The first regret of this year, perhaps is that I didn’t have the first time to play the new mobile game “Neil Re” produced by SE.[in]carnation” (hereafter referred to as Neil’s mobile game). The industry may already know this product very well. After all, on the second day of the service, it reached the top of the Japanese App Store bestseller list, and in a short period of time it reached 5 million downloads (which is rare in Japan).
Neal’s mobile game has a quality consistent with this result, but the gameplay of this game is very old-fashioned, that is, the Japanese-style social mobile game (ソシャゲ, different from the social concept of domestic games) character collection development + brush (equipment, activity) , Role) + a combination of asynchronous PVP. And this can be said to be all the current gameplay of the game.
In all the popular reviews on the App Store, the gameplay of Neil’s mobile game has been labeled as routine, dull, and just like that, but its reputation has not collapsed because of this.
Nearly 130,000 reviews on the App Store in Japan gave an overall rating of 4.7. Among the 190,000 tweets in the last 30 days, 63% of users also had a positive attitude towards it. Another recent hit “Ma Niang” did not have this. treatment.
When I calmed down and played the game, I realized that the deepest part of Neil’s mobile game skills is not his appearance, gameplay, and industrialization level, but his ability to express his worldview (the following text contains spoilers, read carefully).
“Obviously redundant” design
Some people may lament that SE has found a little-known research and development, and actually made such a 3A-flavored mobile game. This is really amazing, but the more important question is why it did it.
Under the traditional mobile game production ideas, there are a lot of “obviously redundant” designs in Neal’s mobile game.
For example, grand buildings can be seen everywhere. This is a linear narrative game, which means that the user’s attention needs to be focused and strong guidance is needed. Under this kind of goal, the grand building that diverges the players’ sight is undoubtedly a waste of game resources.
What’s more wasteful is that the levels of the game are also linear. In other words, the utilization of these building resources is very low and can only be used for viewing. For other mobile games, it might have been full of NPCs long ago, doing enough running tasks, stuffed a bunch of dungeon entrances into it.
Another example is a large number of additions. Level selection is the most cumbersome operation that seems to be the most cumbersome operation. In other games, the plot interface is opened and the level is opened on the map. Some games even save the map. Neil’s mobile game does not follow the trend. In the main line, you have to operate the little girl to run on the big map, see the scenery and listen to the chatter of your companions before you can encounter a so-called level.
There are also lines that are forcibly explained. When you arrive at the event interface, mama (the role of narration and narration in the game, a mysterious character floating in the air) will say, “This is a warehouse of other stories. Go and fix it to prevent it from being harassed by black monsters.” When exiting this interface, she will say “I don’t have this interest now” again. Of course, players know that this is just the entrance to the event interface.
This is an abnormal design that everyone can see. SE, which has been known as a major mobile game manufacturer many years ago, is unlikely to make such a low-level design mistake. But from another perspective, I quickly found the reasoning behind this.
Everything revolves around “expression”
Immersion is the core design element of Neal’s mobile game.
Including the abnormalities mentioned above, the game from art style, scene construction, music performance, to movement, selection, battle, to UI and system, it can be said that all of them are serving the worldview expression and storytelling. , The purpose is to let players come in.
The opportunity that gave me this feeling is the hidden UI option in the system settings. After turning on this function, whenever I manipulate the little girl to move in the mainline world, all the debris on the screen disappears. So far, I haven’t seen any commercial mobile game that dared to do this. Even the “Light Encounter” that emphasizes personal art, it has not completely erased the UI in operation.
At the same time, the game’s mirroring technique is also very particular. On the one hand, the conversion method of the console version’s angle of view, side, back, and distance is used, on the other hand, the movement of the lens is strictly controlled, and the player is not given the opportunity to freely change the angle of view. In other words, what the player can see is completely determined by the production team, which is obviously a trick for strong narrative.
In fact, I was shocked by this design, and I was also firmly attracted by it.
After getting used to blind exercises, I opened the door and came to a corner of a staircase, slowing down involuntarily. At this time, the camera slowly turned from the side to the top of the stairs, and the sunlight outside the building was shining in the eyes, which looked a little dazzling.
At the same time, there was a whale-like call in the distance, and with a little panic, my eyes were completely focused on it. At the same speed as the little girl I operated to walk up the stairs, the whale’s figure gradually revealed through the gaps in the building, giving me an inexplicable shock.
Neil’s worldview has a sense of sparsely populated loneliness, which has not deteriorated in the mobile game.
The contrast between the grand building and the characters is very visually impactful, and it is easy to make people feel insignificant. The task points, plot points, and levels dotted in the scene from time to time, they just fill up the anxiety caused by the openness, forming a complete, retractable rhythm.
In addition, Mama’s narration sometimes also tells the player’s voice and feelings, and it also serves as a very good lubricant: while correcting the player’s focus and attention, it also connects the player, the little girl, the drama, and the whole world. Relationship chain.
I have to say that the reason for the invitation is actually dubbing Mama. It is a magical touch. The clear and maternal voice and the right speech speed can only be said to be in place. To be able to compete with her in this role, I may only have characters of the level of Miyuki Sawaki and Yuko Minaguchi in my impression.
