I know I missed Fate this week, but omg real life, so have me ranting incoherently about this nonsense game instead, which is a wRPG for the XBox and PC:
Everyone seemed to be going crazy over how this franchise is ~morally gray~, but we all know that just means grimdark. I was prepared for it to be machismo-fueled existential-pseudo-philosophy stuff, but I at least thought I’d get a compelling setting and cool story out of it. What I did not expect was misogyny, probably one of the worst control layouts/battle systems I’ve ever encountered, and most importantly, some of the most horrible plotting I’ve ever seen.
Guys, this game is hilarious.
First of all, the setting is apparently after some “Great War” that involved killing all women, because an hour into the game I’d met about 10 major male NPCs, 50 male bandits, and one woman. The main woman wears nothing but an open-to-the-navel parka and fishnets, and the detail they put into making sure her boobs jiggle every time she takes a step in the cutscenes is so overt it’s actually kind of funny. Also that image is titled “Triss in battle gear,” which is just sad. As a warning, if you google her name you get nothing but porn of her, which, yeah, that’s really all the commentary her role in the story needs.
Further exploration has revealed one more named woman, one unnamed women, one fridged woman, and an apparent redhead fetish.
Also, during the post-prologue recap (I’ll get to that), we have the pleasure of just staring at a screen containing nothing but this image until you click through, I guess so there’s enough time to fap. (And come on, the cat? See what I mean about this game being hilarious?)
The plotting is hilaribad, too. It’s just funny how bad it is, which is why I haven’t ragequit yet (that, and what information I’ve forcibly extracted about the setting is actually kind of interesting, if cliche). The best part is that the game can’t decide if the Player Character has amnesia or not. He’ll have completely normal, backstory-informed conversations with other characters, and then at the end of the conversation just go, “Oh yeah, who are you? I have amnesia.” It’s so bad the other characters are constantly lampshading it. They’ll be like, uh, dude, you were just
acting totally normal how do you not know who I am?
The writers clearly wanted to use his amnesia as a way to introduce players to game mechanics, but they obviously didn’t want to sacrifice their
TOTES EDGY characterization and him being a badass, so you get characters talking with him and him acting normal and volunteering to do things and then some token mention of him apparently not remembering anything he’s talking about.
There’s one point that’s supposed to be our introduction to the alchemy system where Grizzled Old Wise Man needs you to make a potion for Sex Object
Sorceress/Token Female, as she (obviously) got her ass kicked in battle, and the PC immediately goes, “I’ll make it.” And then there’s this beat
as the writers try to figure out how this makes any sense and then just decide, eh, fuck it, and so they have him say, “Oh, but I lost my
memory, I don’t know how,” and GOWM just kind of looks at him and then sighs and sends him off to delegate the bulk of the task to someone
else. Even the characters don’t know if he has amnesia or not.
My favorite, though, came at the end of the prologue. He and Sexy “this is the only female-approved fantasy class” Sorceress talk when he gives
her the potion, and it becomes clear they were in some kind of relationship. Apparently the PC died at some point? We’re not told (two
hours into the game, we still haven’t gotten any backstory about anything, so I actually have no idea what’s going on at all), and
everyone simultaneously talks about him dying and then isn’t surprised to see him alive, so I have no idea.
Anyway, she’s all, “When you died I missed you so much! I was so worried I’d never see you again!” And he responds, “Lo! But not as worried as when I saw your inferior womanly form on the ground injured during the battle just now!” and then they passionately make love, yes there is a sex scene in the prologue. So they finish and get up and she says to him, “With everything going on (whatever “everything” is), I don’t think we should
be in a relationship right now,” and, no joke, he stares at her and goes, “We’re in a relationship? I didn’t know, I lost my memory.” And
I’m sitting there like
The game takes cliche stock charcaters and dials them up to 11. The setting is Grimdark Shitsville, everyone is covered in scars, it’s apparently
never daytime, and yet one of the characters you meet at the beginning hops up to you like a puppy with a ball and just starts spewing
sunshine: “Oh boy oh boy! How I love being a new recruit! I am sure new and enthusiastic! I hope I get to do this for a very long time indeed!”
The best part though is that the game doesn’t even wait to kill him off! He dies less than a half hour into gameplay, during the first battle! And
everyone does their best Darth Vader NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO and it’s just funny because how stupid are they? Were we actually supposed to feel something about this (besides amusement)? The guy might as well have been named Redshirt for
all the death markers he had.
