It took me a few more days than I imagined to get to this. Partly being burned out from playing so many games in such a short time, partly just because I had to really work to get my thoughts into place. So here is how this is going to go. For the most part, I’m going to do a rundown of the story setup, my impressions of the fight, and then why I selected it to place. I will NOT be covering the endings, because I believe all of them are posted up now, so I would rather not spoil anything.
So, on to the show!
Demon Slayer Z (Third Place)
Story Setup: Four heroes face off against a little girl possessed by a demon. The setup cutscene really didn’t take itself too seriously, including some funny lines concerning the swordsman’s technique (and whether a specific technique he declared actually existed.) Its not complex, but it sets it up well, and the LAST TIME ON DEMON SLAYER Z opening made me smile a bit.
The Fight: This is where this entry shined. Each character had a bit of a different rhythm to them, so you had to figure it out a bit for each character. The swordsman was focused heavily around building up your TP bar, the Mage required a lot of manipulation to keep your MP high (as most of his skills were more effective in that state), and the Gunslinger had his MP bar used as an ammo bar for his gun, which needed to be reloaded regularly. The Cleric was more standard, but still fit in with the rest of the crew well.
The enemy was also well thought out. she started with minions, and summoned more periodically through the fight. And each time she summoned them she mentioned how delicious they looked. The last time she said she was going to eat one. I’m going to guess it would have healed her, but I pummeled her really quick at that point and she died. I liked the hints in the battle dialogue.
Conclusion: Mediocre story covered by a bit of campiness and selfawareness, unique character skillsets and a memorable boss fight with good hints.
Lamia Must Die (Third Place)
Story Setup: An evil Lamia, once a woman cursed by a goddess because the goddess’s god husband cheated on her with the mortal woman is terrorizing the countryside. Four heroes from different walks in life, with different reasons for going after the Lamia band together to defeat her.
The Fight: The fight is pretty straight forward. None of the party members really had any unique mechanics, but it was still balanced well. The part of the combat that WAS interesting though was that there was no spell to resurrect a fallen ally. On its own that wasn’t significant, but I felt that the way it interacted with the possible endings was really an interesting take, and something that couldn’t be done in a longer game. That awareness of the short game formats strengths was a brilliant touch.
Conclusion: Character motivations introduced in a succinct manner, each character getting a bit of highlight into their thoughts, competent but not spectacular battle, but a wonderful grasp of the advantages of the format of the contest in order to make a memorable ending.
Magus Spirits (Second Place)
Story Setup: The government has outlawed Magus Spirits, and apparently because of that, our heroes’ tavern is doing particularly badly. One of the four sneaked off and gathered up the materials to make the illicit substance, and was trailed back to the tavern by a government lackey. This, of course, instigates what one of the characters refers to as a “ball room brawl.”
The Fight: As with Demon Slayer Z, this is where this entry shined. There were tons of interesting mechanics with the characters. The healer, for instance, used when she went in the round as part of the cost of casting stronger healing spells. She could go first and heal a little, go last and heal a lot, or go at her normal speed and heal a middle amount. Another character, a sort of monk-type character, had a combo system, in which she could build up a combo pool, and it would make certain skills stronger, while using some skills would empty the combo pool to use. There were also a few other neat tricks with the skills. The boss itself was interesting with a changing element type mechanic.
Conclusion: Likeable characters in a game that wasn’t about an ultimate evil, with solid mechanics and a lot of strategy changing up during the fight.
SAD (First Place)
Story Setup: You play as a girl attempting to ask someone out, but you must face down your inner insecurities. To help you face them down, positive virtues come out to beat them down. The game is entirely played inside the main characters head, with her trying to overcome an inferiority complex that is really… well sad. This one blew me away when I played it because it took the outline of the contest, and then turned it on its ear. It followed the rules to the letter, but what came out was completely different than what I could have expected.
The Fight: The fight is interesting and really thematic. Your main character is really a bit weak, changed somewhat based on different options you chose during the opening scenes. In the beginning your virtues will carry the load, but there is a lot of mechanics in play to let them make the main character stronger and more capable. The whole concept is really well played out.
Conclusion: Incredibly thematic game mechanically that turned the whole concept of what I thought I would be playing and made something unexpected and brilliant. It tackles a subject I haven’t seen really dealt with in games before, and I felt that overall, it was an experience I am glad that I was fortunate enough to play.
And that concludes my thoughts on the four winners. Any questions? Any comments on the games? Have you played any of them? Tell us about it in the comments section below.