Hey people, it’s been a good week for me. NieR is now complete and I’m back in action for King of Shadows work.
I’ll get into more about NieR in a bit, but first I’ll share what progress I made on King of Shadows. I was able to get a fair amount of work done on the placeholder Rehoboam sprite this week and have got most of the torso done as well as the fur linings on his kingly robe.
Since I was away from the computer for the weekend I also decided to get to work on some more character sketches to turn into placeholder sprites when I’m done with Rehoboam. Realising that I didn’t really have a solid reference image for the Shadow King I decided to start with him since he has one of the more important roles. I drew him in a crossed arms pose like one of the old placeholder sprites I did for him a while back.
I’ve also started on a couple of others, but they’re not ready to be shown yet.
That’s the update for the week, now I’ll be getting into my review of NieR. Overall I really enjoyed the game, and here I’ll pick three things I liked and three things I think could be improved, starting with the things I liked.
Firstly, the story is amazing. The protagonist is Nier, a father trying to save his daughter who suffers from a disease, known as the Black Scrawl, which has been killing humanity over the past thousand years or so. He partners up with a talking book named Grimoire Weiss, which grants the player access to his powerful magical abilities. Along the way he must fight mysterious enemies known as Shades – which have also been hunting humans – and is able to take on various optional quests to gain money, weapons and skills. On the surface, it seems to be your run-of-the-mill RPG, but the back of the game’s cover describes it perfectly; “Nothing is as it seems.” That’s the kind of thing I hope to do with King of Shadows, which is also meant to seem pretty straightforward on the surface. The game also has different endings, the events leading up to the first of which have small hints at what’s really going on before the big reveal close to the end, but still mostly tells only one side of the story. Only when you get into the second playthrough do you begin to see the reasons behind the actions of your enemies, some of their thought processes and what they are saying.
Secondly, the soundtrack. NieR: Automata’s soundtrack was amazing, and its predecessor didn’t disappoint in this category either. Both NieR and NieR: Automata’s music is hands-down some of my favourite in any video game, and what makes it even better is that they fit their respective scenes and areas well. It’d be amazing to have pieces of a similar style and level of quality in something related to King of Shadows, even if music like that is a fair margin above my shoestring budget for the game currently haha.
Thirdly, the characters. I love the designs of the various characters in the game and – more importantly – how they interact with both the world and each other. I got attached to one in particular, one of Nier’s companions named Emil (who also appears in NieR: Automata). Even some of the characters in the sidequests felt somewhat fleshed out despite not being told their life story, they changed with the events of the story which made them feel a bit more alive.
Now for three things that I’d improve about the game. First of all, here’s something which really annoyed me; there’s two major arcs in the game, Part 1 and Part 2. Part 2 is replayable in getting the other endings after getting Ending A, but Part 1 can only be played once, and there are sidequests which can only be completed in Part 1. I missed ONE sidequest in Part 1, and the game doesn’t give the player any indication about said sidequest’s existence, so I couldn’t get 100% quest completion but was stuck at 98%, and the only way to get it at this point is to start the entire playthrough from scratch (I won’t do this though, I’ve kept you all waiting for actual progress on King of Shadows for a few weeks now). NieR: Automata resolves this problem by giving the player access to Chapter Select, which allows the player to play from any part of the story after getting three of its main endings, so I’d implement a similar feature here.
Secondly, item-gathering sidequests. Not gonna lie, some of these sidequests were very tedious to complete, especially ones that involved gathering 10 (or more) of [insert rare item here]. And when I say “rare”, I mean “only 1 in 20+ enemies killed would drop it” rare. It’s fine if it happens in general gameplay, but when multiple of rare items like this are required for a sidequest it can make it feel pointlessly dragged out. To resolve this I’d have the game check if a specific side quest is active, and if it detects that the sidequest is active the drop rate for the required items to complete it would increase. The rare item wouldn’t have to drop 100% of the time, but bumping it from, for example, 5% (1 in 20) to 20% (1 in 5) would go a long way towards making the sidequest feel a bit less tedious.
Thirdly, the magic. There were only two magic attacks I used in the whole game because they felt the most useful against pretty much every enemy and boss. Some of the other magic attacks I tried I felt were really lacking in utility. How I’d resolve this is to give some of the attacks different effects and give the player situations where they are more effective.
With that done, I might call it a night here since it’s been a long day for me and I’m starting to get tired. Thanks for following the development of King of Shadows and I’ll see you all in next week’s update with hopefully even more progress on the Visual Novel to show.