In the mobile games industry where fragmentation, leisure and F2P are the mainstream, the Pascal Contract is undoubtedly an alternative, but it is also a sign of the development of mobile games for many years.
“This is a mobile game?” “Cloud game?” This is the first impression many people have of the “Pascal Contract”.
It really doesn’t look like the popular mobile games, just from the game category can see the difference in its bones-action-oriented ARPG. In addition to the buyout system, traditional third-person perspective, 3D, etc., each prefix makes it special.
But these qualifiers are not exclusive to “Pascal Contract”. The main 3D stand-alone mobile games are not rare. What really makes it special is: excellent picture quality, harsh operating experience, and anti-fragmentation immersive levels. Simply put, just before the popularity of cloud gaming, an ARPG similar to the mainstream PC / host was moved to the mobile platform.
It comes from TipsWorks studio under Giant Network. The game was unveiled at Apple’s new product launch in September last year. This is the first domestic mobile game to receive this award. If you move the time forward, you will find that it has made its appearance on the international stage at E3 2018 and has gained a lot of attention. But behind all the surprises and praises, there is an uninterrupted question: Can you really make an ARPG comparable to the PC and host experience on the mobile end?
Yes, it did.
* No plot spoiler, please rest assured
The story begins when the sun falls and the colossus collapses.
“Pascal Contract” sets a unique worldview. The sun sinks into the ocean floor, black mist strikes, and the creatures contacted by the black mist will be infected. Only the giant statues that follow the blooming light can avoid infection. However, the colossus also had a moment of collapse. The protagonist Terence was sent by the church to the depths of the black mist to discover the truth-the truth of the black mist, the truth of the colossus, the truth of the church, or the truth of his wife Teresa. The protagonist’s journey was revealed.
Surrounding this gloomy worldview, the game sets up a corresponding set of stories, art styles, and game mechanics.
Embedding information related to the game world into the description of items, this is the main basis for “soulologists” to study “Dark Soul”, and there are corresponding settings in “Pascal Contract”, players can go from the collected items Piece together the past and present of the whole world.
In addition to the cutscenes of the main line, the game also has a lot of sidelines and scattered manuscripts to help players understand the appearance of the world. Many deep machine words and confusing main line stories are tempting players to explore the story. The truth. At some point, it also throws questions to the player, allowing the player to use the background of the story to gauge the position of the character. Compared to the main line of linear narrative, TipsWorks is not very handy in the use of “fragmented narrative”. The frequency of manuscripts and the weak connection with the main line make them dispensable.
The dark art style perfectly fits the setting of “the sun sinks into the ocean floor”. It is almost difficult to see bright and colorful scenes in the game, with rocks, dead branches, black rivers, silent towering buildings, and caves with twists and turns. The clear and dark world brings a depressed and gloomy atmosphere. In order to avoid falling into aesthetic fatigue, the game adjusts the player experience from scene changes of multiple elements such as height, inside and outside, wilderness, and architecture.
What is the quality of the Pascal Contract? Incorporating appropriate depth of field in a relatively open world and three-dimensional scenes, supplemented by rich close-up details, it can indeed rank among the top ranks under the blessing of shadows and special effects. However, if you look closely, you can find a lot of clever places. Under the blessing of the dark theme, the picture color of “Pascal Contract” is not complicated, and the reuse ratio of the material is not low. It should be said that “Pascal Contract” is excellent in art because it does its best under the constraints of mobile phone performance.
“The most important thing is to make the game screen run smoothly on all kinds of mobile phones and restore the artist’s ideas to the greatest extent.” Yang Yang, the producer of “Pascal Contract”, said in an interview with the media. “Pascal Contract” The lowest compatible model on the Apple side is the 6s released in 2015. After actual measurement, the ipone 6S can also run games with high image quality and stability.
TipsWorks chose the latter in terms of perfect picture quality and actual operating effects, but it does not prevent players from still experiencing unique dark art from the game.
