I'm not sure how long the feedback will go on in a serious capacity here, so I want to make sure I get these written down. This seems to be the thread for lists. I'm super busy with work, but if I have time, I might come back and organize them better. To give it some structure, though, I'll color code it. Red for potential serious problems (or borderline bugs), Green for praise, and Yellow for could be improved. Also, I'll italicize problem things that have already been noted somewhere, to my knowledge. I have both good and bad things to say, but the overall projection is that the game is coming together nicely and is really fun to play:
*There are some problems with shadows in this game. It starts with the fact that when you press Miriam against any wall, her shadow/character outline superimposes itself through the wall. This happens with a lot of objects, though. Similarly, there is this strange effect when Johannes runs by Miriam. And it also happens when jumping to a platform directly above you, and sometimes there is no gap to justify Miriam even going out of sight and into shadow mode. I like the inclusion of shadows in this game, but this is sort of annoying. If the shadow shader cannot be adjusted to correct this, I suppose it’s not the end of the world, but it’s a little awkward as it is.
*I would really like to see the rope-hammock platforms on the Minerva have some “give” to them under Miriam’s weight, like the bridges in Super Castlevania IV’s Stage 2. It doesn’t have to be huge, just a little subtle physics. (Also, since the boat is already swaying, and so are the lanterns, there should be some small swaying on the ropes and hammock.) SEE BELOW (video 7:36-7:41 time-stamped):
*The way the lights turn on could be more dramatic in Castle Entrance. I love this idea, but the torches should flare up after the statue falls, to indicate why the room has lit up suddenly when many torches were there right from the start.
*In the Castle Entrance, the Bone Morte by the blood pool shoots in a different trajectory if they don’t hit you: They shoot over the pool when they don’t hit you, they land in the pool area if they hit you.
*In the Castle Entrance, loot bags drop through chandeliers.
*The door swings opens through a pillar in the background when you exit the Castle Entrance toward the Garden of Silence.
*Sometimes the previous weapon stays visible for a second when you equip another after leaving the menu. This happened with the spear for me. But it rarely seemed to occur.
*The white-ish platform beneath the drawbridge seems to have some strange hit-detection. If you jump up from the cavern screen below, you will pass through it and not be able to land on it unless you repeatedly press the jump button. At least, this is what happened for me. Not sure if you're even supposed to be able to reach it.
*The save room has all those wings, so I’m surprised they don’t enfold Miriam when you save. Now, maybe there can be a fake save room where the wings hurt you or something and/or it leads to a boss battle.
*I don’t generally like crafting in games, but the way it was handled visually with the alchemist circle graphic was actually rather enjoyable.
*I like how many options there are for the map screen/active map and that it shows exactly where you are in the room by a yellow dot. I also was impressed how you could activate a yellow dot-trail to show your path. The only improvements I’d suggest are 1.) having that dot-trail be able to extend a little further as it's too short to be of much practical use, and 2.) adding the ability to add colored markers (maybe as items you find) to note areas of the map you’d like to backtrack to at some point. (This was done previously in Castlevania: Lament of Innocence.) This would kind of make up for the loss of Wii U map functions that were once proposed.
*The swirling calligraphy-like graphics for when you level up are amazing and very empowering.
*I really like how there is visual foreshadowing in the game, like Zangetsu’s cameos in the sea by the Minerva and in the Castle Entrance.
*Platforming is really important for me. This is something IGAvania games have not always excelled at in the past, but this demo showed some really thoughtful platforming and enemy placement, like how the Village rooftops were arranged and how the chandeliers are arranged in the Castle Entrance with foes atop them. It gave you a choice: go the long way above and drop below or do the platforming on the chandeliers for a shortcut. Another good example was how the Garden of Silence had a gold chest you had to drop down to just right to get. Each map block has a good roominess, with a lot of verticality. I’m super happy with how the platforming is being done, even if the Metroidvania format limits what can be done perhaps compared to a Classicvania. Whether it’s a ship or a castle, it feels pretty organic and less like linked boxy hallways. I do sort of wish that there was maybe a more dynamic area of the Minerva where you had to jump from floating boxes as the room floods upward (in a section that has no value so you don’t need to backtrack to it later), but I understand that might be too demanding early on.
*With the platforming, I would like to see some more moving parts to jump from at some point, something equivalent to swinging pendulums. I like the physics with the chandeliers, but I thought there was a great opportunity for a chandelier puzzle that wasn’t used. I thought you could move back and forth on the chandelier to make it rock and swing, building momentum for you to jump to the next chandelier for a shortcut. That would be great.
