Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Kingdom Days Sim Date

Author: Pacthesis
Availability: Free, Online/browser
Format: Dating Sim
Genre: Fantasy
Rating: Everyone
My Scores: (Writing: 3.5, Art: 4.8, Gameplay: 3.5)


In Kingdom Days Sim Date, you are Rose. You used to live in an orphanage, until one day you met a strange boy who revealed that you're the long-lost daughter of the king and queen, and he himself is your servant. Sometime after this, though, war forces you to flee from your castle and take shelter with a king who will only allow you to stay if you marry him at the end of a month. Will you go through with it, or will you find a future with someone else?


Once again, I found myself waffling over the numbers, so take them with a grain of salt. I may have to change my rating system again.

The Writing:
At first, I thought the whole bit with the orphanage was superfluous. Since the premise essentially boils down to "You are a princess", it didn't make sense to have such a long introduction sequence catering to the "Orphan has royal parents" fantasy, which probably hasn't been relevant since the 1800's. However, while this background doesn't have much bearing on the game in general, it becomes absolutely crucial for one character's path. Even so, it probably could have been handled differently - either introduced more subtly, or made more relevant to different parts of the game - so that it doesn't seem like a massive weight pressing down on the game with just one character path acting as a load-bearing pillar. Other than this, the game has Pacthesis' usual interweaving plot threads, attention to detail, and odd humor, all of which I've come to love.

The Art:
I almost gave this a 5. Almost. Had the art for some scenes been just a liiiiittle bit tighter, it would have been perfect; as it was, it was impressive. From the use of monochrome in the beginning, to the animation during the escape, to the detail of Rose and Lewis being spattered with mud as they run through the woods, it's clear that a lot of effort was put into this. The characters and scenery are lovely, expressions and wardrobe change quite a bit, and overall, I am just very impressed.

The Gameplay:
THE STATS DO SOMETHING! Finally, a Dating Sim where the stats actually do something: Charm is required in order to go on dates, Wisdom is required to work the better job, and Magic is used to unlock the cheat codes. Granted, the system is not above criticism, but it is a huge step up from the mostly decorative stats in Pacthesis' other games.

Like Idol Days, there is one hidden character who must be unlocked, and one character who shows up at the half-way point, meaning you have less time to complete his path. The game is also nice enough to tell you when you've completed each path. Also, there are no pesky minigames! Hooray!

Unfortunately, the endings are less satisfying once you realize that the *relationship points* mean nothing. Oh Pacthesis, why did you give me ice cream and take away my cake? The mechanics of the game appear to be rigged so that when you progress to a certain point in a character's path, you invite them to your wedding, which means that they show up at the church and can thus be selected for an ending. While this may seem a perfectly acceptable way to do things, there are two characters (The king and your servant) who will *always* show up at the church, regardless of your relationship with them. This means that you can pretty much approach a person you've had nothing to do with all month and say "OMG I love you! Let's get married and live happily ever after!" Compare this to Idol Days and Wonderland Days, where all of the characters show up to wish you well and only the one(s) you have a high enough relationship with will cart you off into the sunset. Since Kingdom Days is entirely dependent on the dialogue path/church mechanic, there's no purpose to the gifts or dating, and no sense of accomplishment when you "win" either the king or Lewis.

To sum it all up, it's pretty clear that Pacthesis keeps getting better and better at making these games. There are some new things being tried out here, some of which work and some of which don't. The writing isn't perfect, but it's nice; the art is impressive and shows a lot of attention and effort. I'm not a fan of the game's method of handling relationships, but it plays all right, and generally makes for a lovely and relaxing way of passing an afternoon.

As always: This is just my own opinion, based on my own experiences and biases. Feel free to share yours. :)

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