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Pokémon Empire (Episode 3 Released!)


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Thanks for the heads up! That would be caused by a 'through on' effect that wasn't bookended by a 'through off'.

I don't see any of those occurring in or around the area you're referring to, though, so I'm not sure what might have caused that. Still, glad it didn't persist! 

Hope you've been enjoying the game so far!

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Version 1.2 is now live! Semi-Quick Patch Notes: New Turbo button! Toggle the ALT key to double your game speed Also the Z key works like Enter, C, and Space like most people expect

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6 hours ago, Octavius said:

Thanks for the heads up! That would be caused by a 'through on' effect that wasn't bookended by a 'through off'.

I don't see any of those occurring in or around the area you're referring to, though, so I'm not sure what might have caused that. Still, glad it didn't persist! 

Hope you've been enjoying the game so far!

yea it was pretty fun and i must say

Spoiler

the gym leader's sirfetch'd lived up to its reputation the NPCs gave it im just glad i had my ariados to slow it down and poison it via toxic thread that and i went almost ful hazard (double toxic spikes and triple spikes worked wonders for me there)

 

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Awesome! I'm glad you found an interesting strategy to defeat the major! There are lots of new moves and abilities to help some unexpected Pokemon find a meaningful spot in a team composition. Our 'boss' battles all employ different battling styles, and we hope players find new ways to adapt to the unique challenges each presents!

 

(Also not to self-plug, but feel free to stop by our discord if you enjoy chatting about the game!)

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  • 2 weeks later...

Patch 3.1.2:

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1UMpCAqgHb566rkNZGFMFnJzo0sw3IuIH/view?usp=sharing

 

new patch changelog:
new perseus and celaena alt outfits available in servine saloon and calvera cove, respectively. enjoy!
fixed various bugs including the 'already confused' display glitch and an error causing weather turns to run out twice as fast (sorry about that). 
added a few QoL changes to polaris and illyria, including a new, uh... well you'll see what it is (in illyria)
buffs to mons currently being outperformed by their peers. (pidgeotto, watchog, pancham, fomantis, swirlix, spritzee, etc.)
minor edits to demetrius's team & AI
new crafting table in the servine saloon
added 4th floor of polaris mine
various other minor bugs were fixed, optimizations made, etc.
in the meantime, we're at work on episode 4! expect some new move animations in the future!

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  • 3 weeks later...

#DiscordSawItFirst 

 

Jokes aside I hope everyone is enjoying the holiday season! After letting the wonderful folks in our community discord have the first look at it, we're ready to show off the highly requested in-game map for Telius and it's surrounding regions!

 

Beyond that here's a brief update, mapping is virtually done, eventing is the next time consuming task and after that we'll jump right into our in house testing to get things ready for our closed beta. Still a long road ahead but we've cleared the first two obstacles. 

 

Enjoy the map, the holidays, and our discord if you want to see some screenshots of the province you'll be visiting in Ep4! 

Empire map2.png

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Patch 3.2 now live!

 

changelog:
added some new events in the calvera area: phantump and minccino are now on the obtainables list!
added a new move 'winds of change'
fixed a display error with muskoat's backsprite
fixed a display error with celaena's overworld sprite
some miscellaneous fixes/adjustments, such as to poison fang, evolution methods, and some item and ability descriptions

 

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1ncfOpS8SfG1MwJjwukorGaaig9RW5HRT/view

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Spoiler

 

Aaand Review time!

 

This is long, so it will be split into several posts.

Hooh, boy. I finally got around to writing this. It’s amazing how much procrastination went into avoiding something I wanted to write. But anyhow, let’s get to it.

 

 

So, Empire has to be one of my favorite pokemon fangames. I’ve only ever played a few, mostly the well-known or established ones, like Reborn of course, and Insurgence (Which I despised), Desolation, Rejuvenation, Uranium, and the literal original beta for Zeta/Omicron, if I’m not mistaken, waaaay back in the day. (Help me Arceus I’m old).

 

How well does Empire stack above all those? Well, there’s definitely a more artistic bent to these fangames than the droll official corporate versions of my childhood (Which honestly ALWAYS felt underwhelming to me. Which is one reason why I love my fangames so much, and approve of fanmon in general, especially custom megas, since, well, you know, megas are now replaced). Anyway, artistic style and bent. Maybe intent is the right word. Reborn has a grimy, dirty esthetic and appeal, one that evolves to hope and painful change for the better, or at least the attempt. That’s part of its identity, its artistic style. The other aforementioned games have their own, as well.

 

I’m wasting space on saying all the above to point out that comparisons are often matters of personal taste. There’s definitely objective criticism for and against stuff, though, so don’t consider my review totally biased. And certainly don’t take other reviews as totally unbiased, either.

 

Now, to the actual game. The esthetic of Empire originally turned me off. I’m like Erin from Rejuvenation. I don’t buy official dogma or propaganda. Edward Bernays is a name on my bad list. So I was unsure how I would take a game that wishes to make the player think on morality. Usually that requires the game creators to be well-versed in various opinions and possessed of a great deal of real world experience or at least observation. And a fully realized paradigm for how the world works, for consistency’s sake in the creator’s vision of what morality the game will present the player and which options are there to solve it, and with what consequences, that sort of stuff. I mean, it sounds complicated, but really, every thinking intelligent being does this and no game I’ve ever played lacks this, I’m just pointing out that most rarely draw attention to it. Empire’s the note-worthy exception.

 

To my surprise I was very pleased by and greatly enjoyed Empire. Its esthetic and intent went hand-in-hand with how I perceived the creators wanted this game to be. Hail, Octavius. You and the other devs have done a stupendous work in crafting this hidden gem! May it continue to receive your attention and support, and the accolades of an ever broadening audience.

Empire’s moral tone took me some getting used to. But I persevered, and was rewarded. The intelligence and complexity of the arguments continued to increase rapidly, and I was quite pleased even from the start, specifically in the OriGen building, with the Wakefulness of the population of Telius. Exceptional indeed!

