Heretic Kingdoms: The Inquisition (aka Kult)
It's not a great game but it has some cool innovative mechanics and the storytelling was interesting enough as well.
Combat is very simplistic: you move by holding the left mouse button, you attack by holding the right mouse button, and when you're hurt you press the shortcut for your inexhaustible healing item. That's basically it. Each time you heal yourself this way, your bloodpoints (that is, your maximum hitpoints) drop by a percentage depending on the damage you have to heal (think of it as more permanent injuries or exhaustion). However, once you get the opportunity to make camp, you're back to your full maximum health again, and there are also abilities later in the game that counteract the exhaustion. Because of this, I chose to play the game in Easy mode, as higher difficulties wouldn't have made the game more challenging and exciting, only increased the number of times that I would have been forced to run away and rest, which would have been frustrasting and a waste of time.
And speaking of wasting time, there's a lot of unnecessarily long walks in the game, and often to and fro, through areas that look nice enough but feel rather empty after they have been cleared of all enemies. There is an overland map that allows quicktravel between areas, but quite often the maps have only one exit and the NPCs you'd want to talk to again are at the opposite end of it, so you'll have to walk there for half a minute or more each time you enter the map. In the city there's an arena that makes you leave and re-enter the map before you can start your next battle, and the battle ground is not even close to the exit but 20 seconds away (that means 20 seconds to the exit, wait for next area to load, get back in, wait for arena area to load, walk another 20 seconds to the battle ground). I really don't know what they were thinking. Also, there's something off about the walking animation, speed or sound, maybe a combination of all these, and it makes walking feel even more of a drag. I think it's mostly the sound, which is pretty repetitive and annoying. And the mouse cursor is the same as in Windows, no fancy icon designed specifically for the game, just your old Windows cursor, and clicking on moving enemies or lootable items on the ground feels very clunky and imprecise.
Anyway, I still found several things to like about it. Like being able to switch between two planes of existence at will (real world and dreamworld haunted by spirits), which allows you to flee from battles in one reality, at the risk of running into new opponents in the dreamworld, but also to find ghost NPCs or secret marks that help you raise your ability attributes (Melee, Ranged, Magic and Speed), if you find enough of them. The items' attunement system is pretty great as well, and feels a bit ahead of its time (although maybe that's also because the game looks like it's from 1998-2000, while it's actually from 2004).
All items you find require you to meet a certain condition, but not in order to wear or wield them (you can wear and wield whatever you want), but to attune yourself to them and unlock and extract the power stored within. For example, you might find a weapon that requires you to wear light armour. You can use it even when you're wearing heavy or no armour, but if you wear light armour while you wield it, each successful hit brings you closer to unlocking its power, and some opponents, mostly ghosts and demons also drop essence that when consumed contributes to the process. Once you reach 100%, you learn a new feat - the so called attunement. The number of active attunements is restricted but grows with leveling and you can switch between them whenever you make camp. Also, once you've learned an attunement, you don't need to wield the weapon or wear the armour you've extracted it from. As long as you meet the condition of the attunment (e.g. Light Armour) you can wield and wear whatever you want. I found this to be a great motivation for trying out different weapons and fighting styles, just to unlock all the powers stored within them. I started out heavily armored with heavy high damage weapons but then switched to no armour and fast low damage weapons in the end (armour decreases your attack rate). Because all the experimentation for unlocking powers made me try out different things instead of sticking to the same style all the time, as I often do in other RPGs.
The story of the game is not extraordinary, but I quite liked how it was told. Contrary to some RPGs that dump lots of lore and walls of text on you, here it was told in small chunks along the way, either via dialogues or interludes with illustrated pictures and narrator voice, but always short and on point, without any obsolete information. And while nothing completely new or terribly creative, the setting was still more interesting than your average fantasy game about elves and dwarves and saviors (neither heroic nor grimdark, more about politics and personal beliefs). Your female character's story and most of her answers are pre-defined, which might turn off some players, but I actually liked that. You also get to make a few choices towards the end, but until then, everything is set, so no need to replay it.
I don't know if I would recommend the game to anyone; even though it's comparatively short for an RPG (only took me one weekend to play through), it's not really worth wasting that much time on it, considering the drawbacks listed above. But those attunement mechanics were fun. And I'm curious about Shadows: Heretic Kingdoms now. Too bad it's still not finished yet.
Post edited October 24, 2016 by Leroux