During basic they drilled us about what it meant to be a soldier of ‘the Core’ and what I was that was expected of us in return for the privilege of service, unflinching loyalty, the ability to execute orders without question and without hesitation, the ideal that the Core was above all other nations and as such we had been graced with prosperity to continue on. I am a sniper with the now fourth squad of the army of the Core, I always wanted to be a sniper, my first memories as a child are of seeing the recruits fall in line at the practice range and with an other worldly precision eliminate any practice target sent to the field. It was then that I knew I wanted to count myself among their ranks, that I would not only be one of these elites but be their best, a sniper without equal in skill or experience and after that day I set out to make that happen… I wish I could say that I live the dream now but I’d only be lying to myself… the truth of what these men did, what I was asked to do… is far darker.
You’ll have to excuse the shorter nature of this piece, it’s my first piece and I have never covered a demo before so it’s kind of exciting! This was the first project that was part of the Likemindedd program that I really got into and approached a Developer about. The demo came via a link to the steam page which you can find in my Likemindedd piece here! The game is being made a team called BURA and is looking for a 2018 release schedule, the demo is free to play so after you’re done here id highly recommend a playthrough of it to see if you liked it as much as I did.
The sort that I got from the demo was pretty informative even if it was only a small slice of what’s going to be going on. The game focuses on the character of Rourke, a sniper with the elite army of an underground nation known only as ‘The Core’. Rourke is however an untested soldier who has never been deployed to the surface world which to his knowledge has been largely ruined by war and strife. After an accident leaves the fourth squad without a sniper right before a major operation Rourke is drafted to the fourth squad to fill in giving him his first chance at combat and a spell in the surface world. Having been led to believe that the Core is working with the Polish national army and eliminating threatening insurgents Rourke travels to the surface and performs his duty with the elite skills expected of a Core sniper, this is until he realises that this mission isn’t what it seems, there aren’t any threats, they aren’t working with the polish army and Rourke now has a lot of spilled blood on his hands… there’s a really powerful moment mid-way through the demo which sees Rourke com efface to face with one of the many ‘Threats’ that he had been tasked with eliminating … a small child who cowers in fear and rightly so (I just murdered his whole village, headshots and all) it’s at this moment that Rourke sees the truth behind the operation as another of his fellow soldiers strides up and ends the child’s life without hesitation and showing no mercy. Rourke must then embark on a perilous path as he chooses to cast away the Core who he has been faithful to for his entire life and find answers as to what is happening and just how deep does the rabbit hole go. Along the way Rourke will be forced to examine the harsh reality of what war is and what it means to fight it and live through not only as a soldier, but as a civilian and a human being.
The art and world for this game is comprised of two very different styles which I want to look at separately, firstly we have character art. Now this art is very finely detailed and actually reminds me a lot of visual novel style art, the kind you would see in games like Nightshade or dream daddy: a daddy dating simulator, the art is very finely done if not a little rough around the edges on some of the sprites but it’s so infrequent in the demo to notice an issue with them that I can’t really say it detracts from the experience. You wont get to look at a whole lot of sprites in the demo as it will mainly focus on Rourke, his spotter and Aidarn who is the medic from squad four and your first party member (your ONLY party member in the demo) who is a cynical guy but shares your distaste for the injustice that’s being served up by the Core. When in combat the art style follows this style closely so enemies tend to get the most detail when you’re going toe to toe with them and unlike the main cast you’ll mainly in the demo only see the two sprites available right now for enemy soldiers who will pretty much look like you do. Secondly there is the world art, this takes a very different style to the character and combat art and shows off the RPG maker foundations of the game although I must admit that BURA have managed to get a lot from the engine here and unlike most RPG maker games I have played the pixel sprites still manage to retain a rather high level of detail to them and even similar looking characters retain their individuality which is always a nice touch to see. The sprite animations are strong too and the demo doesn’t seem to showcase any failings here with a variety of sprites and animations, the environment also manages to remain detailed while keeping the RPG maker style. Water looks good, the only thing I would say looked semi out of placer were the rocks in the later stages of the demo that you have to push around but other than that the game looks aesthetically pleasing.
Because the game is made with RPG maker it automatically restricts the style of play the game has so Long Gone Days has two core gameplay styles. It has your standard RPG maker, well, RPG, gameplay and it has combat. For the most part, you’ll be pushing your sprite along in a very SNES reminiscent way through the world and combat will mainly be done in two phases, you’ll have the battles which are similar to games like final fantasy in which you select the enemy you want to attack and it does damage but the game sets itself apart by allowing you to strike various areas of the body for various effects. For example, a shot to the chest will have a low evade chance and a high hit chance while a headshot will have a high evade chance and a low hit chance but if it does hit it will cause substantial damage to the enemy. So there is a degree of strategy in your battles and if you chose to play it safe or risk it to end the battle faster. In the world you can interact with objects and people and complete puzzles but one of the main downsides for me was that there isn’t any mouse support in the demo and I really hope that gets fixed in the final product because I feel the sniper sections and menus would work far better with mouse support as an addition!
In summary, I feel this piece has been kind of short and it bothers me but on the flip side I only played a demo, a brief hour of a game that I want to write about if the full product ever materialises so I guess that allows for a shorter piece, or maybe I just suck at writing about demos? Who knows… but in terms of the demo its good, it does a great job of showcasing the game in terms of world, story, mechanics and art style and it as a demo sold me on the final project meaning I probably will spend money on this game when it comes out >__> or if the dev is extra nice I can maybe get a review copy and have it be even better! Nah I’m kidding I’ll probably spend money on the game on steam. If you’re interested in the technical stuff about the game or would like to poke around the press kit screens and videos for the game I have left a link here for you to do so. It’s a project that I want to know more about, I grew up Army myself and the theme of anti-war stories told through soldiers has always been something that appealed to me. The most convincing anti-war messages I was ever taught came from my old man who was a 17 year veteran (R.E.M.E). I feel I want to show him this demo and the game, have him play it. See what he thinks of it? Would sure as hell make for a good piece I think … but as a last note I feel that people should play this demo because message and meaning aside it’s a fun hour to spend with what is clearly a piece of work that’s had a lot of love and attention put into it.