I figured since I did an entire LP of Dink Smallwood, I should probably make a post to pretty much finalise my thoughts on the game. There's plenty of interesting themes to be seen in the story and world, and I thought it would be something to bring up given that most of my commentary was more centralised as to Dink's actions and reactions rather than the atmosphere as a whole.
As such, this will contain some plot spoilers, so be aware of that.
Dink Smallwood plays sort of unusually, and this happens to have occurred since the engine was done before the graphics. The assets that you see in Dink Smallwood vary in the way they are displayed. Building exteriors use an isometric display, whereas the interior utilises a near 'birds-eye' view instead. Dink has eight directions to move, but none of those directions actually make any sense if they're all put together. You can see what I mean:
Fighting is pretty simple, but it can be frustrating since you're trying to deal with all the aforementioned graphics. It's not really all that clear where you're hitting, and whether you'll actually hit your target. It's more distinguishable with ranged combat and magic, but with melee weapons, you might find yourself struggling to hit a fast enemy (whilst avoiding damage) because your reach wasn't far enough.
The only real enemy attack is walking into you (except for dragons and the Ancient Seth with a spell that can target you from anywhere on the screen). There really isn't much in that department otherwise.
An interesting part of the game to note is that plenty of the NPCs are very much disposable. Compared to many other RPGs, you can attack many of the people that you happen across. This can lead to some breaking of the plot advancement (the guards at GoodHeart Castle for example), but those that are will eventually respawn. Those not essential can die and won't return at all for the remainder of the game.
The dialogue of Dink is very much immature, yet while playing as him, you can get a grip to his surroundings and to a further extent the world that Dink Smallwood is set in. The main plot is about Dink as he attempts to leave the history of his station as a pig farmer behind, as well as to gain fame, fortune and a woman. Of course, that isn't so simply done as his childhood rival Milder Flatstomp slams his attempts to do so back down to earth.
But of course, it isn't all about the main plot. Dink's gained opportunity spawns from a fire that claims the life of his mother (admittedly lacking in character). This lack of the mother's character is played upon in Dink's talk to the Stonebrook guard after the fire, which he says that he'll "be fine". Rationally there would be some amount of time before emotionally recovering, but Dink has no time for that and forges on, only ever bringing up the subject of the fire once in KernSin.
Further on in Dink Smallwood, one of the first things that Dink does is meet his aunt and uncle in Terris, and although there almost seems to be a silly relationship at first, Dink witnesses the disturbing and violent truth of that relationship. The manner in which Jack assaults Maria is almost comical in nature, yet also disturbing.
There are parallels to be drawn, especially when Jack apologises to Maria and tells her she shouldn't make him so angry. Though the physical attack is over, the victim is still being attacked on both a psychological and emotional level, and it is on that note you regain control of Dink.
It can be said that money is power, and it applies very well to the world that Dink roams. Like most games, Dink can acquire gold and spend it for goods and services. But those that don't have gold can do nothing if they cannot get it. A destitute mother loses her daughter Mary, and no-one in town is concerned with her, simply because the mother is "poor". The apathy displayed towards her can be paralleled to the inaction that occurs in the reality, those on the streets.
Dink being the hero he is offers to look for her daughter at no cost, although it is questionable if Dink's motivations were entirely out of generosity. After all, fortune isn't the only thing he's after.
It's possible there's something to be said about Bishop Nelson's cult, or the Windemere's obsession with ducks, but I don't think there's anything good I could talk about with regards to it. Aside from the rather obvious point that people would be so easily persuaded to believe in something given the setting, there really isn't much else on that subject.
The Cast similarly are a constant running encounter that Dink faces, but the plot twist right at the end of the game gives them very little impression in regards to the overall plot. Being told that The Cast were simply a front to the Ancients doesn't really work out too well story-wise, and the threat that they pose falls over. The build up of The Cast's presence in the game just ends, and after the last encounter you have with them in KernSin, you never see it again.
So in conclusion.
Dink Smallwood was certainly an interesting game for its time, if only for the story and its themes. The gameplay itself isn't actually that great, but if you can power past it, you'll find some pretty strange themes running throughout the story.
That's all from me for now. Until next time...
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