 

Overall, the narrative continued to spin itself higher with each province. I kept finding my expectations raised with each chapter, and rarely, if ever, lowered by the arguments, postulations and moral dilemmas presented in the story. In Polaris, it was an undertone, a seething issue that was evidently there, but not defined, like a smoking gun hidden under a rug. Then Calvera and the Crimson Forest churned up a host of questions and choices and embroils the player in them, presenting obvious issues hinted at earlier in the story, particularly with the flaws of all the parties involved in the story. Then, in Illryia, these arguments and ethics transform into an integral piece of the story and become its emotional driving force.

 

I plan to cover a more detailed review of each of the three provinces. So I won’t spoil or bother to say more than the story does achieve a great deal in the area of provoking the player to examine, if not their own worldview, at least the worldview of the Telian people.

Now that such preambles are out of the way, let’s get into some of the more artistic stuff!

Art and overworld: I’m no expert in overworlds and art’s in the eye of whoever’s beholding it. But here’s my thoughts:

 

The overworld is crafted in a way similar to Reborn, but more refined. It’s on a vaster scale. It most reminds me of Desolation, but with more care. Scratch Deso, it more specifically invoked a sense of Knights of the Old Republic. I think just about everyone who’s ever spoken of it that I’ve read online or otherwise has said nothing but praise for that game. I’ve got some gripes, but it was a very memorable experience. One thing that stuck with me was how everything in that game felt… contemplated. There seemed to be intelligent care and thought into the placement of the entire overworld and events. In Empire, I get that same feeling. Everything’s carefully planned out and has a place. It’s something neither of my favored fangames (Rejuvenation and Reborn) have by comparison.

 

Empire is just PACKED with content, and not one nook of the Telius Region feels overlooked or forced in. And every part of it not only tells a story, but feels like it has placement for some future event or later exploration. It’s this sense of impending or potential events that just gives Empire a living, breathing sensation that many games just don’t have, especially pokemon games, what with its many limitations on graphics.

 

As for the art, the sprites all seem polished enough to look unique. Continued polishing will only improve the characters to greater heights. I’d like to deviate from the people long enough to discuss the backgrounds for the battlefields. I. FREAKING. LOVE. THEM. ALL.

 

Seriously, they are the PERFECT balance between impressionism and realism. This feels like it should be obvious and impartial to me, due to the fact that specific artwork, like a tunnel or bridge or something, can only really logically relate to one given place in an area. And the battles almost never directly or indirectly change or affect the overworld afterword.

 

Reborn makes a joke about this. Actually, several of the mainline official games, like Black  and White, make some fun of this. It just feels like the backgrounds should be, if they must have coherent pictures and not just atmospheric coloring, then it should be a background that can arguably fit into just about any location in the overworld area where that background is used in that area’s battles. I don’t know, some people just don’t have a problem with it, but I do. And, by Arceus, does Empire do it right! I should discuss them all.

 

House—Not gonna lie, I didn’t like the house, too much like the specific stuff mentioned in the above paragraph. It keeps me thinking about (Wait, wouldn’t even a 1st evolution pokemon break half the furniture?)

 

Tavern—A little rough, but fine, still gives that impressionistic vibe. It didn’t bother me half so much as the house, probably because the tavern feels so atmospheric that I just don’t mind.

Ice Cave—I don’t remember this one specifically, feels like there were several? But they all carried a nice icy vibe. It did look a little rough, but then again, aren’t all natural caves rough and unhewn?

 

Tundra—So glorious. So cold. I felt nothing but the gentle awe of nature in this particular one. It made grinding right below the first pokemon center a charm over chore.

 

Mountain—Icy mountain? Anyway, this one was good too. It felt like I was fighting on top of a snowy summit indeed.

 

Ice Rink—Oh, this one. Just beautiful. And it captured Elise’s character and plotline perfectly. “Eternity is a glorious word, but Eternity is Ice.”, such poetry. I love any game that can tactfully apply some good Trivium. It fits perfectly with Elise and the field really carries her character and its personal emotions onto her field. And boy was that a tactical battle!

 

Airplane—I loved it. Can’t say anything else but, it was great and instantly turned the beginning fight into a memorable one)

 

Forest—this was a feast for the eyes. It easily is my second favorite, tied with maybe Festival or Ice Rink. It actually has this magical, fantasy quality that I feel is often missing from Pokemon. And it suits this game perfectly well.

 

Cave—My personal favorite. It just felt so impressionistic and in all the right ways. I think it probably should be a background used only for places like Calvera though. Maybe another kind of cave will be introduced? That would be cool. Or at least a different background for different areas. But hey, we have an icy cave already, so I’d best move on and stop telling Octavius what he and the devs already know.

 

Festival—I loved this one, and it is probably my second favorite. I do wish Calvera actually looked a tad more like this field background, but that’s a minor knitpick.

 

Open Fields—This is honestly the best one, and it helps set the mood for Illyria in just the right way. It gives me Mudsdale flaskbacks do. Ooh, those Mudsdale flashbacks. I kept thinking, “If that old guy turns out to be a ground gym leader, I’m doomed.” Thankfully that didn’t happen.

 

Distorted Reality—it really looks it. And it frightens me. Because I failed at that field horrifically for the most part. Bless dear Cheyenne for healing me along the way.

 

Field of Cinders—huh, never encountered this? Or just don’t remember? Same for Industrial and a few others, so far as I know. Molten Core… maybe something at the OriGen facility allowed for this field? (Do let me know how I invoke these fields, if they are implemented already)

 

Character sprites:

So, overall I liked the character sprites. They all felt unique and as I mentioned earlier, they only really need some polishing. Some were especially good, like North and the strange masked guy who gives the relic sword to the player. The female lead is excellent, and I really like her style. Her hair falls in a way that gives the impression of a crescent moon.

Unfortunately, here’s my first real criticism of Empire.

