It’s unfortunate that RPG Maker is regarded with distain by many gamers today. Much like Unity, the platform itself is a fantastic creative tool for indie developers with a wealth of material to delve into; the perpetual storm of crude shoved through Steam Greenlight has created an understandable stigma around it. Ayumi: Enhanced Edition sadly will not buck public opinion any time soon.
To put it bluntly, this is an unmitigated failure. While it attempts to present a sixteen bit horror story, the developer has no clear idea of how to make this work. The premise is that you play as a young child, Ayumi, trapped aboard a derelict spacecraft. Bloodstains coat almost every wall, and strange beasts prowl the hallways. Chilling stuff for sure, were it not for the fact the game undermines itself at every turn.
Any sense of isolation is ruined by Ayumi’s inner dialogue, which seems to have come from a different game entirely. She feels the need comment upon anything and everything, quickly robbing you of any sense of being trapped alone on the ship, and she barely seems to recognise the threats about her. Her actual lines reach into the realms of slapstick comedy at times, and remain perpetually at odds with the horrifying sights about her. Even the sight of her parents dismembered bodies does not change her dialog at all, and it’s practically forgotten by the very next scene.
Worse still, many monsters appear without sense or context, and prove to be entirely pointless. Those who can hurt you only emerge late into the game, but still lack any sense of threat thanks to being more of a glorified puzzle than a true foe. Even the required “big villain who pursues you from room to room” is little more than a cutscene event, and because of this you quickly realise how toothless the game truly is.
The real nail in the coffin though? Not only will most people be able to beat this in under an hour, but the ending is a gigantic “it was all a dream” twist making the journey entirely pointless. No story, no meaning, no impact.
If this sounds harsh, it’s only because we have seen other developers work with just as much and do so much more. If you’re truly after a short but sweet horror experience then Reveal the Deep is the way to go, and if you want a genuinely good RPG Maker horror title then give Mad Father a look. As for Ayumi though? Pretend it doesn’t even exist. You’ll be all the happier for it.
AYUMI: ENHANCED EDITION / DEVELOPER & PUBLISHER: LORD RUTSAH / PLATFORM: PC / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW