The Reconstruction Part 3 – “Salvation For All” (Guest Review)

Last time, the long intro cutscene finally ended.


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And now, actual gameplay! This is adventure mode, the meat of the game. You walk around, fight stuff, and solve puzzles, just like in any other RPG.

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The game also chooses this moment to dump absolutely everything on you at once. This is definitely a poor design choice – no one likes to wade through a bazillion text boxes of tutorial information just as they finally start the first mission. Most of the stuff is already explained in the manual and the game’s information page on the web anyway. It does have to be brought up some time, I suppose, since the battle system is pretty complicated, but it could definitely have been worked in more gradually. Instead of going through them all now, I’ll comment on gameplay mechanics as they come up.

Every player character also has a giant status page in the menu cluttered with information. I’ll show the ones for our current party members, but there’s no need to go into detail right now.

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Captain S is probably our strongest combatant here. He’s very offense-focused, but he has good defenses too.

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Vasra is our healer (and only female party member, surprise surprise), though she’s good at inflicting a specific kind of damage that the captain can’t. She is also wearing a ridiculous outfit for some reason.

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This is the only place Clapian’s full name is mentioned in the prologue. In battle, he is a pathetic, useless little thing, as can be reasonably expected. He can be a decent tank if you use him right, but his offensive capability is practically nil.

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You need to actually talk to your party members and absorb them before they’ll be counted as part of the same combat group. I think the idea of this is so you can form multiple parties that can split up to cover more ground, but I never bother with that mechanic.

There are things you can examine here, but they just produce pretty generic descriptions.

Let’s go downstairs.

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There’s some funny flavor text here, as well as an important item:

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It smells metallic. Let’s take some.

This gets me some “black powder”, so they totally have gunpowder but still fight with melee weapons. I guess stable hand cannons haven’t become widespread yet.

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I can’t go any farther, so I head back to the deck. This time, I’ll go right.

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…I need to get better at screencapping. That’s supposed to be a “!” bubble, and the armored guard gets one too.

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Battle time! As you can see, there’s a lot going on. The basic idea is that, instead of standard HP and MP counters, every character has “Body”, “Mind”, and “Soul” meters. Each meter has an attack and defense stat that corresponds to it (though skills often have attack stats that don’t match up with the type of damage they inflict, which makes things kind of complicated). All three of them act as HP and MP simultaneously – if any of them reach 0, the character is defeated, and skills can draw from any meter for fuel. A significant part of the strategy involves figuring out which meter an enemy has the poorest defenses on, and then attacking them with that type of damage exclusively. This can lead to some awkwardness where there’s no point in attacking a specific health meter because you’re already focused on another one, a problem compounded by the fact that almost all playable characters have at least one damage type they can never inflict.

There’s also other stuff like elemental rock-paper-scissors and weapon/armor triangles and those weird bar things at the top of the screen and so on. You can probably imagine why there was that “LONG” warning next to “battle basics”. Those things don’t really matter right now, though – you can easily brute-force your way through these easy enemies without much trouble.

Space is a factor, too, although there’s only one dimension of movement (characters can’t move vertically, and all abilities have a range that spans the entire vertical length of the battlefield). I personally rather like it. Many JRPGs have justly been criticized for not having any spacial element, a mechanic that tends to produce a great deal of tactical depth. However, my experience with some tactical RPGs (hello Final Fantasy Tactics) has made me a little traumatized when it comes to spacial mechanics introducing too much tactical depth, so simplified spacial mechanics are a good compromise for me.

The character closest to the enemies will almost always be the only one targeted by enemies. This makes it fairly easy to game the system by putting your meat shields in front and letting everyone else hide in the back, but the body/mind/soul system does make an attempt at compensating for that. Characters usually have a crippling flaw in one aspect, so no one can be a perfectly consistent meat shield. (For instance, Clapian here is a tank in terms of body stats, but if an enemy starts gunning for his soul, he can get in pretty hot water.)

Things are fairly simple here. Captain S can carry most of the battle on his own – both enemies inflict body damage, which he can tank, and his regular attack is super-effective against the crewman. The guardsman resists his swords, but his magic makes short work of them. Vasra can also help out – she inflicts mind damage, which they have poor defenses against. Clapian spends the battle being useless.

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Oh no, there’s nothing here! That means we brutally murdered “subdued” those poor innocent people for nothing! How sad.

Interestingly, it’s actually possible to make it through the entire mission without fighting any battles – in fact, it’s the requirement for the “Peaceful Approach” objective.

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I really enjoy being able to actually avoid preexisting encounters. In lots of RPGs, I have this weird obsession with trying to inch my way around enemies in the hope that maybe I can avoid them that way – but of course they always notice you just when you reach the exit. But here, you can actually do that! Look:

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I’m impressed by the novelty, even if in this case I think the cramped quarters should make the group pretty noticeable.

