Wednesday 19 January, 2011
Man, I've been meaning to write about this for a while...but haven't found the time.
At this point, unless there's some major surprise, I'm probably about 85-90% through the game. And it's interesting, fun, and curious. I was expecting something more "involved" in the traditional RPG sense (learn all these stats, min/max your abilities, level up, grind) but it isn't. And the gameplay, or at least the "special" part of the gameplay is quite different... Ok, I need to explain so that I can at least sort it out in my head.
In this game you essentially:
1. Wander around a 2D (top-down) environment populated by monsters and stuff. You can knock things over (including monsters) and then carry them around on your head. Some areas have flat train cars on which you than throw the (up to 3) things you can carry on your head at a time. The stuff you picked up is then whisked back to town and becomes part of your inventory.
2. In some places, you can engage in gigantic tank battles (your tank is "summoned" by blowing on a flute). It's basically your tank against another. Tanks have hitpoints and damage each other by launching projectiles at each other. You have to man the tank. This means running around (inside the tank) picking up ammo that comes out a slide (there are lots of these inside your tank, they don't all dispense ammo at the same time) and, carrying the ammo on your head, throw it into one of two cannons your tank has. The ammo is then fired, and it slowly flies across to the other tank. The other tank does the same. If your ammo collides with the enemy ammo, both are knocked out; and each of your cannons fires in a different trajectory. So, if you see something coming at you from the "lower" trajectory, you can load something into your lower cannon to knock it out of the sky. Different ammo flies through the air at different speeds and causes different amounts of damage. Once the enemy tank reaches 0 hit points, it's "heart room" (think engine room) is exposed and you have to run over to the other tank, and beat up the "heart". It then explodes and you win.
a. Ammo? So, all that crap you've collected and sent back home...well, that's your ammo! You can configure the types of ammo your tank carries in a special shop, as well as purchase upgrades for it (more hp,basically). ALSO, you can engage a crew...that will "automate" some of the tank management tasks (like collecting ammo and launching it at the enemy. So, there's some strategy involved in setting up your tank with the right (or best) ammo, as well as picking crew members with useful (and complementary?) skills.
Now, tank battles occur in real-time! Your crew members work in real time and YOU have to fight in real time. Early in the game (before I had a crew), this was pretty hard (and frantic, in a good sense), since I had to run around, gather ammo, and fire it, while trying to avoid getting pummeled by the enemy (who usually had better ammo and a crew....). This was pretty exciting! I barely won a few battles...it was close. THEN, I realized that...
You can also launch yourself (or your crew) via the cannon...if all goes well you actually end up INSIDE the enemy tank...and can wreak havok there. Damage internals, attack the enemy crew, steal their ammo (carry it back to your tank on your head), and more. This only really works if you have crew in your tank to fire on the enemy (otherwise, who'll attack the enemy?)...
So, what was a frantic game where I always felt underpowered became a game of tense standoffs where I was trying to find the perfect moment to launch myself a t the enemy, wreak havoc and then saunter back. (note that the enemy can also launch itself at you!). However, it got a bit easier...especially with a crew because I could effectively paralyze the enemy offense...and win the fight.
And THEN I realized that if walked across, I could pummel the enemy tank doors and waltz right in...there's no need to carefully time a self-launch...Brute force worked!
So, tank battles are fun but they've been getting progressively easier as I find new (apparently dominant?) strategies for playing the game. It became less about managing the ammo, types of ammo and trying to do everything at once, and more about being patient. Hit the enemy hard in the beginning, neutralize their offensive capabilities and then wait for my crew to do the rest...