Author Topic: Playing a game of Not AI War was strange at first...  (Read 2104 times)

Offline Faulty Logic

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Playing a game of Not AI War was strange at first...
« on: May 10, 2013, 11:46:59 PM »
...especially with the music overlap, but Valley 2 turned out to be a lot of fun.

I had purchased the entire current Arcen non-AI War game* library during the latest sale:
*yes, five adjectives in a row, even counting "nonAIWar as one.

Tidalis is simply not my kind of game.
I haven't cracked Shattered Haven open yet.
I chose valley 2 over the original for greater strategy and better character art.



So here's a loose description of my first playthrough and what I think about various aspects:

Default difficulty.
Starting with 5 hearts/120% attack/10 ammo Fire class 1.

Ooh, the story opens well. Quite well, in fact, establishing my infiltration, Demonaica's rule (looks like a decent guy, no red flags, it's not like he's blood red and has horns or any... wait...), and that this world is weird.

Ok, my cursor appears to have disappeared. Figuring out the controls takes a bit (been a long time since I've played anything remotely similar to this). Getting used to them takes the better part of an hour.

Figuring out how to get out of the keep takes the rest of the hour (I expected the way out to be a door, for some reason).

The tutorial is great, here.

By the time it's finished, I know I've found a shoot-em-up I will actually enjoy.



I focus the pre-emergence turns on recruiting survivors, because I didn't find out until much later that I can build structures, even though the tutorial showed me how (don't ask how that happened :-[).

World map mosters? Okay, world map combat is very intuitive, and clinics are clearly vital.

I don't have much strategic direction for the first part of the game.



The first level-up tower: ooh, a fellow immortal (Fanzara). And apparently I was a very convincing evil minion. Fighting her seemed no harder than most monsters, though; I was somewhat disappointed.

Demonaica emerges: I wish that the game was absolutely clear on whether diagonal movement was counted as 1 or 2 moves (I know it's 2 now). And he beelines for the clinic.

Second tower: Old guy (Wordrak). Also pretty easy. I'm really liking the henchperson dialogues.
Until later, when they repeat.

Food shortage: Morale plummets to zero while I finally learn how to build structures. And now the strategic portion seems really easy.

Third level: Second-tier mage class acquired. The monsters don't seem to be getting much tougher...

I really like the various map element (amplification towers especially).



Once I stabilized the food problem, the strategic portion was never an issue again. So I focused on towers and ARSs (uhh, robotic research facilities).

I laughed when AI Revolution started playing. Escaping wasn't particularly difficult.

By now I've died a few times; I think the penalty is just about perfect.


*much time passes*


The rest of the game pre-boss wasn't hard. Food and scrap never left their caps, morale recovered, and I became steadily more formidable.

Once I finished all visible level towers, I went straight for the stratospheric citadels. I had plenty of resistance members to kill them.

Shut up, Fedora! Their deaths were not in vain. They ensured that Demonaica would not interfere in our seiges.


Crystal smash! That was a fun fight.


Wait, I'm still immortal via necromantic parasitism? Awesome! (I had expected an inelegant reset, so I was quite pleased with that mechanic)

And the final battle, at turn 54:

Round 1: that was easy.
Round 2: Note to self: if you die right at the entrance, wait until D wanders off before activating immortality.
Round 3: D and other monsters? Fine. Slaughter the mooks in a couple circuits around the map, then kite D endlessly. For the win.



Extended ending:
A bit unsatisfying. Adding one line of defiance from your character toward Elder would have significantly improved it.

And the implications are somewhat interesting:

I rule this land, and am immortal.
Rebellion is impossible, for the specifics of my immortality mean killing me only damages my subjects.
And yet I have solid motivation to be benevolent, for the same reason.

So I have until Elder and friends come back to prepare my armies and magic talents. So I'll have a fight ready for them when they do.

That's my interpretation, anyway.



The game turned out a lot better than I thought it would. I'll try Hero/Queen next. A few criticisms, though:

Equipment feels entirely pointless. I can't keep it reliably, so have no incentive to hunt for it. Maybe have one slot of permanent equipment (of lesser effect)?

The tedium/probable morale hit of hunting for perk tokens doesn't seem worth it. I think them applying to your current level's selection first would be a stronger mechanic (so you wouldn't need to get more options for levels with perks you're happy with).
This would also prevent situations like "I'm happy with my level two and three perks, but not level four, but it would take 5 tokens to actually improve, so I won't bother."

I expected mercenary coins to let you purify multiple spaces in a turn. They don't add any new options to the game (except if you can't find a dispersal tower).
« Last Edit: May 11, 2013, 12:17:00 PM by Faulty Logic »
If warheads can't solve it, use more warheads.

Offline Histidine

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Re: Playing a game of Not AI War was strange at first...
« Reply #1 on: May 13, 2013, 07:34:49 AM »
+1 to merc coins comment.

Equipment seems generally superfluous yeah, although the achievements alone make it worth collecting. Some form of permanent equipment as an adjunct to the perk system might be nice.

Hey, Chris! How about an expansion/sequel with Elder and Friends as the antagonists? That'd be pretty cool.

