I had never heard of this game before the Steam release. I picked up the 3 pack early just to give it a whirl and gave 2 copies to some friends of mine. For those of you that don't want to read the whole review, I'll just come out and say that I absolutely love the game. One of the better games I've played so far in 2014. My friends and I have had a blast playing it, and if that isn't the bar for what constitutes a good game, it should be. That being said, not everyone will love it. Read on to see if this isn't your bag.
The gameplay is highly reminiscent of the Dragon Warrior games or the early Final Fantasy games on the NES. If that last sentence instantly sets off bells of nostalgia for you, then you will probably like this game. Don't run out and buy it yet though! The game is deliberately 8 bit and old school, where you walk around a 2d world getting into random encounters that pop up out of nowhere. The point is to level, hope for rare drop loot, and beat bosses at the bottoms of dungeons to complete quests.
The battle is where this game shines especially if you have two friends. And that is also this games biggest weakness. The game is still fun solo, but the companion monsters from your ranch (think having a stable of pokemon), are usually sufficient enough but stupid. This not only lowers the fun of enacting well crafted plans with your friends so that all of your moves play out in perfect turn order like a well choerographed bank heist, but also makes certain battles very difficult. The point is, if you go this solo, there may still be points where you'll want to group up with someone else in the world.
Beyond that, battles often get tough and intense where your life might hang in the balance of which member of your party a monster attacks or if your healer has enough agility to get his heal in before the monster gets his bite in. The battles are pretty fast paced and can swing from good to bad quickly. The battles also reward strategic thinking, but it is possible to brute force your way through much of it just by grinding out another level or two if things get tough. The combat is definitely where this game shines.
There are 8 classes that all play differently from eachother. Some of the classes are similar in style and role but still manage to maintain their identity. I have personal experience with the Warlock, Conjurer, Wizard, and a ranger that I specced to play like an offensive lightning slinging druid. All 4 were casters, yet no two were alike. The conjurer is all about damage over time and can heal almost as well as he can kill while the Wizard takes more of a straightforward approach and just hits stuff upside the head for huge single hit numbers with fireballs and the like. The warlock life drains constantly and uses his own HP to cast instead of mana while the Ranger almost always goes first in combat due to high agility, can hit things upside the head with his staff for a respectable amount of damage to save mana on trash, and could still chuck around heals and spells with fairly strong results.
Something about time travel. Who cares? I wouldn't call story this game's strong point. It's there, but it hasn't exactly left me pining for a tie in novel.
+ Fun MMO-like game set in a old school NES RPG setting.
+ Great fun with 2 friends
+ Can still be fun solo, but may require grouping at points.
+ Combat is excellent and nail biting
+ Classes are well designed and play differently from eachother
+ Terrible graphics that pleasantly remind us of a bygone era.
- Some battles are nigh-unsoloable. (lookin at you Guardian)
- Can get a bit grindy at times.
- Terrible graphics that remind you of nothing because you weren't gaming in the 80s.
- The boat ride between Balzackia and Piatta can't be skipped after the first time :(
- Story is nothing to write home about.