Thursday, August 24, 2023

Demo Play Thursday - Oaken on PS4

This week's Demo is Oaken, by Laki Studios, on PS4. This game came out last yera on PC and this July it was brought to the PlayStation and Microsoft platforms as well as the Switch. i was interested in this game due to it's art style and i wondered how it would play. But after trying it, i don't think this is a great demo nor am i interested in the game any more.

There are positives to take away from the demo. it does look great and it's an art style that cohesive throughout the experience. Some of the gameplay mechanics on the hex grid are also very interesting. But this demo makes it almost bluntly clear that this is not an easy game.

The tutorial section at the start is very good. there are videos showing things, there is a lot of help, and it was very welcoming. Until i started to realise that the tutorial is lacking important information regarding the consequences of your decisions. This became very annoying because of how well the tutorial seemed to be doing. an example of this is when i leveled up i was given a choice of 3 abilities. but then it never explained what they did. when it came to leveling up my "cards", i was shown how to do it but there was no information about what happens when i do. If the tutorial is going to be so hands-on, it needs to commit to it all the way and maybe more as this is a demo for the game. it could offer tips on situations you find yourself in, rather than just warning about hazards and enemies. after playing this demo i came away still not fully understanding a few key things about the game. 

It was near the end of the tutorial when i started to realize this is a hard game as the difficulty ramps up quickly, as do the situtations the level kept putting myself in. once it was finished i was left with a choice, Journey or Relaxed. the game clearly details the Relaxed mode but had no information about Journey other than what we were taught in the tutorial about fatigue. i think i misunderstood Journey as i was expecting a more story focused game mode. The difficult ramps up even quicker and it has permadeath and i had 2 chances before game over.

And that's how this video ends, with a hard Game Over. i'm not sure how or why i kept dyeing. nor could i see a way to win. i came away from the demo feeling like the tutorial wasn't finished, the games difficulty was unbalanced, and so much of the game was left unexplained. i ended the video on the screen with an apparent choice between The Lady, a character i defeated, and Aya, the character i was playing as and assumed to be the main protagonist. i never felt like i understood what The Lady brought to the game, was i meant to play as her, use her, take her abilities? Ultimately, this demo helped me realise that the game isn't for me and that it may have some issues.