DEVELOPER: Team Isolation
GENRE: Turn-based RPG (Single-Player)
PLATFORM: PC (via Steam)
PRICE: Reg. $9.99 USD
RELEASE DATE: May 1, 2015
My friend Jeremy and I have been talking back and forth for some time now about the volume of RPG Maker-made games flowing onto Steam and other digital platforms (including on mobile devices by companies like Kemco). Thus, I found it quite interesting the other day when I had a code for one such game that was releasing on May 1 called Remnants of Isolation. Honestly, I had no idea what this game was about or what to expect from it, but rather than do a bunch of research, I simply installed the game on Steam and gave it a whirl.
Remnants is a single-player RPG set entirely in an eerie castle called the Fortress of Isolation. In the game’s world, magic isn’t something to be revered or respected, but rather, the draw of mana from the world by magic users has caused something called a Mana Drought that is slowly destroying the world. Thus, in order to stop this so that the world can recover, the ruling powers frequently round-up magic users and lock them away in an ethereal castle that exists within another dimension. Here, they wander aimlessly, usually alone, and eventually get killed by one of the many creatures lurking in the fortress with no hope of ever escaping.
The player takes the role of an unnamed girl (later referred to as “Celesta” by the game’s only other protagonist) who one day manages to leave her cell and explore the castle. Shortly thereafter, she finds another prisoner, a young man named Melchior, and the two of them set off together on a quest to find a way to leave the fortress. Opening the main gate requires the powering of five crystals, and these can only be activated when powerful guardians are defeated and their “souls” sent to the crystals to power them up. Each of these guardians resides in a themed area of the castle, so some exploration is required to track them down (though in my experience, each area only took 15 to 20 minutes to get through).
Despite the game’s short length (discussed soon), Remnants presents the player with a solid story that leaves you wanting to play more to figure out how everything comes together. Since Celesta is mute, most of the dialogue comes from either Melchior or from notes discovered as the pair explores the forsaken fortress and all of that provides an insight into a world that the player never really gets to see. The musical selection for the game is very good, and I particularly enjoy the game’s main theme.
Another aspect I really liked was the “Spell Fusion” system during combat. Both Celesta and Melchior have innate magical powers and additional spells they can learn via a simplistic card system (e.g. equipping spells) the game employs. However, during battle, when one character uses an innate ability, the spell the other character follows it up with will produce a special effect. For example, combining Heal with one innate ability may result in a mid-level curing spell that affects both party members while combining it with another may create a full heal to one of the two. This results in a bit of experimentation to find out what certain combinations do, and it also creates a mindfulness of which character should equip what spell based on the innate abilities the other possesses.
Personally, I felt that the game was a tad on the short side. I played it at a reasonable, casual pace and managed to get through it in around three hours or so. While it does feature multiple endings, it’s not that hard to create an additional save file at the expected juncture in the story and retrace your footsteps to find the other endings. However, I realize that dropping a score based on price factors isn’t the best review policy, so while it might be taken into account, this won’t be the reason for a particular score for this game.
Remnants also makes fairly extensive use of standard RPG Maker graphics and assets. This isn’t the worst thing in the world, but when you’ve seen enough “generic fantasy” games (not that this is one) that make use of the same tools, you start to grow weary of them.
While this might be just on my end, I found that the game ran natively in windowed-mode at approximately 854×480 resolution. The game featured no options that allowed for this to change. While I could press ALT+Enter to force it to fullscreen, this resulted in what looked like a centered 720p image with black borders all around it. Also, in fullscreen mode, VSync no longer appeared to work, so the frame-rate would sky-rocket and the game would look choppy due to tearing effects.
I also found that the last third or so of the game appeared rushed, and some of the later dialogue looked like someone had just typed it on their smartphone and didn’t bother with punctuation or capitalization. A simple proofreading could have corrected this, and this seems like a very basic mistake for a commercialized game that costs $10 to purchase.
Remnants of Isolation is at its core a fun game that tells a solid story. In fact, I finished the whole game in an evening because I wanted to see what happened. Was I disappointed that it ended so quickly? Sure. And was I let down by the use of stock RPG Maker tools, graphical bugs, and a lack of polish on the game’s dialogue in the later phases? You bet.
But overall, Remnants is a decent game made by a small team. I’d certainly recommend it after a few issues get ironed out to make it worth the full asking price.