Sunday, November 13, 2016

Reflection of a Fallen Feather - The Friday FREE GAME Feature!


Escape a labyrinth and transform into fallen foes!

Reflection of a Fallen Feather mixes elements of classic RPG titles together to make a game that feels like it could've been the "missing link" between Final Fantasy and Pokemon


You awake in a labyrinthine underworld with most of your memories and identity erased. You, like the other inhabitants, have a strong feeling that you used to be someone else (and somewhere else) before awaking to this nightmare. Meeting with two similar creatures, the band sets forth to find a way out and hopefully regain a sense of what they once were.

This game has most of the standard RPG mechanics you expect, with a variety of stats, attacks, spells, status effects and turn-based combat. The battles themselves are somewhat unremarkable, and I chose to leave the majority of them out of the highlight video because of it. Suffice to say, if you've played any turn-based RPG before, you've seen your fair share of this already - it's not terribly exciting to watch. 

What helps to set this game apart from the classic RPGs though is its "level up" system. As you defeat enemies, you gain Battle Points (BP). Once you earn enough BP, you can choose to transform a member of your party into one of the last monsters you fought. You get to carry over two of your attacks/spells to the new form, and your current stats merge with the new monster to typically improve the character. This is an interesting concept that allows for a lot of flexibility when improving/leveling characters, and there's near-Pokemon-level potential for planning/theorycrafting a powerful team.

Being a fan of pixel art, I enjoyed the retro look of the game. It helped to reinforce the feeling that you were playing a "classic" RPG. Sadly, I'm not a fan of many of the other design decisions in RoaFF.

Part of the reason why the combats felt boring was that they were fairly easy, especially once you learned what the particular enemy was weak to. This is balanced somewhat by an oldschool approach of being able to only save your game at specific locations. While it's usually a bad idea to allow saves at any point in an RPG (as it drastically lessens any risk and consequence of your actions), it's also incredibly frustrating to lose an hour of progress because you're lost in a maze and get stunlocked to oblivion. One might think the simple answer is to avoid problematic encounters until you can save, but that's easier said than done. Transitioning between zones typically respawns all the monsters, and this can happen fairly often in places. Perhaps a rare/limited single-use item that would allow you to save on the spot could remedy this.

I wasn't surprised to see puzzles in a labyrinth, but there's perhaps a bit too much emphasis placed on them. I often felt like I was playing a puzzle game with an included RPG system, rather than the other way around. All the back-tracking really slowed the pace of the game, which might also be why I felt there was so little exposition in the story. Starting out, I was given a brief history of each of the three characters, and I learned nothing else about them in two hours. I found a similar creature that got separated from his own party who were in possession of a "master key", but he personally suffered from a serious dose of amnesia like the rest of us.

If you really like turn-based RPGs with a heavy puzzle element, you'll probably enjoy Reflection of a Fallen Feather. The leveling system is neat, but it wasn't enough to make up for the slow pacing of the story, the backtracking nature of the puzzles, and the lost progress when not being able (or forgetting) to save a little more often.

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