Here is my review for this quest. Your skills are certainly improving, Kivitoe! Keep at it.
I want to start out the gameplay section by talking about the overworld first; then, I will talk about the dungeons.
The gameplay in the overworld is, well, boring, to put it simply. There's simply not much to do in the overworld other than comb across it in search of new dungeons. Essentially what's happening is that instead of being built around exploration and secret-finding, the overworld seems more like a padding for the quest to increase its length. Throughout the overworld, the lack of secrets, shops, caves, etc. is truly ridiculous. Some screens don't even have enemies, either. It really hurts how much I can enjoy exploring the overworld as there's nothing to do at all.
Speaking of padding to increase the quest's length, the overworld definitely felt way too large for its own good. The fact that it's devoid of secrets only further reinforces the feeling that it was just too big. If you aren't going to do anything with the overworld other than to get from one dungeon to the other, there's no point in making it so gigantic, in my opinion.
Moving on, the dungeons were better in terms of gameplay than the overworld was. The dungeons had plenty of secrets but even so, there is a problem: the secrets are much too easy to find. On the surface, it may seem as if the Lens of Truth are at fault since they given to you near the beginning of the quest which makes it way too easy to find secret walk-through doors. However, if you delve deeper you notice that the walk-through doors are often placed in the most obvious locations, if you look at the map. This defeats the entire purpose of using those types of doors in the first place as they provide no real challenge for the player.
Other than that, I felt like the dungeons were designed relatively okay. The most well-designed dungeon for me was the last dungeon and I wish all of the dungeons were as equally well-designed. The last dungeon had a few passageways which was quite a change from the insipid linear style of the rest of the dungeons, for one.
Furthermore, let's talk about bugs. Specifically, how this quest has a lot of them. I'm not gonna bother listing them at all since there were too many for me to remember all of them. While most of them are not that major, the sheer number of them makes players question whether this quest was tested rigorously. When you beta-test a quest, you have to play the game with the intent of trying to intentionally break it. This helps in finding these small bugs. The quest also had a few major bugs, including an almost potentially quest breaking bug, one that could've been avoided easily if more attention was used.
Finally, the difficulty balancing in this quest was very well done, actually. Never did I feel as though the game was too difficult nor too easy, which is good. While the quick jump to the red ring and to the master(?) sword was a bit odd, it still worked in the end because the enemies thereafter were much tougher to compensate. The bosses were very fair as well, in my opinion. Great job on balancing the quest to be fair to almost all players.
In summary of gameplay, I felt like most of the quest was somewhat boring. The overworlds had a marked lack of secrets which made exploration a chore rather than something that's genuinely fun. The dungeons, while somewhat well-designed, were a bit too linear, especially towards the beginning. It felt like the same pattern was being repeated: "Oh look, a locked door. Find the key. Open door. Repeat." That's something you generally want to avoid. Try adding more passageways to increase the spontaneity of the dungeons. Nonlinearity tends to work better.
Design Attention: 11/35
This quest suffers severely from screen design problems. While there were certainly some screens that looked great, particularly in the dungeons, the quest still has too many bland screens that lower its the overall quality. The main problem here is the lack of detail. Many screens in the overworld, especially the ocean/water areas, are completely devoid of anything but the one tile that defines the area. Using the ocean area as an example again, it would have been nice to see something different than just water, water, and more water. Adding some rocks in random places, or something of that sort, would definitely help out. The ocean areas aren't the only places that need work, though. There's a lot of room to improve detailing all over the overworld. Don't just fill screens with all grass or all water; try to add other things like random trees and rocks. I know that you are using the classic tileset but the tileset does provide enough materials to do what I have suggested.
The dungeons screens, on the other hand, are looking very nice. There are some screens that are rather bland because they literally have nothing in them at all, but most screens are well-designed and look great. The only complaint I really have with dungeons in particular is that the color scheme chosen doesn't always match the descriptor for the dungeon.
As a final point, this quest doesn't contain any screen design bugs (getting stuck in corners, for example) as far as I'm concerned, so great job with that. The only thing I really caught is simply enemies getting stuck in strange locations, which is typical of quests since finding these instances can be difficult.
There's nothing really impressive about the story; it's just a typical save Zelda from Ganon quest. While I appreciated the story explanations at the beginning and end of the quest it would have been much better if the story was entwined in the quest itself, through cutscenes and more text, for example. For a quest meant to be "story driven", I felt as if the story was almost completely absent throughout the entirety of the quest.
In my opinion, the music in the quest was very uninspired because most of the themes used are songs that have been heard many times before. Additionally, the music in some areas (especially Level 2) did not match the atmosphere and theme of the area the player was in and some of the music was also very repetitive in nature, which made it annoying to listen to after a while. Music can go a long way in enriching the experience; unfortunately, this quest's music did the opposite.
In the end, gameplay problems, uninspired story and music, and lackluster screen design present throughout the quest mar it's ability to provide a great questing experience. More bug testing and some more focus on detailing and making things original would have helped make an otherwise subpar quest much better.
- Some well-designed screens
- Level 5 was good
- Great difficulty balancing
- Vacant story
- Uninspired music
- Generally bland screen design
- Gameplay breaking bug
- Small bugs scattered throughout
- Lack of overworld secrets
- Sometimes boring gameplay
Database Rating: 2/5
Thank you for reading the review. I'm looking forward to future quests from you, Kivitoe!