 

The main male player avatar looks terrible, especially for someone who was from a military academy. He just… compared to the female lead, who looks like a princess, he just looks… pathetic. Even a throwaway random trainer looks more memorable. It’s as if he’s a stand-in for something better to come, later.

 

Hopefully so, though I well understand the time and energy that goes into changing and updating character sprites. Because I was so displeased by the male protag’s appearance, that I ended up doing my own. And it was my first attempt at such a thing! I think it turned out decent enough, for a first try at any rate, even if the hair in the backsprite breaks continuity, and the proportions are odd in places. But if I, a first-time beginner can cobble together a more memorable sprite for the main male protag, surely the devs can see there’s a problem?

 

I’ll say no more here, but I leave my pics for those curious to what I cobbled. It's got its proportion issues for the overworld sprite's hair, and the character's hands look weird, but it is what it is)

trainer000.pngboy_walk.png

 

I don't like the backsprite. It looks a little odd, so it's not here.

 

Moving onto more important things:

 

Fanmon: I don’t like the term fakemon, it feels so needlessly derogatory. (Why can’t fans receive a little respect? Oh humanity, how you continue to ever disappoint me).

 

So, some of the new fanmons just don’t have sprites yet, apparently. I’m most eager to view Magcargo’s evolution’s appearance, given I have one. (Poor thing is still incompetent but at least it got Incinerate). Overall I didn’t care too much for the fanmon editions. Specifically the chimera thing found at the crash site. It just… no. Boreapter also looks hideous.

 

I will say, however, that quite a few of the others really fit the setting of Telius and were quite tastefully drawn. Specifically: Nihilight, Claycotta, the cool druid-fox (Can’t remember the name to save me), the masked Ice/Ghost thing in the mines, and all three of its evolutions get a 10/10 for me.

 

In particular, the way you describe Crabrawler’s evolution was pure genius. I’m especially enthusiastic about it. I can only hope it or the whiteouts don’t kill me in the attempt.

Request: yes, this is not a part of the review, but a request. Put here in the middle of the review, so I don’t forget to mention it later where there’d arguably be more room. Telian regional variants. Variants are so awesome, yet nobody’s tried it yet but Pokemon Phoenix. Please do so. Please. It would be so cool.

 

Type Changes:

 

Ok, this part is definitely without bias, it’s purely mechanical and all about game balance. And I am not a competitive battler. However, I do know the type chart, like any fan of pokemon since childhood ought to be by now. Yes siree. Back in my day, there wudn’t any of dem pink Fairy types. And Steel was harder! Anyway, type changes.

 

Finally! Someone who made Ice resist water. Thank god. Now I don’t have to debug that in. Because I literally did. Made Ice immune to itself, too. It was a nightmare—don’t attempt that! But hey, Ice is super-offensive anyway. Is still say it should resist fire, cuz it melts to water, but that’s just game logic that can’t be overcome, I guess… Also, Steel is not immune to Fairy? Thank you! And yet, the psychic/normal/fairy relationship was confusing. I don’t mind it, though, it’s just not what I got used to.

 

As for changing pokemon types, specifically, I appreciate this creative freedom. Gothitelle’s line absolutely should be part dark. It was stunned to learn it was pure Psychic. I mean, really? Why not make it dark, and have it as a true counterpart to Reuniclus (which should be water/psychic, imo).

 

I love what was done with Alcremie. And you don’t know how happy I was to learn that those salted caramels I received in return for handing over that Flapple to that murderous granny was actually worth something in the end! It helped me weather the horrors of Demetrius’ Falinks. That evil thing was a monster to my team and soloed me twice.

 

 I did find the Dark/Steel Mawile to be heartbreaking, for oh so many reasons. *wipes tear* It was going to be permanently on my team. I even named it Cheyenne. But Dark/Steel is a horrible defensive type, and Mawiles are slow. I think you can see the problem? I suggest doing… something… about it. Maybe make it faster? I don’t know. I fail at pokemon rebalancing.

 

Speaking of…

 

Pokemon Rebalancing:

 

I noticed this acutely at the start of the game, particularly with all the birds I trained, especially with Pidgeotto, and the rodents. I also noticed a few other mons were far more potent this time around, like Furret and Stantler.

 

Then again, Stantler could do a number on you in Stadium 2, so I wasn’t too surprised. Then that… that Queen right off the train in Calvera… Ouch. A stall nightmare.

 

Even so, I thought the balancing was fine until Illryia. Then I began noticing… I don’t know, that the balance began to skew more toward the status quo in the official stats. Poor Cheyenne the Mawile aside, other pokemon suffered less than approvable performance. Notably, everybody’s favorite spider, Ariados, is still useless. I’d love if it got an evo, a strong one. Because I just love using it and I can’t. It’s terribly typed and just doesn’t have the tools it needs to shine.

 

The Challenge:

 

The game challenged me right from the beginning by restricting my items. But I’m apparently one of those people who flourishes in adversity, because while I had a terrible time fighting through Desolation (even with a debug buffed team), Reborn (of course) Reborn Redux and Rejuv hard mode, I somehow ended up doing pretty well with Empire. I never felt hopeless completely, and the merciful presence of the Ace Trainers (loved the white on black for them) allowed me to retrain and reconfigure my team when necessary. It was hard, oh absolutely so, but in a fun way that forced me to think tactically in a manner none of the previous pokemon games I’ve ever played has done. The closet that ever came to that was Coloseum.

 

Empire definitely lived up to its promotion that it would be an interesting challenge. I overall approved of and quite enjoyed the changes done to the formula and it makes the game very memorable. The fields also were all excellent and each granted their own sense of panic while I fought to figure out how they work, and how to abuse them. This was something that seemed extra hard in Rejuv and in Reborn I almost always ignored the fields, save for Factory and maybe a couple others. So congrats on making some fun and varied field effects that make the player sit up and pay attention!

 

Overall, I heartily endorse the banning of in-battle items. It makes too much sense from a mechanic perspective. Though in-story it does not make so much sense while fighting enemies in dangerous situations.

