A Japanese Barebones Adventure — GameTyrant

Christmas the mortal destiny sits firmly in the top-down adventure camp, strongly reminiscent of the genre’s Japanese classics with no real surprises. Along with the dialogue and story to experience, there are very basic mechanics, with standard motion controls and a single button to perform various actions.

There are your typical platforming puzzle sections, which are mostly about looking for red arrows that Caron can jump on, and he can use a chain to climb various walls and the like. But there is nothing to do except move in that direction and it will climb for you. Overall, the puzzles you need to solve aren’t taxing at all, and the game usually explains what you need to do pretty clearly.

When you enter combat mode, you simply walk into enemies to attack them, with no dedicated attack button. There are minor strategy elements involved, like getting critical hits if attacking from behind, and deciding whether or not to attack enemies when they glow red in their “desperation” mode: this will knock them down in one blow, but they will cause you considerable damage if they hit you; if not, you can just wait for them to stop glowing and engage them as normal. More weapons are unlocked as you progress, but again nothing that drastically changes the gameplay experience.

There’s also a bit of stealth on occasion, which mostly involves dodging vision cones. There are also the mandatory boss fights, which again are very simple tactical challenges. More characters and mechanics are introduced as you progress through the seasons, but they essentially don’t offer anything drastically different from before.

Throughout the game, he explains very well what is happening and all his systems. There are logs in the pause menu for story beats, characters, and game mechanics, as well as a glossary of terms. Exposition dialogue between characters also occurs frequently enough to recap your current situation. All of this ensures that you’re never really in doubt of what’s going on at any given moment.

The game is also very generous with save points, giving them to you after every little event or once you reach a new area, which happens frequently. This is not a game that wants to challenge your gaming skills in any real way; its focus is firmly rooted in the narrative experience.

Sometimes there are dialogue options, but these are mostly inconsequential and many are there to elicit some sort of humorous response, or just tell you almost explicitly to choose the other option.

Stylistically, the game borrows heavily from the usual suspects of Japanese pop culture. Menus and fonts are almost entirely ripped from the Character series, and being made in RPG Maker, it features the typical subtle pixel art style but without the bit reduction.

The dialogue sprites’ character designs are your typical anime fare: Noel has the long black dress we’ve all seen countless times before, while Caron has an indistinct crow’s head and predictable evening attire. There really isn’t anything striking or original about these designs. The same can be said for the environments, although there is a bit more detail in these.

The music is littered with typical JRPG piano and string ballads, combined with edgy, frantic EDM and techno during the tense moments. There are some real catchy tunes here, but sadly no credit can be given to Kanawo on this as all music was taken from royalty-free sources; at best we can say that they have chosen well. It also means that not all tracks loop so seamlessly; there are occasions when songs stop and start abruptly.

On PC, the graphics options are as sparse as they come, only allowing you to change the resolution. That’s fair enough for a game of this type, but I encountered minor screen tearing throughout, and with no V-sync option I couldn’t fix it, at least not in-game. There’s also no option for different full-screen modes, so alt-tabbers might get annoyed by that.

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