Let's Play Demon King Chronicle!
Demon King Chronicle is a freeware RPG first released in Japanese on August 19, 2007. An English version was translated and released on April 19, 2013, six years later, on Playism. (The "pay what you want" is for a separate art pack; the game itself is still free. You do need a playism account, though, which is kind of annoying, but...)
Despite being an RPG, Demon King Chronicle shares a number of aspects with Ai To Yuuki To Kashi Wa Mochi, (Love, Courage, and Leaf-Wrapped Rice Cake; it has an iPhone version in English), Ai To Yuuki To Kashi Wa Mochi Kai (Love, Courage, and Leaf-Wrapped Rice Cake: Unexpected Meeting; no English translation that I'm aware of) and Irisu Syndrome (has an English fan translation patch), puzzle games that share some of the same staff. In all four cases, the plot is revealed only incrementally, not all aspects of the world are ever fully answered, and things sometimes get deeply, deeply surreal.
(Between the way the story ties to the game and the gameplay and atmosphere of its unlockable Metsu mode, Irisu Syndrome is probably my favorite puzzle game of all time. If you haven't played it and you like puzzle games at all, stop reading this, play it until you at least get the first ending, and then come back. The thread will wait, I promise.)
(Just don't look up anything else about it first. It's best played when it's still a bit of a surprise. And keep an eye on the game directory, txt files pop up every so often and they're important! ...okay, enough advertising for an entirely different game. I'm advertising this one right now.)
If you don't have your non-unicode language set to Japanese (something often called "Japanese locale") while initially extracting and/or playing this game, then you may eventually run into an error message that looks like this:
If you run into that problem and you're running Windows Vista/7/8, download the Crash Fix file from this location and extract the contents into your graphics directory. This should fix the problem. Thanks again to SSNeoman, who brought up the problem, Tallgeese, who provided the first fix, and HenryEx, who expanded on it.
Also there is a localization fix, fixing a number of oversights or errors from the translation process that range from the minor to the very, very large. I highly recommend it.
In a related note, HenryEx also worked on a fancy debug mode for the game, with a number of useful features. I made good use of it myself during this LP! Link is here.
What's the gameplay like?
In a word, "difficult."
Demon King Chronicle is essentially a survival horror game in RPG form. Healing springs are free and appear all over, and you do have healing items you can refill at those springs, but the number is strictly capped and healing magic doesn't exist in-game. While you encounter enemies on the map, and therefore can avoid them, you have to--they're often much too difficult to fight in groups, and fighting the majority of enemies will wear you down before you get anywhere at all. You can level up, but it doesn't help very much; very nearly all of your strength comes from items. Items are a massively important part of the game's systems, and you nearly always win a fight based on what options your items give you.
It's very possible to complete the game, and if you understand and play ball, it's also very fun. But Demon King Chronicle is best imagined as trudging through an incredibly pretty desolate wasteland where everything wants you dead and is very good at it. This wasteland is, for some reason, thinly interspersed with people who are incredibly interested in stories.
The heroine of this story, Camil, is given one single instruction: there is a book, the Demon King Chronicle, that was left unfinished due to the death of its author. Each of its three chapters had a different hero and told a different tale. Her job is to finish the story.
Everyone on the island where the story takes place has been touched by The Demon King Chronicle somehow, and each of them has their story, and their own relationship with stories, that impacts their place in things.
Of course, not all stories necessarily take place in the same sort of world. When stories leak into one another, things sometimes get very strange.
Okay, weird, got it. You said "pretty"?
Demon King Chronicle is mostly a sprite-based game. None of the sprites are too fancy, but they all look good. And the character portraits and big events are drawn in a watercolor style, as shown above. I like it quite a bit!
The soundtrack is eclectic, having a lot of different contributors, some of it coming from free resources. But it's all pretty good music, and some of it is very atmospheric.
All of the game's files are available in the game directory; they aren't encoded or encrypted or changed in format in any way. I'll be providing tindeck links and larger versions of images, but if you want the images and/or music for yourself, downloading the game is probably the quickest way... But be aware that some of the files can be pretty big spoilers, because they're not unlocked by gameplay progress or anything. story_kumo_03 and story_nana_04 are really best experienced in context.
If you're still interested, then here's the thread rules!
1) No story spoilers. Mechanics talk on things we haven't seen yet is fine, but tag anything with story significance--locations we haven't seen yet, particularly significant items or skills, boss names, that sort of thing.
2) Updates will be posted about every other day. In the event that I'll miss an update due to death of backlog, I'll let you all know. This game is sometimes very difficult and life can get busy.
3) In the update posts, normal text like this is me.
Italics represent in-game text.
Unless I'm emphasizing something. It's an effect thing, but it should be obvious in context.