 

Now, onto my impressions of the story. This will contain spoilers. I will endeavor to remember to spoiler tag this. But if I fail, let this be warning to all, spoilers below:

 

I loved the story. The game does a phenomenal job of giving the player decision making agency and delivering swift consequences. Other pokemon games tried this but only Empire so far has really made me feel like the player decisions count for much, or could lead to dangerous consequences.

 

At first, I was very leery of a post-war scenario for a pokemon game. So often that fails to deliver. But you capture that epic fantasy feeling from the Lucario pokemon movie, which begins with an actual war with armored pokemon. The game feels like a post-war setting and immediately uses that to present its moral dilemmas to the forefront. It also lends this atmosphere of disquiet. The war may be over officially, but not all the embers are out cold.

 

More is afoot. Indeed, there’s this sense to the inquisitive eye that, maybe, just maybe, there was more afoot even before the war ever started. I ate all that up and wanted more.

And Empire just kept delivering! The end of the last chapter was the best part of the story, giving a climax I hoped for when facing the end of the game, at present. Please don’t give up on this project! It’s definitely been worth it to me. Hopefully others will find and enjoy it as well!

Onto details and personal impressions of the provinces and their stories in the next post.

 

 


 

 

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Pokemon Empire Review Part 2:

 

Spoiler

 

Arc 1—Polaris:

 

From the plane to the tundra, it was quite a good beginning to the game. I did think that a little too much talking takes place with the protagonist’s friend (I am terrible at remembering names and I shouldn’t be. But if I’m not remembering it may indicate there’s room to make a character more… memorable. Just make sure it’s not the wrong kind of memorable). Perhaps shorten it a little? Or break it up somehow? I don’t know.

 

I enjoyed it the first time I played, but then I had to reset several times when implementing my new male avatar, and admittedly the start does drag just a tad. Not quite as long as some others I could name, though, and I’m pretty sure some very important intel was dropped. That pendant the player’s wearing has got to be a noble relic, right? It basically gives the player the power to reset time, or something? Or is it just a fun gimmick to explain the save system? Then again, there’s at least one death scene (like in the bar with the PMCs) if you lose, so…

 

I  really liked the first route going forward. It felt fearful, with me having no idea what might happen if I lost before reaching the pokemon center. After that, it was a surprisingly fun exploration of Polaris. I had far more fun with it than in other early game setups.

 

It evoked the good old days of exploring Peridot Ward in Reborn, all those years ago, though this one was far more epic of an atmosphere. I loved the music for both Polaris itself and the area before it. And OriGen’s ost was just dead on perfect. That was the point I realized this game had serious narrative weight behind it, just waiting…

 

And I wasn’t wrong. I really enjoyed the interactions with the people in Polaris. It was overwhelming at first, but in a good way, so much to do. Honorable mention goes to the deadly Magikarp fisherman for being Most Dangerous Trainer for me. I fear them now. I guess the war made Magikarp more powerful or something. I guess that means Gyrados are even more monstrous.

 

Other mention to Bouffolant Boy, the Vicious Venison Vendor and the staff at the Polaris Ice facility (hopefully they aren’t adding Walford byproducts into their water. Maybe that’s why the Telius population is so woke, no fluoridated water for them). Oh, and the Killer Snek trainer (though I beat his Onix easily, tbh. It was those blasted Magikarp that are the lurking threat out there).

 

Anyway… OriGen was fun. It was made tacitly clear these PERSONS are up to no good. Their symbol is awesome. It’s so regal and yet so deadly. I fear for the poor conspiracy researcher sitting there filing complaints. Clearly she hasn’t realized more direct action will be necessary for dealing with Corporations operating beyond their lawful authority! Player direct action, to be precise!

 

Anyway, the ost for this place was perfect. I theorize that these people were what caused Tobias to go mad. That one character in Polaris seems to have linked genetic experiments with all the stuff going on. So I wonder if it’s possible Tobias wasn’t so mad as he seemed, or was led to madness. People usually don’t do a 180 mental turn-around from being good rulers to beheading people in a frenzy for no reason, after all.

 

Crucis

Eridanis

Orionis

Cassias

 

Way to foreshadow, there. I’m especially concerned for Crucis.

 

Polaris Pass has the best soundtrack. It is just perfect. Where does it come from? It’s familiar… and fits the haunting atmosphere the player must surely be feeling, returning to a war-torn country, being targeted, their brother missing and possibly dead, and a hellishly suspicious corporation in the middle of nowhere advertizing BRAND projects like Crucis and Cassias openly to the public like they’re names fit for the flowers in may. Well done here.

 

Polaris Point also has a great soundtrack, and it fits well into the events transpiring there. It feels more homely, but then has tragic chords, perfect for Elise in the background.

 

The Polaris arc went as I suspected, though there were a couple twists that surprised me, notably the mysterious traveler who gives us the Relic sword. Is it responsible for the visions? Also, the pendant that lets the player save and reset, I wonder if that’s what the mercenaries were after? It seems like they thought the protag’s brother had something important, so I’d assume so.

 

Either way, the crashed plane was great and it flowed well. My only potential constructive criticism would be that maybe it could happen a little sooner? I mean, it felt a little confusing. At first, it seemed like the other plane was too far away to search, but then after I actually got to the Tundra, I was of the impression it was close enough that I could reach it immediately. Instead, it took a significant amount of time to reach. I spent days exploring Polaris, of course, but it felt like maybe there could be an option to go in at once? Or take a trip to the crash site in the beginning, and then go back after learning something’s going down there, to ignore a terrible pun?

 

As to the gym challenge system, I love it. Having the gym leaders make aspiring trainers help out is great. Of course, as main protagonist, it is the player’s place to heroically meddle with the world, for good or ill, but it’s nice that the entire gym system is now geared to having more people try to help the region. It reinforces the lore that the gym leaders and trainers truly are the backbone of government, when it gets right down to it. Huh, maybe all those peaceful, prosperous places like Sinnoh and Hoenn are like that because the gym leaders stay in their gyms all day, doing paperwork and administrative duties?

 

I could see Roxanne and Watson doing that. Anyway, the Alolan dragon infestation was a fun touch. There were some odd game errors in the fight, though. All the dragons disappear before fighting me, and then I think the one I could catch materialized instantly nearby in a weird way. But it was great fun and an enjoyable exploration, at least on the first try. Is there a place I could’ve obtained Flash? Or a flashlight/lantern or something?

 

Elise is like an arc in and of herself. It’s great. I loved where we fight her, though I wish getting to and from it were easier. Still it’s nice. The ice rink music was priceless for me. It reminds me of Christmases past, and none of them pleasant. It made me connect with Elise’s wistful, cool bitterness. It also features that magical, fantasy aspect missing in Pokemon, but one that perfectly fits it.

 

And I’ve touched on it earlier, but the battle with Elise is intense and breathtaking, or was for me. But I struggled against her blasted trainers. Of course they would use ground types! Or were they? I distinctly recall them using stuff other than ice pokemon! I felt so ashamed, because I suspected they would, but went in hoping to train Slugma anyway. Poor, poor Slugma. He almost froze to death multiple times.

 

As for Elise, well, that got me strategizing. If not for Lord I’Glon the Jigglypuff, I’d have probably given up. But there was some hard work put in by Gothita to help get the AI to start switching constantly. That ended bad when I figured out how to get Slugma out and start sweeping. But dat Nidorina! Also Lapras. Nothing but trouble, that one. I won by a fluke in the end.

 

I don’t like the name No Return for a badge. Or whatever it was. Octavius, rectify this at once! Go fetch an old dictionary or thesaurus! I know you can do better.

The sword battle at the train station… argh. I knew it. I knew there was going to be some hiccup when I walked in, but for some reason I didn’t prepare. And yet I still beat the masked guy. He’s my kind of character. Won’t shut up while talking higher minded nonsense until everyone stops paying attention… *coughs awkwardly and glances around. Nobody’s gonna read this, are they?*

 

Anyway, it was a nice send-off from Polaris and all that went on there.

 

Chapter 2: Calvera

 

And the plot thickened.

 

Well, the music heralded quite the arc before me. I must say, this one did throw me plenty of curve-balls to surprise me. I did foresee around several bends in the road, but I tend to ignore foreshadowing. I got so good in days past that… ah, forget it. Point being, Calvera did a great job carrying over the quality of the story, and I’m pretty sure it does what you were trying to do pretty well.

 

The flashback did surprise me, but I ended up being mildly disappointed that there was no fighting. But that was maybe because I wasn’t sure of its purpose. Interactive history lessons might not be a good thing after all, unless they are to become the focus. I noticed that there’s a very, very mild similarity between the Distorted Reality and these… “flashbacks”. Hmm… I do wonder about that. The Walford guy with the Landorus did seem to indicate the Relics might have an effect on his… whatever those evil tiles are.

 

Anyway, the flashback moments accomplished their purpose rightly. In the future, if you ever get the chance, perhaps more combat-related stuff might be added. But the main point of course was to introduce two very important characters. But I only remember Geofrey. Forgive me blonde lady, I liked your character, but I can’t recall it to save me.

 

Anyhow, the REAL shock was fighting Twitchy Girl. The horror of that moment. It forced me to end up reseting and in the process I saved and ended up getting locked out of getting supplies. Somehow I ended up not doing that and was going to just fight Mysterious Masked Dude (Can’t remember his name either) over again for supplies. But blast you, you evil Vespiquen! I didn’t. And the Trevenant made me regret that. Wicked thing!

 

So, the Trevenant was a great mid-boss and I fully approved of the Crimson Forest adventure. It felt like a true RPG. Then again, I’ve only ever played Secret of Mana, and then only for a short while to realize I HATE RPGs. Pokemon’s as far as I go that route. But it’s a fun road. And Empire pulled me into a more difficult spot than I’m used to. I liked it, made me think outside the box. And lose literally all my funds blacking out to get a healed team…

 

Had to train that Alolan mantis creature. The pre-evo to Lurantis. Can’t remember it’s name either. Anyway, the Trevenant went down at last, and from there it was on to the next stage of the journey.

 

So, Calvera is interesting. It produces all sorts of conflict, with the Empire and Rebel government and how people perceive them and are treated by the differing parties. But in Calvera it felt like everything was a tad confused, on purpose. It was a testy situation. The people there clearly preferred to live in their sad condition. Forcing them to change by threatening them and arresting them was obviously not the right option.

 

Speaking of arrests, North as a surprise. And he embodies all that’s wrong with the Council, probably again on purpose. It made a nice conflict with Rose, who embodied pretty much all the good the Council’s done up to that point in the game.

 

Ah, Rose. She’s probably my second favorite character in the game. Here is where the game starts to really, really hit the character development in stride. Before, it was a touch static, evolving the characters as the plot would shape them. But here we see the plot driven by the characters and their motivations. Appropriate, because there’s definitely choices to make this time around, but was there any right answer?

 

I’d say yes. Rose was right in that she was the only one who could do anything for the people of Calvera. While there might have been other ways, North’s basically proof that the only law’s currently at work are the martial ones. Military rule is always an evil thing, because the population is always the enemy, eventually. Rose counters this by being on the very edge of what I’d consider tolerable, but she treads that line with finesse. She’s definitely one of those fun characters and her entire interactions with the player are great.

 

While I enjoyed it, I had some gripes with this arc of the story. There seemed to be a lack of inspiration for Calvera’s design. It’s the only part of the game that feels like a fan project. The Crimson Forest and the village, the cave, all of Polaris, they feel excellent and all that they should be in a pokemon game. But Calvera felt…

 

I don’t know. I like actually how it seems more in tune with nature. But there seems to be something missing. Calvera feels like a large village in the middle of nowhere. Why would literally anyone from the capital care about it so?

