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Game Maker Games - The Reaper
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Review by Joewoof
Holding her massive scythe, she dashes into a horde of zombies, smashing them with her powerful knee. She kicks half-a-dozen of those mindless creatures into the air, leaps after them, performs a 6-hit aerial-kick combo, spin-slashes them midair, before executing a tremendous stomp that buries them into the ground. The room shakes from the impact. Desks, chairs, trash bins and bookshelves explode into blinding clouds of dust. As rotting bodies are thrown all over the place, she kicks the unlucky survivors into the air once more, then unleashes a flying-missile-kick that blasts a television set into smithereens. More desks rupture, ejecting more clouds of dust into the air. Paralyzed, the zombies convulse uncontrollably, their tormented souls on the verge of release. To finish them off, she leaps and spin-slashes them. As the zombies disintegrate, their souls groan in appreciation of their ended suffering.

It sounds like something from a dark action movie, but this is actually a typical scene from The Reaper. In this beat-em-up style fighting game, you play as Scithia Reiver, a sexy femme fatale who rains destruction upon her undead enemies. She is a reaper, a follower of Grim, whose purpose is to guide the souls of the dead from the Living Zone to the Dead Zone. In order to do so, a natural energy known as Necro Power is needed to remove the soul from its flesh. However, something goes wrong with this Necro Power. Its effects are somehow nullified. Unable to escape from their bodies, souls now animate the bodies of the hungry dead. In the midst of this crisis, Scithia is sent to a school, where everyone mysteriously died with no known reason. There, she finds something even stranger. As she brutally slaughters the monsters, she must investigate and find the root of all the weird happenings of late.

The gameplay of The Reaper is not very complicated. You are pitted against hordes of zombies room after room, with each room becoming increasingly difficult. As any good fighting game should be, you have a variety of attacks and special moves at your disposal. You must master all of them to beat this game. Each move is best used in a specific situation. For example, a launching-high-kick, multiple-aerial-kicks and stomp combo is effective against a large cluster of zombies, especially when you have to avoid traps and projectiles. If you are surrounded, however, it is better to use knee-dash to quickly break through the undead barricade. Other moves also have their uses. You must know the best situation for all of them, as the game becomes very difficult later on.

One notable innovation that fits well into the story of the game is how you destroy the zombies. Pulling off the strongest combos does not kill them. It merely paralyzes them forever. To finish them, you must slash them with your scythe. This doesn't add a whole lot to the gameplay, but it is a very nice touch.

= Target Appeal =

Good.

Admit it. We guys dig hot chicks, and Scithia is a babe. It is by no coincidence that she wears a skimpy reaper outfit. More guys like fighting games. And guys like sexy women. Put the two together, and you have an instant winner.

= Immersiveness =

Excellent.

This game uses a very large collection of vivid, high-quality sprites. There isn't much variety among the enemies, but the creator very accurately recreates the interior of the school. Classrooms has everything you'd think of - desks, chairs, bookshelves, blackboards, doors, etc. There are even notebooks on the teacher's desk. Great attention to detail is placed on the environment. What's best about all these objects is that most of them are actually interactive. You can break just about everything in any room. You deal extra damage to the zombies when you smash them into tables and chairs. Craters also appear on the floor where you perform your more powerful moves.

On the downside, the school is excessively bright and colorful. According to the early and later areas, it is night time. For a game with death being its central theme, the atmosphere should be darker and more ominous. The number and quality of sprites greatly outweigh this flaw though.

Sounds effects are well chosen. They successfully enhance the action.

The music in this game are nothing amazing. You will probably not notice much of it anyway, since the action is generally frantic. They do fit into the game. All of them sets the tone for urgency and conflict, while still retaining a mysterious quality. One song seems overly upbeat, however. The most important ones are those that are used for cutscenes. These effectively convey the mystical atmosphere and set the tone for the story.

As for the story, it is short, but stylish and tasteful. It is very well-presented through powerful colored artworks at the beginning of the game. The dialogue is generally well-scripted. Scithia's personality catches on very quick. She is an effective point of focus throughout the game.

= Polish =

Lacking.

There are three major problems in this game. First, it has an excruciatingly long load time. The loading artwork helps to alleviate this a little (it's great to look at), but it is a big nuisance nonetheless. Second, after all that loading, you may expect the game to run smoothly. It doesn't. Whenever a new large sprite loads, the game will lag. Whenever several explosions occur at once, the game will also lag. This may contribute to a little frustration at times. Finally, there is no transition when a cutscene ends in the same room. It seems as if monsters and traps magically appear in a fraction of a second. The creator should either have the cutscene take place in the previous room or implement a simple screen fade-in/fade-out effect.

= Originality =

Good.

There are few borrowed concepts in this game (though they exist). The story context is unique. The highlight is definitely Scithia herself. She is a complete twist on the stereotypical reaper image, yet she maintains their intimidating aura.

= Smooth Curves =

Lacking.

The learning curve is not very well done. The game does introduce you to your moves beyond the controls list, but it does so too hastily. There is much to learn, but there is no tutorial to guide you through them. Fortunately, the difficulty curve is satisfactory. You have some time to practice the combos. The problem is that there is a large chance of you never considering the necessity of performing combos in later levels. You may end up trading hits with enemies and become frustrated from dying repeatedly, not realizing that you have to use a combination of all your moves to win. This will not be your fault, as there is no guidance regarding this.

= Variety =

Good.

Although the levels are a little repetitive, the number of moves you can do keeps the game interesting. There are many ways you can attack the enemies and even more ways to chain those attacks together.

Unfortunately, while there are many kinds of zombies, each with radically different behaviors, that is what you will always be fighting - zombies. There are other, more menacing creatures, but the only thing you can treat as ragdolls are zombies. This becomes a little stale after a while, but each level is just different enough to keep up your level of interest. It also takes a different tactic to take out a different kind of zombie.

= Challenge =

Good.

This game may prove to be a little too difficult for some players. You need to master every move and have fast reflexes to use them in combinations. Having more levels should allow some players to improve their skill with this game. This is not a big problem because the game is very forgiving. Since you can always retry a level, you can take all the time you need. The game also allows you to save every few levels. It is only a matter of time before you can beat this game.

= Depth =

Fair.

You must employ different tactics against different kinds of zombies. At the same time, you must use tactics that won't put you in danger. Perhaps knee-dashing is the best way of breaking up a pack of normal zombies, but if they are under a trap, it is probably better to use something else. An example of a different zombie is one that sits on a ledge and throws objects at you. Normally, kicking is good against airborne zombies, but slashing (with its larger range) is more likely to hit these ones. There isn't a whole lot more than that, unfortunately.

The story has a fair amount of backstory to it, but some characters do not play enough significance in the plot. The length of the game is also a little too short.

The only replay value this game has is going back to see the many posters on the walls. Some of them are the creator's own artwork. You probably don't have time to look at them during your first play.

= Overall =

Good.

The Reaper is an exciting and stylish beat-em-up fighting game. It has beautiful sprites and a well-crafted interactive environment. What sets it apart from other games is its frantic, fast-paced action and its unique twist on the reaper concept. It needs some polish and perhaps an in-game tutorial (or even a demonstrative cutscene), however.

Try it. Experience the wonder of crushing a school of zombies into utter oblivion.

- - - - -

- Creator's Description -
The goal of the game is to kill all the zombies in the room to progress. Each room is a small battle arena type level. You have various attacks, some that toss around enemies like ragdolls into the many destructible objects. Breaking stuff does more damage.

If you do download it, MAKE SURE TO READ THE TEXTFILE CALLED "IMPORTANT-READ BEFORE PLAYING".

Download The Reaper (EXE, ~7.1 MB , Content caution )

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Comments (Add your own):
2008.07.28 The HammerHead
Rating: --

Hmm... I admit, I couldn't help but laugh at your character's wardrobe. But the game was good for only that - a laugh. I couldn't play it to save my life.
2006.05.09 HCS0001
Rating: 7

This game is pretty good! I thought that the graphics made the game shine the most, the gameplay was a little dull... maybe because there were'nt that many attacks you could execute (I only played the first stage and read the help dialogue and got the impression that there wasn't going to be anymore fighting techniques.

Good job, though! If you decide to make a sequel, make the movement more 3Dimentional (kinda like the old Double Dragon games).
2006.05.09 HCS0001
Rating: --

Oh, and may I add that the whole combo system is pretty cool! The adding-damage-by-throwing-characters-on-background-objects is very bad azz!!! Congrats!
2006.05.07 Odin
Rating: 8

Pretty good. The gameplay is a bit repetitive. The graphics are great...i liked the text boxes. Pretty good...i'll gave ya an 8.
2006.05.01 chunkeynak
Rating: --

it was amazing a bit repetative but other than that great work good job. smoothe graphics. a bit... showey... but... NICE WORK!
2005.03.30 Nobody
Rating: 8

Nice game! Excellent graphics, only a bit boring gameplay... Nice story too!
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