4) Let me know if I'm not explaining something clearly enough and I'll be happy to clarify.
5) If you want to talk about any of the puzzle games mentioned above in the thread, feel free; just put anything vaguely spoilery in a spoiler tag and preface it with the game name. Like this: "(Irisu Syndrome) there's a secret code on Uuji's jacket." (Please include the parentheses even if you're quoting something that tags another game's spoiler.) The same applies to Rondo of Swords, the last game I LPed. It's my thread, I like the games, I'll be happy to talk about them.
6) After a certain point, .txt files will periodically be created in the game directory. They'll appear at the bottom of each post. The Annihilation Record and Battle Record aren't too important, but try not to miss the Glossary--it's the closest you get to a real explanation for a lot of things later on.
Updates (spoilers denote which areas and story segments occur in which updates--spoilers are minor but present)
Table of ContentsMain Game:
Chapter 01: "Please, give this story an ending." (The Nest, Randolf 1)
Chapter 02: "Just like always, she carried her favorite book..." (The Demon King's Castle, Nana 1)
Chapter 03: "(I'm still the only one who can read his expressions though)" (The Hamlet, Randolf 2, Nana 2)
Chapter 04: "Yeah, about that memo..." (The "Mountain," The Coward, Mole 1, Hiku Kumo 1&2, Randolf 3)
Chapter 05: "Finally, the boy stopped moving." (The Snow Field, Aaron Aaron 1, Nana 3]
Chapter 06: "The incident appeared 21 years ago after the large epidemic..." (The Dragon Mountain, Aaron Aaron 2)
Chapter 07: "Yeah. Do your best." (The Sands of Remembrance 1, Nana 4, Mole 2, Aaron Aaron 3)
Chapter 08: "How about I become the hero! Right here. Right now." (The Demon King's Castle 2, Hiku Kumo 3&4)
Chapter 09: "...and proceeds to unreasonably and mercilessly slaughter them." (Sands of Remembrance 2, Death Rat House, Nana 5, Aaron Aaron 4)
Chapter 10: "Only now can I... Truly understand Harold's feelings." (The Tower)
Chapter 11: "A once in a lifetime chance that we took, blessed by the Goddess of Luck." (Item Collection, The Seashore, Hiku Kumo 5&6)
Chapter 12: "It's a beautiful story. However, reality doesn't work that way." (The Mirage, Hiku Kumo 7&8)
Chapter 13: "Because we live in such a world, we continue to write stories." (The Leviathan Depths, Aaron Aaron 5)
Chapter i: "It is there because I decided so." (Missed content)
Chapter 14: "There is no Healing Magic. No Star Fall Magic. No Holy Sword that Cuts the Dark." (The Disease)
Chapter 15: "Will you just get out? Please?" (The Imagination Part 1, Yellow and Blue 1&2&3)
Chapter 16: "You can use me as a model if you like." (The Imagination Part 2, Ares and Harold 4&5&6&7)
Final Chapter: "If you take on the mantle of the Demon King..." (The Three Heroes and The Demon King, Ares and Harold 8, Epilogue)
Chapter 18: "Stories never really end... even if the books like to pretend they do. Stories always go on." (The Expensive Stone, the Great Rat, Fantasy, Cave Chronicle 1)
Chapter 19: "Anyone can be strong if they pick up a weapon, but you can't become mentally strong just by obtaining a thing." (Cave Chronicle 2)
Chapter 20: "Fairytales dont tell children that dragons exist. Children already know that dragons exist." (Cave Chronicle 3)
Chapter 21: "...Fairytales tell children that dragons can be killed." (Versus The Hero)
Appendix 1: "It will find its way into someone's heart, and that will give rise to a new story." (Reverse Order challenge, Final Battle Secrets)
Appendix 2: "That's deep stuff." "I haven't put that much thought into it." (Compiled thread posts)
Annihilation count votes:
Normal game: 26 (Cake Attack), 35 (Feldherren), 43 (Like Clockwork), 47 (Valkama), 50 (Pladdicus), 53 (Raitzeno), 56 (EagerSleeper), 57 (Last Transmission), 58, (HenryEx), 60 (Tallgeese), 75 (legoman727), 80 (GilliamYaeger), 90 (Pancakius), 97 (Kgummy), 113 (heavy neutrino), 240 (booksnake)
Postgame: 76 (HenryEx), 98 (EagerSleeper), 100 (Pladdicus), 120 (Tallgeese), 128 (Last Transmission), 130 (Like Clockwork), 150 (Cake Attack), 177 (Valkama), 189 (Raitzeno), 200 (legoman727), 215 (Kgummy), 225 (Feldherren), 250 (Pancakius), 255 (GilliamYaeger), 287 (heavy neutrino), 320 (booksnake)