Keepsake

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warmbear
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Keepsake

Postby warmbear » Wed Aug 09, 2006 10:16 am

I have been playing this, and just finished it.

Note: Although this game was designed to run on WinXP, the video portion of the game kept freezing up & then releasing thru the whole game (cutscenes were unaffected, as was sound). On a game that insists to install itself completely to a harddrive, this is most unacceptable. (Nor is this a fault with my machine)

Gameplay: No unfair puzzles noted. Puzzles seemed to be a good mix, and quite a bit of character interaction is required by the player as well. Pixel hunting seemed to be limited to the movement cursor (and this could get annoying at times) as the movement pathways were very "tight" in places. A great deal of backtracking is required in the game, which you may (or may not) like, depending on your own personal preference. It does not particularly bother me other than the unnecessary teleporting after Lydia has a vision, which all too frequently took you from near where you wanted to be for the next part of your journey, to the opposite side of the map, so you had to immediately backtrack to the point that you were at before the "vision"..

This game has a built-in help-hint-cheat system, somewhat similar to "The 7th Guest".. However, unlike "The 7th Guest", this cheat system apparently is bottomless, and can be used to solve all the puzzles in the game if the player so desires. I think I like "The 7th Guest's" system better...

I will note that there is one puzzle in particular that I found very tedious (even though I knew precisely what the game wanted me to do) so I did in fact have the system solve the telescope puzzle for me, because I found the puzzle's execution annoying.

Voice acting.. Bad, bad, bad, BAD. Usually this does not bother me, but in this game it does.. First of all, Lydia's voice was just grating, irritating & very whiney from start to finish. Also there are a great deal of current "street expressions" peppered in the dialogue, which seems totally out of place, and if Lydia said "Sweet" one more time, I was going to throttle her.

On the positive side, I noted that when the main characters went into "idle" mode, they would have a non-repetitve conversation, which gave more of the background story. This is a very nice touch, rather than the repeating movement & phrases we usually see.

Graphics: The graphics themselves were well executed, clear, and diverse, with the following disclaimers:

Celeste: This character appeared almost henai/anime in appearance, and frankly her head shape was grostesque for a girl/young woman. Henai/anime was not really in keeping with the rest of the game.

Lydia: The two-tone spiky dye job was really inappropriate for the period that the game seems to take place in.

Zak: The wolf incarnation was completely unnatural looking & it's movements were totally unnatural as well.

Tapestries: These had to be the four ugliest tapestries ever seen in an adventure game, and as you discoverd them one by one, Lydia would wax poetic about how beautiful they were. Really incongrious.

Interface: Point 'n' click goodness.. Interface well laid out & easy to use. Pixel hunting as noted above.

Storyline: The storyline was well executed.. However, it seemed to be geared towards RPG players, very heavy on magic & folklore. It also has to have one of the saddest (and longest) endings I ever seen in an AG.


Gameplay: 7
Graphics: 7
Interface: 9 (a point off for pixel hunting)
Storyline: 10

33 out of 40 points.
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Melia
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Postby Melia » Wed Aug 09, 2006 4:07 pm

I agree, Warmbear. Thanks for the review.
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Postby warmbear » Wed Aug 09, 2006 4:28 pm

Melia wrote:I agree, Warmbear. Thanks for the review.


You're welcome.. I guess that for all it's beautiful backgrounds, and expansive maps it was somewhat of a slight disapointment overall, as I had really been looking forward to it, and kept being let down in small ways..

But it really was not terrible/horrid enough to pan completely; mostly minor annoyances, but when taken together add up (especially when added to Lydia's hideous voice- argh.)
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shany
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Re: Keepsake

Postby shany » Thu Aug 10, 2006 10:45 am

Nice review, I agree with some of your points:

...the unnecessary teleporting after Lydia has a vision, which all too frequently took you from near where you wanted to be for the next part of your journey, to the opposite side of the map, so you had to immediately backtrack to the point that you were at before the "vision"..

