10 of 14 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars
Difficult, but not always for the right reasons, 15 Oct 2011
= Fun:2.0 out of 5 stars
I have heard many things about how amazing this game is and thus decided to pick it up. I have to say that I really don't feel that the game lives up to the hype. Please note whilst reading that I know that a lot of people love this game and that's fine, but please be aware that others may disagree. I tried to write this from an overarching perspective (i.e. for hardcore fans and more casual gamers). I'll try to break the review into segments for ease of reading:
Story: very light on the ground and mostly consisting of history rather than a series of unfolding events. This makes the game interesting but does little to build gravitas around either the characters (yourself included) or the scenarios you become embroiled in. There is never really a big sense of urgency in anything you do, outside of the immediate dangers of trying to stay alive.
Visuals: it is undeniable that this game has an excellent art style, truly unique and unafraid to be so. Monster designs are bold and nightmarish and scenery really helps to define a unique and intriguing world. On a technical level it isn't quite as strong. The textures are not solid but not awful either, nothing that detracts from the experience. The lighting is varied; some effects look amazing while others can be a bit suspect. Character models are easily the weakest part of the visual package; though armour is interesting and well detailed, character faces and textures really are sub par. That said though the animations are solid.
Gameplay: this is where the game does shine; combat is responsive and satisfying and, when mastered is very gratifying and rewarding. The only real problem is that it can become very repetitive, especially due to some design features which will be touched upon later. The difficulty, whilst not insurmountable, is incredibly frustrating and, more often than not, outweighs the feeling of accomplishment gained when success is met. Often the game feels unfair rather than just difficult with a major problem being that many enemies have the ability to counter your attacks with a devastating finisher that is almost impossible to telegraph. Small features like this that make the player feel cheated can make the experience thoroughly unenjoyable. Boss fights, however a very different. Although championed as being amongst the hardest in the industry, are actually significantly easier than a lot of the standard enemies as they have patterns which can be exploited, making boss fights truly memorable and satisfying encounters.
Design: the design really let's the game down to be honest. The game is very reluctant to give you any kind of clue as to what to do and how to do it. Though I have no issues with the game not telling me how to defeat certain enemies (that is part of the fun), it is frustrating that it simply gives you very little information on how to play the game. This is not a simple case of the game 'not leading you by the hand'. As much as other players may praise the game for this aspect, there really needs to be a better tutorial stage to the game that explains the intricacies of the controls, user interface and menus more thoroughly before throwing you into the world on your own. Class selection, for example, is difficult the first time as the game gives you no information as to what the different attributes (strength, attunement, faith etc) actually do. Also, there are many times when exploring when you have absolutely no idea what you are doing or where you are going. Though I have always disliked obvious waypoint systems, the game needs to give you more clearly defined goals (i.e. what you actually need to do to progress). Many a time I found myself progressing to the next stage of a quest purely by chance. Another tedious feature is the fact that enemies respawn upon resting and saving at a camp site. You will often use up all of the health restoring potions in your vial in a few encounters and need to return to a camp site to replenish health and potions, only to find that the group of enemies you had spent so long to defeat had returned. This does not necessarily always make the game harder per se but makes it very tedious as you will have to fight the same group of enemies multiple times over using the same tactics. The real problem with the game is not its difficulty but its inaccessibility.
Overall the game can be a solid action RPG that is very difficult to get into. If you have the time and patience to develop the skills needed to survive the feeling of accomplishment can be very rewarding. Boss fights are exhilarating and memorable. However, the lack of tools to teach you how to play the game is a massive hurdle to overcome and the tediousness of the game can render it incredibly frustrating. The difficulty of the game is often because of design rather than by design, a feature that often makes the game not fun which is, unfortunately, the reason to actually play games in the first place. In summation I can only really recommend this to hardcore RPG fans with a great deal of patience, though I must warn you, the reward for patience may not necessarily be worth it.