 

It feels like the spirit of what the story is trying to do here with Rose, the people of Calvera, their environment and their effect on their surroundings, like the lake (though that seems to be a strangely old tradition of dumping garbage into it. Gonna have grimer there. Where do they think they are? Kanto?).

 

But while the spirit of the story made it into the incarnation of Calvera, I don’t think the esthetics did. I like the red and white tile for the streets. And the music is great, and gives an atmosphere I wouldn’t have chosen but wouldn’t change.

 

However, the rest of the city feels… almost empty? Like, it seems like there’s conflicting themes running here: wasted druggy enclave, like 7th Street, but somehow more official, like Vegas or some other major seedy tourist Trap. But then it’s all set in the beautiful (and apparently intoxicating) Crimson Forest, set near a pristine-seeming lake. There’s all this nature involved. But Calvera feels like it’d have become that Vegas-style place. Rose fits something approaching that. Instead, Calvera feels different.

 

There’s this sense that it’s supposed to be this really old Imperial city with a history for constant fairs.

 

Here’s how imagined Calvera: a bustling old city, on the smaller side, with lots of historic buildings from the ancient days of the Telian Empire, acting as perhaps part of the tourist attraction, with lots of streets and outdoor fanfare (which it kind of does) for festivals. But it’s also a city that’s seen better days and is now gripped in the thrall of heady intoxicating stuff. Like a quaint historic city but one that’s been left to drug addicts, hence the Council’s desire to basically remove the entire population and start over. Which would be horrible and draconian.

 

Not sure, but I’d suggest a definite architectural and cosmetic change to Calvera. I don’t think it should lose that atmosphere of being something that isn’t industrialized, and it would lose its uniqueness if it became a Vegas. Maybe something like I suggested? I don’t know. But there’s definitely a sense of conflicting intentions for this area of the story, and it shows.

 

My big gripe is the trash. Exactly why are they dumping stuff into the lake? That seems so… bizarre, especially with all the pokemon or modern technology that might help with this old problem.

 

Anyway, the plot is great. The protag’s childhood friend gets some more development here with the Swablu, which I enjoyed. If only her design was more memorable. It might be the second least recognizable after the male protag. Though her character’s far from dull. I can envision some harsh times ahead were the player to choose the Royales’ side.

 

The conclusion to the Calvera arc was a touch surprising. The Royales certainly are playing the long game. But if Geofrey’s with them, I can only see them doing some dishonorable acts in the future, and wouldn’t put stock in their promise to make good their actions with poor Rose.

 

Overall, the characters of this part of the story really kept my interest up. And they don’t really need improvement, just the setting needs it.

Also, don’t think I didn’t catch that it frequently has harsh sunlight in the area, and there’s apparently sun worshipers starting fires. Interesting, indeed.

 

 

 

 

Spoiler

 

Pokemon Empire Review Part 3:

 

Chapter 3: Illryia

 

Now, Illryia, Illryia. The story had improved consistently up until this point, with the brief dip in quality to the game in Calvera. But the moment I heard the music in Atria starting to play, I realized this was going to be something else.

 

Illryia turned out to be huge, indeed, and it was pretty clear I’d be spending a very long time here. But wow, was I not expecting all that happened. So, as I mentioned long ago in this review, somewhere, the conflict still simmering in the background, of the Royal faction and the revolutionaries, strikes here, directly. Before it was always something in the background or a thing for the player to observe. But Illryia places the player square in the line of fire and forces them to confront the divisions Telius faced, and to basically work to mend the damage.

 

Normally I despise questing like what Illryia is filled with. But the charm of the place, how each individual household has its own unique little story and quest for the player just dragged me into it. And that was before the main plot was triggered.

 

Unlike Calvera, the story of Illryia’s characters is literally part of the landscape and in a beautiful way. The whole province is excellent, and vast (but clearly not done. There’s the Verdant Veldt and other areas beyond that have thief problems. And Old Atria, which probably will have its place in the narrative eventually. Nothing about the area is out of balance with the story taking place within it.

 

There’s so much to do, but aside from a couple quests, it wasn’t too hard learning my way around and getting to know the place (my only real issue was finding the honey gatherer after beating the Ursaring). I’m sure there’s still plenty of quests I failed to achieve, too, since some of the Alcremie Ingredients weren’t found, aside from the Tasty Torch and maybe coffee beans.

 

The music suited its purpose, though the Ignoble and Noble Fields were the only ones I really liked. Atria sounded like Starcraft, and that was not a pleasant experience. But I was seldom in one place for long, with all that constant exploration.

 

There’s some great sidequests worth mentioning. Well, I enjoyed pretty much all of them. Some had real character charm, like the medicine question and the tractor dispute. The alien one was hard for me, but worth it. Mute silence can often lead to amazing results. I wonder what would’ve happened if the protag spoke? And then Larvitar. Come out, come out wherever you are… I just want to catch you and trap you in my PC until I need your typing…

 

Then the main plot began.

 

I’ll mention Rose here. Her appearances through Misdreavus was a wonderful choice. I don’t get where the Misdreavus came from. It must have been with her Mismagius, I assume. But having her speak through the pokemon was excellent, and I found myself in agreement with most of her words.

 

Exceptional. I can’t praise enough how well crafted and subtle the character development is in Illryia. It also rewards the player for getting involved with the side-quests. Demetrius especially is built up to have a terrifying reputation, while Cheyenne’s praises are sung.

 

You know, Cheyenne was interesting from the moment she’s introduced. It seemed pretty obvious the player’s supposed to like Cheyenne from the start, but it’s tastefully ironic that she struggles with that very problem! Very well played. I didn’t figure out what was happening until she spells it out. I guess other Relic holders are immune to the earrings?

 

It was a very wise decision to make it so interacting with Cheyenne felt natural and almost entirely up to the player’s choice. I’m sure some of the interactions were optional, yes? It feels like what Rejuvenation attempted to do with the character of Melia in the beginning, and yet it succeeds due to the illusion of free will offered. I didn’t at first realize that Cheyenne was completely integral to the plot. At first she seemed like maybe the obligatory war-orphan caretaker.

