A gang of adventurers are out on the high sea in the middle of the night. The Duelist sharpens their blade as the Conduit helps out the other two. The Warlock is prepared to inflict violence while the Guardian is ready to get people fixed up as the boat heads into unknown territories…
Ocean OI is a game by Sraëka-Lillian. It is an experimental RPG that focuses mainly on gameplay where your party of seafarers constantly fight enemy formations. It is somewhat comparable to Facets, a game by Far Away Times who also tested this game; and I’d also like to publicly apologize to him because by complete accident I used one of his ideas that I thought was stupid in my own game and neither of us realized that until far into him testing it. Though, unlike that game, Ocean OI is fairly light on story.
The entire game is a gauntlet of enemy encounters, with you being given the chance to check out the menu before every encounter. Within this gauntlet, you’re given a limited amount of items and you never really get more for the duration of the game. However, the effects of the items themselves merely does what other party members accomplish, so they’re mainly there to cover weak points. As long as you’re not using the items willy-nilly, you’re unlikely to run out.
Each character has defined stats and moves that similarly never changes. Hausa the duelist is a plain attacker, but they have the best defense out of everyone so they can be relied on as a last line of defense. Bole the guardian is a healer, Angas the warlock is a magic attacker and Ron the conduit has the most important job: generating NU.
NU (or numen) is the game’s equivalent of MP and your party and the enemy party alike needs it to cast special skills. Ron is the most important party member in this regard, because they generate NU quickly and reliably. Meanwhile, Angas can also drain NU from enemies; some enemies can throw out devastating attacks and heals if they have generated NU of their own, so sacrificing magical DPS for a turn may be worth keeping that from happening.
With these things in mind, the crew sets out through the ocean gauntlet of enemies. It starts out simple, with basic slime-esque enemies that just keep attacking. Newer enemies then get more defined moves and it soon escalates to enemies to generate NU for healers and more powerful attackers. As you proceed through the gauntlet, you settle into a rhythm with the game’s combat while the enemies soon does the same as things revolve more around NU management.
As an experimental game, it showcases how a tightly balanced game can be achieved in RPG Maker 2000. So, a lot of people are kinda dismissive of the core RPG Maker combat, and some makers typically resort to using scripts to spice things up or make it not suck as much (that’s me). However, games like these show that creators can be smart with the basic battle system and make it interesting. Like hey, I fucking hated the story of Villnoire, but I gotta hand it to the creator in that it was pretty well-balanced.
I like Ocean OI, though its purely RPG gameplay focus honestly makes it hard to recommend to anyone not into the RPG Maker space. If you are though, it’s worth checking out!