May 30, 2015

Swords and Serpents - Ranking

Story & World

The plot is about as bare bones as one can get and the world consists of rock walls of various colours.  Seriously, my subplot with Magnu was deeper than what S&S has to offer.  The old man and his many palette-swapped clones don't really add a whole lot of depth to the NPC department either.  2/20

Character Development

Each character levels up with random increases of small amounts.  This makes the initial stat rolls very important for determining how powerful characters will be.  All my characters had outstanding beginning stats and accounted for the crazy amount of attacks I was getting in.  Certain weapons can add more attacks on top of that and, unfortunately, this means that those weapons get the highest priority, since the slower weapons don't compensate near enough with higher damage/hit chance.  The equipment list is very sparse and a party will find themselves throwing away the same pieces over and over.  A good chunk of the spells are fairly useless, notably any of the offensive ones; they don't do enough damage to warrant wasting MPs on.  I didn't find all the spells, but I'm assuming the few I missed wouldn't have impressed me either.  By far, the worst part was reaching the XP cap two-thirds of the way through the game.  It's not like I was grinding or anything and I barely got lost.  2/20

Combat & Monsters

The battles are, at first, pretty enjoyable and it was fun experimenting with the hit locations, searching for each creature's weakness.  Once learnt, though, the fights become tiresome and turn into button-mashing mediocrity (targets are determined randomly).  The small amount of creature variety also ensures that there won't be a whole lot to remember in the first place.  All monsters can do is dish out damage, whether it's via standard melee attacks or group-damaging spells.  4/20

Graphics & Sound

While the wall textures don't change in any way other than their colour, the monster sprites, conversely, are bursting alive with action.  Each one has multiple frames of animation in different locations on their bodies, leading to a diverse amount of imagery.  Whenever I'd encounter a new monster, I'd spend the first ten seconds or so just appreciating all the different combinations (which fueled the one running gag I had).

The music is low on variety but fares better in quality, though I must admit that a sizeable portion of that quality is nostalgia driven.  There is also a sweet sustained organ note that gets played at the temple while the monks heal the party.  The more HP/MP there needs to be restored, the longer that note keeps on rockin'.  13/20

Gameplay

S&S misunderstands that the entire purpose of gold is to have wealth in order to be able to purchase goods and services.  It apparently believes that accumulating vast quantities of the shiny stuff is purely to get a high score in a hall of fame that could only ever have one entry on it.  Pretty dumb.  There isn't enough variation in the classes to warrant a replay; most of the fun gleaned from the game is from the mapping, exploration, and puzzles.  About the only thing the game got really right was the short duration in which the whole crawl takes place, and for that, I am thankful.

I really want to give Swords & Serpents more points, really I do, but I can't let my nostalgia goggles alter my perception too much.  It's just far too light of a RPG for adult Shen and has some major issues, but I am glad to finally be able to complete this game, as I'm fairly certain that I never finished it as a young whelp.  4/20

Final Ranking:  25/100