 

And the Alcremie cake baking seemed like maybe that was the extent of her purpose. Though it was also clearly hinted that she was adored for some reason, but didn’t realize this herself.

 

Her development as a character is just good. Bravo, Octavius, Casper, or whoever wrote her.

 

She’s selfless and caring, but doesn’t realize it’s a large part of why she’s so adored, because she’s also down-to-earth and practical in her own way. Cheyenne comes across as just so natural, anything supernatural or unnatural isn’t immediately suspected or guessed at.

 

And instead of the truth suddenly being revealed, it’s unraveled by Cheyenne herself, with your requested help, and interwoven into another subplot with OriGen to keep the players distracted. It all seamlessly flows together, but only after all the pieces are fit, a good mystery that just clicks with the player, even though they don’t know why. Or at least, it did with me.

 

Demetrius as a character plays into this because, while his war was clearly justified against Geofrey… he’s kind of Geofrey’s counterpart on the Revolutionary’s side. One has to wonder if he, somewhere deep down, realizes that. Of course, he’s nowhere near so bad. But he’s also basically a dictator in Illryia, and if not for Cheyenne things might not have been so pleasant there. I’m interested to see what happens when he learns the protagonist is a noble. Apparently one of the True Nobles that hold a relic, no less. Though the Pendant doesn’t seem all that powerful, outside of fourth wall explaining shenanigans.

 

When we entered OriGen, I was at the point where I expected something horrible to happen at every turn. Cheyenne was beginning to show death flags. It’s always a pleasure to see some good writing that handles foreshadowing and subtle hints. It was done flawlessly here. There was talk about a “blue haired young man” about, and another about a scientist looking for Taurus Hormones. It never crossed my mind it’d be the protag’s missing brother, though, or that the scientist was important. If players didn’t pay attention, well, I shudder at the missed chance to learn some useful tidbits before the raid on OriGen.

 

Which, turns out, still forces some plot foreshadowing by having the scientist be crazy. That chilling scene left me thinking, “Cheyenne’s going to die! What do I do?”

Then… nothing happened. I left the weird big machine alone in OriGen, afraid I’d trigger something I shouldn’t. Is that the Molten Core field’s trigger? I didn’t bother fiddling with anything in there and that’s the last place I can think that would have such a field potentiality.

 

At any rate, it’s funny. After OriGen, I assumed the danger was passed. Good call having Walford Co.’s big shot fight us before going on the Raid. It seemed to make me think nothing else would come of it. Though, honestly, by that point, it was obvious. I confess the scene at the graveyard also threw me. I do tend to ignore death flags nowadays. If not for the egg, I’d have totally ignored the death flags. Perhaps I wanted to ignore them. Again, I feel like this is how Melia was meant to make us feel in Rejuvenation. But here, the situation’s different.

 

The player is given this chance to build a relationship with Cheyenne, and spends a great deal time to accomplish this. There’s also no certainty of danger or peril, just a sense that things aren’t right with OriGen and that there’s some fun mystery.

 

Meanwhile, it becomes clear living in Illryia with Demetrius is not the best lifestyle for Cheyenne. He doesn’t react well with the player being around her alone. Playing as the male protag, this is traditionally suspect, and I’d assume Demetrius is traditional in his values. But what really should bother the player is that if he reacts this way to the female protag, it means he doesn’t trust Cheyenne to even be alone.

 

What if she just wants friends? No. Romance? What romance? Sir’Fetched killed the romantic partner already. The player is once again given reason to want to get Cheyenne away from Illryia. By the time the grave discussion takes place, there’s definitely incentive to agree with her reasoning and to encourage it.

 

The illusion that it could end with a character being added to the party is strong. And of course, there’s the desires for answers…

 

Alas, curiosity killed the cat.

 

I admit, I’d probably not have been as surprised by her death (when she gave me the egg that was the final death flag), if not for spending four days desperately training to take down that monster of a Falinks. It got the Steel type. GOOD! It should have had SOMETHING more than fighting type in the official games. (Which I’ll never play. Glad Gen 8 got included for From Dust to Dust).

 

Sir’Fetched didn’t really impress me, to be honest. Yes, it could basically one-shot spear my whole team, but only if it’s awake! Ahahahah! All I had to do was bring in Ursaring or Lord I’Glon, High Wigglytuff, and that was the end of that threat. I hardly even recall Demetrius’ team after that. I got rid of the Falinks only by training up a Dugtrio. It was enough to win the day, and then Carmelux the Caramel Alcremie assisted in the total annihilation of Demetrius’ fighting team.

 

Thank you for not giving him a Mudsdale. That… that thing in that random farmhand’s arsenal was enough to kill me multiple times. I shudder to think of him having a mostly ground team with maybe Sir’Fetched as the exception, like with the Nidorina on Elise’s team.

 

Unfortunately, the battle had to end…

 

Oh Cheyenne. I genuinely wanted her to live. The scene and how it plays out through the Sword’s flashbacking plucked all the right heartstrings. The thrill of all the pieces clicking into place, the realization that indeed the scientist had been a sure death flag after all, and the horror of being unable to stop it, and the realization a character I’d hoped would continue in the game was about to bow out.

 

The touros moment was just cruel. Cruel to watch, and realizing it had already happened… So sickening to face.

 

It did take me aback how Demetrius immediately suspects the main protagonist for being responsible for Cheyenne’s death. He’s sharp, but it seems like he’d not blame the main character.

 

Oh well. I guess there’s no hope of getting the option to tell him more about what Cheyenne discovered. He might not take that well, though. And he probably has far stronger mons to call upon if he wishes. I’d imagine the Sir’Fetched from the war is the senior and the one he uses for his gym battles with weak trainers is just the junior squire.

 

Well, Illryia ended with an ending I should have seen coming, but didn’t, and it was all the more tragic and excellent for it. It makes it clear there’s perhaps a choice to save Cheyenne. To help further the illusion, I’d have it so the player and her can “rescue” the scientist and maybe take him somewhere to get cleaned up.

