Defiantly the strongest aspect of the game - characters, castle walls and forest looks beautiful. Something that could have been better is that the game could have had fullscreen mode to make the immersion even better.
A minor visual oddity is that in the ending movie characters hands look like boxing gloves, but that might be just my association. The boss is also weirdly animated, he looks like riding his sword like a witch riding a broom at best - or like a child using a pogo jumper at worst. This is however also a minor issue. The most important thing is that the protagonist during gameplay, the monsters and the backgrounds are well animated. Princess also looks beautiful, which is important because nobody want's to risk his life for an ugly princess.
Music was beautiful. The sound was loud and that is good. Some reviewer complained that it is to loud. I disagree. It is always possible o turn your computer volume lower, but if the general sound level is low then it could be impossible to turn it high enough so it was a right choice. One thing that could have been added would be ability to turn the sound off because some people like me like to listen to custom music or youtube videos while gaming repetitive games. Of course I would never listen to youtube while playing such a beautiful game like this for the first time. But after dying to the boss for 10th time I would consider listening to something else when doing all the long path to the boss for 11th time and more.
The game was too short. Aside from making levels longer this could also be solved by just making it more dense and eventful. Basically this means adding more enemies in the areas which are empty. I suggest that early single enemies start appearing from the moment our hero reaches castle gate. Then when he enters castle enemies start appearing in large groups like they do in the latter half of castle right now. And lastly there should be some rare single enemies in the jumping stage when the hero jump up to 2nd level of castle and on the 2nd level. These enemies would cause more challenge by fucking up our hero's jumps and it would be a great danger not to fall down to 1st level again and face the hordes of the 1st level again.
There is a major issue with making the game any longer trough. Add checkpoints. Repeating the same segment more then three or four times just because you die from a strong boss who sometimes instakills you is not fun. I think that this game needs a checkpoint before a boss fight. But if you would have made this game longer and more challenging by increasing monster density as suggested above then I would also recommend one more checkpoint - at the place when dream ends, so if you die from regular enemies (never happened to me, because there is not enough of them), you re-spawn at forest.
If you wanted to make the game even longer then I would have recommended making the forest portion longer. The forest probably would need different enemies to not make it all too repetitive. In this case there should be the 3rd checkpoint (2nd chronologically) at castle gate
If the game would bee this long as I described above, then two health potions should be considered. One of them should probably be on 2nd floor after the last enemy and before the boss.
The regular enemies are very well made. They look scary and cool. Their attacks are synchronized with their animated swings perfectly. Some reviews complained there are too large groups of them and that they are too hard and endless. I disagree. If you just keep moving forward after each swing you can reach the end very fast and if you read their attacks from the perfectly synchronized animation and make use of your slightly superior range then it is easy to make it trough them without taking any damage. I repeat myself bu this game needs more enemies not less. There should have been enemies in the castle yard and enemies on 2nd floor that mess up your jumps.
The knocback looked very cool and is a great way to solve hit-lock issues. It would have worked great with enemies knocking hero off platforms - ahh what a wasted opportunity.
The hero could duck but it was never useful. Perhaps it would be nice to have 2nd type of regular enemy that shoots missiles rarely (rarely being keyword because too fast and dense missiles would fuck up this game) that could be ducked under. The boss had a projectile but I am not sure ducking worked against it. It would be useless anyway since you must be above and behind the boss to defeat it.
If you jump from the end of last hovering platform in boss area when approaching it for first time - cutscene starts with the hero standing in midair. A criteria for the cutscene to start only when the hero is on the ground would be nice.
It's a good thing at least the custcene can be skipped with space bar.
I love strong bosses that are a challenge. A good moss must be hard and a big part of it is also not being based on patterns - unpredictable, his next attack should be reacted to and not predicted trough patterns. This boss is a mixed thing. At first he appears totally undefinable with very high damage and a strong melee-projectile combo attack. That is cool. 1:0 for the boss. Then you start thinning that maybe you could jump over his powerful attacks and attack him from behind. But then he surprised me with a vertical attack that got me when I was on a platform above him. 2:0 for the boss. That is really a well thought out and strong move. In the end trough when you learn to get over this attack too and hit him from behind he doesn't even react to this. That is kind of dumb trough. The score is 2:1. That boss should turn around and give you precious little time to jump on platforms again. It should be possible to land only a single attack on him before he turns around. And of course there is no randomness on him he is ultimately pattern based. So that is 2:2. Not a bad boss but also not a great one, although he appears very great at beginning.
Obviously there should be checkpoint and if there would be more enemies before then also a full health refill potion before the boss.
ENDING and STORY
Ending was predictable from the start that it would do with the hero being the one who actually murdered the princess. But was it so? I couldn't really understand it. Who killed princess? Was she a ghost? An illusion? Or was she there just in the hero's mind? Is he crazy? Or under some curse? The defeated boss said he is already dead too. Does our hero sees dead people like in 6thsense. I couldn't understand it. i would appreciate the author explaining this in a reply to this review.
The game is fun and interesting and beautiful, but there were a lot of obvious potential improvements.
QUESTIONS FOR AUTHOR
1. What really happened in the end, who killed princess, what is the exact nature of hero's delusion.
2. Is there a rule that Jam games cannot be improved later on? I see so many Jam and contest games made in 2 or 3 days that could be great if the author just took one more day to polish the edges. Why isn't this almost never done?