The Dink Network

Cycles of Evil

Description
The town of Beral is affected by evil across generations.
Released:January 8th, 2015
File Size:2.84 MB
Release Notes:- Updated to be compatible with true-color mode.
- Fixed black spots on title screen.
- Trees don't change before fade_down when switching seasons.
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January 5th, 2017
v1.3
Score : 4.0 tolerable
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Cycles of Evil is a very experimental mod, using multiple protagonists and time periods to tell an overarching story, while disregarding most gameplay and RPG elements present in Dink to keep things simple. While impressive in the effort clearly required to make it, the game ultimately feels like a mess by the third quarter; I found myself both begging for context and gameplay, or for the story to end so I could stop playing.

The story starts with a plot thread that is not relevant to the overall story until it resumes later. The second thread to be introduced centers around a character that transforms into a bonca with no explanation, and who disappears after his thread suddenly stops without closure (the best I can tell is that he and his childhood friend spawned pure boncas that somehow survived trapped in the basement for years?).
This is just a sample of the narrative; the impact of almost every playable character's role during the game seems either nonexistent, or so poorly/under explained that it is lost on the player. The earliest plot thread wraps near the end with an explanation regarding two ancient beings that we know nearly nothing about. They appear to have been present in some manner for each time period, but their appearance in the ending fails to contextualize their actions throughout the story, or provide any payoff for the ending.
In summary:

In terms of gameplay, the game is a real shlog. Within minutes of starting, you are forced to fight a massive pillbug horde with basic stats, and a somewhat inaccurate hitbox for your attack. Yet barring the final fight, you never see anything nearly that challenging again. Outside of combat, the majority of time spent is going from point A to B, often with little direction, plenty of walking, but nothing else to do. This is amplified by all time periods occupying the same map. While this offers some unique sense of change, it also leaves all of the periods feeling too similar. Combined with spawning in each period almost opposite of where you need to go, and you spend the entire game in familiar territory either fighting simple melee scripted battles, and wandering non-interactive areas.
The final bosses are even fought back-to-back, have extremely disjointed hitboxes, and offer no recovery in-between despite sporting more health each than any other fights. And then after a few lines of text, you are booted to the splash screen.

Graphically, it's a passable title, utilizing a few new assets. One time period (and sadly the least played) has a great snow effect and palette, which provides some surprising immersion. However, seeing the same town layout over and over (beyond one thread which just axes out the town) as you are asked to annoyingly travel through it for menial tasks is a real chore. And that splash screen is a real eyesore; very bright and with poor color contrast.

Now, what ultimate ruined the experience for me was actually the music. I'll start with what I liked; which was that during the winter season I mentioned earlier, you hear a great clip of a blizzard blowing in the wind. It is -very- effective, despite clearly looping between each screen. I loved it, and would love to hear this quality of audio in more DMODS.
While generally appropriate, some tracks feel out of place, mostly the fairy period's MIDI. However, the real complaint is directed at the usage of "Boss Battle 2" from Final Fantasy Adventure. This is an extremely dramatic battle theme that requires a lot of buildup to use properly, and it's only of average length.
This theme blasts at high volume, uninterrupted, throughout a third of one character's thread, only to also appear for half of his next section, ultimately appearing for 20-25% of an about 35-minute game. It is the most grating midi experience I've had with a DMOD yet, takes place in an extremely repetitive combat section that consists of having to clear roughly 10 screens of a single bonca each without knowing how many are left or where. This can be ended prematurely by wandering into one locked screen from the wrong side of a fence, which is inexcusable design.
After so many years on the Dink Network before its' most recent patch in 2015, this is a glaring flaw that dragged the experience from a mildly interesting six to a frustrating four. For it to immediately resume during a wandering section (even if not for long) is aggravating, and painful to temporarily rested ears.

Ultimately, I had a poor experience with this title. I am impressed at the work put into it; the map is lush, the story is full of promise while both non-traditionally told and unique in the subjects it attempts to tackle. And that snow season is so cool!
Unfortunately, those same pluses bear the worst minuses. The map lacks interactivity, is both too small for variety and too large for it's lack of content. The story fails to really inform you of what's going on at any point, leaves much unexplained, and resolves abruptly without explanation as to how it got there. That snow season sets up a much more combat-oriented, character-driven, and interactive adventure than ever happens or is present to that extent in other threads. And I've honestly never had a game track aggravate me so much for so many reasons at such a high volume.
Sorry, but I seriously don't recommend this title to anyone beyond those desperate for something different, or historians.
TopicPostsPosterLast Post
Cycles of Evil Bug7redink1March 7th 2008, 07:14 AM
HELP!7rp64October 26th 2007, 08:30 AM
Big Bug6DEATHis2006August 30th 2007, 11:16 AM
cycle of evil4UNICORNLADYOctober 18th 2003, 01:36 PM
Cycles of Evis: Help, I can not get started 7gvandyk2May 6th 2003, 03:00 PM
coe problem2momerathJanuary 7th 2003, 04:54 PM
Cycle of Evil question8BiniritSeptember 19th 2002, 01:53 AM
Cycles of Evil question2BiniritSeptember 15th 2002, 01:00 PM