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Standing in the shadows of titans...
Ever heard of games like “Off", “Aedemphia" or even “Asylopole"? Probably not. While titans like Square Enix and Nintendo clash to get the most share of the market, standing in their shadows are individuals who work on little gems unknown to most. Those games are often made by avid video game players and tend to be developed accordingly; often reuniting several popular gameplay elements in a single creation.
Without any advertisement, a lot of those games never really get any attention and are soon forgotten. This is most unfortunate for although a lot of those games can’t really stand their ground in comparison with the mainstream market, a lot of them provide crucial elements which are sometimes secondary in the new generation of games: addictive game play and an enthralling storyline.
There is much to be said about the amateur world of game development which is why this article will focus on only one game in particular: Aedemphia.
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A mix of two breeds
As the author puts it: “Aedemphia is a mix of two RPG renres; occidental RPGs (Fallout, Dungeons & Dragons) and Japanese RPGs (Final Fantasy, Dragon Quest)." This provides an interesting mix of genres in many, different ways.
RPG aficionados will pick up inspiration from such games as Black Isle’s Torment or Baldur’s Gate right at the beginning of the game when your character is offered different dialogue options all with their own consequences.
Characters in Aedemphia have their own set of characteristics that define their strengths and weaknesses much like in AD&D. An interesting aspect of increasing in levels is that the player decides where to spend a certain amount of points to improve his team of characters as nothing is done automatically. This is always an interesting concept as it allows for many different kinds of characters depending on your role playing style.
There are plenty more neat rpg elements like the ability to read books to learn more about the world surrounding you (not to mention increase your stats!) as experienced in Bethesda's Elder Scroll series, the opportunity to negotiate, rob or even murder shopkeepers, some overworld exploration, different difficulty settings for the hardcore gamer, an intricate storyline, an extended cast which allows you to make up your own party, the opportunity to join groups and guilds and complete all kinds of side quests and much, much more.
Meet the heroine, Irzyka and her companions:
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Four years in the making.
Aedemphia is the creation of Sylvain Dollisi, better known as "Sylvanor", a student of graphic design in Paris, France. It’s been over four years now since he started to develop this astounding RPG game with RPG maker 2003, software specifically designed for RPG creation. The general storyline for the game was based off a short story he had written years before. It involves a young woman with aptitude for magic, Irzyka, who barely manages to escape her homeworld before it is annihilated. Describing the plot without spoiling anything is no easy task but suffice to say that she will regain consciousness in a entirely different world where she will meet a colorful cast of characters and equally fearsome villains as she explores her newfound environment. That may or may not sound appealing but the storyline is really meant to be uncovered as your progress further into the game.
Akzalfir and Estarzall, two worlds you will explore during your adventures:
While most RPG maker users usually give up after a few months (or even less) of working on their game, Sylvanor was determined to complete his game. He spent hours upon hours on a daily basis to develop his creation further and further and slowly but surely developed a group of fans and followers in the French community who eagerly wait for the next update.
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Bring on the Limit Breaks!
As in any RPGs, epic fights against evil hordes of monsters are an important part of Aedemphia. Combat is represented in a perspective similar to older Final Fantasy games:
Equipping your characters with all kind of items will greatly influence their fighting abilities. The protagonists are not limited to their gear, however, as dozens upon dozens of skills (both active and passive) can be acquired as the characters earn more and more experience. Each and every character has its very own set of limit breaks which can be activated under certain conditions.
From my personal experience testing out the game, I will admit that it was fairly easy as most monsters or bosses didn’t really provide much of a challenge but I’ve been told difficulty increases dramatically as you get farther into the game.
Some more creatures you will slay on your journey:
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So what's the catch?
Despite its many strenghts, Aedemphia does have its share of bugs. To be fair, the game is still in development and those bugs are constantly being worked on.
Frankly speaking, this is the only flaw which really deserved to be mentioned. The rest of the game is a work of art in its own right and certainly deserves the attention of anyone interested in role playing games out there. Not to mention that it's entirely free of charge, so there's really no reason not to download it and give it a try.
The game is originally in French although an English translation is being worked on. So for those of you who can manage to understand some french, visit the official website and make sure to download the latest version.
May you enjoy your adventures in Aedemphia as much as I did. I will end this article with a few more screenshots of this wonderful game.
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More Great Amateur RPG Maker Games
There are many other amateur games worth checking out and this is what we'll do in the next few pages.
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Different Games for Different People
In the previous pages, I reviewed a game I'm particularly fond of, Aedemphia. This article will introduce three different games made by talented game developers: Asylopole, Off and Jim Blind.
All three games are made by single individuals through years of hard work.
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Off (by Mortis Ghost): a Game of its Own
Ever wanted to grab a baseball bat and go on a quest to purify the world?
This is the very premise of a game simply titled “Off" by Mortis Ghost. Although it’s been completed on a fairly short time, "Off" already has numerous dedicated fans who can’t help but praise its fresh and innovative style.
What’s so unique about it you might ask? Everything about "Off" is quite simply off the wall. Think Earthbound mixed with a dash of abstract art. You take the role of “the Batter" who will meet a wide range of characters on his adventure. My personal favorite was a talkative cat who reminded me of the Cheshire cat from Alice in Wonderland.
The plot really stands out and although it starts off as something fairly simple (good guy must cleanse the world) you can expect plenty of twists and turns.
"Off" is more than a game, it’s an experience. The simple graphics and the ambient sounds really help to immerse the player in this sometimes absurd but fascinating universe. Download it here.
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Jim Blind (by Iotiezis): The Name is Bond, James Bond
Jim Blind to the rescue!
“Jim Blind" is meant to be a sort of parody (a quality one) of classic James Bond movies. You take the role of Jim Blind, a resourceful secret agent, who will accomplish all sorts of missions to save the world.
Although the graphics could use some work, let’s keep in mind that every single graphic element in this game was done by hand by the creator of the game, “Iotiezis". This is rather rare in the amateur world of game creation where a fair amount of game designers prefer to use graphics that they “borrow" from commercial games.
The game takes place in 10 different worlds to explore all of which can be completed in three different difficulty settings (agent, Special Agent, Silver Agent). During your adventure, you will explore various locales such as research labs, a dam (does this remind you of something?), a flying zeppelin and much, much more. Your hero will handle all kinds of weapons from the most common rifle to the destructive flame thrower.
The game is entirely free and available for download here. Have a good time and remember, it’s Blind… Jim Blind!
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Asylopole (by Rockmik): A Simple Case of Insanity
POINT AND CLICK ADVENTURE (coming soon)
The world has been ravaged by yet another world war, but this time, there’s no turning back. Man is forced into a gigantic city sheltered by a dome as the Outside has become much too dangerous for mankind.
In this vast futuristic city, strange events are taking place. Human cloning has become generally accepted and clones are purchased to accomplish all kinds of tasks.
As Adam Murdock, you will investigate weird and unexplainable events occurring at the mental Asylum of this city, which also happens to be your workplace and of the most prominent buildings.
This, of course, is the premise of the game in a nutshell. Asylopole being an adventure game, the development of the plot will be one of the most important aspects of the actual game.
Unfortunately, little is known about the game at this point in time as the author is quite secretive about his project, but fortunately plenty of screenshots are available. Enjoy!