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Feb 27 2014

Review of Weapon Shop de Omasse

CTR-N-JBKE_logo_glow3 Stars

It’s time for yet another fantastic entry in Level 5’s GUILD01 series, in which they let various creative types put together a game. We’ve gotten crazy WW2 bug fighting from Keiji Inafune and heartfelt giant monster fights courtesy of Kaz Ayabe, but now we have an RPG viewed from the other side of the counter with¬†comedian Yoshiyuki Hirai’s Weapon Shop de Omasse. Sadly I can’t claim to have ever experienced Hirai’s other work as comedian and comic book artist but he has a well-known love of games and supposedly even wanted to be a developer before he struck it big in comedy. Of course wanting to make games and being any good at it are entirely different things but there is certainly a unique charm to Omasse that’s assuredly there due Hirai’s background. It’s not a perfect game but it’s a fun twist on RPG tropes.

WEAPONSHOPdeOMASSE_OnlineScreen1Let’s start off with the premise because it’s fairly unique. You are a young blacksmith’s apprentice named Yuhan who works at a weapon shop with a rental system. Instead of customers flat-out buying weapons, they instead just borrow them for the duration of a quest. Your job is to custom make weapons to fit your client’s style and the demands of their current job; this is especially important because if you send them out with an inferior or ill-chosen weapon and they fail, not only do they lose your weapon but they also don’t pay you (overall it seems like a very poor business model). But that is only the surface plot, there is also the more overarching issue of a returning Evil Lord. In addition to serving standard NPCs (all literally named “NPC”) you’ll also put together orders for special named characters who each have unique personalities and are all going on some sort of deep personal journey. Each time you rent them a weapon and they succeed in their quest, that gets them one step closer to finishing their storyline and once they’ve finished that out, they can challenge the Evil Lord. The real prize though isn’t the Evil Lord’s defeat but rather the simple story closure you get from completing your customer’s personal tales. Each of these special clients has a genuinely interesting little story arch they go through, often with some actual character development to go along with it. You even get to experience their stories every step of the way, not in person mind you, but through magic Twitter. No I’m not joking, that’s how a majority of the story content is delivered, via fake Twitter feeds.

I guess I haven’t talked about how you actually make weapons yet, well it’s pretty simple, you make them through the power of music. Forging takes the form of a little rhythm mini-game where you have to hammer at a block of ore in order to shape it into your weapon WEAPONSHOPdeOMASSE_OnlineScreen2of choice. Hitting the ore perfectly on beat will gain the final product more points towards one of three attributes (slash, pierce, and blunt) though what attribute will be gained is randomized so you can make the same weapon twice but end up with completely different stats. Aside from just timing you also need to worry about the heat of the metal, striking while it’s too hot won’t earn you as many points and striking while it’s too cold will ruin it so you need to regularly reheat the ore though you can’t reheat it too much as that will make it less durable, there’s a lot of stuff to keep track of is what I’m saying. Despite all those variables though, forging does get boring surprisingly fast. There isn’t a huge variety of music to smith to and while the randomization is nice, it also makes it frustrating when you’re trying to build a piercing weapon only to have the game keep buffing it in slash. Another issue I have with the gameplay is that a lot of useful information seems needlessly buried. You get to forge 94 different weapons but in order to see descriptions of them you need to delve into a couple different layers of menu, keep in mind that the whole point of this game is forging weapons, information on them should be front and center. The same goes for the magic twitter feeds I talked about earlier (which the game calls “Grindcasts”), they are your only source of in-the-moment story but it’s just something that scrolls at the top of the screen and if you miss it because you’re forging a weapon, you need to open up a separate menu and scroll through all the casts that have come through to find that bit of story you missed. It makes it very easy to ignore the story all together and just focus on making and maintaining your weapons but as I’ve already said, that gets boring really fast because the gameplay behind it isn’t all that engaging.

Moving onto the presentation, things have a nice cartoony vibe to them, the NPCs all have pleasantly goofy feel and there’s a lot of decent little affectations they have. The same goes for the music, you get a bunch of different styles and it’s all very over the top and up beat and fits the nature of the game. As I said earlier though there simply isn’t enough music, especially when you’re forging as there’s only about four or five songs for you to hammer alongside. There just seems to be a lack of variety in the presentation overall, while it’s awesome there’s 94 different weapons for you to make, there’s no real good way to personalize their aesthetics. You do get the ability to colour the metal eventually but that doesn’t show up until near the end of the game. So what happens is that after you forge all the weapons that are available to you at any given time, you end up just sitting there and waiting for the next set to unlock because there’s no real incentive to re-smith any of the weapons you’ve already forged.

That’s the big problem with this game overall, it’s got a lot of charm but not enough to fill its 8 hour run time and as a result you’ll spend a decent while just twiddling your thumbs waiting for more stuff to happen. That said for only $7.99 you’re getting a decent chunk of content even if it’s spread very thin and the core concept of “being the dude who runs a weapon shop” is pretty fun. In the end I’m giving Weapon Shop de Omasse a 3 out of 5 stars, it’s a fun little commentary on RPG tropes but it gets a little too boring for its own good.

 

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