Creating your first game is a major accomplishment and something that should be commended but with many firsts, it’s not always the most polished. This is what the RPG Maker game Acrylic faces and I want to take a look at that today. My hope is that the developer will see this and improve on the game because there is something special here.
Acrylic is a horror-themed game about an art student named Nicole, who accompanied by her sister Joelle, visits her school to retrieve her portfolio. Little do both girls know that at night the dark secrets of Acrylic Academy make themselves known.
I like what the game was trying to go for in terms of the story and found myself rather invested in solving the mystery. It wasn’t until the end that I was let down and left with a sour taste in my mouth. The whole game was building up to something interesting and dealing with very relevant themes. Yet, I feel like it just dropped the ball with the ending.
WARNING SPOILERS:So the academy is haunted by several ghost girls who died at the hands of a male professor. Throughout the game, you see that the common theme is relevant to today’s MeToo movement. I was looking forward to having a nice discussion about how this game can help bring attention. I enjoy a unique horror story with themes that are relevant today. Yet after the big reveal, we learn that the professor isn’t the main villain. It’s some other ghost (looks oddly like Marisa from Touhou but with rainbow hair) that caused the male professor to do the bad things. I didn’t like that and wish the developer kept it as the professor just being a horrible person. It just felt like the whole theme of the game was lost when the real villain was actually another ghost girl. :SPOILERS END
Now enough about the story let’s get into the gameplay. Acrylic like most RPG Maker horror games involves searching for items to help you proceed. The game does that but has a lack of direction which causes the player to spend more time wandering and looking over things repeatedly. Now I’m not saying the game should be holding your hand but with these types of things there tends to be something more out of place to make the player go “Oh I see.”. I don’t necessarily feel as though I’m solving anything, it’s more of me just getting lucky. This isn’t the worst thing about the gameplay as there are two occurrences where I almost just gave up on the game entirely. Those instances were once I entered Acrylic Academy and once I reached the fourth floor.
The moment you enter the academy you are met with complete darkness. I mean you can’t even see where you are going and just wandering around until you find a flashlight. I shouldn’t have to be inches away from my computer screen and try to make out where I’m going. I’m so glad that the developer didn’t include a visual jumpscare here because I would have been furious. It’s just a poor decision on her part that could have easily been fixed. This isn’t the only time this occurs either because once you reach the fourth floor your flashlight goes out. So you are back to searching for the next thing to help you proceed in complete darkness. It is also somehow worse than it was on the first floor. I somehow ended up on the third floor and only knew I did that by getting really close to the screen. I eventually found my way around (I cheated by using a walkthrough cause I was frustrated) and ran into the ghost of that floor. After confronting her the first time I still didn’t have my flashlight but the area was a little brighter. I was able to make out more and not strain my eyes. I honestly wish it was like this for the other instances as it’s still dark but I can make out what’s going on. The thing about horror is that it’s not scary when the viewer/player is unable to see. I don’t know what’s going on around me and I’m too focused on trying to see. So if a scare supposedly happens, I do not know that it did. I also don’t want to spend a long time trying to find my way around. I love exploring and looking at every little thing but not seeing ruins the fun of that. As after I finally can see I’m too annoyed to look around.
Alright, now I just want to bring to light a few minor things here such as glitches. This is to let the developer know just in case there have been some that were not addressed. First, there were times where characters were talking, and after they were done their still would flash to the opposite side for a brief second. It didn’t happen much only in certain instances. For example, in the cafeteria, if you go over to the buffet and interact this will occur. Second, there are certain tables that I was able to walk on and I even noticed I could walk on the fifth-floor wall (to the left of the stairs when you enter the fifth floor). Also while I’ve seen it mentioned I still want to address the pencil glitch. In the game you need to collect 15 pencils, however, there is a bad glitch where your pencils won’t get counted. These are the only things I happen to notice in my playthrough of Acrylic.
I can’t claim to be an artist or a very good one, I drew a Rick and Morty pic and a Linda Belcher pic that I’m proud of. However, I can’t really give great art criticism. It’s not my forte but I do want to discuss the character designs of the game. While the character designs were rough and I think some were just reskins of established characters, I liked them. I honestly would love to see how the character designer has improved over the years. There was a sort of cuteness to them that I really appreciated and I did enjoy the roughness of them. It honestly felt rather fitting for the game. I’m not really gonna fault them there but the characters that I’m pretty sure are reskins, I feel like you should have stayed away from that.
So if you made it this far, let me tell you about my favorite aspect of this game. I absolutely loved the level designs and thought they were handled to the best of the developer’s ability. I loved how each floor represented the ghost girl and the art she does. That was a really nice touch and allowed for some nice immersion. I would have loved to see some more liberty taken with that. I’m giving you credit where it’s definitely due and I love those level designs.
Overall, there is quite a bit of work the game needs to have done to it. I don’t believe it’s an awful game as I see the potential. It just suffers from pitfalls I expect from a first-time developer and I’m not going to be overly upset about that. I would love to see her go back and update this game because it’s got major promise. I would actually love to see her create more games as well because I can tell she has a passion for it. While playing the game I was able to tell that the developer tried and really cared about the game. There was just things that I believe were above her skill level and she didn’t know how to go about it. Nothing wrong with that as just making a game takes skill. She’s got that skill I believe and I want to see her hone it.
If you want to give the game Acrylic a try then you can download it here: https://rpgmaker.net/games/9201/