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At the prow of the ship, there’s someone who’s actually willing to talk to me instead of leaping into battle:

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Navigator: “Can ya do an old man a favor, Krys? I need you to go below deck for me. Take this to the fellows down below, Krys. They’ve been expecting it for some time now!

I acquire an “ornate telescope”.

Navigator: “You always were my favorite, Krys. My favorite of all.”

…Okay then. Is this is one of the developer’s in-jokes or something…? It doesn’t make much sense to me.

There are stairs here, so I head down…

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…and down again.

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The bottom deck is crawling with guards, but…

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…this will allow me to bypass them. Somehow nobody notices the explosion this produces.

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Oh hey, haven’t we seen these guys before?

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Crewman Todd: “Hang on, what’s that you got there?”
Delivered [an ornate telescope] to Murphy.
Crewman Todd: “Is that…! It’s finished, he finished it, I can’t believe it! Oh, man.”
Crewman Murphy: “Yep, this is the one. Let’s go up top onto the deck and try it out.”
Crewman Todd: “What a nice gift, I hope they gimme something good when I retire.”

This completes the objective “Special Delivery”, and gets them to move out of our way. With that, we’re done with the gameplay section here; next update is more cutscenes.

PREVIOUSNEXT

9 Comments

  1. ludeshka says:
    Aaaah, The Reconstruction!!

    I wish you would say a bit more about what you think about the game, because right now, it seems like you’re mostly showing exactly what the game is like, and I’ve played it already, and would like to hear more of your opinion about it.

    I love a lot of things about this game, mostly the main character who hasn’t been introduced yet (Dehl!!!!!)
    But, this game is also a bit …dissapointing when it comes to female characters. (Maybe it was just me, but I do think it’s uneven, how awesome some male characters are, and how blah most female characters are)
    (If you ask me, though, the absolutely bestest characters are all the lizards, so maybe the writer just doesn’t like writing humans)

    Hm, I’ll be watching to see what you think when you play more.

    1. Mysterious Guest Reviewer says:
      !!! OMG someone actually commented! And it’s a fellow Reconstruction fan! Hi! :D

      I wish you would say a bit more about what you think about the game, because right now, it seems like you’re mostly showing exactly what the game is like, and I’ve played it already, and would like to hear more of your opinion about it.

      Rest assured I will be talking more about my opinions and critiques as time goes on. Unfortunately I have to be pretty quiet at the moment to uphold my spoiler-light policy (plus the fact that the story is pretty back-heavy anyway), but later on I will be more talkative.

      I love a lot of things about this game, mostly the main character who hasn’t been introduced yet (Dehl!!!!!)

      Yes, Dehl is awesome! Unfortunately I won’t be able to talk about him much at all until the very end because spoilers.

      But, this game is also a bit …dissapointing when it comes to female characters.

      Oh yes indeed… Going through the script with a fine-toothed comb makes it even worse. There’s a lot of stuff I didn’t notice on my first playthrough that makes me more than a little disturbed now that I can see it more clearly. At least I Miss the Sunrise is a lot better on that front (and How Far has a female protagonist so that’s probably going to be pretty good too).

      Do you have any suggestions on how I should present the LP, by the way? It’s formatted pretty differently than the other videogame LPs on this site (lots of screenshots and text dumps) and I’m wondering if it can be improved at all. Am I using too many screenshots? Too few? Should I format dialogue differently? I worry about these things. ;_;

      1. illhousen says:
        Hi. I’ve read your LP, but didn’t comment so far. I hope you don’t mind that I intrude in this discussion, but you’ve made a good opening for me:

        “Do you have any suggestions on how I should present the LP, by the way? It’s formatted pretty differently than the other videogame LPs on this site (lots of screenshots and text dumps) and I’m wondering if it can be improved at all. Am I using too many screenshots? Too few? Should I format dialogue differently? I worry about these things.”

        I think, as ludeshka said, that you stick too closely to what the game is actually like at a cost of your own commentary. If I wanted to experience the game, I would just play it. Or find a video if there is one.

        Personally, I think you should just summarize what’s going on and how the game works using screencaps to highlight the more important moments: new information like stats-screen, battle map and such; particularly cool designs; interesting mechanics like the ability to avoid random encounters (by the way, do you get experience points for them? The main problem with avoiding fights in RPGs is that you will be underleveled for boss fights which usually can’t be avoided) and so on.

        Hope it’s helpful, and good luck with your LP.

        1. actonthat says:
          [you stick too closely to what the game is actually like at a cost of
          your own commentary. If I wanted to experience the game, I would just
          play it. Or find a video if there is one.]

          Thirding this.

        2. Guest Reviewer says:
          I think, as ludeshka said, that you stick too closely to what the game is actually like at a cost of your own commentary. If I wanted to experience the game, I would just play it. Or find a video if there is one.

