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Played in 2023
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It's incredibly basic mechanically and a little too long, even with its already short run time but overall Planet of Lana does just enough to overcome some of those flaws.
The 2.5 puzzle platform inspirations are very obvious throughout Planet of Lana. Inside and Oddworld are definitely felt throughout, especially as the game's story progresses. It's not reinventing the wheel when it comes to what a 2.5 puzzle platformer can do but everything for the most part ranges from serviceable to really good. There is nothing inherently bad about Planet of Lana.
The biggest drawback to this game though is the incredibly basic puzzles and mechanics. I never really found myself struggling to get past the puzzles.
The overall look and sound of the game, for the most part, is fine. Nothing too mind blowing, though there are later parts of the game that do a good job of playing with the scope of your environment.
Some of the set pieces are pretty as well, the end game moments in particular are beautiful in the ramp up.
You won't be traveling alone though as you have an adorable sidekick to help you on your journey and assist you in moving forward.
Miu is very helpful in these levels and often time your friend's safety leads to some of the more interesting puzzles. Your death or the death of Miu will lead to resetting the stage and while there were times I cut it too close and died after Miu getting seen at the last second, it never really felt cheap or punishing. It oftentimes was because I just wasn't patient enough.
Overall, the game is pretty short and has some nice moments. It's charming and runs without any major issues. The controls are a little too tight but that's really it from an overall technical 'feel' standpoint. If you enjoy 2.5 puzzle platformers, this one is pretty good but just be prepared for a game feel you're fairly familiar with.
Final Fantasy XVI is a very conflicting game for me. As a massive fan of the Final Fantasy franchise, a lot of the decisions when it comes to the direction of this franchise does not interest me all that much. Final Fantasy XVI features a lot of the extremes of those negatives for me. Especially in the combat department.
Final Fantasy 7 Remake, to me, is this action based combat style at its best. Final Fantasy 16 is this style at its worst.
Combat is so not fun. It's so tedious with battles oftentimes feels way too dragged out. You do get some powers that help make things move a bit quicker, with a lot of these powers having their own pros and cons for enemies.
The biggest problem with these powers though is your limitations in equipping them. You're only able to equip three at a time. Unfortunately, I found myself oftentimes being in a big boss battle or sub boss battle where one of my powers was just not the best for the enemies' patterns. This is a problem because during combat you aren't able to swap these out with others. It just feels like a silly restriction that would free up combat and make experimenting with combos and power up sets a lot easier.
The end result for me was just a ridiculous amount of button mashing and controller stress testing. Even when you're leveling up, this is a constant feeling and issue. Near the end I was having less issues with this but it wasn't enough.
The action heavy focus and negative shift compared to the previous attempts at this just make the game overall feel like an RPG in name only.
The game story wise though is still very much Final Fantasy with a whole bunch of crystal talk and massive summons.
The game is gorgeous which helps with some of the normal Final Fantasy summons. The scale and scope may be the biggest its ever been here in Final Fantasy with action moments consistently being way over the top. The final boss in particular is one of the most insane battles I've maybe ever had given some of the cutscenes and action moments.
The soundtrack does a lot of the heavy lifting in this as well. The music in Final Fantasy 16 is some of the best the series has ever had. It adds so much and fits so perfectly with the world and visual style.
The story is pretty good. It feels convoluted at times and character development is very hit or miss. Thanks to some great VO performances, Starr being one of them, the overall game does enough for me to be pretty pleased and make up for some of the story and character issues.
The world map and setting in general are also not good. The setup and functionality of the world map just aren't very good and the towns and locations aren't all that interesting.
The highs are really high but the lows are also pretty low. It makes for a frustrating at times experience but the end game stuff was enough to get it up to a 3.5. Unfortunately, combat being what it is though, that is enough to hold it back from anything higher than that. It's a head scratching end result.
I was a pretty big fan of Echo Generation, a game from the same devs as Ravenlok. I had no clue they were making a new game but one look at this game and it was instantly obvious.
Cococucumber, the devs in question, have a style that I think is gorgeous and Ravenlok is no different. A very pixel heavy look but there's something about this specific look that I really like that's different and hard to describe.
Ravenlok's Alice In Wonderland inspired story and setting lends itself to this style even further. There are some nice looking areas in this world.
Unfortunately, the similarities between Ravenlok and Echo Generation end there, as the differences between these two are not in Ravenlok's favor.
Ravenlok is an action based hack and slash style game. Gone are the RPG elements and the replacement doesn't feel as interesting or original. You have your standard sword attack, shield block, dodge, and a variety of special attacks.
You get many of these special attacks relatively quickly which is nice as it provides a good variety for combat. It's nice mainly because the core mechanics of combat are very dull.
The special attacks don't add much from a visual standpoint unfortunately, but they did help speed up combat sections and help thwart large groups.
You also have potions to heal and I never really found myself running low on these, so the game feels a bit more arcadey at low difficulty. This isn't inherently bad, it just makes the combat feel a bit dull and repetitive, even with the four special attacks thrown your way.
Bombs are another item you'll be able to purchase and find, another item that does nice damage and helps speed the combat process up, especially against bosses.
The camera in these combat situations is easily the worst part of this though. The camera is very limited in what it allows you to do. You can move the camera left or right but can't go 360 degrees. Because of that, and because of how combat stages are laid out, I would constantly find myself in situations where I wasn't able to track the boss because he would be below me or too far to the left or right. Since you could only essentially tilt the camera to the left and right, there are so many blind spots and positions that just make the combat more annoying.
The story is nothing that original either since the game takes most of its inspiration from Alice in Wonderland. Some of the takes on these characters though is pretty interesting.
The game is a pretty short experience though, a full completion run for me taking under 10 hours. So even the negatives aren't all that bad as the game overall is pretty enjoyable. Just feels like a bit of a step down from their previous release, which is a bit of a disappointment. Worth giving a shot if a trailer interests you (it's currently on Game Pass as of this review) but if RPG combat isn't a big turn off, Echo Generation is probably a better choice.