So, I just played Ambers Magic Shop last night, and I have kind of…mixed feelings?
Like, I didn’t enjoy the gameplay too much- very repetitive, and it seemed like, in most instances, you could earn money by simply buying the main item four times from the market then selling it, and getting 30 extra gold for the entire deal. I wasn’t too big on how you also had to choose how you would earn your income, and that in some instances, people wouldn’t pay you, but you’d get bulk exp?
Doesn’t really make sense for me, I guess. I kinda think that if you had reputation built on quality and speed of work (and delivery), experience per item made, and money earned per delivery/item sold, it would make more sense.
It was dry, in that sense, repetitive, and after a while nearly impossible to keep up with all the high quality goods wanted when it was RNG spawning your goods half the time, when you go looking for them.
The romances themselves were pretty average, I think. Loren was handled better, methinks, more images, more personality, less stereotypes, and, honestly, more attractive characters.
I feel like all the men were much less attractive than the girls, Anders Reed, being the most attractive of the men. The art style also shifted pretty wildly between characters, Amber looking more Loren style, while everyone else was in a different style, and random NPCs looking completely different.
Also, much re-use of background images- from both Loren and SotW.
Writing was…meh? Romances were confusing- slow build in child age, suddenly Amber is ‘dating’ everyone in adult stage (though no dialogue about it whatsoever- also, forced polyamory I guess), and characters felt rather one dimensional. Cosa/Anders story nicely handled, Daniel’s was…okay. Lair and Lynn’s was rushed, Ruby’s was contrived and why does everyone insist on giving the lesbians long nails, good gravy, and Bernards final ‘issue’ (let’s call it that) came out of nowhere, very, very rushed through.
Amber was kind of blah in the child stage, and she just became ‘eh’ in the adult stage personality wise.
The dark elf conflict also felt like something that was there just because, and I can’t imagine how confusing it must be for people who haven’t played the previous Winter Wolves games. I get that they’re all set in the same universe, but they’re really starting to feel like a series more than anything.
Sexualization- this annoyed the heck out of me. In Loren, we had an option to turn this off or on. I would have appreciated this so much. It wasn’t that you saw ‘bits’, but the blatant over-sexing was worse than the more skin shown in Loren. Mother figures running around wet and practically naked, with bosoms spilling out of their dresses, also showing underwear (with Amber going OH NO MY MOM IS HOT (wtf game)), and so much character breaking to have sexy times do NOT get me started on Lair and Lynn in the library, when we established he’s an awkward potato, that just made me really uncomfortable.
Polyamory- Advertised as two polyamorous routes, but, really only one and I kinda get incest vibes , as the one with Lair and Lynn is where Lynn has both Lair and Amber, but they aren’t into each other- even though we just broke up and why did we have to, I’m so confused, if Amber can be in a poly relationship in the beginning with lots of people and they are cool with it, why can’t I carry on, gersh dern.
Choices- Badly handled. Basically boils down to- BE NICE. BE REALLY NICE. BE MEAN. BE REALLY MEAN. The problem with the alignment focus is that it takes away from character playing, because you end up just trying to max out the alignment instead of playing Amber as a character.
Endings- Rushed. Kinda leave you hanging. Kinda awkward.
Also- Big ol romance sexy picture with Cosma/Anders-Cosmima/Reed-, and that’s like the only route that has a secondary picture for sexy times on the light path? Really? You show our Mom flashing her knickers, and we can’t avoid it, but you can’t show Amber having some romantic time with her one(multiple) true love(s)?
TL;DR: If you want a poly romance REALLY BADLY, go for it.