Meant as a demonstration game for RPG Maker VX Ace, Crysalis is a very simple, and often frustrating game. Taken on the merits of a demonstration, it certainly showcases some of the bare-bones features VX Ace boasts, but through a combination of poor English and bad design, it ultimately falls flat on its face in a way not even worth a laugh.
Foremost, almost all character graphics in the game were created using a new feature built into RMVXa, the character generator. Much like many you could find online, you can pick from a list of various parts for various parts of the face and body, and generate what could be a unique avatar character. While its flaws would be better explained in a review dedicated to RMVXa itself, it is in short a generator ranging from ‘okay’ to ‘unholy abomination against man’. Unfortunately, Crysalis exploits this without batting an eye in either direction. Moreover, due to the use of at least one default facial portrait, the difference in avatar quality stutters, especially considering this avatar’s use by a blacksmith used to upgrade exactly one of the character’s weapons.
A strong point in Crysalis is the unique mechanics used for each character available. The main character, Mio, is one of the more simple designs, using his unique bracelet ‘weapon’ to draw Mana from the air to restore and empower him. A friend of his can alter her sword to represent one of the eight structure elements, thereby reassigning the skills available to her depending on the element in use. Another character uses various materials picked up through the game to create various explosives with a number of effects, and the final character can choose between various animal ‘stances’ to alter her statistics in a number of ways.
The problems with Crysalis are numerous, however. The story is very preachy and one-dimensional, attempting to force a moral onto the player toward the end of the game without any actual structure to it, or its characters. To summarize, essentially Mana once let mankind prosper, and then suddenly it stops. You investigate, and quickly resolve the problem. Supposedly, despite there being no evidence to this fact at all, mankind was ‘abusing’ this magic power. However, through exploring the game, there’s absolutely no reason to so much as think this way in the slightest. At no point do we see anyone abuse this magic, nor any reason to even care. Villages are all very basic, uneventful medieval towns, ranging from a Kingdom to a Farming village, and supposedly these exact two human towns on the planet are the very sources of abusing this magical source. Yes, apparently using the Mana, which is represented as simple water, to, I guess, make crops grow so mankind can survive, is ‘abusing’ it, and as a result mankind needs to be purged unless they apologize for… Existing?
To add to this, there are no ACTUAL characters. There are people throwing around sentences suffixed by question marks and lopsided attempts at emotion with the character generator, but these beings have no purpose. There’s no reason why the fate of mankind is up to this select four, and often times what little they do comes across as annoying and forced. The Animist character, whose name has a bloody apostrophe in it, is a failed attempt at conveying an alternate race to Humans in this world, ultimately coming across as a generic catgirl archetype with little purpose beyond being annoying. She’s one of those… “wise” characters, mixed with “naive” and “cutesy”. It’s as repulsive as it sounds.
Finally, while I said above these characters - or lack-thereof - were unique, there is very little for their unique abilities to be applied. Character stats ultimately grow too quickly compared to the rate of combat, and if you were to play this game you’d find yourself pressing the confirm key more times than your arrow keys, boring yourself to sleep. Moreover, the aforementioned Mana represents itself as a very low number with a limited supply of restoratives, hampering any attempt at mixing up your play style if you even wanted to.
~ CHALLENGE ~ (F )
There is no challenge to this. Battles consist of pressing the enter key repeatedly until your health gets low, then popping a potion to undo the enemy’s work. Bosses pose little challenge as well, and are the only time you may find yourself using more than just the attack command. Still, however, they go down before any semblance of harm comes to your characters. The number of encounters comes across as more tedious than anything, and you’ll find your level rising beyond what enemies can handle simply by exploring the game casually.
~ CONTEXT ~ (F )
There is no story or reason to care here. What little message the game attempts to convey is ultimately snuffed out by not only the lack of character development, but the lack of explorative lore in the slightest. Hidden items are marked by brightly shining stars on the map, and any unmarked structure cannot be examined. It is boring and uneventful.
~ GRATIFICATION ~ (F )
As above, there is no gratification in progressing. All hidden items are clearly shown on the map, and many seemingly outstanding items are almost never used. You won’t find yourself ever patting yourself on the back, since the game never stops doing that for you.
~ CONCLUSION ~
This is a terrible showcase of RMVXa’s capabilities. Yes, it does deliver on some mechanical variety, and it might entice one or two people to use this RPG Maker over others (if they didn’t already decide this by LOOKING at the thing). The problem is that, if this is to be taken as a ‘guideline’ to what can be done with the Maker, many people will automatically assume this kind of game is acceptable, when it clearly isn’t.
It takes a lot of work to create a good RPG. Crysalis is not one of them.