I paid about $5 for this on sale, which is a fair value if you dislike the game and a steal if you enjoy it.
This is a difficult game to review. If I could, I'd put this game into a neutral category. This is the kind of game that will polarize people into love or hate. I feel that a month or two of refinement, additional assets and play testing, could have elevated this game into something much greater than 7/10.
The negatives, in order of what was most noticeable:
- Each character has 4 skills to choose from. You only gain 1 skill point per level and most of the time, you will put the point into an existing skill. Therefore, for the first 10 levels, the skills don't tend to vary combat that much. This is boring. I never felt a sense of elation, that comes with leveling in MMO RPGs or single player RPGs.
Although I like the branching nature of the skill tree ( which modifies the effect, of the skill slightly ), the lack of skills feels RPG-light compared to a conventional RPG where clerics and mages might have 6-9 different spells.
Both your hero and skill points cap at level 20, which means that of the 4 skills, one was designed to be a dead end skill by the developers, since mathematically you will only have 1 default point in that particular skill. I'll give you a hint and say that some of the buffs and debuffs are a waste of casting time and mana, considering that the game focuses on DPS, stunlocking and healing.
It costs 3 skill points to respec your skill tree, which is too expensive.
Although I liked the strange, unique and avant-garde mechanics of the tank having to spend hit points, to perform skill actions, it does not work work very well for the first 5 levels, since she doesn't have a large enough health pool, to perform many actions. Similarly, the cleric does not regenerate mana and has to steal health from her companions, in order to generate magic points. She has to almost kill her companions, in order to heal them, which is amusing but likewise, doesn't really work for the first 5 levels or so ( this is a balance issue ). The amusing irony is that the mage ends up being the best, most versatile healer in the game.
- The tactical combat side of the game is, for the most part, tedious. There are probably only around 20 different monsters to fight which is simply not enough for an action RPG game. This game would need, at a bare minimum 50 different monsters. Something on the scale of 100 different monsters, would drastically elevate this game. Compared to the Dungeons and Dragons monster manual, this game is sorely lacking!
Combat consists of figuring out which opposing control wizard to stunlock, taking out the cleric and DPSing the enemy. Then you have to cross your fingers and hope that the RNG ( random number generator ) Gods are in your favour. Battles are usually a landslide, there are very few, close battles. You either efficiently dispatch the enemies or you unfortunately lose an ally, who ends up face down in the dirt and then you have to try and struggle to get a team-mate to revive him. The character doing the reviving will come under fire, which will delay the reviving, each time he takes a hit. I usually play games on the hardest difficulty levels but I had to set the difficulty to medium. The only difference is that on the harder difficulty levels, your allies will end up face down in the dirt, which increases the chances of a party wipe, then the game automatically ends and you have to reload the game and fight out the same battle. The harder difficulty levels are extraordinarily tedious and resemble the kind of grind in an MMO. Medium ( the default difficulty ) was too easy for me, so I never managed to find a happy equilibrium.
- The environments for Act 1 and 2 were bland. Act 1, the wilderness was the worst and gave the false impression of open world exploration. Realistically, for the first 5-10 levels, there is a set path to follow, in terms of finding treasure chests and being able to fight monsters at the level you are at. The only way to figure out the path, is to take the wrong turn, wipe and reload. This is tedious. The game environment becomes almost completely linear in Act 2 and 3, which is the way that Act 1 should have been. I did like the art direction for Act 3.
+ I immediately liked the characters, plot, voice acting and dialogue. These are the aspects of the game that kept me playing.
+ I enjoyed the puzzles in Act 2 and Act 3. Each puzzle takes 5-10 minutes to figure out. If you don't like puzzle games then this game is not for you.
+ The orchestrated music was appropriate.
+ I enjoyed the part where you gained 4 additional characters and the game forced you to use them to explore. I wish that the game had had more of that.
+ The combat and skill tree does get more varied and interesting around level 13 ( which is relatively late in the game ).
Examples of ARPGs ( action role playing games ) that I would recommend: "Freedom Force" and the sequel, "Freedom Force vs the 3rd Reich". Both of those games were fantastic 9/10 for the first and 10/10 for the second.http://www.gamerankings.com/pc/340353-freedom-force/index.htmlhttp://www.gamerankings.com/pc/919085-freedom-force-vs-the-3rd-reich/index.html