Under the unique worldview structure, “Pascal Contract” introduced a special setting of “sense” in the game. In the confrontation with the enemy, the character’s sanity will be continuously eroded. After the sanity value is reduced to a certain level, the character will enter an “abnormal state”. In the abnormal state, the character’s ability will be limited, such as changes in attributes and abilities, such as continuous dodge. Due to the limitation of the ability, the edges of the game screen will also become darker, and the reduction of the depth of field also creates a feeling of insanity. When the sanity value reaches the bottom, it will fall into a “collapse”. The maximum health value and energy slot of the character will be further limited, and the enemy’s attack frequency, number, and difficulty of the boss will rise sharply. Of course, the risk is accompanied by the corresponding benefits, the richer the rewards for defeating the enemy under abnormal conditions.
The “sane” setting is equivalent to a dynamic difficulty option in the game. Players can adjust the sanity value through “sane potions” or “eliminate potions”. Players who are keen to challenge can naturally hang “abnormal” and “crash” Debuff to get higher returns. But it can also become a tactical strategy, especially in boss battles, where players can subtly control the character’s sanity to avoid getting the boss into a crash phase of increased ability.
Full of “soul” flavor but no holes
TipsWorks does not taboo about topics similar to the soul series games. From the original intention, they just want to make a dark hardcore game with European and American themes on the mobile terminal. You can really feel some “soul” flavors during the game. .
1.Three-dimensional scene design
For the adventurers lingering in Rhodeland, the intricate but interconnected three-dimensional world of Dark Souls 1 is undoubtedly one of their most talked about topics. Back to the campfire, the tears and the surprise of Liu An Hua Ming You Village continue to play on that road.
“Pascal Contract” is a reduced version of Rodland.
There are chapter divisions in the Pascal Contract, and each individual chapter can be regarded as a well-designed box court world. It creates “freedom” through three-dimensional scene design in a linear story experience. Like the map design of the Galactic-like Castlevania game, there are a lot of areas in the Pascal Contract that can’t be passed at first sight. It often requires a player’s exploration to unlock new areas or open shortcuts.
Objectively speaking, the box court design of “Pascal Contract” has certain flaws. Although a crow is added as a guide in the game, the low level of scene recognition and a large number of fork designs make players often fall into “where am I”, ” In the confusion of “Where am I going?”, In the absence of the setting of the map mechanism, the game is extremely sophisticated about the player’s map memory ability. From the perspective of the change of players’ emotions, there are also some shortcomings in the design of these levels.
But these cannot hide that it gives the world a sense of lack of exploration in mobile games. Players must explore the unknown area by themselves with limited supplies and prompts. It provides a slow-paced adventure that is the opposite of one-click pathfinding. The design of multiple forks gives this adventure more freedom. The end of the road may be a hidden treasure chest, or a avenue to the main line process, or a secret passage to open a hidden area, or it may have been before The edge of the door. In most cases, players often go back to the initial reply point after wandering around the map. Various inner-connected designs from top to bottom and from inside to outside always make people feel the subtleties of map design. Moreover, thanks to the game’s wide field of vision, players can observe some of the things they will come into contact with early on.
Screening directions, planning paths, and traversing each piece of land to trace the appearance of the entire area. Players have encountered the authenticity of the game world during trekking and repeated deaths. This danger and novelty are both explored. Feeling is incomparable to fast food mobile games.
2. “Malicious” from the production team
In “Soul of Darkness”, too reckless will often fall into the traps carefully prepared for you by Miyazaki, and there are countless examples of first sight killings. Whether it’s the configuration of the enemy, the limitation of the terrain, or the hidden traps, it just wants to convey to the player a concept-look around and act cautiously.
