Sidequests often give a nice amount of experience and sometimes, a useful item, and due to the lack of adequate resources from battles, these sidequests become valuable. Plus, they help break the monotony of simply fighting over and over. You also will need to mine and chop timber in order to get armor and weapons. The benefit to this is items are not as pricey as you trade off a balance of gold and ore. However, for those that would prefer to simply collect gold as opposed to doing these activities, you will find yourself frustrated that you can just pay a bunch of money for your goods, but I personally found this game's way more interesting.
Mining and chopping wood is also regulated. Every three minutes, the gathering points can be reset, so you won't be able to get goods infinitely. Even if you save and quit, when you load your game it still seems to remember how much time is left before you can mine or chop again. This helps keep it more balanced, and getting materials more valuable.
You can also do some cooking. You simply buy a couple of ingredients, firewood, and kill some enemies to get their meat, and then you can get food that heals, restores magic points, or slowly generates health. They tend to be cheaper and easier to get than food simply from the stores, so having some ingredients on you while you're out fighting can be useful.
Other than that, the game is more or less like a standard RPG. It tends to be a bit more on the difficult side, although with the right equipment and level, you shouldn't have too much of a hard time.
For those of you who played River City Ransom, you'll find that walking into one bar in particular will bring back some old nostalgic memories.
One final thing I would like to mention is that the final released version itself had a couple of bugs, including an ending that wouldn't trigger properly. I would like to stress that it is important that everyone thoroughly playtests their game, especially when releasing the final version. Otherwise, you have to go through the trouble of fixing the bug and reuploading the file again, and it does not bode well with your audience.
Besides that, I have to say that I enjoyed The Omega and it is a solid game worth playing. Be prepared to spend about three or four hours, which is a good length of play. It'll be interesting to see what the next part of the series will have in store for us.