I planned to wait for someone else to replay to Ben J's review, but since he/you, Ben, already complained about a lack of reaction to this review, I will answer to some points.
Like in Ben J'S review, there will be some *SPOILING* below!
The atmosphere was nice, even though there could have been a bit more "flavor text" - but that's probably just me speaking from the FRUA-perspective.
No, I agree with you. There should have been more "flavor text" as you call it. It was simply a matter of time, since I wanted to keep the deadline...
If you have the possibility to depict a rack or a piece of furniture here, instead of just describing it, there's less need for text. Still, there were some things, like chests, where I missed being able to look at (or into) them. They were just there.
Yep! I planned on adding more items or other surprises to the chests, and also to bookshelfs and other things. Again, time was the major problem. I hope I find the time next week to add a little more "flavor text" and interaction with objects in the revised version.
I found the different races depicted in the game very interesting. I wish I had more information about what a "Marten" actually is. Did I miss a readme file? Or is this explained somewhere else? Anyway, having other races than just the standard elves, dwarves, etc. was a breath of fresh air.
I am sure that "Helmetlands", to which "Friedrich's Quest" (FQ) is a kind of prequel, will answer a lot of questions. To me, FQ is mainly a test how people like the art style, if there's interest in different races, and if the event-driven combat has a chance to become accepted.
My problem is not only that the fights (especially in the beginning) were hard, but that my options were so limited and I often had no influence whatsoever on the outcome of the fights. There's no strategy involved. If the standard Goldbox combat system is comparable to chess, this combat system is a bit like rock-paper-scissors.
I mean, I can't even change my weapon or drink a potion during the battle. And there's also a lack of text messages. In the "Bard's Tale"-games (the combat system of which I also didn't like), you got at least some hints about who lost how many hitpoints. In Friedrich's Quest, it took me a while to even figure out that I was losing HP even when the screen turned green.
There was a lot of discussion of this combat system here and in the ironworks forum. I personally like the "rock-paper-scissors" approach (this is indeed a good analogy), while I find the regular FRUA/DC battles a little boring (Sorry!
I agree with several of your (and Olivier's and Manikus') points. Some improvements I am just working on:
- There will be more information during combat, e.g., it will be mentioned whether the opponent received big or only little damage and if he/she/it looks already badly wounded. Additionally, at least for longer combats, the sprites will change due to the grade of damage the opponent received.
- Flee/Bribe/Negotiate options will be improved.
- The different fighting modes (defensive/normal/do-or-die) will be more different, and different monsters will specifically react to these styles.
- Additionally, in "Helmetlands", you will play with at least four characters. This will slightly change the way combats are handled, and I can already promise that the risk of being slain within one or two rounds will be minimal, as long as you do not attack very strong monsters right in the beginning.
- You will be able to see a lot of opponents from far away and thus have the option to avoid a fight.
- I will also think about a way to drink healing potions or cast spells during the event-driven combat, but I cannot yet make promises about that...
- I am sure that in the long run, there will be a lot of combats in which you can chose between the "classic" combat and the "event-driven" combat.
But besides this problem, I enjoyed searching the castle a lot.
The ending was... very unexpected. It was kind of cool, but it was also a bit like "you woke up and everything was just a dream". It would have been nice if there had been some hints that pointed to this ending (even if they were just cryptic hints - I love cryptic hints and mysterious foreshadowing... ).
Well, yes. I was thinking about that. I would perhaps have given some hints in a longer adventure. However, you can, in my opinion, regard the very straight-forward "save-damsel-from-evil-overlord"-background as hint, can you not?
But still, the ending had the advantage of total unpredictability. Will these characters return in "Helmetlands"?
Definitely. However, Friedrich will definitely not be the hero, but rather be a kind of "captive princess" himself.
The heroes are these guys/girls:
One question remains, though: When you die in the *SPOILERS* virtual reality, wouldn't you just return to reality?
Well... That is somewhat a philosophical question. I thought about several options how to handle that, and in the end I saw it that way that the game ends for both the player and "real" Friedrich. However, you have a point. I could have used the dying to give a small hint to the player. If there was the option in DC to have different credit screens, I would have used that perhaps and added a picture of angry "real" Friedrich leaving or restarting the VR-simulation.