Hey O.M. Hochstetler. I created this account on the Easy Allies forums because I wanted to give you feedback on Gift of Heaven. You've been a Frame Trap sponsor for months now and I think you deserve more engagement for supporting the allies like that. Clearly you've put a lot of time and effort into making this game, so I hope my opinions on the prologue chapter can help you in any way.
In regards to the story, it's clear you have a complex and well-thought-out world. The game references so many different characters and events that, while it's impressive, is hard to digest for a player new to this world. I liked the idea of this apocalypse being so far off that people are apathetic towards it, but I was kinda lost towards the end as to what was going on or why I was going to slay a goddess. I understand exposition can be hard to write correctly without boring the player, but I'd rather be bored for a little bit than confused for a lot of it.
Another thing that makes the story hard to swallow is the tone. I think you're good at writing dialogue that sounds majestic or otherworldly, but when you sandwich it between people saying words like “butthead” or “dogfarts” it makes me respect the serious stuff less. This goes double for references. There are way too many references in this game. I can get behind references on non-critical NPC's like the Tenacious D one, but when you have main story beats quoting Greenday or the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air it's too much. When Kyle praised Shovel Knight awhile ago, he mentioned how the world believed in itself and didn't resort to 'winks and nods' that devalued the world. If you could ease up on the references and replace them with your own words I think it would go a long way. I was smirking at some of the dialogue in the tavern so I know you can write comedy without having to lean on references.
I was initially put off by how hard the combat was, but it actually grew on me. I liked how you had to pay attention to the enemies patterns and take them down in a specific order. Knowing you're potentially one wrong move away from a game over was thrilling and kept me engaged in the combat. I've played a lot of RPG's that give you freedom over what strategies you want to use, so having to figure out the singular correct strategy was new and fresh to me. One downside to the difficulty though is that you can sometimes get into scenarios that you have no chance of winning. There were several times where I would complete a fight with only one party member alive and have to suicide in the next fight as I needed both members alive to have a chance of winning. Also had a couple of fights where I had to rely on a monster not to attack a specific party member if I wanted to win, which comes down to luck and not strategy.
A couple of stray thoughts that couldn't make a full paragraph:
I like the \”:”// denoting locations. I don't know if they actually have any meaning to them, but it makes me feel like they do.
The 'follow the correct answer path' maze dungeon is a neat idea, but we're never given any info to be able to answer the questions correctly so it's just trial and error. Wouldn't it make more sense to ask questions about things we were told previously in the game so we can feel smart for getting it right?
There are some typos and other small errors in the game. One of the people in the tavern talking about sportball is missing a ] at the end of his sentence. There's a character towards the end of the dungeon that says the same word twice in a row. If you lose to the boss, it continues into the next scene like you won before giving you a game over.
Giving us the option to save during the cutscene before the boss is a bad idea. I saved when prompted to because I thought we were going to a new area, not fighting a boss. Mack was low on MP when I saved, and since the only way to damage the boss is to have him cast super explosion, I spent most of the fight just giving him items to replenish MP. This made the fight way harder and mostly luck-based as I had to get perfect RNG with the status ailments to have a chance of winning. Maybe telegraph that a boss is about to come up so players can prepare themselves. The save spot is pointless anyway, as I still had to watch the entire cutscene over again every time I died to the boss.
It was a little complicated to find the demo to download. I think you should specify that the capitalization and spaces in O.M. Hawk are necessary when searching for the demo.
Not really game-related, but I think you should stop advertising that you've spent 600+ hours on making this game. It gives me sunk cost fallacy vibes. I think you want people to know how hard you've been working on this game and I get that, but it's about quality, not quantity.
I hope my feedback can be of value to you and help you hone in on what works and what doesn't. Sorry if any of this comes off as overly harsh, but I believe honest feedback is the best way to improve. Love & Respect.