 

And perhaps have her not give the Mawile egg right as she leaves, because that’s basically a death flag if nothing else is. The Alcremie already smelled suspicious, but was more light-hearted. Would be better if she gives you the egg after maybe finding it in OriGen, or maybe you get it as a reward for “rescuing” the scientist and putting him in up at the orphanage or Demetrius’ for safe-keeping.

 

But then the blue-haired guy with the warping power frees him, douses him with fresh hormones and then lets the situation play out as it is in the game currently. That way, the player actually gets to attempt to counter the death flags, further empowering their decision making ability, and one unnecessary deathflag is removed to keep the sharper players from being dead sure of what’s going to happen.

 

That’s all I have to say for now on Pokemon Empire! It’s a long review, and I apologize.

 

Overall, the music is a 7/10 for me. Sorry Octavius!

 

The total overall game gets an inarguable 10/10 from me.

 

May this review be a help and encouragement to potential players and the dev team!

 

P.S. Larvitar? Lvaritar where art thou? (I... I still cannot find that thing. Wherever he's gone this time, it's good.)

 

 

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@Feng Lei This is an incredibly detailed review, and some very thoughtful feedback. The team loves it when people get as much as they can out of Pokemon Empire! We're also excited you've been enjoying yourself with the product so far. We can't wait to see where we can take the project, and it's always nice to have those who are willing to set aside time for crafting a thorough analysis and critique. The Empire Dev Team thanks you. 

 

 Imperium sempiternum.  

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43 minutes ago, StoicStone said:

@Feng Lei This is an incredibly detailed review, and some very thoughtful feedback. The team loves it when people get as much as they can out of Pokemon Empire! We're also excited you've been enjoying yourself with the product so far. We can't wait to see where we can take the project, and it's always nice to have those who are willing to set aside time for crafting a thorough analysis and critique. The Empire Dev Team thanks you. 

 

 Imperium sempiternum.  

 You are welcome. I was afraid nobody would read it.

 

I noticed the artwork for Persius in the thread. It looks wonderful and evokes the old artwork in the pokemon franchise. But I just don't know. Exactly how old is the main protag in empire? It sounds from the way North talks that they should be at least 18ish. And North mentions dating. But the artwork shows a kid that clearly can't be any older than 14 by my reckoning.

 

Also, I have a theory that the main protag

Spoiler

is the actual heir to the throne, or it is the masked swordsman who gives us his relic. I almost feel like it actually isn't the heir who is with Royale, at least not yet. Maybe an N situation?

 

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17 hours ago, Feng Lei said:

 You are welcome. I was afraid nobody would read it.

 

I noticed the artwork for Persius in the thread. It looks wonderful and evokes the old artwork in the pokemon franchise. But I just don't know. Exactly how old is the main protag in empire? It sounds from the way North talks that they should be at least 18ish. And North mentions dating. But the artwork shows a kid that clearly can't be any older than 14 by my reckoning.

 

Also, I have a theory that the main protag

  Reveal hidden contents

is the actual heir to the throne, or it is the masked swordsman who gives us his relic. I almost feel like it actually isn't the heir who is with Royale, at least not yet. Maybe an N situation?

 

Howdy! Like stoic said most of the devs have read your review and taken in to heart, so thanks again for the time and effort you put into it. I can touch on the Percy art quickly because a friend of mine drew it. Protags are late teens so your initial guess is correct, Percy does look younger and more thin in the art but that's simply due to the artist's style. Hoping to have art for other important characters down the road made by different artists in different styles. So if Percy didn't suit your tastes' there'll be more to come. 

 

Also, our discord server is full of other great folks who offer critique and assist in improving the game and just enjoying casual conversations. So you may want to check it out!

 

PS: For full transparency, while the vast majority of your gripes have been noted and will actively be taken into consideration going forward. The team collectively as well as the majority of the our vocal playerbase on discord think Percy is in a good spot some minimal tweaks to his sprite being all he needs. Celeana was based on a princess from a popular RPG so her looking a bit more "elegant" is to be expected. It's important to note that the MC's don't want to stand out (but always will because....blue hair lol). Alternate outfits are a thing in Empire as well, so if his base clothes are a bit too bland throw on the cowboy outfit in Illyria for some added drip. 

 

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37 minutes ago, ssbCasper said:

Howdy! Like stoic said most of the devs have read your review and taken in to heart, so thanks again for the time and effort you put into it. I can touch on the Percy art quickly because a friend of mine drew it. Protags are late teens so your initial guess is correct, Percy does look younger and more thin in the art but that's simply due to the artist's style. Hoping to have art for other important characters down the road made by different artists in different styles. So if Percy didn't suit your tastes' there'll be more to come. 

 

Also, our discord server is full of other great folks who offer critique and assist in improving the game and just enjoying casual conversations. So you may want to check it out!

 

PS: For full transparency, while the vast majority of your gripes have been noted and will actively be taken into consideration going forward. The team collectively as well as the majority of the our vocal playerbase on discord think Percy is in a good spot some minimal tweaks to his sprite being all he needs. Celeana was based on a princess from a popular RPG so her looking a bit more "elegant" is to be expected. It's important to note that the MC's don't want to stand out (but always will because....blue hair lol). Alternate outfits are a thing in Empire as well, so if his base clothes are a bit too bland throw on the cowboy outfit in Illyria for some added drip. 

 

 

I think it's more the sprite in-game. It just looks a little awkward. Future polishing should fix that though. The artwork for instance looks a great deal more memorable than the sprite, which seems more generic than quite a few trainers. Which is why I mention it.

 

And the Princess is not blending in. It is impossible for her to mask such beauty without permanently destroying it.

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I think my issue more stems from how the sprite is drawn. It just doesn't feel like much effort was put into it, or that it is simply drawn awkwardly. My suggestion is to put the sprite in the artwork's pose. That would do wonders.

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