How Video Game Fables reinvents critical hits and timers

Game developer and Momiji Games founder Matt Sharp wanted his latest game Video game fables to be a very good classic turn-based role-playing game, but with improvements to many core combat features. This included redesigning critical hits, timers, and other combat dynamics. Although turn-based RPGs have been around for decades, they don’t all differ much from each other when it comes to battles.


Video game fables draws inspiration from some of the best turn-based RPGs, including titles from the dragon quest and Final Fantasy franchisees. However, the creator of the game wanted to give players something new, unique and ultimately better in terms of combat mechanics than what the classics have to offer. This would keep players engaged while fighting instead of pressing a predetermined pattern of their favorite power moves.

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Video game fables and critical successes

The first major change implemented by Sharp to bring Video game fables different from a traditional turn-based RPG was to revamp the critical hits. Almost all RPGs handle critical hits the same way. Each time a character hits an opponent or uses a skill, there is a small chance to create a more powerful version of that attack. Often this chance is getting smaller and smaller by design, though it can be improved with gear like in Genshin Impact. However, instead of this small chance to score a critical hit, Video game fables provides frequent critical hits that work more like a resource. Sharp wanted to make this dopamine-inducing machinery work harder.

“It helps the player pay more attention and makes you feel much more engaged in battle than in a typical turn-based RPG.”

In Video game fables, critical hits are fired by each character’s basic attacks at the approximate rate of 40%. On average, every two or three basic attacks receive a satisfying CRIT graph and an appropriate sound effect. Also, Video game fables‘ critical hits do not deal bonus damage instantly. Instead, the character responsible for the CRIT gains a resource which is stored for later use. Only one of these CRIT resources is stored as a counter for each character, which encourages use before using another basic attack. According to Sharp, it sees the feature as a mini version of Final FantasyLimit Break. The critical hit makes the character’s next non-basic skills more powerful. It’s not always a simple efficiency boost, either. While an attack skill can take more damage, a haste skill can target the whole party, instead of a single target.

The turn timer in video game fables isn’t punitive

The second major improvement Video game fables on classic turn-based role-playing games like Shin Megami Tensei is a more encouraging stopwatch. A timer to keep players at a certain pace isn’t something new, but how Sharp implemented it is important. Instead of a standard timer that forces the player to use their abilities and skills for a specific amount of time, Video game fables encourages players to perform their skills sooner and get rewarded for their quick thinking.

According to Sharp, the feature was created both for better accessibility and to improve combat. He acknowledged that some of the toughest RPGs ever released are too difficult for a casual player, but didn’t want the game to be without challenge. Not punishing a player after time runs out lowers the barrier to entry, while allowing bonuses to players who plan ahead and think on their feet, making battle more intense and rewarding. The timer has different color-coded phases, and the best reaction time – hitting the green slice of the cake – can improve the ability’s effectiveness by 20% compared to running out of time.

“Why would you throw poison when a) it has a 5% chance to hit, and b) it deals one point of damage per tick when you could have just thrown fire and shot an enemy?”

Sharp’s goal with combat was to fix some age-old problems with RPGs. Issues like poison damage almost always being much less viable than other forms of elemental damage and weak other status effects bothered him. While the game isn’t the only RPG with a unique poison system, it’s most definitely in the minority. That’s why he spent a lot of time focusing on the underlying calculations and formulas to make sure the game’s balance was up to snuff. The poison deals more damage if it runs its course, and the buffs and debuffs are very effective, exceeding even the best timer bonus. With these changes, Sharp managed to make the game not only harder but more fun to play.

Video game fables is now available on PC.

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