A beautiful-looking, unique, and grindy RPG Maker game with a lot of customizations.
Release date: 12 Feb, 2021
“Are you dead or alive?” Osteoblasts starts with a simple question, reassuring you that you are already dead. You are a skeleton who lives in a world full of animals and fellow skeletons, traveling the world to do some skeleton business.
As an RPG Maker game, Osteoblasts surprises me with its presentation. High-detailed pixel art fills the whole game, making everything look beautiful and pleasant to the eye. Battles have realistic-looking images that are turned into pixel art through some filters, making them blend with the characters while looking beautiful at the same time. The choice to remove unused dialogue boxes in battle also works well to promote more of the background. However, some main character portraits look inferior compared to others. It might be because the dev wants to use a simpler design on the portraits, but it would be better if the plain-looking ones are given more details in it.
The story is confusing in some parts. The game starts as you, a skeleton servant, who is doing some errands for your master. It doesn’t take long before you have someplace to go out of nowhere, changing the whole direction into finding this mysterious place. Most dialogues will be about asking-the-direction kind of dialogue, while the ones that have nothing to do with these tend to have no meaning at all.
Although the story was given more detail near the end of the game, I hardly understand what was happening anymore. Most parts of the story weren’t given much depth in it – in fact, a lot of them are spoken in vague, exquisite words that might be hard to understand. I could understand the gist of the story after finishing the game, but it didn’t satisfy me given how little my understanding is.
Building Your Character
One thing that I liked about the game is how you can build your character however you want. Instead of only providing stat increases, gears also provide some skills that you can learn if you equip them. You are free to mix any gears to get which skills that you want, whether offensive or defensive. Loots are also randomized, meaning that your build will depend on which gears that you get.
If that doesn’t sound promising enough, there is also a stat distribution that you can use. Leveling up will give you a chance to increase some set of statuses, which will be different at every level. Two sets of stat increases will rotate after each level up and you’ll be able to choose one out of three sets available in each rotation. If you think that you choose the wrong stat, permanent stat boosting items are also available for you to buy. I finished the game with enough money to buy 10+ of these items, so you won’t have to worry about missing out.
Despite using the same turn-based mechanic as other RPG Maker games, combat in Osteoblasts is a bit different. All attack skills require MP to cast, which you can gain either by the end of each turn or by casting certain skills. This turns the battle to be slow-paced since you always need to get enough MP before you can attack the enemies. However, this also means that you don’t have to worry about running out of MP at all – you’ll most likely worrying about HP instead of MP.
The game seems to favor magic skills more instead of physical ones. Strangely, both attack has roughly the same damage, even though physical skills tend not to connect. Attacking with a physical skill will also risk getting counter-attacked by the enemy, which will give you more damage than necessary. Although this might be mitigated as you progress the game, you’ll most likely be more comfortable with magic skills and build your character around it by the time it happens.
Resistance and weakness are also not reliable. Not only does the game uses a newly made-up weakness and resistance chart, but it also doesn’t clear which type the enemy is. All enemies are usually depicted with a color outline in battle, which I believe to be the enemy’s type. However, you’ll find that these color outlines to be useless most of the time, especially with enemies that have color outline outside of the chart. I ended up using neutral element damage skills most of the time and ignoring the chart completely because of this.
Length and Difficulty
The in-game clock states that I finished the game in ~14h. Most of my playtime was spent in battles, which take a long time to finish because of how the battle system works and the number of enemies to battle on each screen. Some areas tend to have enemies in a cramped space, making it almost impossible for you to avoid them. While you can try to avoid some fights, you might risk getting underleveled in boss fights, which you shouldn’t do since the game tend not to let you exit in dungeons. I believe the playtime can be reduced significantly if you don’t have to fight that many enemies.
As for the difficulty, the game was hard at the beginning, to the point that you’ll die from normal enemies. The difficulty was toned down a bit near the end of the game, which might be happening because I was overleveled since I tend to fight more enemies than necessary. You still need to arrange your gear on some boss fights to beat them though.
There are some bugs in the game, with one that can softlock you. The developer already acknowledged the bugs and said to fix them in the next version, 1.0.5.
Intel Core i5-9300H 2.40GHz, 8GB RAM, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650
Despite the unpleasant enemy placement, combat is surprisingly solid, and the combination of the unique mechanic and the good-looking visuals are what keep me engaged throughout my playthrough. The exploration aspect also makes the game fun, encouraging you to find shortcuts to make traveling easier. The game’s quality is good enough for this price, although you might want to buy it at a discount if you consider a game’s worth from its playtime since the game doesn’t have a lot of content in that regard – most of your playtime will be spent in battles instead of exploration.