The War of Eustrath hurts, and not just because of the hilariously awkward writing or the mind-numbingly stupid story that makes you want to scoop your brain out with a spoon in order to spare it the agony. No, this game hurts because of just how much wasted potential there is. Plenty of games have tried to capture what’s great about sRPGs, ultimately failing to create balanced, interesting gameplay. What hurts about Eustrath is that the gameplay is the one thing it actually got right, with everything else being an unmitigated disaster.
This game is truly awful
The pure badness of this game isn’t apparent at first, so you could easily be fooled into believing that Eustrath has a lot to offer. However, you’ll quickly notice that the dialogue is so far below average that just reading it makes you a dumber person. Take a look at the screenshots for some examples of this, and know that I didn’t cherry-pick any of the screenshots—that’s the kind of writing that the entire game is filled with. With the writing at such an unbelievably low level, the story quickly descends into utter meaninglessness and stupidity, with things happening just because. With that, the last shreds of believability are destroyed, and virtually nothing of worth is left except for the actual gameplay.
And that hurts
Fighting against enemies on the game’s maps is the sole redeeming element of Eustrath. Each character has a different “feel” to them, and you’re eased into combat slowly, giving you the time to pick up some of the finer points of combat. For example, when you’re attacked, you can try and avoid the attack (lowering an enemy’s chance to hit considerably), defend against it (lowering the damage taken, but increasing their accuracy), or counter-attack. The gentle pace of the beginning makes it easy to figure out when each is most appropriate.
Some other gameplay stuff
Your characters level up, and when they do, they occasionally gain special skills. These can be used outside of combat with effects like increasing the amount of experience you gain, or inside of combat to raise your evasion, attack, and/or other things that can tip the fight in your favor. Using these depletes your “will,” which functions kind of like AP or MP in other games. While you often have quite a bit of it (and it replenishes), your stronger attacks require your will to be at a certain point—though they don’t actually deplete it—and this forces you to be fairly conservative with skills. The whole system is balanced surprisingly well, and that’s really what’s so heartbreaking about Eustrath: it could have been amazing.
But it isn’t
The writing is atrocious, the story is stupid, and the characters are ridiculous and completely unbelievable. That would be enough badness for most games, but that’s really just the tip of the iceberg for Eustrath; while its character designs are passable, the overall graphical level of the game is really, really low. Almost every level looks the same, and when you start a level, the characters are always having their stupid conversations on top of the same map backdrop.
The music is by far the worst I’ve ever heard
That map backdrop is horrible, but what makes it even worse is that the same music plays every time it pops up. It’s this weird bell solo kind of thing, and it’s okay-ish at first. However, this thing plays at least once per level, so it quickly gets old. I eventually became so sick of it that I literally cringed every time I heard it. Seriously, is it so hard to create more than 2 or 3 songs? Even the “combat” song, while nowhere near as annoying as the bell song, wears thin after awhile. The music in this game is absolutely atrocious and stands as an ugly testament to the necessity of a varied and interesting soundtrack.
Here’s what you should do: