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Video Game / Wine & Roses

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"It is good to have an end to journey towards, but it is the journey that matters in the end."

Wine & Roses is a freeware Role-Playing Game made in RPG Maker VX Ace by Craze, made for the 2012 All Hallow's Event contest.

The premise of the story is simple. A lord named Luc Francisco has been usurped from his home of Fort Adder and placed under a curse that makes him skeletal. He enlists the aid of three exorcists to clear his manor of the infestation of demons and undead that are now plaguing it. As time goes on, however, the exorcists begin to question Francisco's ethics and wonder whether his curse was warranted.

Though there are strategically placed Story Breadcrumbs relating to this, the meat of the game revolves around exploration of Fort Adder and creative Eastern RPG battles with the various enemies within. The game is described as a rough mix of Shadow of the Colossus and Mega Man (Classic) — each enemy is unique and often appears frighteningly powerful, but defeating them grants access to a specialized slew of specific rewards, which can be used to enhance the player's strategy and often contain an Achilles' Heel to another foe. The game is highly nonlinear, to the point of being almost a Metroidvania in RPG form; though there is an intended order in area progression, there is nothing preventing players from exploring every area from the start, and powerful enemies can even be defeated far before they're "supposed" to be, with clever strategizing.

The game can be downloaded here.

This game contains examples of:

  • Abandoned Laboratory: The edges of Bohea sector.
  • Action Girl: The exorcists.
  • After-Combat Recovery
  • Amazing Technicolor Battlefield: The Final Boss'.
  • Anachronism Stew: The majority of the game seems to take place in a Big Fancy Castle, and society seems to be under some kind of feudalistic system, at least in the place Francisco rules over. Argent's use of a Cool Sword and Automatic Crossbow seems to cement the game in this time period... however, Nynavae uses a gun, and the characters seem to instantly recognize Bohea's Abandoned Laboratory for what it is.
  • The Atoner: Francisco, possibly. In some of his battle commentaries, he seems to express guilt over his actions and realizes that he kind of deserved the Torches and Pitchforks. It doesn't amount to anything, though, as Delilah kills him in the end.
  • Attack Reflector: This is the Usurper's entire schtick. He literally has no offensive abilities — all he does is heal (and occasionally debuff) himself. (It's not a true "reflector", however, as he still takes normal damage himself.)
  • Ax-Crazy: Delilah.
  • Beef Gate: Unlike the other sectors, which can all be explored to your heart's content from the beginning, Daedra's entrance is blocked by an enemy that must be defeated in order to continue.
  • Big Fancy Castle: Fort Adder, though by the time the game begins, it has undergone heavy reality warping due the infestation of The Legions of Hell (and Heaven).
  • Bonus Boss: Every fight except for the opening tutorial battles and the Final Boss is technically optional.
    • However, The Ordeal, Dante, Stark & Lannis, and the Devourer are possibly closer to the spirit of the trope. They all tend to be relatively close to the beginning of their areas, but are on par or more difficult than the "boss" of the area, generally requiring players to come back later to finish them off. None of them are stronger than the Final Boss, though.
  • Boss Battle: A bit of a weird example, since all fights are technically unique boss battles. However, each area has an end-stage opponent (usually in a throne room or something similar) with a unique sprite that is more difficult than normal and who gives greater-than-normal rewards.
  • Boss-Only Level: Etalon sector, which contains only the Final Boss. The developer has stated that this was an artifact of the time constraint, however, and plans to expand it to be the size of the other sectors at a future date.
  • Character Level: Averted. Rewards are granted after each battle, but they are always specific assets or direct stat upgrades rather than levels or experience points.
  • Chest Monster: Upon encountering one, Francisco is insulted that his usurpers went to the effort of cursing his treasure.
  • Competitive Balance: You can play against type of course, but generally:
  • Contemplate Our Navels: The exorcists can get pretty philosophical during their Inner Monologues, especially in Daedra.
  • Contractual Boss Immunity: Averted. Some enemies do have higher resistances to certain ailments, but for the most part, you're free to let loose with the Status Effects.
  • Crazy-Prepared: Nynavae wears an acid-proof turtle-neck.
  • Defeat Equals Friendship: Delilah, as an angel of chaos, whimsically decides to help the exorcist trio when they defeat her.
  • Death of a Thousand Cuts: The Byrde, both to you and from you. All of its attacks are weak, but hit multiple times. It also inflicts daze, which reduces the exorcists' energy — this only allows you to use their weaker attacks, most of which are weak but hit multiple times.
  • Dem Bones: Francisco's curse has turned him into this. His entire household was similarly cursed, too, though they have not retained their sanity.
  • Disconnected Side Area: In one section of Bohea, you can see an area from another sector. It's an end area of Daedra, however, so you won't physically reach it until you get to Daedra (for all intents and purposes the final dungeon) and explore it fully.
  • Dual Boss: Stark and Lannis, Francisco's son and his lover.
  • Easter Egg: After Delilah is defeated, she will take over Francisco's battle commentary duties. This results in some unique text changes in certain battles if you fight them with her in tow.
  • Elemental Rock-Paper-Scissors: Downplayed. There are only two, Solar and Lunar, and they are diametrically opposed for the most part. They mainly do this by lumping all of the typical Elemental Powers together:
  • Final Boss, New Dimension: Somewhat. Etalon, the seat of the Final Boss, certainly has this feel, but it's not explicitly stated to be another dimension, just the most "warped" section of Fort Adder due to its proximity to the Gehenna Gate.
  • Flunky Boss: Many. Most notable is the Final Boss, who starts alone, but summons more and more flunkies as the battle progresses.
  • Game Over: Completely averted. Losing a battle will simply send you back to the map screen with a "better luck next time" message and no penalties whatsoever. This is somewhat of a necessity with the open-ended nature of the game.
  • Gradual Regeneration: Never Fall bestows this, as well as increased maximum health.
  • Greek Chorus: Francisco, who idly comments from the sidelines during battles while the exorcists do all the work. Subverted in the final battle, however, where his commentary has plot relevance, and he is attacked directly by Delilah.
  • Hailfire Peaks: The Celsius sector subverts this. It contains both icy sections and temperate sections where greenery thrives.
  • Hint System: Francisco's commentary, usually. Annoying as he can be, he does often give useful advice on how to beat an enemy, especially at the beginning, when the player is still learning the ropes.
  • Human Sacrifice: This is what Francisco did to incite the Torches and Pitchforks.
  • I'm Going to Hell for This: Francisco says this of himself after making a pun. The pun in question? "I'm glad he's found someone he can have a happy bone with." Francisco is talking about his son and his son's lover, who are both skeletons at the time.
  • Incredibly Lame Pun: Francisco is fond of these.
    Francisco: Sorry. My wife and son left me. I survive with puns.
  • Infinity +1 Sword: Sort of. Each character has a late-game Gift with above-average bonuses across a variety of stats, instead of only one, as is the norm.
  • Killer Rabbit: The Byrde.
  • Lethal Lava Land: Bohea sector, though the edges are an Abandoned Laboratory.
  • Long-Haired Pretty Boy: Francisco has very long and remarkably silvery hair, though the latter could be a result of his curse.
  • Metroidvania: Contains many elements of this.
  • Mirror Boss: The Angelis trio. They're three women, one a fighter (Argent), one a Solar spellcaster (Carmanth), one an assassin-type and Lunar spellcaster (Nynavae).
  • Mystical White Hair: Subverted by Argent. True to her name, she has silvery-white hair, and she is a demon hunter...but her specialty lies in physical weaponry and endurance, not magic like the other two exorcists.
  • Non-Action Guy: Francisco.
  • Non-Elemental: Argent specializes in physical skills, unlike the other exorcists, who specialize in one of the two magical elements.
  • Order Versus Chaos: Angels devote themselves to this cause; they choose one side or the other to adhere to, and spend the rest of their existence fervently trying to bend human society towards it. With both sides pushing, however, neither ideal can be achieved, so it simply results in a balance.
  • Power of the Void: Lunar magic could be interpreted as this — it utilizes darkness and cold, which are literal voids of energy in the physical sense. Power of the Void would also be an appropriate contrast with the more energetic, flashy spells of the Solar element.
  • Puzzle Boss: Almost every boss to one degree or another, but the Devourer is a notable example. Its only attack is so powerful as to be a One-Hit KO, and it absorbs enchantments, so you can't even hide behind defensive buffs. The solution is to feed it an enchantment that has a negative component: Serenity. Its damage-decreasing component makes its attack survivable, turning it into a Marathon Boss instead.
  • Rush Boss: Rapture, an early-game enemy. It uses extremely powerful attacks, but is relatively weak defensively, so you must overwhelm it before it overwhelms you.
    • Alternatively, you could just put it to sleep, rendering it harmless while Nynavae rends it to death.
  • Sanity Meter: It increases damage dealt and decreases damage received. It's drained by spells and enemy attacks. If it hits zero, the character will waste a turn performing a "crazed attack" and recover some sanity.
  • Shout-Out: All over the place.
  • Silver Bullet: Argent's crossbow is loaded with silver bolts, which makes them more damaging against The Undead.
  • The Smart Guy: Carmanth. From what little characterization we get of her, she appears to be the most inquisitive, perceptive, and knowledgeable of the three exorcists, sometimes even functioning as Ms. Exposition in explaining important aspects of the world to the player.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: The Battle Theme Music for the Final Boss is a sappy romance song with a calm, melodious pace. The Final Boss is Francisco's wife Delilah, who responds to his entreaty to talk their differences out peacefully by killing him.
  • The Stoic: From what we can see from her flashes of characterization, Argent seems to be this. She's very hard-nosed, cerebral, and goal-oriented — she apparently graduated top of her class at the exorcist training academy.
  • Story Breadcrumbs: Interacting with any of the gift-giving spirits will elicit a monologue from one of the exorcists reflecting or commenting on the situation. With enough of them, you can start to paint a picture about the events of the Back Story and other events in the world. Francisco's battle commentary also contains occasional examples of these.
  • Torches and Pitchforks: And angry mob of Helenite peasants under Francisco decided to storm Fort Adder in response to his practice of Human Sacrifice.
  • Turns Red: Subverted. Most bosses do not become stronger by being injured themselves, but do become more aggressive when their allies fall.
    • The Agent of Chaos is a straighter example.
  • Useless Useful Spell: Averted. Every spell is generally effective against at least one enemy, and some niche status effect spells can be crucial elements in many battles.
  • Wolfpack Boss: A few.
    • The Kybros pack is literally a wolf pack.
    • Francisco's servants are this, as well as having a few flunkies.
    • The three witches (Red, Yellow, and Indigo).
    • The Angelis trio.
    • The Final Boss could be considered this instead of a Flunky Boss — the enemies she summons are clearly lesser than her, but they are unique and powerful enemies in their own right.
  • Womb Level: Daedra sector.