*In the Castle Entrance, I thought some windows should be open every now and then to have curtains blowing in the wind.
*The clouds move at a better pace on the ship than they did before in 2016.
*The gold pillars in the Castle Entrance seem a little garish compared to previous images of them. I think they maybe stand out too much and hurt the room’s composition a little.
*There is too much highlighting of the Minerva cannon and crate to indicate they are interactive. I’m not sure highlighting is necessary at all. Rather, perhaps show an enemy lighting a cannon or moving a box to foreshadow these puzzles.
*The Minerva’s secret map room looks much less impressive and moody than it did before in 2016.
*The Minerva looks less wooden and more like molded clay now in its interior. (SEE ABOVE.) This is due to changes in texture and how the planks are arranged--though this could be from procedural generation being turned off.
*I think the in-game voices and cut-scene voices should be separately layered. The in-game attack voices are too loud (or at least too frequent), but if you turn them down, you can’t hear the cut-scene voices.
*I love the 3D rotation effect on the bridge, but why is it no longer below the bridge, too, as seen in an earlier trailer? (I hope to see this effect used a few other places in the game to create depth.)
*I wonder if there shouldn’t be a pop-up notification when you’ve completed a quest’s requirements to know you can cash them in.
*The quest structure as a whole seems a bit awkward/cumbersome right now. You get too many that are too similar all together, and you’re selecting quest after quest just to get them in your log in case you run across the enemies in question. Something has to be done here, and I think more vital in-game items should be acquired by some quests. The quests themselves should have some more interesting requirements, like finding a missing villager in the castle. Just hunting down enemies feels like padding and a chore more often than not.
*There is a hole in the Village that leads to the drawbridge area, but I could only access it after going under the drawbridge. Not sure if that’s supposed to be that way or not.
*I liked how you could create a shortcut in the village by breaking the brace holding a door shut.
*The Castle Entrance music is much better than I originally thought. The Garden of Silence is very good, too, but a little too MIDI-sounding at times. The
Minerva theme is catchy, but a bit too repetitive. Given the length of that area, it probably needed one more section to its musical structure. But I am nitpicking here. Great boss music!
*Either upon returning to the Village or straight off, the Village could use some music. If not that, then sound effects like wind or rustling branches.
*It’s hard to tell in this demo, but the size of each area seems fairly compact. I just feel like I’m getting drawn into their atmosphere when they seem to abruptly end. I am sure this is happening, but I just want to say I hope there is thought going into the variance of sizes between each area. I hope they’re not all small. Then again, they can’t be too large, either, because then they might lose their uniqueness, so you’re on the right track overall.
*I like how much variance there is in the backgrounds of each area, and how there are various set pieces, like the fountain, chandeliers, broken stairs, etc in the Castle Entrance. It makes each area feel alive rather than cut-and-paste.
*I really like the trimming design on the bow of the Minerva.
*Barbatos bow enemy is well done.
*I hope you will be able to shoot Directional Shards while running, falling, etc. (Maybe you can and my PC is acting up.)
*The new Vepar is very much improved! The only part I don’t like is, when she grabs and tips the boat, something else should happen gameplay-wise. It feels sort of pointless right now.
*Vepar’s death animation is really cool how it crystallizes.
*The lion knight enemy’s death animation and attack animation are really cool.
*There should be some way of swapping between Shards and Weapons that doesn’t include the menu every time. Maybe something like what was done with the magic orb scrolling wheel in Lament of Innocence or else maybe using the “click stick” controller function to cycle between Shards/Weapons.
*Character animations, like when the villager is attacked on the opening of the Minerva or when Johannes runs onto the scene look stilted and silly. They need a decent amount of work still.
*The character mouth flaps aren’t too bad in their timing, it’s just that they are too exaggerated at times, especially Miriam, whose mouth opens too wide.
*I’m curious to know what is going on with the blood pool, which was intriguing and artistic in its execution. However, as it is, where you can’t see the edge of it well before falling in, and Miriam doesn’t get any splash and temporary blood on her from falling in seems a little awkward.
*The Zengetsu fight was very well done.
*I like David Hayter’s performance a lot.
*Johannes’ dialogue animation of bobbing up and down like he’s out of breath is too exaggerated.
*I was surprised to see that some of the garb changes made Miriam look different, especially the stone mask. It’s sort of neat, but I also sort of feel like it takes away a bit from Miriam’s signature design. But I’m fine enough with it as it is.
*I like that items pop out of chests now when you open them.