I hated when that happened! I was near the last puzzle of the game before the end sequence, I was right before the teleport pad that took me to the puzzle, and Lydia has a freakin' vision and goes to the other end of the academy!
Another part didn't even have to do with her visions - at one point you must get a fruit from a tree, the tree isn't there so you must make it grow somehow, but after the tree is there the fruit is obviously too high to reach and you must go around the academy to get it! So annoying! If the developers were trying to make the game longer like this, all they managed to do was make it more annoying!
Also, sometimes, if you didn't click the hint button, you had no idea where you were supposed to go next - some characters would wait for you around the academy, but you had no way of guessing where.

I will note that there is one puzzle in particular that I found very tedious (even though I knew precisely what the game wanted me to do) so I did in fact have the system solve the telescope puzzle for me, because I found the puzzle's execution annoying.

I skipped it because I didn't get it. But there's another puzzle I skipped because there was no chance I was going to do it - the flowers/seasons puzzle. In order to make the flowers grow you need to change the season, but to change the season you need to walk to somewhere very far away from where the flowers are! Why would the season changing mechanism be so far away from where they need it to teach?

Voice acting.. Bad, bad, bad, BAD. Usually this does not bother me, but in this game it does.. First of all, Lydia's voice was just grating, irritating & very whiney from start to finish. Also there are a great deal of current "street expressions" peppered in the dialogue, which seems totally out of place, and if Lydia said "Sweet" one more time, I was going to throttle her.

With the voice acting, I thought Zak's voice was great. Other characters were not as good - Mustavio was annoying with a silly accent and a much too happy tone of voice, and Nathaniel's voice was the most unnatural thing, like they turned it down a little to make it sound more intimidating, but it ended sounding very weird.
As for Lydia, her voice was really annoying, but the main problem was the whole 'sweet', 'awesome' etc. that were thrown in for no good reason and just made half the conversations grating. I think the best example of this is a cutscene where the headmaster of the academy tells his doughter to 'grow up' like he was some valley-girl. It was laughable.
This game has some of the worst writing I've ever seen.

On the positive side, I noted that when the main characters went into "idle" mode, they would have a non-repetitve conversation, which gave more of the background story. This is a very nice touch, rather than the repeating movement & phrases we usually see.

That was a nice touch. If you had somehwere to repeat those it would've been even better.

Graphics: The graphics themselves were well executed, clear, and diverse

The academy is one of the most amazing locations in adventure game in my opinion.
It's not realistic though (not in the sense that it's magical :D ) - where are the student's quarters, how come there's so much walking to the dining room (and since one must walk part of the way there outside, what do they do in the winter?).
Celeste seems to be the only one with a bedroom at all.

Celeste: ...frankly her head shape was grostesque for a girl/young woman. Henai/anime was not really in keeping with the rest of the game.

The shape of her head was just too big and ugly, and Celeste herself seemed to wear way to much jewelry for a student (even if she's rich).

Lydia: The two-tone spiky dye job was really inappropriate for the period that the game seems to take place in.

I thought her hair was ok, it was just to make her look 'cool' or something. Since it's an alternate world we don't know if that isn't a common thing.
What bothered me about Lydia was her face - it was expressionless, making her look like a doll. For the main character who is always on-screen, that is very bad.

Storyline: The storyline was well executed.. However, it seemed to be geared towards RPG players, very heavy on magic & folklore. It also has to have one of the saddest (and longest) endings I ever seen in an AG.


I thought it was too cliche, and awefully predicatable due to bad writing. It's like they didn't want us to have any surprises at all, especially with the whole Zak stroyline, which was ne of the better parts of the game.
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Postby britsy » Sun Aug 27, 2006 11:28 am

I played this around 3 months ago now -

and as I read the review -
I realised I hadn't remembered a thing about it!

I found the storyline engaging enough - I wanted to solve the mystery of what had happened -
but it's not one I would replay.