          Hm, alright. My thinking is that since most people here are unfamiliar with the game, I should be providing more context. I often feel lost with Farla’s reviews because she summarizes a bit too much. There’s also the fact that I can’t do a running commentary in the first place, so I’m a bit limited in that regard. I figured I wouldn’t have enough to say in the first place and would need text dumps to carry the let’s play.

          On the other hand, Act summarizes a lot in F/SN and I have little trouble following that, so a happy medium should theoretically exist. I’ll see if I can streamline things more in the future. This is my first let’s play so I’m still figuring out how to do things. Thanks for the advice and I hope you enjoy it!

          1. ludeshka says:
            Really, really, we don’t care about spoilers!
            I LIKE not having to read things like the books poor Farla must suffer through sometimes.

            And if i want to be wowed into reading/watching something, it’s always so much cuter when it’s through “OH MY GOD GUYS, YOU HAVE TO UNDERSTAND, AJHAGHKAGAKH!” ‘yknow, like when Mark reads or watches something and is always so unprepared.

            Your opinion is the most important thing. I don’t want facts! I WANT OPINIONS! OPINIONS ON SPIDERMAN!!

            1. Guest Reviewer says:
              Really, really, we don’t care about spoilers! […] And if i want to be wowed into reading/watching something, it’s always so much cuter when it’s through “OH MY GOD GUYS, YOU HAVE TO UNDERSTAND, AJHAGHKAGAKH!”

              Uh. Hm. Maybe this was a bad idea then. When that happens, I usually just feel confused, and if you already know the big plot twists then wouldn’t that make you less interested since the surprise is lost? Like, I would say there are a few major plot twists that, while interesting in their own right, hinge on being a surprise with a shocking reveal. It could be more interesting to analyze all the foreshadowing that leads up to it though? Maybe?

              Hm. Would you prefer I just do a big overall post like I usually do, maybe adding a few scenes I feel are noteworthy?

              I LIKE not having to read things like the books poor Farla must suffer through sometimes.

              but i don’t think it’s suffering ;_;

              …Well, most of it anyway. I think it’s a good example of something that has both good and bad parts, and I feel like you have to experience it as a whole to appreciate both. Or maybe not. I don’t know. Ehh.

              This is complicated.

              Reply
              1. actonthat says:
                I think you’re confusing the idea of spoilers with… I’m not sure the word I’m looking for. Comprehension, ie, comprehensive information? I think the question you should ask youself before revealing info is, “Do I think this will negatively impact the reader’s ability to appreciate a discussion of this scene in isolation?” You have to take each scene as its own story while also remembering it’s part of a whole and may need other scenes to make sense.

                I can’t speak as well as your sister can as to what it’s like to write an in-depth LP of something you’ve experienced before, as she does everything that way and I almost never do, but I think about it this way: Every piece of information I am given by a text is my responsibility to filter and communicate; I try to take large hunks of the game and say to myself, “Okay, now how I would I explain this to someone who has never encountered it before (ie, Boyfriend) in my own words without boring them to death?” If I can’t figure out how to, I consider the scene confusing and parse it to the best of my ability. If I can, I move on to commentary: do I have any emotions toward this scene? If not, I move on to the next scene. If so, I write them down. The next question is, “What do I think my reasons are, analytically, for these emotions?” Finally, I ask, “How do these reasons and emotions affect the quality of the story?” I’ll quote text when I feel rewording it either detracts from it or I just can’t come up with any better way to say it.

                It takes some practice to be able to determine what scenes are worth picking apart and which details are vital. Taking away my way, way too extensive personal experience, my general method regarding figuring out if something is significant is this:

                – I do a preliminary readthrough of the material at my normal speed. After, I formulate general thoughts to myself.

                – I do a second readthrough, making notes at points I have strong feelings about or details I think are important.

                – I do a third readthrough and make notes again. Anything that appears in my notes twice is worth bringing up.

                I also reread things several times over the course of a week or more to make sure I still feel the way I did about those things when I wrote them. Sometimes I’m stupider or more emotional than others and end up taking out or adding huge chunks of analyses way after I’ve actually written something.

                Chapter 10 of FIOS may be kind of interesting in this way because I did it 100% stream-of-consciousness because fuck that book, seriously, I’m not rereading that shit.

                Sorry, I’ve droned on. As I said, Farla probably has better advice to revisiting something than I ever could. Feel free to shoot me an email if you want to hear me ramble on more about my stupid hobbies.

              2. Guest Reviewer says:
                Hm, alright. I’ll keep that in mind. More refinement, then? You review stuff you’ve never read as a whole before, though — in fact, I think the only series on this site that wasn’t done blind was Pokemon Blue (and maybe Battle Royale since Farla read the manga). Maybe knowledge of the larger picture will help me see details that I would have otherwise missed, though.

                I’ve made some last-minute changes to part 4 that hopefully incorporate some of your suggestions, but it’ll still be pretty rough. I might take a break for a few days to change my approach and refine my next few posts.

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