By Steve Baltimore / July 14th, 2016
|Release Date||June 2nd, 2016|
Games made in RPG Maker often get overlooked due to there being a lot of sub-par titles made with it on Steam. However, I have played a couple that I thought held up really well. These titles include Hero and Daughter + and The Sacred Tears True, so usually when I see a game on Steam made with RPG Maker that I think looks good, I want to give it a shot. That is how I discovered Ara Fell, which is an older RPG Maker game that publisher Stegosoft is updating to make it a bit more modern, adding things such as controller support and fixing bugs. But do all these updates make it a good game?
The story follows a young girl named Lita and her best friend Adrian, who set out on a quest to find a magic ring for a client. Unbeknownst them they are about to embark on a quest that will shape the fabric of this floating world. A quest filled with elven relics, vampires and plenty of crazy plot twists.
This story really took me by surprise. It is actually very well written and I found the characters well thought out. The in-game banter between the main characters really reminds you the gold old days of RPGs. You might see a grammar error here and there, but honestly it doesn’t take away from the overall experience at all.
Graphically this is one the most impressive RPG Maker titles I’ve ever seen. All of the character sprites are high quality and have great designs. This title also has some of best looking maps I’ve ever seen in a title like this. The overworld is very detailed; from the running streams to falling leaves, everything is just pure retro goodness.
I found the overworld music and most of the other music in the game very enjoyable. This is probably one of the best soundtracks I’ve heard in 16-bit style game in a long time. However, there is one glaring issue here – there is no battle music. I never realized how odd it is to have a battle in an RPG and hear the stage music the entire time. I have to say it is a jarring at first, but I did get used to it. The sound effects are all really basic, from you standard fire spell to the standard 16-bit lighting crackle, there’s nothing out of place here.
The gameplay is like that of many other retro styled RPGs. Top down maps with turn based battles aplenty, though the encounters here are not random. You can see the enemies on the screen, so if you wish to duck out of battles they are easy enough to dodge. There is quite a bit of backtracking found here as well. This will have to be done in order to complete a lot of extra quests and monster bounty hunts. The game makes this really easy on you with several warp spots located around the world. This cuts down on travel time a lot, and makes it feel like less of a chore.
Battles here are pretty standard. You have basic HP and MP, normal attacks, and of course defense. Your MP will regenerate a little each round as you attack and you will get a lot more back if you defend for a round. This is very important for your mage character, since her physical attack is just horrid. You will gain some skills by leveling up and others by purchasing them at the Skills shops. You will be able to boost one stat whenever a character levels up. If you feel you have leveled up a character incorrectly this can be reset in-game for a fee. My only real complaint with the battle system is that it is too slow and even when not set to wait mode, it is still kinda slow. There is an auto battle feature that helps some, but not a lot.
The dungeon layouts found here are pretty basic and straightforward. However there are various puzzles to solve in each. These are all pretty simple as well, but they do add a little flavor to the overall style. I had quite a bit of fun just looking through each dungeon to see if I missed any treasure. You will really need to check every nook and cranny to find valuable items that will permanently increase your stats or for crafting items.
Overall I really enjoyed my time with Ara Fell. This is a very solid retro styled RPG with a fantastic story and fantastic sprite based graphics. It will take you around 20 hours to complete the main story and I would guess around 25 to finish all the side quests. My biggest complaints are it takes a little while to really get the story going, and the combat system is kinda slow. Though this does put a slight damper on the game, it is still a very solid title that I would recommend to any fan of Retro RPGs at its small $9.99 price tag.
Game was provided by the publisher for review purposes.
Ara FellRetroRPGRPG MakerSteamStegosoft