I’m going to steal a line directly from the dev presskit, and let you know,
“The Great Gaias is a fully complete (60)+ hour RPG based off an original Dungeons and Dragons campaign setting, beautifully reimagined into the nostalgic retro aesthetic of the beloved SNES style that we grew up adoring.”
I think the game’s pretty well put together, definitely retains a lot of the charm of SNES games, but has a ton of difficulty in being relatable thanks to the story considering “Thee and Thou” an acceptable way to explain who the rich guys are. …but, when the rich guys are using informal pronouns for each other instead of formal ones, it just kinda shows the writing was thrown in for dramatic effect. (To be fair, Ted Woolsey, the translator for all our favourite RPGs on the SNES makes the same error when Frog says to Queen Leene. “I failed to protect Queen Leene. I hath disgraced thee.”) It isn’t impossible to understand, but sometimes you’ll go, “Oh, alright, it’s more of this.” and just kinda skim instead of really trying to pay attention to which guy you’re supposed to be cheering for. It’s an RPG Maker game, and, while usually that denotes bad writing, bad gameplay, bad pacing, bad jokes, bad stories, bad mechanics, and bad character progression, this game only suffers from a few of those things.
The game begins with you stealing something from somebody in a town with a friend who is much, much more powerful than you. This is one of the old classic tricks in an RPG, the “Samson” effect, I like to call it. (I’m referencing you, Beyond the Beyond, you should hit me up with that collab.) It’s a good way to teach the player where they will eventually be, provided they are willing to go the extra mile and deal with the battles, and oh, there will be battles in a game with a character attempting to move away from his violent past. Nobody just gets to go up to the mountaintop and avoid war. (Note: That’s a viable way to avoid your violent past, seriously. Just build a log cabin in the woods and eat sticks until you die from dysentery, BUT, that wouldn’t make a good video game, unless you’re into that kinda nonsense.) [Auxilery note’s auxilery note: I realize that “cabin in the woods” links to “The Forest” but, nobody even remembers that game, so, that’s why I think it’s safe to say living in the woods is totally non-violent.]
The graphics are hit or miss in a lot of ways. As a presentation, I think it’s just fine, but, there are a lot of reused faces, some of which just feel really outside of the norm. Anime Dwarf is my favourite, except for “casually uninterested city guard” who has some really aggressive lines despite his casual, uninterested face. He looks at you the way I look at literally any link that starts with “www.polygon.com” – absolute uninterested disdain.
He is so freakin’ hilariously out of place that I’m going to keep him forever to be my super excited face. He’s like, “STEP OUT OF LINE AND I’LL BREAK YOUR LEGS!” or, “I… was just given the award for most emotional looking character in a video game?” with that same look on his face.
The graphics are definitely alright, but, occasionally something silly comes along, like the errant mustache, or, two vastly different art styles for portraits. I think the audio is pretty good. Nothing astronomical in any direction. This is a good thing. I’m alright with the music. It’s unobtrusive, it’s nice. It’s RPG music, and that’s a pretty solid way to make RPG music. There is occasionally a sound effect that feels out of place, but, it’s super minor. This is a 60+ hour RPG, good luck getting every sound effect spot on when you’re busy making the entire world. So many good things were done, from dice rolling animations to show your attempt at lockpicking, to custom animations for each ability in combat, this game has a lot going good for it.
Combat is a big part of this game, and, you get a squad of 4 people in battle, out of a total of 17 playable party members. I haven’t got all 17 people, haven’t beaten the game, none of that yet, this is a huge game, so… I’m only able to tell you what I’ve seen, but, it’s battles are a little longer than I’d normally appreciate, but, overall, it’s a pretty solid. I’m always nervous about running out of MP, but, I think that’s just part of the connection to oldschool Dungeons and Dragons. Traveling around the gameworld is just your standard oldschool RPG style, and there are items to be found in chests and on shelves and stuff. It’s neat. It’s just like the oldschool days. There are going to be times when you’ll hit bosses that are incredibly powerful and you’ll need to grind to just catch up to what the devs expect you to be at, but, it’s an oldschool RPG, that’s how they were when we were kids, right?
The crafting system is convoluted, and big, and, while that sounds mean, it’s pretty awesome, because I like convoluted crafting systems. Don’t just give me all the answers, make me write some shit down on paper and plan out what I’m going to do with my shit. This game has that in spades. There’s a clear path to the items you want, but, you can’t just take the raw ingredients and build the top tier stuff, you have to build the base part, then upgrade it, then upgrade it again, ect.
I’m nowhere near the end of this game, and, I know that means that I can’t tell you FOR SURE 100% how I’m going to feel about the whole game, but, I’ve put some hours into this game. It’s probably the best RPG Maker game I’ve ever played. Sure, there are a few misspellings occasionally (One Ince Punch comes to mind) and the pontification and fancy lad language of some of the characters doesn’t become a joke until about 5-6 hours in, but, overall, it’s pretty freakin’ good. Oh, one thing I HAVE to bring up. The Guard. I want to keep him forever.
You aren’t going to go and buy this game for $30 USD and expect to get a beautifully built fully realized roleplaying game put together by passionate developers in the vein of the Squaresoft team, but… you kinda are. All of the things I mentioned that are silly or seem out of place were right there back in 1996 when Undertaker threw Mankind off the top of Hell in a cell. (I just started typing and ended up with a u/shittymorph moment, I apologize.) But really, honestly, there are more spelling errors in Final Fantasy VI. There are worse portrait problems on SNES RPGs. – And you’d have paid 50 bucks and spent 500 hours playing those games. You might see these things from the lens of an adult and see it as a failed attempt to build something, but, I see it as just a sign of building an RPG with a small team, on a tight budget, with a wild story, and all of those pieces STILL somehow end up slightly coherent. Well, that’s a goddamned miracle.
Developed by: Horizon’s End
Price at time of article: $29.99 US
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…there’s a link to Fancy Lad Skateboards in the review, they didn’t ask me to do that, I just thought fancy lad might lead to something funny, but, it was skateboards.