I have to agree with most of the comments - especially Mustavios voice - I switched off my speakers when he appeared and used the subtitles.
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Postby Ghostlady » Sun Nov 26, 2006 8:44 pm

I was totally enchanted with Keepsake. The graphics were awesome and just when I thought I'd seen it all, there was more to come with gardens and towers and islands. Voice acting didn't bother me at all, except for Mustavio. The puzzles were easy and some very hard. A good mix. I thoroughly enjoyed it and rate it as the best game I played in 2006.
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Postby hawkavonpuka » Sun Nov 26, 2006 11:40 pm

I totally agree with Ghostlady and thoroughly enjoyed Keepsake. It was by far the most enjoyable adventure game that I have played in a long time, not to mention the most beautiful. I thought the two toned hair was cool and I don't really think there was an "age" for the game. It was just some sort of place out there in time.
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Postby Fairygdmther » Fri Jan 26, 2007 8:26 pm

Just finished this game today. My feelings about this range from exquisite to appallingly bad.

The game is without a doubt the most beautiful game I've ever played. The prerendered graphics were exquisite - the rose windows, the marble floors, the entire design of the academy was beautifully done gothic, but made for a bright and clean and cheery environment to play in. Discard any prior knowledge of physics or gravity, since they don't apply in this game - but that's okay, the explanation of it being made with magic, made it work.

The graphic artists who did the characters are obviously a different group, who have no knowledge whatsoever of human anatomy. Starting with the little girls, ostensibly 8-10 yrs old. The girls had heads shaped like a brick, flat in the back, and extremely elongated. Kids heads are round, almost spherical, and I don't accept the concept of stylistic drawings - believe me they're no Modigliani's. Kids have lips, not just openings for mouths. Kids have fully formed hands, they shouldn't look like rubber gloves filled with water. Their arms and legs shouldn't look like poles with a diameter of a silver dollar.

This was no better with the adults. The absolute worst was Zac. We see him first (as a human) in a vision. The back of his head was flat and actually squared off (perhaps where they chopped a good two inches off). His elbows bent at mid-chest, not at his waist. He was barrel chested, and had no shoulders at all. His arms were the same silver dollar diameter.

The women looked a bit better, since someone knew how to do hair very well. But still, no one's shoulders come out at a 90 deg angle from their neck - there was a pair of pics near the end where we were shown Elana (or Elanna, since it was spelled both ways in the game) followed by Celeste. It wasn't that their heads were too large, it was that their shoulders weren't more than 12 inches apart. The heads were in proportion to the rest of their bodies, but looked huge sitting on those shoulders. They also had silver dollar arms, and even Nathaniel had these. In some shots he looked in proportion, but in others, his elbows were also at midchest. Oh, and he must be 7'2". And he, too, had a brick for a head, but his tapered at the top.

Face-to shots of Lydia and Nathaniel were no better. Lydia had 1 or 2 teeth missing, and he looked like his tongue was sticking out. I know I've gone on and on about the characters, but if you want people to believe they're real, and to bond to them, you've got to make them believable looking.

SPOILERS HERE
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Zac as wolf, cat, dragon: As a wolf, he looked more like a German shepherd dog. His movements were fairly good. As a cat, he moved very well, including one time where was circling in and around Lydia's legs, a very cat-like movement. But up close he was gross! As a dragon I guess he was okay - haven't seen many dragons to compare, except for one scene where his head was coming out of Lydia's chest. As a wolf, Zac had a couple of scenes where he climbed the wall or door and sat there, hind up in the air, face toward the floor (the wall by the big rose window, and the cellar door off the garden).

Enough on the graphics - sound, music. Excellent music - romantic, expansive, dramatic, whatever it needed to be, it was. And when it wasn't needed, there wasn't any. Sounds were also well done. There was one sound I found annoying - I believe it was on Dragon's Lair, a malevolent puzzle, that when the tiles turned it sounded like someone sniffling.

