On August 20th, 2015, the first demo version of Pokémon Ethereal Gates was released to wild excitement from the Pokémon fangame community. The hype was understandable: the game's pre-release screenshots and artwork looked phenomenal, the new fakemon designs were intriguing, the music tracks they posted sounded great, and all in all it was obvious that a lot of love and detail had been poured into this project. I was pretty excited about it myself, and so later that day I decided I'd give the demo a little spin and take my Tumblr followers along for the ride. Now that that initial run is over, I've brought all the posts over here to Altered Origin as well.

(If you want to see the full original version on Tumblr, including additional related posts and a few quick thoughts/responses from some game staff and a few other people, start here.)

What is "Pokémon Ethereal Gates"?

Here's a whirlwind summary for those of you who haven't yet drowned under their social media deluge: Ethereal Gates is a Pokémon fangame made by the Perihelion Productions team in RPG Maker XP/Pokémon Essentials (so not a ROM hack for an emulator, etc.). It takes place in a brand new region with a pokédex that consists entirely of fakemon. They've got threads on PokéCommunity and Relic Castle, and they have a presence on Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook and Reddit in addition to the main website linked above, so you can go leaf through those if you want to see their full introduction, pre-release info, streams and videos, updates from the team and so on. The game's gotten a lot of attention recently, partially because, as mentioned above, they've been very, very aggressive in promoting it, and partially because it looks hella fancy. Apparently the team has been working on PEG/its predecessor projects for something like seven years in all, and they're doing their absolute best to put out a fangame with a professional level of polish. Aesthetically, this appears to have paid off; as I said, everything looks (and sounds) pretty damn nice. As for how well it actually comes together and plays... well, that's what we're about to find out!

A few important notes before we begin

This LP is an experiment—a trial run, if you will.

This was my first attempt at a playthrough blog in years, and certainly my first attempt with screenshots and the like. I'm still experimenting with what sorts of things I want to point out or discuss, with pacing, with the best way to throw in a few bits of entertaining storytelling here and there. It doesn't help much that the series' initial run on Tumblr was done in a very loose "liveblog" style: I was typing up what happened and my reactions to it as I played, and then I'd post a chunk of said happenings and reactions at once with only minimal editing. As such, things are likely to be a little rough around the edges. (Also, some of the images have some wonky coloring issues due to unknowable problems with the first screenshot program I tried.) Hopefully it's all still an enjoyable enough read!

This is a blind LP.

I went into Ethereal Gates without the foggiest idea what was going on, outside of my general knowledge of Pokémon game mechanics and the few bits and pieces the creators had teased on social media. The creators actually recommended playing without looking everything up first, and they deliberately withheld information about the majority of Pokémon, characters and locations in the game so that people could experience the surprise and wonder of seeing them for the first time while playing. There are definitely resources available if you want to check out a Pokémon's stats or types or locations—a fan wiki, for one thing—but I chose to play through without spoiling myself on anything at all, and so I avoided those resources and just tried to understand things as I encountered them and through trial and error. As such, you'll see me say a few things that turn out not to be true later, and I won't always correct myself in the LP. Don't use this as a definitive resource on the new fakemon's type combinations and such, is what I'm saying.

That said, this obviously contains spoilers.

Even if they aren't always accurate spoilers. Don't read if you'd rather do a blind playthrough of the demo on your own.

This LP currently only covers the 1.0 version of the demo.

The state of this demo does not necessarily reflect the state of the final game, and in fact the Perihelion Productions team has since released 1.1 and 1.1.1 updates to fix several of the known bugs, tweak some stats and graphics and even add a teensy bit more content. I fully recommend that you play the 1.1.1 demo rather than 1.0 since it fixes a lot of problems (although it has temporarily removed the move animations), but be aware that what you see in that game is not always going to line up with what you see here. I may add in a few notes here and there to acknowledge some of the major changes in the updated demo, though.

Yes, my pokémon have weird nicknames.

I decided to name everything I caught after characters in a Pokémon-fantasy worldbuilding project/potential setting for some fanfics. It's called Arilterra, it's got a bunch of weird Tolkien people in it except they can breathe fire and other such nonsense, and there isn't much information about this setting publicly available because I'm still working on it. I'm sorry, but I'm also not sorry.

Will this series ever be continued?

Most likely! It'll probably be a while, though. The demo in its current state only goes up until the second gym. The team has stated that they don't plan to release any more demos, and ideally the next release that comes out will be the full, final version. Said final version is due out sometime in 2016 or early 2017 if everything goes according to plan, so assuming that there are no huge delays or problems, that's when I'll be able to jump back and resume my journey. I've still got my save file, so when the time comes we can pick up right where we left off and see the rest of what Ethereal Gates has in store.

That should be everything... let's get started! Next stop, the beginnings of our grand new Ethereal Gates adventure!