What went well?
The game was very open to a story-line, since there was already an ending to the waves phase (described in the dynamics section). All I had to do was to come up with an intro and two boss-fights (one of which I refactored during the polish theme). This was a lot of fun and I raced through it. (that's why there is so much text in this review (sorry)).
What went wrong?
The thing I heard mostly when hardcore gamers were play-testing my game was that the story lacked a certain emergence. The story-line and the game were too separate components that sometimes met but never truly reinforced one another. Sadly, this was during the ending of the narrative theme and I didn't have enough time to actually change it but for future references (if I continue with this game or in other future games) it's a good tip to let the game and the story fuse together.
During the play-tests with the mini-boss, what became most apparent is that players didn't really know when to attack the beast. Except for running away from the monster, they didn't know it was invulnerable, or that it became vulnerable at some point.
When I removed and later added the healthbar again, this problem was for the biggest part solved. Another thing that most testers said was that the monster was too strong and that the player died too soon. After a lot of tweaking and retesting, I got it mostly right but it is a boss-fight so it has to be a little difficult!
The hero's journey
The ordinary world
The hero, Jur, returns to his family after having fought in a war as a jet fighter. When he sees his wife, Chantal, she is acting weird. After asking what is wrong she starts crying and says that their daughter has been abducted by the witch Lix and that it is her fault because she prayed to her. Before she can explain the situation, the hero starts yelling at her and walks away.
The Call to Adventure
When he turns to face her again, a big vortex appears and a split-second later, Chantal disappears. Desperately, Jur runs after his already disappeared wife but it is too late. She is gone.
Meeting the mentor
Another vortex appears but this time someone comes out of it: the mentor. Hastily, he comes running out and faces the Hero: “Jur, you have to come with me! Lix has taken your daughter and she is using her to complete one of her rituals. Jack, if she completes it, Julia is forever lost! We have to stop her. Now!” He runs back into the vortex and disappears. Without a moments hesitation, Jur follows him into the void.
Crossing the threshold
When the hero arrives in a strange world, the mentor is there with him. He tells the hero that, in order to safe his family, he has to do what he is best in. He has to fly through these wasted lands (on the back of some mythical creature or whatever) and kill the witches minions. Then challenge the witch Lix and kill her. It will not be easy.
After he said this, the mentor disappears again and the game begins.
Tests, Allies and Enemies
These can be found in the dynamics theme. The first boss (mini-boss) is described later in this document and the end-boss is found in the Polish theme.
After the player has defeated the mini-boss, Chantal awakens from her slumber that the demon (mini-boss) has put her in. After he saves her, another cut-scene starts in which the hero and his wife both decide to deal with Lix once and for all.
Two more 'normal' enemy waves are being fought. This time, the hero has to both kill the enemies and protect Chantal (in these final waves, both Chantal and Jur need to stay alive).
After the second wave has been defeated, the player buckles up for the third wave. Only there isn't one. The hero's mentor appears once again. The hero says: “I have found my wife! Where is my daughter?”. The mentor smiles and says: “Your daughter was never here Jur, she is in Limbo”. At this point Chantal screams: “That Font! It is you!”. The mentor's smile broadens and he whispers: “yes, it is me.” With a lot of camera shakes, particle effects, fire and music, the mentor shifts shape and transforms into the witch Lix. She then starts to scream and Chantal falls to the ground. This is where the end-boss fight starts.
Return with the Elixer
When the player defeats Lix (the description of which can be found in Polish), she curses the hero, says she will be back and have revenge, the whole bad guy defeated routine and then she vanishes in an explosion of smoke and insects. Where she used to be, now Julia lies on the floor. She is dazed but breathing. Chantal also wakes up again and a vortex appears. Julia explains the story of how the witch Lix has used her to lure Jur to her lair and that it wasn't her but Jur that the witch needed for her ritual.
They all walk into the vortex, taking them home. Here ends the story.
The dramatic arch
There are two bosses in the game and I will describe the first one to safe the second one for the Polish theme.
When the hero has made it through the normal game, he finds Chantal. She is in a slumber and doesn't say or do anything. Jur runs towards her but suddenly a portal appears in front of him and a voice comes from it. It tells him to leave and in return he will be spared.
Of course, the hero refuses and says that there is nothing in the world that will make him abandon his wife. A giant entity appears in the portal. It says: “How predictable” and breaths fire towards the player. At this point, the cut-scene ends and the game begins.
Business as Usual
The demon flies around and follows the player. It attacks with normal gunfire when the player is far away and breaths fire when the player comes too close. The second ability is that the monster makes dashes at the player alternated with slow but steady following sequences.
The boss cannot be hurt by the player at this point. This is made apparent by the fact that the boss doesn't have a healthbar.
After twenty seconds, Chantal wakes up. This is the moment that the monster is vulnerable. A healthbar appears above him. It still chases the player but now the player can hurt it. The monster will lose 25% after each escalation.
After the monster has lost 25% of it's health, the healthbar disappears again and the monster is no longer vulnerable. It directs itself to Chantal and puts her back into a slumber. The monster grows in speed, aggression and firepower.
Escalation and Mid-point will alternate each other until the beast has 5% of his health left.
When the monster has only 5% health left (after the fourth and final mid-point) it takes a new strategy. It turns to Chantal, saying “You were supposed to love me!” and then plunges itself towards her.
The player now has to kill it quickly because if the monster reaches Chantal, the game is lost. The player needs to hit the monster only once to win this fight.
Chantal is awake now and the monster is defeated. This is the end of the mini-boss.