Despite its horror theme, Tales of the Black Forest tells of a heartwarming story. It does a good job with its storytelling although it can feel a bit slow sometimes.
Release date: 26 Sep, 2019
You were sure that you weren’t supposed to be here: a dark forest with a thick mist surrounding over it. Where is this place? Can you go back? Join Kihara Kashin in her adventure, looking for a way to return to where she belongs in Tales of the Black Forest.
The game is presented in 2D pixelated art. As an RPG Maker game, all of its assets and interfaces have been customized, leaving no trace of the default one. It does a good job with the interface though – everything looks beautifully made and straight to the point. The maps are also done well to promote the areas, whether it’s the bustling city or the abandoned village. The areas, although usually depicted at night, are still easy to see with their blue-ish colors. Everything is done well to help you enjoy the scenery.
The main selling point of the game is in its storytelling. The world of Tales of the Black Forest is separated into 3 interconnecting chapters, each focusing on someone and the event that was happening around them. The story has a different vibe on each chapter, although one thing is certain: it does a good job in delivering a heartwarming story at the end. I know that creating good storytelling with just 2D sprites is not easy, but this game does it seamlessly.
Since the storytelling focuses on a different person in each chapter, the story is obviously non-linear. You’ll find some clues of what was happening to a certain event, which will help you in understanding another event in a bigger picture. It might be hard to keep track of all of them, especially with the recurring names, but the game is kind enough to give you some explanation about it. There might still be some mysteries lying around, but I found it to be concluded nicely at the end.
The translation might hinder you from enjoying the story to its fullest. It tends to not translate some words, whether it’s some locations or simple terms. Some words like “komusume-chan” can be translated into English nicely without ruining the sentences, but the translator decides to just give a translation note surrounded in brackets when you encounter it for the first time. People who do not know Japanese terms might have trouble understanding these words sometimes, especially when you also have to remember a lot of Japanese names in the process.
Although the story is the main focus of the game, there were times when you have to walk around, whether to initiate another cutscene or solve some puzzles. Important objects are marked in the game, making it easier to locate where you are supposed to look. If you are the adventurer type, some additional dialogues will also available to give a conclusion to some characters after you progress the story. They are not related to the main story though, so you can safely ignore them if you choose to do so.
Several puzzles are available to break the repetitiveness. Puzzles in the first half of the game usually take the form of finding some number combinations based on the provided hints, although the second half of the game starts to be more creative with its puzzle-like minigame. I wish that the game will do these puzzles right from the start since it helps to break the monotonous pace.
Length and Replayability
The game lasts for about ~5h. Despite it having two endings, the point of no return is obvious and the game is kind enough to tell what you have to do to reach both endings. That being said, there is no point to replay the game since you can save before the point of no return to unlock both endings at once.
Intel Core i5-9300H 2.40GHz, 8GB RAM, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650
It’s been a while since I found a quality RPG Maker game on Steam. I didn’t expect that it will do a good job with its storytelling. The music, art, and dialogue – everything helps to enhance the story, giving this heartwarming feeling after you read it. I was satisfied with the story, although I admit that I got bored sometimes because of the number of dialogues that I had to read. The game is completely not for those who don’t like visual novels, and people who appreciate the story aspect in a game will enjoy it to the fullest.