Offline Faulty Logic

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Re: Playing a game of Not AI War was strange at first...
« Reply #2 on: May 13, 2013, 03:19:00 PM »
Hero is about the limit of shmup skill. I die a lot. Harder means I die too often to have much fun.

As to strategic difficulty, skipping the tutorial is fatal on overlord, but without that, and with a good map,
I can be called that too.

This was certainly fun, and certainly a good deal, but I won't be playing much more.
If warheads can't solve it, use more warheads.

Offline keith.lamothe

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Re: Playing a game of Not AI War was strange at first...
« Reply #3 on: May 15, 2013, 08:52:38 AM »
This was certainly fun, and certainly a good deal, but I won't be playing much more.
Glad you enjoyed it :)

My involvement was mostly on the strategic side, where Chris did nearly all the side-view stuff, so it's not like AIW where I can just open it all up (yet) and tinker (efficiently), but I'm curious: what do you think would give this more motivation-to-replay?  Or is it just not that kind of game?
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Offline Histidine

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Re: Playing a game of Not AI War was strange at first...
« Reply #4 on: May 16, 2013, 09:30:58 AM »
I found it got pretty repetitive near the end - run through level spamming whatever best hits the enemy before they can hit me, in fact just skip the whole level with Transmogrify into Bat if you can - but I don't have any ideas how to fix. Maybe I should turn up the tactical difficulty, or just accept I'm not a platformer kind of guy.

Offline abdulmuhsee

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Re: Playing a game of Not AI War was strange at first...
« Reply #5 on: June 12, 2013, 05:38:18 PM »
The first level-up tower: ooh, a fellow immortal (Fanzara). And apparently I was a very convincing evil minion. Fighting her seemed no harder than most monsters, though; I was somewhat disappointed.

That's what I thought when playing through the first time as well.  Just getting up in their face and attacking seemed to work every time.  Playing through on Master Hero difficulty changed that immensely, forcing me to cower in a corner and take pot shots at them.  Lilith is the strongest since she counter-attacks every hit as well.  The other 4(?) seem to be the same.

Unfortunately, I still don't think they get any stronger as the game progresses, so once you reach a certain level, there are regular map monsters that are much, much more dangerous than any of the henchmen.

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Second tower: Old guy (Wordrak). Also pretty easy. I'm really liking the henchperson dialogues.
Until later, when they repeat.

Especially playing through the second time, at which point I somewhat wish I had an option to turn off the henchmen dialogue, along with the explanation every time about spell levels, scrap, getting your first equipment, etc.

Quote
The rest of the game pre-boss wasn't hard. Food and scrap never left their caps, morale recovered, and I became steadily more formidable.

Changes drastically on Master Hero difficulty.  I'm currently stuck in Demonaica's Lair in pursuit of the level 5 spells due to excess difficulty with a certain monster.

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Equipment feels entirely pointless. I can't keep it reliably, so have no incentive to hunt for it. Maybe have one slot of permanent equipment (of lesser effect)?

This was one of the major disappointments of the game for me; it would hypothetically be fun to enter all the buildings in search of better equipment if it was more permanent, but especially on higher difficulty, it seems to disappear after a few inevitable hits, and the vast majority of equipment you find isn't particularly good.  It's not until you find one that increases your health, gives you the two extra shots, or reduces damage taken that it's really useful... until it disappears five minutes later.

Quote
The tedium/probable morale hit of hunting for perk tokens doesn't seem worth it. I think them applying to your current level's selection first would be a stronger mechanic (so you wouldn't need to get more options for levels with perks you're happy with).
This would also prevent situations like "I'm happy with my level two and three perks, but not level four, but it would take 5 tokens to actually improve, so I won't bother."

Exactly; if I don't get a feat I want in the first or second tier, then I can storm a pyramid and cavern to fill in the blanks, but once your level gets high enough, there's just no way it's worth slogging through the caverns for a single perk token that fills up an empty spot in your lowest tier.

Quote
This was certainly fun, and certainly a good deal, but I won't be playing much more.

The game does scale much better, IMO, on higher difficulties (maybe too much), and I haven't gotten that monotonous feeling this time around where my massive spell shrapnel just insta-killed everything with no effort and any damage was quickly healed by the massive body count.  But we'll see how it fares after I have to slog through the citadels again (hopefully I can get the bat transformation instead) and get sick of penetrating further into Demonaica's Lair.  The difficulty this time makes it an absolute pain to trek back after dying.

Offline doctorfrog

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Re: Playing a game of Not AI War was strange at first...
« Reply #6 on: June 12, 2013, 06:38:53 PM »
I found it got pretty repetitive near the end - run through level spamming whatever best hits the enemy before they can hit me, in fact just skip the whole level with Transmogrify into Bat if you can - but I don't have any ideas how to fix. Maybe I should turn up the tactical difficulty, or just accept I'm not a platformer kind of guy.

Have you played Valley 1? I've only dabbled in both, but Valley 1 has more labyrinthine levels that feel more (to me) like an old game of Metroid. There's a real sense of exploration here that I feel is missing from Valley 2 (though this may be for the best).

Would late-game levels focused more on exploration, and less on Contra-esque combat work better here? Or would shorter levels, with more interesting boss fights, work better?