Vocally - Mustavio, as previously mentioned, was almost campy, he was so far overdone. Lydia's voice didn't bother me, nor her "sweet", since I took the game to be contemporary. Zac's voice was very good. Nathaniel's voice was appropriately authoritative, for the most part. The part that bothered me, was the fluctuating volume, sometimes within the same conversation. Often Lydia's voice came out booming. Mustavio's was only booming.

Video - now my video card must not be up to snuff, because all the cut scenes ran very slowly, but especially so with the visions. They ran for 16min for two, 13min for two, and 12min and 10min for the others - a painful experience for me watching these poorly drawn characters, and afraid not to watch for fear of missing something significant.

There was a scene with Lydia talking to Elvandar, the tree Ent, that went on for 25min. After his initial reply to Lydia, there was a six minute gap before her response, with his tree waving as the only thing going on. This happened after each line or two of dialogue, but the lag time was shorter, only a minute or two. While I can't totally blame the game for this - even if my times were 3-4 times what they should have been - they were too long in my eyes.

The end scene, (well I guess it was) with Lydia opposite Nathaniel over the bier, I shut off after an hour and 20min. I showed him the spheres, twice in fact, but I couldn't seem to break the loop of video of him playing with vapors. If there was more of an ending after this, I didn't see it.

Story - this was a poignant story and fairly well written. Zac's story as a side event was also interesting. Had the characters been more believably portrayed, I'm sure I would have been in tears by the end, but between the interminable cut scenes and visions, and disgusting character drawings, I totally lost my suspension of disbelief.

Puzzles ranged from simple to nearly impossible to solve, probably a fairly good mix. The hints system was a mixed bag as well. It would, however finish any puzzle if you couldn't - I used it only for the Dragon's Lair. After about 45 min, I had figured out what to do, but didn't want to bother actually going through it. The telescope puzzle I actually did myself.

Gameplay - the nodes for forward movement were difficult to find, since their placement wasn't intuitive - sometimes on a balcony, they were off to the side and below floor level. However in a large room, she could walk nearly anywhere, crisscrossing a room, and that was welcome. There were too many long treks, however, and return trips that seemed endless. There were flights of stairs over 150 stairs long. Even the teleport trips were long. The crack in the wall in the cellar that you needed to exit was interesting. She exits at ground level, yet when you looked back, the crack was at 2nd floor height. She was able to go back in this way, but the screen faded to black until she was back inside. A bug they chose not to fix?

Subtitles - these totally matched the spoken words, and except for several misspellings were well appreciated.

I was under the impression that you couldn't die, nor were there any dead ends - well I didn't die, but I did find a dead end. Having played the demo, and in the scene in the garden there was the rune puzzle. Well I found myself in the garden before I needed to do in the game, so I figured I'd save time and do the rune puzzle while I was here. Later, when it was time to be here, I found that I'd activated a process that couldn't be repeated - ie, I was dead in the water.

So I saved and went to reload a previous save (I'd been playing for 7 hrs at that point), and an error message came up in the save dll files. All of my previous saves for the day had been lost. Error notwithstanding, I later discovered that all saves write over the previous save with the result that you can't go back to an earlier time. This was not just on my PC - GL sent me her save file and hers showed the same thing - only her final save was there.

In summary - I wouldn't want to have to rate this game as a reviewer. The rendered graphics couldn't have been better - 10/10. The story was good, puzzles decent and appropriate. Yet with all the other problems, I'd have to rate this a 3/10 - truly a shame with the amount of attention to detail paid to the graphical design. I truly wanted to love this game, but there are some things you just can't let go by you.

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Postby Val » Sat Jan 27, 2007 8:46 am

I played this quite awhile ago and really loved it! Yes the voice of Mustavio caused me to switch off my speaker when he reappeared but overall I loved it!!! Thought the models were unrealistic up close - more so than a lot of games - but visually it was stunning. I was delighted to find another level when I thought I had seen everything of the Academy and I personally had no problem with the video sequences. Certainly no way nearly as long as you FGM!!! Had no problem with the spikey hair nor Lydia's modern day speech.:)

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