REVIEW: Ashes of the Night

An RPG Maker game with enjoyable battles and exploration with flaws in almost everything else. I have mixed feelings about this one.

Released: Steam
Type: Single-player
Genre: RPG
Developer: Wolfs Moon Studios
Publisher: Wolfs Moon Studios
Release date: 1 Aug, 2019

Intro

Ashes of the Night looks like an interesting game when I was looking for an RPG Maker game to play. It has turn-based battles, a lot of playable characters, and offers a long playtime. The store page even said that you don’t need to grind a lot to finish the game. The game doesn’t give false promises, but some things are just not what I expected. More on the review.

Graphics

As an RPG Maker game that requires 2GB storage, it’s surprising to see that most assets are using default RPG Maker assets. Some portraits use custom assets although they feel unnecessary since they are used for random NPCs. They are also depicted in a different style from default RPG Maker portraits, which are heavily used in this game.

Some maps are only there for the sake of making you walk longer with empty-looking maps or weirdly-placed objects to make you walk in circles. These were improved near the end game, but it still looks empty with no decorations nor aesthetics in it – dungeons look like it was made from an automatic dungeon generator without any alteration while some part of the towns looks weird with houses that have no roof and cliffs that have nothing below it. Some maps also remind me of another RPG maker game, although I’m not sure whether both games are just following the same mapping tutorial or not.

Story

Despite the mature content warning on the store page, I didn’t expect the heavy use in the game. The unnecessary use of swear words makes the game feels as if it was made by a 15-year-old to spite the world around him. Luckily, it doesn’t happen anymore after you reach a certain point in the game.

Most mature contents are not necessary.

The story is also unclear with the lack of punctuation, capitalization, and word usage. It’s hard to understand what is happening at the beginning of the story because of it. The game will begin to focus more on the story from the second half of the game, but since I couldn’t relate much to the characters nor having much knowledge about what’s going on, the story doesn’t feel any depth in it. Important moments are also not given much emphasis to make it more meaningful – every scene feels empty.

The Game

Gameplay

To be honest, the game wasn’t what I expected at first. You will be thrown in the middle of nowhere with some NPCs placed on an empty map. Luckily, an NPC will give you a “tutorial” on how to progress and some NPCs will tell you most places that you can explore.

The game gives you a lot of freedom as you can choose which places you want to explore first. The game is designed to explore all areas with a certain order in mind by introducing stronger monsters in certain areas, but you can always grind to get strong enough to not follow the intended order. I didn’t remember grinding a lot in the game, but I realized that if an area is too strong for me to beat, I can always explore other places and return to that place later. Some areas are also optional although you might want to explore everything since they give decent rewards.

Strangely, you can’t dash in this game. I think I spent most of my playtime to walk from one place to another since there’s no way to teleport to another area. Some areas also take a long time to backtrack and the slow walking speed tests my patience sometimes.

Party Members

There are up to 17 playable party members that you can recruit. However, you can only bring 4 of them to your party. Since new party members start at a lower level than the rest of your party members, even in a state where they will mostly die from the enemies without proper leveling, it discourages the use of new party members. Inactive party members also receive no experience points and the introduction of exp boosting items doesn’t give enough incentive to use them – I’d rather use it for my existing party members instead.

The level difference between active and inactive party members become too high later on.

Unlike other RPG Maker games, this game did a good job of balancing its party members. Each party members have unique skills and fill a certain role in the party. However, the lack of MP regen gears and skills in the early game makes it hard for MP-based characters to shine, especially since you’ll most likely have decided on a party once the character that can regen your MP is introduced.

Combat

The game mostly uses random encounters with the use of touch-based encounters and both in some maps. Encounter rate varies based on each area; some areas will force you to battle within a few steps, some will hardly give you any. Enemies take a few hits to beat, often requiring the use of skills. Your party members can also die from normal encounters, especially healers which tend to die in 2-3 hits. Luckily, most healers have a resurrection skill in their arsenal so you can always use other healers to revive them.

Bosses feel like a tougher normal encounter with more attack variety. Some bosses will barely give you a scratch each turn although a few will require you to beat with proper gearing and strategy.

Length

I finished the game at 27.4h by defeating every boss save for a secret boss. It took me 1.5h, totaling the playtime to 28.9h, to grind some levels and equip my party members properly to defeat the secret boss. Strangely, the in-game clock seems to not working properly as it states that I finished the game in 50h+.

Problems

There are some collision errors for some areas and the game has a “Your profile can not be used because it is from a newer version of NW.js.” popup every time you start the game.

Specs

Intel Core i5-9300H 2.40GHz, 8GB RAM, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650

Verdict

It was a tough choice not to recommend this game. I decided not to recommend it since it has a lot of flaws and feels too early to be commercial work. Some of them might have been improved in the latter half of the game, but the unpolished first half will make most people drop the game before they reach that point. Also, even though I said that the latter half is better, it doesn’t mean that it was perfect; the game still needs a lot of improvements in general.

Don’t get me wrong though. I enjoyed the game, especially in the latter half. It has solid battles and freedom in exploration so if that’s the only thing you care about, feel free to check the game out to support the developer, especially since the game is very cheap on discount. Be warned though, you can play a lot of better quality games for free on most RPG Maker sites. If you only want to play games on Steam, Labyronia RPG has a better quality than this one.

Written by
aquatorrent
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