The same is true in the Pascal Contract. Whether it is a boulder rolling down a hillside, a spike that protrudes from the ground, or an enemy hiding behind a corner sneakily, you will inevitably get a bloody lesson. However, the “maliciousness” of TipsWorks is obviously not as “deep” as From Software. They are more emphasizing the observation of the environment. Games often use environmental colors and dark visual styles to create “surprises” for players. The deep pits at the feet, the elite monsters in the pits, the cliffs under the water, and the miscellaneous soldiers climbing to the ceiling may cause the player to give up all his efforts.
3.1V1 heads-up hardcore battle
The design of “Pascal Contract” in the combat module tends to be a hard-core battle in the soul-based game. There are no fancy skills, no jumping, and no simple operation of one-click casting. Players can only make light and heavy attacks under the restriction of the energy bar. , Dodge, special skills (depending on the role, the protagonist Terrence blocks) a few simple operations.
For players who are accustomed to soul-based games, the Pascal Contract feels very comfortable. There are obvious rhythm differences and animation performances for light and heavy attacks. The former has a short forward and backward shake time, which is suitable for most situations. , The combo behavior, the latter is very heavy, it is easier to interrupt the enemy ’s behavior, but the connection of a few animations is not so smooth and natural, the character seems to have shifted.
The limitation of operable space and energy bar makes players must be cautious in every confrontation with the enemy. Most of the enemy’s health can resist the two or three sets of light attacks of the protagonist, while the protagonist’s body cannot withstand the enemy’s two complete sets. In the case of consecutive moves, in the case of weak early attributes, players need to see the move, and arrange the number of evasion and attack reasonably according to their energy bar.
Although players can still use the skills trained in soul-based games such as rewinding and rebounding to deal with the enemies in the Pascal Contract, the choice of the Pascal Contract is richer and more “friendly”.
Multi-role and combo
The current version of the game provides a total of four controllable characters, the main attack, power type Terrence, the remote, agile Viola, the main defense, the outbreak of Norwood, the versatile auxiliary character Benita, The characteristics and use skills of each character are different from each other. Male characters have more advantages in reducing the toughness of enemies, and females have better damage capabilities, but they still need to be determined according to specific usage situations, such as high agility, skill The more flexible Viola’s heavy attack speed is similar to Terrence’s light attack speed. Benita’s heavy attack speed is slow, but the attack distance and the advantage of superimposed damage balance this defect. There is no absolute difference between the four roles. In addition to the protagonist Terrence, players can carry an additional character for each adventure, increasing the chance of survival in disguise.
In addition, each character also has its own set of skills, which can be cast through a combination of light and heavy attacks, but it requires a certain amount of anger (depending on attacking the enemy or being accumulated by the attack). In view of the difficulty of accumulating anger in the early stage, players are more Need to consider the right timing of skill release. Four characters plus four sets of skills and four special skills, these characters and the use of changes to the “Pascal Contract” brought more variety of game experience, especially in the duel with the boss.
The confrontation with the enemy is by no means a unilateral performance of the player. It is in the battle of dozens of enemies. They can dodge, block, poison, gain, and even bounce back. The boss battle is the essence of the entire game’s combat module. Players must not only pinpoint the boss’s attack routine, but also understand the characteristics of the character they control. After all, differences in character attributes and attack methods will affect the player’s operating feel. It’s a bit regrettable that due to the average clearance time of more than twenty hours in games, the number of high-quality bosses is difficult to meet the needs of hardcore players.
2. Alchemy system and talent settings
In the “Pascal Contract”, there are not many equipments that are directly produced by killing the enemy. Most of them need to be cast on the altar (recovery point) by the player himself. Character upgrades, smelting of potions, equipment melting, strengthening, and recasting are all performed at the altar, and the required materials are produced from the enemy and the map collection. It is worth mentioning that the equipment in the “Pascal Contract” is common to all characters, and players do not need to specially match a set of equipment for different characters.
