Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Spirited Heart

Author: ?
Availability: Demo/$19.99 Full Version, Download
Format: Raising Sims
Genre: Fantasy
Rating: Teen
My Score: 2.5 out of 5

Spirited Heart is a raising sim, much in the style of Princess Maker. You play a girl in a fantastical setting, on your own for the first time. Work jobs, take classes, and see what you end up becoming.

First of all, let me just express my appreciation for the art; it’s clean, it’s professional-looking, and I quite like it. The layout’s nice, too. All in all, I give the art a 4. It is anime-based, as many of these games seem to be.

The writing is decent, and I like how the creator justifies the stat changes in-story. I particularly like how you can tweak some of your character’s stats by reliving “past events”, ala Choice of the Dragon. As an aside, why is it that fantasy settings have silly-sounding place names? I can’t really fault the game’s creator here, but it’s something about the genre that struck me while I was playing.

So, we have nice art and good writing, and then it all gets shot by the gameplay.
I HAte the gameplay here, with a capital ‘H’, and an ‘A’ for good measure. On the one hand, it’s cool that you can pick one of three races, choose her general background, and then further tweak her history if you like. That part is great. But as for the game proper, everything is much too random.

Want to work a job? Roll a die to find out if you did well enough to raise stats and/or get paid. Want to find romance? You have six potential suitors: Just keep hacking away at certain jobs and hope their associated Random Events eventually show up. Repeat until your health is low and your spirits are crushed, then waste your time and money resting so that you can start all over.

Granted, it’s fairly realistic to meet someone randomly. However, once you’ve become aware of that person, it should be easier to intentionally track them down to initiate interaction; especially when you know what places they frequent! In other words, if Elf Boy really does sing at that bar every single day, then I should be able to just click something like “Go Talk to Elf Boy” or “Invite Elf Boy over for beer”, instead of just mashing the “Work last job” button over and over until the game’s D20 (or whatever it is) finally lands on Elf Boy’s magic number. The problem with having every aspect of a relationship left up to chance is that it is, though statistically rare, entirely possible to roll an entire string of 1s, which means that no matter what you do, the relationship won’t progress at all. That. Sucks.

All in all, this game had some good ideas; and the addictive nature of multi-ending games means that, if the full version were free, I’d probably have played through it a few times despite the frustration. In my opinion, though, it’s not worth paying for. I don’t even know* what the price of the full version is; but as it stands, I wouldn’t give a dollar for it.

Of course, all this is just my opinion. Others may find the game more enjoyable than I did. Feel free to try it out and discuss your experiences in the comments.

*ETA: After writing this post, I looked up the price for the info section at the top.

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