Variety and player experience customization are becoming very important in video games recently. The costs to make a video game are gradually increasing so it is understandable that games need to be created with the largest accessibility in mind. However, appealing to every single person isn’t a possible goal nor is it an objective worth striving for. At best it will fragment the experience and at worst the game will lack focus. Unfortunately I foresee The Tale of the Ice Staff as being a game that lacks the focus to be great.
Right at the very beginning of the campaign we can already see a schism in gameplay ideas. It promises “hav[ing] a gaming experience for everyone” but then the list of what the game includes is all based on a single game type. They boast about the speed of combat and the large number of enemies. The trailer backs this up as well as all as every in game scene is one of combat. Further down the page they present this idea that the game tailors the experience to the player’s preferences. It even explicitly asks “Do you like solving puzzles? Or do you prefer fighting like a boss?“, suggesting that the game can be played without any combat if that is how the player wishes to play.
Another area where the development team seems to lack focus is in the narrative. They present the notion that they are delivering a masterful storyline and recount how the game started as a 500,000 word visual novel. They continue to express how the choices the player makes will influence the story and how these choices will lead to one of over fifty endings. Yet the very next sentence basically bullet points that the player can skip all of the story if they wish. This makes it sound like the narrative was an afterthought to the gameplay.
The Tale of the Ice Staff looks like it could be something unique if the team could figure out what they want to make. It isn’t every day that we see an action game start out with a 500,000 word script and I would love to see more games approach storytelling like this, instead of trying to shoehorn it in after the gameplay has been made. However, I just don’t see all of the pieces falling in place for Kurumi Gaming. The focus is spread too thinly and every aspect of the game will be sub optimal because of it. If every facet of gameplay is optional then what is your game really about?