Friday, July 24, 2015

The Story Goes On

Developer: Scarecrow Arts
Publisher: KISS LTD
Steam: The Story Goes On

 -Disclaimer- This preview was written during Early Access. The Story Goes On is subject to change.-

On first glance The Story Goes On is a game you might pass up, the graphics are not flashy, nothing spectacularly here to catch your eye and draw you in. On second glance, if you dig a little deeper you might find a challenging and enjoyable title, especially if you're a fan of roguelikes. The Story Goes On is a Hack & Slash, RPG, Roguelike, with randomized dungeons in the form of the Odyssey and perma-death. The title draws some obvious comparisons to the much beloved and revered gran-daddy of roguelikes, Binding of Isaac. The key difference of The Story Goes On being is that instead of poop demons and tears, we have some good old fashioned swords and magic. If I had to put The Story Goes On in a nutshell it would be a great game to introduce somebody younger or new to the roguelike genre. It has friendly, albeit simple, visuals and for the most part is simple to grasp and play.

The gameplay is rather simple and along the lines of other roguelike titles such as A Wizards Lizard or The Weaponographist. You travel from square rooms to rectangle rooms slaughtering indiscriminately in search of loot, keys, and the boss key. There are all sorts of random powers and buffs that alter your characters basic statistics like range, dash, and weapon speed. The powers or loot can range from a mace you throw at enemies, a trusty parrot that pecks at foes, to a ice wand with limited charges. These items/buffs are all randomly placed including enemies, secrets, and randomized bosses.

The combat is the main draw here in The Story Goes On, and for the most part it works just fine. You mindlessly left click on your mouse until your enemies go poof and the rooms exits appear. Depending on which character you are using you will have some basic abilities. The main character you start with has a dash that makes him invulnerable, a hookshot, and his sword. I couldn't comment on the other characters as I had no indicator or hint whatsoever on how to unlock them. I can only assume it was by completing the first five sections of the game. Which I did not manage due to my issues with the combat.

Like I said, the combat works for the most part and is acceptable and challenging at times, yet there is polish that needs to happen. As an example entering a room sometimes instantly rewards you with damage as enemies spawn on top of you, also the enemies have very strange attack animations that makes it hard to predict when they are going to strike. This lead to my death more then once and left me feeling cheated at times, this on top of the fact it's a perma-death game, as you can imagine, was very frustrating. The main hero's abilities of hookshot and dash, seemingly got me into more trouble then they were worth, hacking away was far more easy and safer. The game currently doesn't really reward you for trying different tactics. Finally the enemies seemingly died from random amounts of damage, one would die from a single swipe and others in two or three swipes. This could be due to buffs and stats changing although this randomness continued in most of my game sessions.

After clearing many rooms and finding the boss key, you will face off against one of the games bosses. These are seemingly randomized but currently there are only about two maybe three per area. This is by far the area that needs the most balancing, as bosses are simply laughable and easy to defeat. Most of the time I felt the bosses were not even attacking me. I had more trouble with some of the mini-bosses that appear randomly while exploring the Odyssey. Speaking of the Odyssey, it was rather an enjoyable experience. The five sections of the game are rather unique in feel and design, despite the fact the game is completely in 4:3 resolution and doesn't support widescreen. You can put the game on fullscreen but end up with giant black bars on the side of your screen. Most of the problems with combat and UI design, I can forgive due to the game being in Early Access. Despite this, I just don't understand why the game doesn't support widescreen in this day and age.

Nonetheless, each of the areas does have a very unique tone, with monsters coming at you from all sides that suit the area and making each area feel unique. The areas come in different sizes and even contain some hazards that you must watch out for as you battle an onslaught of monsters. This I liked very much as it kept me on my toes. There are also some secrets littered about the game that can be discovered by hacking at everything, usually rewarding you with some sort of stat buff. This is again par for the course in roguelikes and works very well, rewarding exploration.

The game is surprisingly well put together for an Early Access title.(Former experiences with other EA games left me wanting) The base game right now is for the most part bug free and I never had any kind of hiccups. The UI is acceptable but does have the tiny issue of where the map that shows the Odyssey is placed. This map can cover up a portion of the map and hence an enemy might be hiding out of your sight. This is something that will hopefully be addressed by the time the game exits Early Access.  

Other areas need polish as well, including story, which The Story Goes On doesn't currently have ironically. The music I found was quite enjoyable and one of the areas I felt the game was nicely done, using a mix of fast paced electronica and old style chip tunes. The sound effects were acceptable as well, slashing, explosions, and magic all had a nice oomph to them and never grated on my ears. The enemies did fall quite silent though as all they did was go poof.

Speaking to the other accoutrements, such as options, I was not disappointed, offering motion blur, lighting effects, and fully rebindable keys. Replay value of the game is high of course as the dungeons are randomized, random items, and unlocking other characters. The overall games length lends itself to quick playthroughs lasting anywhere from 20 to 40 mins.

The game is fun and just difficult enough for newer and veteran players, at least for the first couple of playthroughs. I think eventually veterans will find the game a bit on the easy side. I can see myself playing the game a couple of times until all the characters are unlocked, however there really isn't anything I felt to keep the player locked into this game. There are some neat ideas here that need to polished but nothing that is really all that original. This could all be due to the game still being in Early Access, as more features and items make it into the game and add their own unique flair and keep me wanting to play more and more. It should also be noted that the game does come at an incredibly great price of $4.99, that price alone makes this game worth it. Like I mentioned, The Story Goes On a great way to introduce your friends or kids to roguelikes.

So if you are in the market for new and up coming roguelike that you can play with your kids and not worry about religious overtones(coughBindingofIsaaccough). The Story Goes On is a great choice.

  • Great Price
  • Well made
  • Easy to Play
  • Fast replayability
  • Monster Placement
  • Bosses are easy
  • Needs more polish
  • No description given to unlock characters.

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