unfortunately, the link to the demo survey doesn't seem to be working, so i'll leave a comment.
this is a neat demo with so much potential, and the entire reason i'm reviewing it is because i adore the concept so much. the art style is a very interesting choice, and it does a great job staying faithful to its inspiration. the setting - although i do wish that more things could have been interacted with - was enjoyable for a first area. the music is also quite nice, too.
however, this is where my praise ends, but that doesn't mean i don't like it. it just means there's more things i'd like to point out that could be tweaked and/or developed more.
- the battle system, as well as the UI, is a tad too confusing to understand.
- the health for otto and the enemy should be on separate parts of the screen and not occupy the same space.
- health(?) stats for otto and enemies are quite odd in the way that not much is labeled nor explained. it looks like jokes are recovering(?) enemy HP, but visually it doesn't make much sense. perhaps make a separate bar for an "entertainment" stat of some sort? maybe a "sense of humor" stat could stand in place for defense?
- as mentioned previously, not much is explained or labeled - this goes for both in-battle and in the overworld. even from my knowledge of reading the game's description, it did take me a few battles to realize what i was supposed to do in order to tell jokes properly.
- adding to the note above: a lot of the RPG magic, especially with the top-down turn-based gameplay, does come from the writing. without descriptions of what's around us or what other characters are doing, you're left to stare at a screen that plays an unspecific animation for an enemy attacking. in short, descriptive textboxes and/or tutorials would be nice.
- although i do think telling jokes is an appealing way to "attack", i do think that only telling puns would grow to become stale over the course of a full-length game (especially an RPG). do remember that comedy isn't just puns - it's an entire concept. i've listed below some ways to expand otto's comedic capabilities:
- expanding upon the current method with humorous stories presented in an "ad lib" sort of way. instead of choosing a word or phrase, the player presses a button (say, the space bar), and depending on the timing the word changes. the "damage" (i'll call it "humor" for now) varies depending on the word/phrase that ends up being used: a "perfect" would deal the most and would be considered the most "humorous" phrase, with "early" and "late" dealing less; "early" could even be joke (accidentally, of course) made in poor taste, while "late" could be one that simply doesn't make sense!
- more for the above: perhaps stories could be personalized depending on an enemy species, and have multiple phrases for each category in order to reduce repetitiveness.
- have humor scale depending on your audience/troupe size? and maybe telling the same type of joke/performing the same action multiple times in a row would grow less effective?
- have members of your troupe help perform pranks or somehow further work off of otto's initial action, as it seems uncharacteristic for otto to be commanding them to attack. perhaps certain members have certain perks that can increase humor dealt in some way.
- for concepts below, i do have an "as game progresses, more actions/abilities become unlocked either through story progression or a leveling system" in mind so it's not just an avalanche of information at the start of the game.
- allow otto to use objects and different actions for different effects. one effect i had in mind was a "stunned" status affliction, potentially where an enemy "has to take a moment to think about the joke."
- integrate a system to note a character's weaknesses, similar to jeff's "spy" command in "Earthbound" or the "check" option in "Undertale." for the game's context, it could probably be what the enemy finds funny/what would deal the most humor.
- just in general have more diversity among what otto himself can do!
- perhaps the "troupe" and "audience" could be two different things; the "troupe" is who's currently travelling with otto, and the "audience" is who's currently watching, i suppose?
- do note that due to the amount of content, we don't see much of him or how he interacts with things, but i do believe there can already be vast improvements to his character.
- otto's design seems rather odd. he's supposed to be a rabbit, which is understandable, but there are elements that perplex me. his ears, albeit long, are constantly down. is he wearing an astronaut helmet? why can't we properly see his face? why is he wearing what appears to be a dress with a bowtie if he's wearing a helmet? these make his appearance seem more alien-like rather than reminiscent of a cute bunny.
- despite being "quick-witted", an "aspiring hero" with "dexterity and comedic instinct", otto appears more "shy" in-game due to his speech patterns shown in dialogue. i wouldn't associate studdering with "dexterity" unless it was ironic, personally.
- this is more of a question, but i'm very curious about the design elements and inspirations that went into otto as a character. what's he based off of? why is he a rabbit? was there a certain comedian in mind when designing him?
- with the current amount of content, it seems that this is more of a "proof of concept" rather than a "proper" demo. it was mentioned in a developer content that more focus was put into developing the story and art style, which is fine, but it leaves a lot to be desired in terms of having an actual playable game. i do hope that the project does reach the stage of a "proper" demo, though.
- a lot of the collision with objects/NPCs is awkward - it's either too far away from the object or too close. a prominent example is the chest in otto's room or the NPC in the basement.
- assuming this takes place in the 1920s, i'd recommend researching many aspects of that time. from current events to fashion trends to standalone people, there's many things that could help progress in this game's atmosphere.
- in particular, i think it would be helpful to research comedians from various eras and learn how influential they were and/or what made them so memorable. elements from them could aid in the development of the environment and characters!
as i said in the beginning, this demo has tons of potential if done right! i honestly absolutely cannot wait to see production on this game progress!!
i'm currently contemplating whether or not i should join the discord server and/or volunteer to beta test, considering i not only have my own things to work on but i also have the attention span of a goldfish.
nevertheless, best wishes on development!! <3
tl;dr: mainly nitpicking. awesome concept, mainly things about diversifying the battle system and critiques on otto's character himself