So here’s a pretty cool game that you might very well already own and not even know it.
If you’re like me you buy a lot of Humble Bundles. Yeah they’re great, I’ll make a rambling post about specifically whats so great some other time.
But what I do is redeem my steam keys and leave the page without reading any further. Sometimes I’ll come back and scoop up the occasional soundtrack, but for the most part, it’s easy to miss something.
So when a non steam game was included in the last Humble Weekly Sale of March, I didn’t notice for quite sometime.
Which brings me to Planet Stronghold.
In short, this is a tactical RPG, built upon the Ren’Py engine. It’s interesting because it’s commonly referred to as a Visual Novel, which I would strongly disagree with.
The engine is typically used to make visual novels, so anything built using it is labeled as such, but the RPG aspects strongly outweigh the visual novel aspects, to the point where they’re simply cutscenes like any other in an RPG.
What you end up with is a very well made tactical game which utilizes the interface of a visual novel to make for very streamlined gameplay.
The gameplay is mainly equipment and damage type management, as well as skill prioritizations, which span weapon proficiency, general accuracy and evasion, psionic disciplines, and a number of non-combat skills that are tested in different plot situations depending on how you tackle various obstacles.
Overall I just really like how everything is presented. You can quickly switch between weapons, and armour and items without using a turn to do that or something stupid along those lines. It’s all just point and click to navigate the world, and travel between points of interest. There’s a small ‘world map’ style exploration of certain areas using a grid which - this is getting rambley, you know what, how about you just take my word for it?
This game is presented beautifully, the visual novel interface takes out a lot of the dressed up superfluous stuff in most RPG’s that slow down the gameplay. The Combat is very well done and extremely rewarding when you juggle different damage types. The visual novel aspects shine through with navigating conversations to discover side quests, choose various tactical options for dealing with obstacles.
Now I need to talk about the romance plots don’t I?
They unfortunately feel contrived. I really liked the ‘talk to people enough to get their sidequests’ hooplah, but then occasionally at the end there’d essentially just be the additional reward of they fall in love with you. And that’s the weird thing. It felt like the game threw the world love around a Lot! Everything was love. I understand that the game probably takes place over multiple months, but it did feel like these loves came up really fast, why does everyone suddenly jump to love? And why is everyone in love with you specifically? (yeah okay, not Everyone)
The romance angle as a whole makes the game a little misleading. You have a relationship bar for everyone, and the way it’s so pronounced as it appears, it makes it feel like it’s the end all be all of the game. I’m pretty sure (?) it affects more than just the romance plots, but as a whole I think it’s played up more than it deserves. maybe I should play the game again being a jackass and see how it affects the rest of the game.
I also have no idea why your skills can go up to 200, I never needed them to go higher than 100. It was weird. But that’s not really an issue.
Point is I really liked it, even though I feel the romance subplots where a little dry. And it’s weird because it’s not like it really needed them, but because it had them I feel they should have been better?
I dunno man, I’m going to sleep.