*The HP/Mana Max Up graphics are okay, but look a little plain compared to the level up graphic. Still, they should separate from one another, so I can understand why this was done this way. Looks sort of retro, though. Maybe intentionally.
*I like the Mana Flowers idea and how they appear.
*I still like the rocking effect of the boat.
*Breaking walls: while the final animation is satisfying, the way the cracks appear look a little off to me. They look more like lines than cracks. I think their needs to be a “chipping” effect too with the cracks, where small pieces come off on the first strike.
*I’m curious about the decision to drop Miriam’s glowing curse trail. Maybe it only appears when she has too many Shards in her? I suppose it would be overkill with the scarf, but it was sort of a neat idea I’d like to see somewhere in the game. Maybe to indicate you have full Mana if nothing else?
*With the demo, while warned of it, there is currently no way to know whether our actions are hurting Miriam with the Shard absorption in regards to her curse. If this is something we need to be aware of as players rather than a threat of the story, we need some in-game clarification of this game mechanic.
*Enemies like Morte seem a bit slow to spawn and get into attack motions. I didn’t even notice if they could grab Miriam anymore like in the 2016 demo, which was something I liked.
*I like the effects of enemies flinching or losing parts of their structure depending on how you hit them. It seemed to me the Bone Morte were vulnerable in the legs.
*The Shard attack visuals have gotten better since 2016.
*Based on the demo, it seems like we’re getting a lot of Shards and weapons early on in the game. It gives a lot of options, but I wonder if it’s a little too empowering.
*I like the name loader that breaks into stained-glass petals upon entering a new area.
*The way you can open doors by raising Miriam’s hand toward them is intriguing. I wonder if there won’t be hand-pattern doors at some point, where you have to move Miriam’s arm in a certain direction to open doors. I just don’t want this to be something that happens a lot, though.
*I still like it how the masts fall to make platforms and that enemies come from foreground and background on the Minerva. I want more of these kinds of platforming/enemy effects in the game as it goes on.
*The Dullahammer Shard should have an upgrade where you can spin it like a shield over your head or in front of your body when you hold down the Shard button. That said, the Dullahammer Shard is overpowered, and should consume more MP, because you can spam it.
*While I like the idea of secret-button attacks, it seems a bit unfair how some people are using them to get to secret spots when others don’t have the knowledge to do so. There needs to be some kind of balance there, where if you have shoes that allow a kick combo to increase your jumping length, it is planted in the player’s mind that that is what the developer wants you to use it for to get to a far-reaching place rather than finding a new Shard or getting a new ability like a double jump. However, if such areas will be accessible later on through official means, it’s not so bad...
*The Alfred story cut-scene is the most interesting development in the story so far to me. The opening of the story, while it got to the action just quick enough, felt a little awkward/forced somehow.
*Gremory turning into the moon was an interesting effect.
*The textures and shapes of organic elements like rocks look unnatural in their look/composition in places like the Village. This may be due to some effects being turned off in the demo. But that was one of the visuals that bothered me the most. Some of the earlier videos of the village suggest it will look better. I don’t need this to look like the best thing ever, I just want some consistency to naturalistic elements.
*Puzzles are interesting with iron maiden, and I hope there are more like that, but there should be another way to succeed. The Toad Shard should cause the iron maiden to close just as much as the Parma enemy being knocked into it.
*I like the look of those axe enemies.
*I did have a situation where I threw an Axe Shard in the Save room, and saved, and the MP kept draining all the way toward zero. But when I got to the next screen, the effect stopped. It only happened once. Usually, the Axe Shard does not take so much MP.
*The placing of the Backer Portraits could be refined a bit. I think some of the wilder ones, like the “Friar Tuck” and “Dracula” could be in a more eccentric area of the castle, where they would add to the mood rather than potentially detract from it.
*I like how the HP/Mana Max items are hidden in walls (and above the bridge) and such rather than always being on defined pedestals in rooms.
*I think Miriam’s animation and movement feels right on target.
*The loader graphics for the demo are really cool.
*Save rooms on the Minerva should be different than in the Castle.
*I like the variety of useful effects from the Shards so far. Raging Gale is a good early Shard to have.
*The whips feel a little underwhelming compared to other weapons right now. I think the recovery time and the hit boxes need improvement. When you are below and jump to strike, your whip goes right around something like a lantern, creating hassles.
*EDIT: I'd love to see a "pushing animation" for moving boxes, which is something done in Castlevania: Circle of the Moon. Just running against boxes always struck me as a little goofy compared to a change in animation, as seen 8:28-9:15 here: