Remnants of Isolation by Red Nova, Unity and Sooz
Summary: Clever, gripping and a lot of fun, Remnants of Isolation is a deserving winner.
2014 IGMC Grand Prize Winner!
Let’s deal with the elephant in the room – Expectations for this game will likely be sky high among a lot of players following the announcement of the IGMC winners. If you’re expecting to have your mind blown by a perfect gaming experience, you might be let down. But after spending a couple of hours playing Remnants of Isolation, I could see pretty easily why the judges enjoyed it so much. This is a smartly-made and efficient game that offers a lot of fun.
The lead character is a mute pink-skinned woman who can’t read or speak and the early scenes of the game offer no explanation as to exactly what she is or why she had been confined. Before long, she meets Melchoir, a chatty young man with green dreds. These are your only two playable characters, and when one of them can’t speak, it means that most of the dialogue is just Melchoir more or less talking to himself. This can get tedious at times – without being able to process their mysterious predicament together, you get a lot of awkward scenes where Melchoir asks a question and then winds up offering a possible answer a few seconds later. Ironically, the woman (nicknamed “Celesta” by Melchoir) becomes very endearing despite only communicating with head tilts.
The graphics, mostly RTP with what look like some original additions, aren’t necessarily breathtaking, but they successfully convey an otherworldly landscape where anything seems to be possible. Players traverse grassy mountaintops, ice caves and alien-looking worlds while hunting down the set of monsters that must be defeated in order to proceed. The other art fares better, with charming face graphics for the two leads and original sprites that are well-animated. Music mostly stays in the background, except for a beautiful and haunting melody that plays when Celesta pulls out her magic portable-keyboard-thing.
When it comes to battles, the two must work as a team and this is where Remnants of Isolation really shines. Strategy is based on the concept of “spell fusion,” where one character uses an innate skill and the other follows with a more traditional magic spell. Depending on the strategy, these combinations lead to stronger spells, spells that hit all enemies, increased resistance to an element or setting up an enemy to be weak against an element. Careful use of these tactics is essential against the bosses, who hit hard but can be taken down hard with the right combination of fused spells. When your strategy works and you rack up huge damage against a tough enemy, it’s incredibly satisfying.
Item management is also pretty clever – you collect “souls” from enemies that can be traded for items or equipment at certain points. Save them up and you can get some powerful weapons and armor or stockpile helpful potions. The game is generous when it comes to chances to do this, which is good because otherwise you would run through them quickly against some of the tougher enemies.
Remnants of Isolation is a very unpretentious game that plays very well and its selection as the top winner will hopefully demonstrate the value of the overall experience of a game, rather than just its potential for pretty screenshots. Newcomers to RPG Maker could learn a great deal from this game and oldbies like me will just have a great time.
What did you think of this game? Which battle strategies did you enjoy using? Which ending did you get? Tell us in the comments!