Just finished Super Lesbian Animal RPG; no that's not a joke, that is actually the title. Absurdly on-the-nose title aside, I had a lot of fun with this one. Simple little indie RPG that finally dropped recently after most of a decade in development, not all that much I can really say about it (she says, about to write a wall of text).
More or less standard turn-based JRPG gameplay, which makes sense as it was developed in RPG Maker. Does a lot to show what you can do with the engine though, even just sticking to the default battle mechanics.
The spritework is nicely-detailed, the soundtrack has a few catchy tunes, the character writing is solid, and it's got some pretty funny gags (the punchline to the recurring mummy encounters in the wasteland got a genuine chuckle out of me).
And when the story started to explore serious themes of anxiety, self-doubt, fear of how others perceive you, it ended up hitting pretty close to home. Game got to me.
To shift gears a bit after praising all that, I do have some quibbles with the gameplay. Each character has more or less one party role they're capable of serving (physical damage, magic damage, tank, healer) and a relatively short list of abilities that doesn't allow for much experimentation. Even the spellbook system doesn't do a whole lot, since just giving them something to enhance whatever they're already good at is flat-out more effective than trying to expand those roles. So with things like your one healer not getting any group healing spells until the endgame (and only if you chose a particular specialization), you're basically required to give her either Magical Girl or Bard for her spellbook since those are the only options that provide one.
Related is another issue: the game tells you nothing about what choosing the main character's paladin specialization actually does. Turns out that in addition to changing some dialogue, they give her one unique skill, and then each has a different exclusive lategame sidequest for a second unique skill: woodland gives more ways to heal, amorous allows restoring other resources besides HP, and resolute provides her only decent offensive moves. All of these feel like they should have just been part of her basic skillset instead of split up like this, and it's especially frustrating that you can only play one of those three sidequests per save file as well as all of them are fun and expand on different parts of the world or characters (two of them even have unique boss fights!).
I also kind of wish the level cap was a bit higher. Game's easy enough as it is, but when I hit the level cap of 30 before even entering the final dungeon (and then in the final dungeon I barely needed to touch any of the healing items I'd stocked up on), that's kind of disappointing. Raise the level cap, maybe make a few of the bosses a bit more challenging (in my entire playthrough, only one character was ever knocked out even once—and even then only once—and I never once got a game over), you'd have something a bit more satisfying here.
Okay I realize I spent a lot more time ranting about issues with the gameplay than I did talking about the things I liked but 1. It's kind of hard to discuss what I liked about the story without spoiling all of it, and 2. Those issues are really just nitpicks, especially considering this is the dev's first retail game. And on balance I did thoroughly enjoy my time with it. It's just a very charming game, and I'm looking forward to seeing whatever ponett makes next.
...Now I need to make time for all the games friends gave me for the holidays.
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