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My Review of Desolation E6 (SPOILERS)


Dausk
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I'd like to start by commending the devs for the time and effort put into the project, it takes a lot of commitment to develop a game of this quality. Overall, playing through the game was an enjoyable experience, and my opinion of the game is overwhelmingly positive, with only a couple grievances (mostly minor) with it. As the title suggests, this post will contain spoilers for the whole game.

 

STORY

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 This version brought about a few changes to earlier segments of the story, as well as a new chapter. The early changes massively improved the story. Scarlett's turn to Team Crescent was fleshed on upon, making it feel more natural rather than the haphazardly slap dashed portrayal in previous versions. Shiv is portrayed as more shady and untrustworthy when compared to Nova, making the decision more difficult than in E5. Nova's role in the Kuiki fiasco brings clarity to some events. Baron's introduction was rewritten for the better imo. The ship segment now presents more improved character-fleshing dialogue. Scarlett's sacrifice makes more sense than in previous versions. Hardy's motivations are clarified, etc. Overall, all the changes I took notice of were definitely for the better.

 

However, I still have a couple problems with how some moments are presented. In my opinion, the story's first arc still seems very disconnected from the rest of the story. Currently, it's purpose is relegated to introducing us to Shiv and developing Connor. While this doesn't make it bad, it's a shame a meaningful aftermath to the arc is nonexistent in the grander story. Secondly, the cloud platform scene is still in need of improvement. Ava jumping off the platform is slap dash and seemingly goes against her characterization, as I have no doubt she would've faced Baron (especially since she's no longer at a disadvantage) instead of abandoning the MC; both character's survival are also not given much of an explanation aside from having to do with the grid. Lastly, this may just be me, but I still find the ordeal with Shiv, Aurora, and Nova to be confusing even after the Darkrai reveal. As in, I can't seem to figure out if either some (and if so which ones) or none of the journal entries/flashbacks related to them are genuine or fabrications. This may be something that is expanded upon in future episodes but the idea of everything we learned about Nova and Shiv being made irrelevant by the reveal does not sit well with me.

 

When it comes to new E6 content, the update did not disappoint. The insight given into Perfection was interesting to learn and a welcome addition, considering how little we knew about it previously. I liked seeing Crescent back in action considering they lost relevance since arriving in Cellia. I loved the portion that focused on finding Tristan in the waterscape. Waldenhall makes a good antagonist and I'm excited to see how his deterioration affects both his character and the story. Overall, this episode clearly focuses on setting up the story towards an eventful final act, and I'm thrilled to see how it plays out. My only (minor) complaint would be that the story structure feels like it harms the pacing of game's gym aspect, since the time between Garret's and Reeve's battles feels massive imo (especially since Aaron and Garret are nearly fought back to back already). I know it'd be hard to justify any future changes to this considering that at this point in the story, devoting time to the pokemon league over prioritizing stopping the antagonists already seems unnatural.

GAMEPLAY

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Just like in the story, E6 had some massive improvements in it's gameplay. After playing E5, I was of the opinion that despite the interesting story, replaying would be painful due to certain design choices. I'm so glad to see that has changed. The Jinx scent is an incredible addition to the game, as it single-handedly trivializes any annoying/long mapping the game might have. The quest log, while not being as descriptive as I might have liked, is still essential to keeping track of the game's numerous side quests. As always, the credit system is a nifty way of incentivizing side quests and I generally like the current implementation.

 

The most welcome change in this update, however, are the changes to battle balance. In E5, some of the gym leaders were absolute monsters (Aderyn), while others were jokes (Aaron, Garrett). I'm happy that the team has found a more consistent difficulty level this version. Another key addition this version was the password system from Reborn. While the system is not as robust as Reborn's, the current selection contains the most significant ones. I'm sure these will be further developed in future versions. Lastly, the game added Gen 8 pokemon. I love having higher pokemon variety, so this addition greatly welcomed.

 

One of my complaints in regards to these, would be the hoverboard. I simply think that it is currently introduced too late into the game, and it's addition would've been much more welcome earlier considering the amount of backtracking some quests require. Regardless, this issue may become less noticeable in the future when there's much more content following it's acquisition. Secondly, the waterscape, while being a huge addition to the dreamscape map-wise, is quite lacking gameplay-wise aside from the brief story content and the couple of quests that take place here. I would love if a future update expanded upon it to justify it's massive size, as currently I don't see much reason for it being so big and lengthy to traverse.

GRAPHICS

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Naturally, there were plenty of graphical improvements in this version. The character sprites have come a long way since the early version of the game, and these have been critical in increasing both my enjoyment and immersion. The sprites are all consistently great, so I don't take any issues there. As always, the custom shinies are awesome, and while I am not the biggest fan of the increased rates, it's not something that would detract from my enjoyment of the game. In addition, the new billboards were cool and added more character to the cities where they appeared. Cellia East looks fantastic and is my favorite map design in the game.

 

My only grievance with the game graphically would be the route designs. While these are not frustrating to traverse (as they were in E5), they tend to share many common elements with each other. This makes each of them less unique and thereby, not all that memorable in my mind. While this is not a huge issue, personally, it makes the world less interesting, and it's one of the reasons that makes Rejuvenation so fun to reminisce and traverse through.

MISCELLANEOUS

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There are a couple final aspects that I want to discuss. Some of the new quests are quite neat, I particularly enjoyed the H-board and Cellia Council quests for a couple of reasons. The first being that I like the branching that occurs within them, giving more agency to the player is definitely something that the game should continue to engage in in the future. Secondly, the inclusion of the Cellia Council is great because it expands upon the world's lore and gives a semblance of a history to Cellia East. I hope the devs engage in additions like these in the future in order to breath more life into the region's individual towns and cities. I also really love the "pieces of" quests, I am particularly fond of puzzles in fan games, so seeing them included in Desolation in any way, shape, or form is a positive for me. I only hope that they eventually lead to either some sort of story significance or cool reward.

 

Lastly, I wanted to discuss the game's implementation of catchable legendaries. It's definitely a great choice for the game to continue to sprinkle in legendaries throughout the span of the game (within reason) instead of making them all post-game like some other fan games tend to do. It simply makes it feels more naturally to me this way. As always, I enjoy the fact that there is some progression the player has to do to encounter them rather than just randomly stumbling upon them randomly. I have only one minor criticism in regards to the current implementation. It feels weird that Articuno is not immediately catchable after receiving the frozen orb, as to me as a player, receiving it indicates that I was given the green light to encounter it. Therefore, I ended up mildly frustrated when I found out I had to wait an undisclosed amount of time for the cavern where it's found to open up. Regardless, it's not something the devs should prioritize, but something I believe should be prevented in future instances to avoid pointless backtracking.

 

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