In addition to the regular upgrade attributes, a new talent system is added to the Pascal Contract that is not common in the soul system. The “attack” talent is used for skill and damage gains, and “alchemy” is used for potions and effects. Gain, “sense” is used to increase the gain of sanity or abnormal status, and “special” is used to gain the special skills of the character. The introduction of the talent system is not only to strengthen the role, but more importantly, it gives players the option to choose tactics freely. The “Gouji” faction can specialize in refined gold gains, and the skill faction can study special talents to enhance anti-return gains.
TipsWorks tries to make a dark-themed hard-core action game on the mobile phone. It inevitably smells of some black souls, especially in the looping map design and the hard-core party, but it ’s important for players. It is undoubtedly more “pity”, it strengthens the density of map design, weakens the difficulty of the level, strengthens the importance of observing the scene, weakens the difficulty of miscellaneous soldiers, enriches the player’s combat strategy, and weakens the game’s Death penalty. From a game design perspective, it may be hard to compare to the long-known “Soul of Darkness”, but it lets players see the other side of mobile games.
Anti-traditional, anti-fragmentation heavy mobile games
Going back to the question at the beginning of the article, without including cloud games, can the mobile end really make an ARPG masterpiece comparable to the host PC experience?
For mobile phones with superior performance and mobile game production technology with rapid technological development, it is more like a question of “when” and “incompatible with the market”.
In recent years, mobile games produced or announced by domestic manufacturers, “Call of Duty: Mobile”, “Meteor Legends”, “The End of the Moon” … The screen performance no longer becomes a constraint on the development of mobile games. It’s no longer a rare mobile game to move to a mobile platform. Apple also summarizes the game trends in 2019 as “classic rebirth”. Maybe these games have a certain degree of screen simplification and simplified operation compared with PCs and consoles, but it At least it shows that the mobile terminal is fully capable of making masterpieces with exquisite pictures and smooth operations.
However, having production capabilities does not mean that manufacturers are willing to invest their money in a serious game that is closer to console games. They are more willing to make efforts in the seriousness of the liver and the degree.
The seriousness of mobile games and the seriousness of PC / host players have gone in two opposite ways. The former bundles players’ time and money with various daily activities, weekly activities, time-limited activities, and rewards. Its actual game experience But dull and repeated. The latter emphasizes continuous long-term experience. It has the depth of operation or strategy, and the breadth of elements such as story and art.
However, the “severe” indicator of mobile games can bring huge profits. In China, the one-shot deal of heavy PC / console games “paying by one hand and delivering by one hand” is not the mainstream. The weak production strength of domestic stand-alone games has nothing to do with the overall mobile game-oriented market environment. However, these inherent impressions are gradually disintegrating.
According to December’s official hardware and software survey data released by Steam, Simplified Chinese has become the most used language on Steam, with a ratio of 37.87%, a year-on-year increase of 14.43%. At the same time, mobile buyout games have gradually been recognized by mobile game players. In the article “Remake, transplant, more and more PC games launched mobile games” at the beginning of the year, GameRes pointed out that PC games have become a trend on mobile, and there are many games with exquisite pictures or demanding operations. Such as “Bright Memory”, “You Lin Wei Tan” and so on. What will the blurring of platform boundaries bring? Change of concept and acceptance.
“Pascal Contract” was born just at such a time of handover. It is difficult for you to see any shadow of the early mobile games on it-simple pictures, convenient operations, immediate gameplay, and it is difficult for you to see the current There is a shadow of a mobile game masterpiece-a fragmented experience in a few minutes, trying to adapt to the simplified operation of the mobile terminal, assorted of gold projects and retained design. It is an attempt after the domestic mobile game production strength is mature and the stand-alone game environment is improved. Aside from the limitations of the platform, it is a common 3D action role-playing game that emphasizes immersion, exploration, and operation. It requires mobile game players to invest enough continuous time to appreciate the charm of the game world and study the skills of confrontation.
No matter how the players react in the end, you have to say that TipsWorks is willing to make such an attempt on the mobile terminal is admirable.