Closer to home, when the atmosphere spread, the battle became the most intrusive system, cumbersome, and the operation density was too high. Therefore, in addition to retaining the original Neil-style moves, special effects, and full expressiveness, the Neal Mobile Games simply releases the automatic battle early to free the player’s hands.
As a result, the player still only needs to operate the little girl to move, and the rhythm will not be interrupted forcibly. Even Yokoo Taro and the development team did not expect that during the beta test, the players participating in the test gave almost unanimous praise for the automatic battle (from an interview with Famitsu).
As for the music, I can’t simply use a recording and a few paragraphs to describe it. I can only say that it is “impeccable” in terms of setting off the atmosphere.
It is hard to imagine that on the mobile phone, a fragmented street platform, one can experience such a one-stop narrative experience, and it is completely made according to the host standard. Frankly speaking, I can’t think of any other commercial game that dares to take such a bold and careful adventure.
Must make “Neil taste”
Why does this risky approach appear in Neal’s IP?
Probably most people will think that it is because Neil sells well, because of the relationship and resources of SE, because the roles of 2B and A2 have set off a wave of social topics. But these are probably only superficial.
Just as Yokoo Taro might not be that ghost if he took off his headgear, the Neal series, or earlier when he was creating “The Cavalry on the Dragon’s Back”, when Yokoo decided to put such a cruel setting on a peerless beauty. , Which determines that a series of works that will be connected to the world in the future must be unique and must have strong self-expression, otherwise they cannot be called “Neil”.
Neil’s mobile game scrapped such a big Zhou Zhang, also in order to hold this high wall. What it depicts in each chapter is a story about weapons, and a weapon that “has a story” must have a plot that makes people unbearable.
Touching people’s instinctive emotions through these plots is the core of the narrative of Neil’s mobile game, and the technique is a picture book-style narrative.
The form of picture books is destined to use concise language and clear passages to present some stories that you can almost expect. Just like in the chapter of Hunter of Wounds, looking at my sister running away alone, I would be worried for my sister, and operated her to catch up quickly, and then, as expected, encountered a powerful monster and went to war.
After my sister was used as a test product of the kingdom to make a human-shaped weapon, although my sister’s lines and I had a little unrealistic hope, in the end I found the same transformed sister without any suspense, and suffered a cruel life and death. . This kind of adaptation, or “homeopathic pulling the player’s most natural emotions”, is everywhere.
Once you accidentally click on one of the stories, you may be tempted to read other stories because of this concise and powerful expression. Even if they skip these plots from start to finish, players can’t escape “the sense of loneliness and curiosity brought by the mainline world”, and they are likely to fall into the pit at some point.
After the player has fully experienced a character story, he will inevitably resonate with this kind of imperfect but emotionally full section, even if it is a very routine and easily foreseeable result. Let these characters leave a mark in their minds, yes, just like 2B, 9S, and A2 back then.
If you think back to the PV and demo version released in the early days of “Neil: Automated Humanoid” (official translation), you can find that this technique is completely in the same line. I still remember the last scene of the demo version, when 2B and 9S decided to blew up, the feeling of loss in my heart, and then “changing this tragic ending” became the biggest promoter of my pre-order without hesitation.
Just like the comment of the editor of 4Gamer: “At first glance, the game gives people a sense of familiarity and a certain possibility of inter-series connection. This kind of worldview charm that makes fans can’t help being attracted is in Neil’s mobile game. It hasn’t changed at all.”
As long as the taste remains the same, Neal will still be the unique Neil.
A game made by Japanese talent
The more I immerse myself in the worldview of Neal’s mobile game, the more I admire the content expression skills of the production team.
It seems that it is not difficult to tell a story about heart abuse, but condensing it into a script of no more than 10 paragraphs, and then interpreting and sublimating it in the form of a monologue, is a matter that requires extremely high screenwriting ability.
According to Famitsu’s interview, in order to achieve this level, the script team of “Neil” has been preparing for many years to fully participate in game development for the first time, and is responsible for the production of a series of content such as screenwriting, planning, and music.
In order to enable the screenwriter team to write scripts that are both “easy to understand” and “touch the core of emotion”, Yokoo Taro also specially arranged for the team a special training of “writing a weapon story in 30 minutes a day”.
The effect is obvious to all. The story of Neil’s mobile game, although empty, is very purposeful and full of empathy. This is different from the pure emptying and patchwork plot processing of the open world, and it is also different from the purely cute presentation method that is too purposeful. It is an expression that touches the bottom emotions more.
For the exquisite Japanese creators, the so-called abnormal designs of Neal Mobile Games are more like a transformation of excellence in the field they are best at. If the standard of the domestic industry is “industrialization,” then the standard of the Japanese mobile game industry may be “content.”
However, there is no pure gold, and the content of Neal’s mobile game is so defying, and how mediocre it is in gameplay. Rather than killing time in Neal’s mobile game, I’m more willing to review “Automatic Humanoid” while waiting for the new work next month.
The ultimate pursuit of personalized content is likely to be a double-edged sword for commercial mobile games. Now the best-selling results of Neil’s mobile games have begun to decline, and they have been robbed by Ma Niang on the list and Twitter popularity. Caught the limelight.
As many players have left messages in the App Store, if you want to get into the game Neil, this is undoubtedly a very good work, but as a social game, the current Neil mobile game is not worth recommending.
Source: Game Grapes