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    jp's Doctor Lautrec and the Forgotten Knights (3DS)

    [July 16, 2012 03:52:45 PM]
    After a while the puzzles started to get harder. Unfortunately, they're still the same kind of puzzles. So, I found that I was spending more time having less fun and making slowed progress. Not really the sort of think you want to do when there's a shelf of OTHER games staring at your face (and a Steam summer sale reminding you of the games that aren't on your shelf that stare at you when you boot up steam). So, I've moved on to what looks to be a no-nonsense tactical strategy game I'll probably enjoy a lot even if it isn't all that novel.

    Before closing this log up though, I wanted to at least describe the game's "combat" system. In my opinion it has a lot of the surface features you'd expect, but none of the "meat" you'd hope would hold all those features together in an interesting and exciting meal. It's quite a shame really, especially since I was able to find little information on the system (which made it harder for me to figure out what was going on). Before I describe it though, I though I'd point out a few things that REALLY became drawbacks. I think of them in the same terms as Ernest Adam's "no twinkies" for game designers:

    (1) The game's early sections cannot be the only moment/place where vital gameplay information is explained/dispensed. It's not that hard to have a "Help" section that describes the basic concepts, shows a few things, and so on.

    I missed a few things early on (as in, I don't remember them) and from then on found myself stumbling around wondering... Basic "interface" stuff to be honest. For example, does Up-Arrow 30% on top of your guy mean something good (is it a bonus?) What if you see the same thing in the center (which is where the enemy is). Is it a bonus for you against the enemy, a bonus for the enemy? What happens when you see two modifiers? Up-Arrow 30% on you, AND a Down-Arrow 10% on the enemy? Isn't that the same as a 20% Up-Arrow on you? Why or why not? The whole arrow thing was quite stupid because it should be easy for me to look it up (and go, "oh, I get it..."). Instead, I'm stuck wondering...

    (2) If the strategic parts of the game are important, make sure to provide some way for the player to practice them.

    AFAIK, the only way to engage with the battles is to start a mission, do everything to get to the place, and then complete the puzzles, avoid guards, etc. In other words, it takes a non-insignificant time commitment such that when you finally get to a battle you'd really rather just beat it (if possible) than experiment and try things out. It doesn't help matters that before setting heading into the underground dungeon, you have to decide which 3 artifacts to take with you... and it's pretty much a blind choice anyways (since you don't know what you'll encounter).

    So, how does the combat system work?

    Essentially you're trying to whittle down a baddie's "hit points" down to a low-number. If you over do it, you "kill" the monster. Each baddie is of a certain type. Your treasures are also of certain types and there is a variety of relationships between types. In a nutshell, you can have an advantage, disadvantage, or no-effect. Your treasures have hitpoints, an attach value and a shield value. The baddie does as well.

    During your turn you select a treasure (either one of the three you brought into the dungeon with you, or a gem you've picked up along the way) and place it on a pedestal. Each battle features a "ring" with several pedestals. Once you've placed a treasure there, you can't use that pedestal again AND the treasure is "used" for the rest of the battle. When you place a treasure it attacks, and then the baddie responds (if it's still alive).

    Some of the pedestals are of a certain color. You can only place a treasure of a special type on that pedestal. Also, some of the pedestals are linked to others. I think the linking allows for certain "combo effects". Some pedestals are cracked (expressed as a %). I think that the cracking reduces the effectiveness of your treasures. I'm not sure by how much or in which way.

    In theory, this should make for an interesting game - you need to pick the right treasure and decide (carefully?) where to place it. However, you're forced to choose your treasures before you have any sense of what you may find in the dungeon. There's no way to adjust on the fly...and you're limited to 3 treasures in total. So, ultimately you end up placing stuff and hoping for the best. I had to re-do a few dungeons because I had the wrong treasures... a REAL drag. The cost of "trying again" is simply too high...
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    [July 12, 2012 03:28:58 PM]
    Having made some more progress in the game, I can now say that although I've gotten over the fact that this isn't a Layton-clone, in many ways I wish it was. Dr. Lautrec is, like Layton, someone who likes to solve puzzles and mysteries. The game revolves around a variety of puzzles/mysteries in Paris. The general sequence is as follows:

    1. You receive a map/page that contains a riddle and a picture.

    2. The answer to the riddle is a place in Paris.

    3. Once you get to the right place, you have to locate a flor-de-lis in order to enter a dungeon

    4. Inside the dungeon you must avoid guards/bad guys (stealth), push blocks around , and solve puzzles until you reach rooms with treasure.

    5. Finding treasure means fighting it (it's possessed by monsters).

    6. Win. Go get another riddle.

    Now, the overall structure is fine by me, but the sad thing is that the first step is really exciting! However, you don't get to solve or think through the riddle. You get to watch Lautrec think about it and come up with a few locations that might be the answer, you visit them, and the final place is narrowed down. Essentially, you follow along. Boo! I would have preferred to solve the riddle myself.

    Ok, part 3 is also kind of lame. It's essentially a picture hunt. Nothing specila.

    Part 4 is interesting a few times. Then it gets pretty old. The block pushing is the worst though. It's slow, makes no sense, and isn't all that difficult. And the puzzles? Hmmm.. So far, there are 4 (5?) types. They were interesting maybe 2-3 times... but after a while. Well, the puzzles are actually kind of lame: there's a spot the difference, place words in a crossword, and so on. I mean, they're quite rudimentary. So far I've only screwed up ONCE on one puzzle (by mistake, as well).

    And the fighting? Well, more on that later, but it's also pretty disappointing.
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    [July 5, 2012 11:41:27 PM]
    This game LOOKS very much like a Professor Layton ripoff. It really does. Puzzles and adventures. The professor (I mean, Doctor) has a sidekick (a young girl this time), and so on. The game, in my experience so far, doesn't really have anything to do with Layton. I'm still confused by this, since I was expecting something different and the game I'm playing is...well, not a Layton clone. For starters, there's stealth segments (wander around in a catacomb avoiding guards), "physical" puzzles (push giant crates around, while also avoiding guards), and some sort of RPG/fights with magical artifacts that summon creatures. I haven't really figured out that last part.

    The game is set in Paris sometime (I don't remember when) in the 19th century. The Eiffel tower is currently under construction. I was amused (intrigued?) by a warning that game has in the beginning. In a nutshell it says that the game is based on actually history/historical places, and so on. But warns that some details/things have been changed for gameplay reasons. I'm REALLY curious about this. Some elements are obviously fantasy, but others are plausible and I'm a bit disappointed to think that some of the plausible ones may be invented... Here I was thinking I might actually learn something about Paris and Parisian history!
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    jp's Doctor Lautrec and the Forgotten Knights (3DS)

    Current Status: Stopped playing - Got frustrated

    GameLog started on: Tuesday 3 July, 2012

    GameLog closed on: Monday 16 July, 2012

    jp's opinion and rating for this game

    High production values, great animations... interesting setting but the gameplay (or puzzle design) simply isn't interesting at all. Sigh.

    Rating (out of 5):starstar

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