Saturday, November 6, 2010

Leave Me Elona

Since I wrote about Pokemon Mystery Dungeon, I have sort of been in the mood to play more roguelikes. One game I heard interesting things about is a quirky little independent Japanese game called "Elona". Apparently it is short for "Eternal League of Nefia" but that would really be "Elon" though I guess using Japanese lettering it would be more like "E-Le/Re-O-Ne" which is slightly closer. Maybe "Elona" results form some method of transcribing the letters E L and N as "E-Lo/Ro-Na". I really have no idea. But it sounds cool anyway. They could have just named it Nefia I guess but that isn't as catchy, and I can't make as good of a pun with it.

Annnnyway, Elona apparently takes after "Ancient Domains Of Mystery" in many ways but I never played that so I have no idea how apt the comparison is. Although it plays like a roguelike, it actually feels in some ways closer to a more traditional RPG. Although randomized dungeons exist, most of them seem like short side areas. The vast majority of the game is traveling on a non-random overworld map traveling between non-random towns, although there is some randomness in play even in non-random areas. All things considered, I am not sure I like this set up as much as just having one dungeon approach like in Nethack, or the one hub town with a few dungeon areas like Pokemon Mystery Dungeon. It seems to have much less focus then other roguelikes I have played. On the other hand it allows a more open ended experience.

Because of the open nature of the game, there are a lot of extra things you can do, such as build a house which gets ranked based on what furniture you place in it to get a bigger monthly salary, as well as buying farms to grow crops and ranches where you can breed monsters or other "pets" that you catch. You can even combine pets using a "Gene Machine" to give them better stats, new equipment slots, and new skills. There are a ton of skills to learn and use that can let you gather materials and make items. The downside of all this is that the game very quickly becomes grind-tastic. You need to basically farm money to get deeds for buildings and practice like crazy at skills to make them improve. The game quickly becomes doing the same thing over and over again, which is usually not a problem for Nethack and only is a problem in Pokemon Mystery Dungeon if you are trying to recruit Pokemon. Another thing you have to deal with in Elona is taxes that are billed to you every once and a while, requiring you to take a side trip to pay them or risk becoming a criminal which will cause guards to attack you in towns. Elona seems to be set up for major long term play, and even death only serves to reduce your stats and gold rather then making you start over (though I save-scum like crazy anyway). One gripe I have is it uses a level system like most of the Elder Scrolls games where your level goes up as you practice skills. Really I never understood why people use this system, it makes levels next to useless as leveling up really doesn't do that much. I rather just drop levels altogether. After all if you can already raise skills and stats by practice, why bother having levels?

Elona also has a very odd sense of humor and is filled with odd references and objects that probably won't make much sense unless your Japanese or into Japanese stuff. There are balls you can throw at weak enemies to capture them and make them your pet, "Little Sisters" that join you if you read their diary, a few anime reffrences, and even a man in black leather who will self-destruct himself on you yelling "Foooooo!", referencing a notorious Japanese comedian. There is also Bioshock reffrences by way of Big Daddy and Little Sister monsters. Piled on that, are quite a few sexual references and such. One early event lets you choose a pet from a cat, a dog, a bear, and a little girl (The little girl is the best one because she can equip stuff). Leash and stethoscope items can be used witch make pets blush and call you a pervert. You can unleash pets by using the leash again causing them to mutter something that seems to indicate they secretly enjoy it. You can also marry your pets and ask them to "make a gene" by spending the night with them (and gene files can be used to carry over items to a new game). Gender also has no apparent effect on any of this, so any pairing will work. The game is overall not as well thought out as Nethack in regards to special tricks. In addition to gender and such not mattering for things, I noticed non-organic monsters can still bleed for example.

Overall one of the things I like best about Elona is it's interface. Rather then use simple text, Elona uses graphics, although the animation is more limited then Mystery Dungeon games. The controls, while still similar to Nethack in function, are much simpler thanks to being able to scroll though different inventory modes and menu of tasks that call be pulled up with relatively few button presses. This means that the number of buttons needed is relatively few, and they can be mapped to a gamepad as well, which allows play without even touching the keyboard. Biggest problem I have is I think it should bring up the targeting selector if you don't have a target rather then auto target, but you can manually target things with a button anyway.

In general, despite any gripes, I have been having fun with the game. I am playing a Fairy Pianist (because I am crazy), which is maximized for charisma and such rather then combat, which allows me to have tons of pets to do most of the fighting. Although with a throwing star weapon that causes bleeding, I find I can do okay in combat, though I usually rely on my pets to do most of the damage. In addition, though almost everything kills me in one or two hits because I have very low HP, my evasion rate is very high. Though whenever I try and play my music in public, I usually get hit by a rock and die, though I can practice with my pets fine.

Also I liked the picture I drew today. I think it's cute. :3

No comments:

Post a Comment