This was definitely one of the more inventive quests I've played.
I like how you tie your story and location together without throwing either in the player's face. Some designers endlessly ramble on with their dialogue, or find every unnatural way to highlight their "unique" setting, but this avoids both without neglecting either.
The enemy strengths/weaknesses system took a little getting used to, but once I'd tried one of each weapon against one of each enemy, it snapped into place rather quickly. To that extent, this is one of the very few quests where I feel the A+B selection system genuinely works well, along with Legend of Lana DX and TRIFORCE.
I found the difficulty progression to be quite even throughout the quest. Apart from a few random madhouse rooms, it was a steady ramp up that never strayed too far from a consistent and dependable formula. And to be clear, I love a good madhouse every now and then, but only if you're well equipped - 6 "hearts" is pushing it for a few of these areas, especially if there's that stray unfathomable person who chooses the life-to-magic upgrade rather than the magic-to-life upgrade, and who would probably also choose the red potion rather than the heart container in the original game.
(For reference, I played on Difficulty I.)
The designs looked nice and the layout flowed very well - in fact, so well that it should have occurred to me far earlier that all the individual areas were actually part of the same physical map in true metroidvania style. The size of each sector was about right for what it was (though "sector" sounds more like a sci-fi word than a fantasy word), and they each provided good stylistic variety without overstaying their welcome.
I do agree with some comments from NJF and Avataro. Hammer pegs as step switches is counter-intuitive for anybody who's ever pounded a hammer peg, and Zora's fireball shot sounds like a cannon being fired from a warship (which is oddly amusing to me since I used to think the Zoras were submarines when I first played the game). By contrast, the hammer smash sounds like a palm hitting water in a bath tub.
Regardless, it was generally nice to play and fun to explore.
There's always room for improvement.
So here's a few notes and observations I've made while playing, of things that I think could stand to be looked into in one way or another:
- No-monster flags -
This is a big issue in a lot of quests I play, and no less here.
Enemies set to spawn at random places in compact rooms often get stuck in locations they shouldn't, or wander to out-of-reach areas for extended periods of time, so it's important to assess your screens with this in mind and put flag 96 / 97 anywhere you don't want any enemies / ground enemies. I can tell you've already done a bit of this by ground enemies not appearing on unreachable dungeon ledges, but I think a number of screens still need further refinement.
For example, this enemy consistently getting stuck in a bush:
You've got the bush set to function as a secret so that it disappears when the player kills all enemies, meaning you're probably using flag 16 on it. If that's the case, I would suggest a special bush combo with an inherent flag of 16 so that you can place the no monster flag on the main screen, along with any others you may have. Further, you could also remove standard bush->next functionality, if you haven't already.
More commonly, you'll see enemies getting stuck in single-tile spaces like these:
Less commonly but more annoyingly, enemies will appear on short single-tile paths that are necessary to take, and in this case, pop up just when the player is about to step into the warp:
But next, you've got this Pols Voice here:
I realize those things like to jump across all kinds of odd places, but this instance is particularly odd-looking since, at other points in the quest, the player can fall into those slipstream tiles, indicating they're supposed to act like pits for any non-flying thing that may land on them. If you're using something like Mero Pits for those tiles and flag 97 rather than 96 is required by the script, I'd suggest simply making non-pit versions of the slipstream tiles for places like the above where falling into the pit is irrelevant since the player has no access in the first place, then put flag 96 on those.
And finally, screens like this with flying enemies:
Above all else, there were countless screens like that where I spent minutes waiting for flying enemies to come within range. Even holding ~ to speed the game up could take over 20-30 seconds to bring these things within range. This was further compounded by most ranged weapons only firing in a straight line, the boomerang being one of the last items the player can get, and all of them requiring "ammo" of some kind to use. Please guide these things within range with a generous helping of flag 96s.
- Push-puzzle traps -
Sometimes the players can trap themselves in puzzles using pushable objects:
I realize these aren't game-breakers since you start the player with Farore's Wind at no magic cost, and it's true that it doesn't take too long to return to them from the start, but they're still avoidable nuisances, so hopefully it wouldn't be too much hassle to address them.
- Use sensitive warp gates -
Unless this specifically breaks your gameplay at some point, standing on the upper half of a warp tile without being warped looks silly, so change the combo type to sensitive warp so that the tile warps the player no matter what part of it they stand on:
- Check spelling -
s / "decieve" / "deceive":
s / "decendant" / "descendant":
- Transparent "Blacks" -
When classic tiles were imported to the default sets, apparently nobody differentiated between which black colors should be solid and which "black" colors should be transparent, so every black color defaulted to transparent. Avataro already mentioned the pushable rocks, but it's especially true for Outlands Dungeon overheads, and possibly other sets depending what tileset you're using (looks like Instrumentality, which I'm not overly familiar with), so check all your overhead and pushable tiles to be sure they're properly blacked-out. For reference, I use the last color of each palette for consistency's sake, unless it's already dedicated to a specific purpose.
- Misc -
This rooms resets if the player strays too far from the bottom path going to the other side:
I'm guessing the ice block is some kind of monster? And it has the enemy-carries-item flag enabled? In which case, is there any chance you could make it a no-return monster without messing up the player's ability to reach the key?
Then, due to 8-way movement making Link exceptionally fat, there's no way to free these traps while facing upward without getting hit, in which case I simply hammer the bottom blocks and take that hit instead:
Next, this text tells me I can have double defense when down to 6 HP:
...but, what is 6 HP? Did I miss a message telling me how to determine HP numbers? The life gauge only displays orange dots, so is each dot 6 HP, or are they standard heart container equivalents with 16 HP? I assumed each dot was 6 HP, because if they were the usual 16 HP, then 6 HP is one heck of an arbitrary number for double defense to kick in at - not to mention, rendering the item negligible at best.
Speaking of shops, this one displays the introductory story dialogue when I press L to buy an item that I don't have "money" for:
It seems impossible to avoid falling on a spike when picking up the boss key in this room due to the hold-up animation causing temporary loss of control while still being pushed downward:
This stairway is rather lengthy for one where a projectile-shooting enemy spawns directly below it nearly every time:
Because of traditional screen item configurations, having a key hidden on the same screen as a sword that's already been picked up will be counter-intuitive for most players (despite me finding it rather quickly I guess):
And of all the rooms to not enable "enemies always return" in, the one above this room is it:
Thanks to all the cracking floor tiles, I had to go up and back down to get the boss key, which had become inaccessible from the extensively cramped combat, only to have to redo the entire room. I forget if there were even shutters despite doing the room twice, but I wasn't going to risk it to go back up and take a shot of the actual room in question, so you get one the room below it instead. I wasn't aware 4 standard enemies could be a considered a madhouse until I played that room.
Finally, because extended fire trails are aggravating and dramatic boss music playing in empty rooms after the boss is defeated sounds silly, I'd suggest using the Fire Trail Reduction and Enemy Music scripts. For Fire Trails, 356 is my go-to duration - about 6 seconds, rather than the standard 11. And if you do have Enemy Music used elsewhere (I forget if I heard music change at one point), then I'd highly suggest using it in the boss rooms too.
Despite what looks like a flood of complaints, I really did enjoy this. It looked nice, had a good flow, areas were about the "right size" for what they were, provided unique combat scenarios, and the multiple difficulty settings enhance its accessibility and replayability. Pretty sure I'd play this again for the full version when it comes out.