Over the Hills and Far Away DEMO Review


The creator of Over the Hills and Far Away recently invited me to review the demo. I rarely if ever play demos, but the game’s Kickstarter had caught my eye, so I was willing to give it a go. You can download the demo here.

Over the Hills and Far Away Screenshot

Over the Hills and Far Away Demo: In Review

WarGirl Games presents Over the Hills and Far Away, which is set during the War of 1812. An injured Red-coat deserter named William Aubrey takes shelter from a storm in  a barn and unexpectedly meets a native girl, who he nicknames Mai. Over the course of the story, the two of them get over their general anxiety and indifference for one another, slowly bonding to become friends. But will their friendship outlast the rains; when both return to the bloodshed and the outside world?

In the demo we meet two characters. The first of which is the main character, William Aubrey. While rough around the edges, the man has mostly good intentions despite his checkered past. Given the time he lives in, he’s done what he’s had to in order to survive. While outwardly rough and somewhat crass, deep down he wants to do the right thing.

Mai is a quiet Native American Shawnee girl. She is somewhat mysterious and we don’t get the chance to delve into that mystery in the demo.

The story’s writing is fairly good, though I didn’t see enough of it to be truly wowed. That said, there were no major mistakes that distracted me from reading through the story, and it definitely kept my interest. I recognize that writing historical fiction must be an interesting and somewhat difficult venture, what with the amount of research that has to be done. I can also imagine that writing from the perspective of the times would be difficult, as common thoughts and speech patterns are now not acceptable. There were a few times that I thought a different word could be used in the writing, for instance, I thought the phrase “tomboy” was probably too modern for this particular story, but I was actually wrong. “Tomboy” has been used as early as the 1550s, far before 1812.

In Over the Hills and Far Away, the time it is set in seems to be represented fairly accurately. The creeping unease of war, of being a traitor, and being near a stranger that you feel you can’t trust is prevalent in the plot. We have a varying cast, including a British soldier, a Yankee, and a Native American character, the first I’ve seen in a visual novel, which pleases me to no end.

The sprite art for Mai is lovely. Soft colors and expressions fit her quiet demeanor. I especially like her smile. The single CG in the demo matches the art of the sprite and backgrounds very well. All of the art is consistent, and I praise Space Penguin’s work on the project for that consistency. The background art really captures the feeling of the gloomy weather and the dreary world, especially the abandoned battle field. The GUI/HUD is great, with an easy to read font and a clear theme that it follows. It fits well with the art, there is no clashing, and it’s fairly accessible. It also appears to be coded well.

A pleasant surprise for me was the animation on the title screen. The fallen flag flaps about smoothly. In game, the rain effects are also very impressive. It almost looks real from certain shots. The animation and effect point to the finished game being of a high quality, which I look forward to.

The music and sound effects are effective. The soundtrack is pleasant and well composed, enough so that I looked up the composer, Yuang Chen. Meanwhile, the sound effects serve their purpose in representing things that go unseen.

The platform, Ren’Py, is pushed to create a beautiful package of visual novel experience. While I can’t say with certainty how much the gameplay will change between the demo and the finished game, I can say that despite the animations and effects, the game currently runs very smoothly. The effects play into the story very well. Overall, the high quality visuals, sound, programming, and effects form a cohesive and pleasant experience.

Over the Hills and Far Away Mai

The Over the Hills and Far Away demo is definitely short but sweet. It is intriguing enough story-wise to make me want to play the full game, but what really draws me in is the quality of the art and animations. I wish the team luck in their crowdfunding campaign. You can support them here.

Over the Hills and Far Away Demo

Summary

The demo is definitely short but sweet. It is intriguing enough story-wise to make me want to play the full game, but what really draws me in is the quality of the art and animations. I wish the team luck in their crowdfunding campaign. You can support them here.

8.3/10
  • Story (8.5/10)
  • Presentation (7.5/10)
  • Gameplay (9/10)
  • Demo Value (8.22/10)

 


About Mystery Corgi

Mystery Corgi is a gaming-centric artist, musician, writer, and programmer. She likes indie games, RPGs, and visual novels.

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