I have read reviews from others, and they take issue with the quality. I'd like to note for months now, Chris Skaggs of Soma has made perfectly clear this will be a very basic, low-level, rudimentary look at the game. This should be taken into account if you're considering purchasing it now.
This is not the end product. It's simply a look at early mechanics, how the controls work, what we might be in for. There are bugs. It is not perfect. It's not meant to be.
The Scout comes with four options/levels to check out: Old Moss Creek, Flight to the Lighthouse, the Movement Lab, and the Redwall Gatehouse Library.
We'll be taking a look at each of them.
Old Moss Creek begins with a comic/storyboard intro sequence, it's unclear if it will be like this in the completed game, or this is actually in place of an animated cutscene.
We're informed that Lilygrove has been attacked by sea rats, presumably led by a wearet named Scumscout. Two mice, Liam and Sophia, flee the village and are sent through Mossflower Woods to seek help from Redwall Abbey, and that's where we begin.
As Liam has been injured, the player is Sophia. Located in the midst of the woods, the player must overcome obstacles, navigate pathways and shrubbery, and partake in a few puzzles to reach the end of the level. There are no enemies to battle. And while it's impossible to "die," touching water will reset you to your last checkpoint, so avoid that!
It doesn't take too long, and we've put together a handy walkthrough if you're still stuck. (The walkthrough can certainly use some sprucing up too - feel free to help us improve it!)
I enjoyed the animation of the mouse character itself - others have complained that running involves being on all fours, another thing Soma has made clear in its development videos, but I didn't think this was a big deal. The upright walking looks great.
Upon successful completion of the level, you are transported to a Google form in your browser, which requests feedback on several aspects, and Soma is taking it seriously.
I'm going to expand a bit on mine here. The names of two locations on the map: "Fairy Ring" and "Globetrotter's Gate" seem a bit out of place - Redwall doesn't have fairies, and the word "globe" is suggestive that the characters are on a planet of some sort.
I would also like to see the map show the player exactly where they are located on it, which would be helpful when trying to get through Mossflower.
The biggest thing I felt this type of gameplay needed was more dialogue/interaction with the other characters in your party, or perhaps other NPCs to talk to in general. I grew up playing adventure games from Sierra and LucasArts, and while this style is dated, I think some inspiration could be taken from Escape from Monkey Island.
Dialogue options with the characters could help the player figure out which direction to go, what to do, where not to go, etc. Frequently I was unclear if I was heading in the right direction, and kind of stumbled my way around. There is a Journal (and an Inventory) that keeps track of what your next 'task' is, but I think interaction might be more fruitful and could even add to it.
I also liked the ability to bring your party to wherever you were located. Old Moss Creek is the most in-depth level in this Early Access release.
Flight to the Lighthouse is a sneak peek at what's going to be a chase sequence: an enemy will be pursuing the player throughout this level. If there is meant to be an enemy here, I did not encounter it. And, because of this alpha-status of The Scout, I was unable to fully complete the level.
The first part is almost 2-D - the village is burning around the player, and you must run through it to escape. I was able to successfully make it through here. You're then transported to another portion of the village, and that's where it got a bit tricky. The protagonist is placed in an odd angle, and when trying to climb on some rooftops, I became immobile often. Eventually, I had to give up. We'll see where this one goes.
The Movement Lab is essentially a developer playground or sandbox. It's an endless room with steps and stairs to climb and run around, learning the player controls. It is from the character perspective of Old Moss Creek.
The Redwall Gatehouse Library is not so much a level as it is a room to look at. You're given the option to change camera angles and music, but that's it. It is meant for giving a "glimpse into developing art style." Above a desk, the maps from Redwall, the Redwall Map & Riddler, and Pearls of Lutra are framed.
It is the highest quality in terms of graphics in this demo.
This early access release of An Epic Tale of Redwall: The Scout is available right now at a 40% discount for $8.99. If I read correctly, that price goes up after Christmas.
If you're interested in providing Soma with feedback on how this can be the best Redwall game ever, you should get it.
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