Today's demos: Mutant Mudds on the 3DS and Dragon's Dogma on PS3.
A very straightforward platformer with the ability to jump between various planes. The foreground plane feels way too close, the background plane way too distant. I assume in the actual game you spend most of your time in the middle.
Gameplay involves collecting doodads and shooting mud monsters. The monsters don't seem to be much more threatening than Goombas and the collectibles are arranged in the "stick around an area jumping up and down for a while" manner rather than the less numerous but more fun manner of the coins in old Mario games and the rings in old Sonics. You move slowly, and the jumping feels weird. You can also hover for a little while to cross gaps. Everything's perfectly responsive, but this game doesn't really seem to bring anything fresh to the table.
The visual style is retro, faux-NES. This works fine in plenty of games, but it's not particularly exciting here. Maybe I'm getting burned out on it. The enemies are cutesy but not particularly inventive. Overall, this game feels more like a 90's Shareware title than a modern indie game.
First thought: This interface really reminds me of Dark/Demon's Souls. I guess that's part of the point of this game, and I'm not complaining, I love the Souls games and I'll happily play something that emulates their style
successfully. Second thought: This is a really nice character editing program, even if "Stance: Ladylike to Macho" is a rather bizarre slider to have, but at least it applies to either gender. You have to enter a normal name and a name to be displayed to users with parental controls on. One of the defaults there is "M. Bison." I love this.
The controls are decent enough but somehow there's no roll/dodge button, which seems strange. As far as I can tell you can't lock on to enemies, either. You companions are ridiculously chatty in battle, and their voices are fairly bad. On top of that, the subtitles for their speech is right in the middle of the left side of the screen, and it covers up a lot of the action. Being a modern sword and sorcery game, everyone yells "ser" and "magick" a lot.
The demo consists of two missions. The first one, for some reason, does not allow you to use the characters you built. You fight through a small area full of goblins until you reach a chimera in the first one, and wander a plain until you encounter a gryphon in the second. The gryphon fight is fun, grappling onto it and attacking while it flies is pretty exciting. The battles against minor enemies aren't too interesting.
Overall, I had fun, but it's no Souls. The atmosphere is too lively, with monsters and allies never shutting up for a second, so you don't get a chance to soak in any of the ambiance. I think it might be better if you could play through the game solo, because I'm really not digging the CPU buddies. I don't need someone yelling FLAME IS ITS WEAKNESS four times in a row. The world and the monsters look very nice, but the sound is too overbearing for its own good.
From the demo, Dragon's Dogma seems like a decent game that tries to bring the appeal of the Souls games to a more mainstream audience. Unfortunately, in the process it loses a lot of the finesse of those games. It ends up feeling more like a beat em up with dragons than Souls' survival horror atmosphere.