I haven’t had a game be awful in such a hilarious way in such a long time.
This is all compounded by the fact that two+ hours in, I have no idea what’s going on. The amnesia device should have been a vehicle for a backstory recap, but we never actually get it, because he’s too busy acting like he doesn’t have amnesia to bother needing to be filled in as to the story. So it’s just all these people acting insane in this nonsense setting and I have no idea why!
I mean, holy shit, the best part is after you get to the first town. We get a cutscene of a half-naked woman and some kid running from the Hound of the Baskervilles (not joking, it’s not even subtle). She dies dramatically because that’s what women are for, and the kid passes out on the ground inside the town gate. Player Character is there and starts talking to the only clothed woman we’ve met so far, just kind of chatting as the maybe-dead kid lays there.
And then, all of a sudden, the kid starts glowing, floats in the air, and starts chanting some kind of doomsday cult thing about the world burning
in a demonic voice, and then falls to the ground. And everyone just keeps doing what the were doing. The women you were talking to goes, “Oh, don’t worry, that was just the Prophecy of Ithlinne (WHATEVER THE FUCK THAT IS).” And they just forget about it and go on with their conversation! And I’m there like
Here’s what of the setting I’ve been able to glean: There was some kind of war (the “Great War”) between the country of our setting and some other
country. They used genetically modified humans called Witchers to magic their way to victory, but the place went to shit afterwards for some reason and then everyone blamed the Witchers for some reason. And now some evil guy wants the secrets of the Witchers for some reason. Power, I guess, that’s pretty standard.
It’s really engaging; you can tell.
Anyway, after the nonsense prologue, they mourn the death of Redshirt and decide to get back whatever Mysterious Secret the Bad Guy stole from
them. We don’t know what those secrets were, just that they were apparently kept in a conspicuous wooden box in the wide open for easy
stealing. Despite the fact that they’re like the last five Witchers in existence or something and this is presumably Not Good, they decide to
literally go to opposite corners of the planet instead of investigating the obvious leads together. Also, they decide to go on foot despite the
fact that Sexy Sorceress can teleport anywhere.
Okay, none of this makes sense, but whatever, at least I’ll get to run around the map now.
We cut to a Tolkien Map and watch a little red line do the journey instead, all while the voiceover literally recaps the prologue for us, but somehow does so without filling us in on any relevant backstory info. Just straight recap of what we already know.
Getting teleported from one mob battle to another wouldn’t necessarily even be a bad thing except that the combat system is freaking awful.
First of all, in order to do damage, you have to press and hold the attack button and wait for your character to do this whole dramatic sword-swining maneuver. But if the buildup gets interrupted, the attack is cancelled and you have to start over. Since you’re routinely dealing with mobs, this gets very frustrating very quickly, and often as your character is going through this elaborate sword display, he’s getting pummelled from behind by four different enemies, so as you’re trying to land just one attack your health bar is constantly depleting.
On top of this, there’s no auto-targeting. If you don’t hold your cursor steady on an enemy, the attack motion won’t start. And since enemies are constantly moving (obviously) this also gets frustrating fast.
There’s three attack “modes,” each of which you use for certain enemies, which have to be manually toggled during battle, so if while you’re toggling the enemy moves and another one gets in the way of your cursor, the attack might not do anything even if it lands and then you have to toggle again.
The only way to chain attacks is to let go off the attack button and then quickly press it again at a precise moment at the end of the attack motion just before you do damage, and if you let go at the wrong moment it cancels your attack. This means that it’s often better to not chain just so you don’t have to worry about cancelling the attack you were finally able to land.
As for the cursor, it’s autoheld in the middle of the screen, so you can’t look at what other characters are doing while you attack someone else; in order to attack your camera must be centered on that enemy. This means that most of the time I had no idea how many enemies I was dealing with, and often I’d have guys run up behind me and start wailing the second I thought I’d finally finished off the last enemy.
Speaking of the cursor autohold, there are clickable menus and icons all over the screen… but you can’t access the menus with your mouse unless you’re already in a menu, because unless you pause your cursor is stuck smack-dab in the center.
The result is that mid-battle I’d realize I needed a potion or something and attempt to click on my items, only to have the camera start swinging around wildly while I internally went OH SHIT PRESS A MENU BUTTON ANY MENU BUTTON AHHHHH. It does not help that even on the lowest setting, the camera is ridiculously sensitive to mouse motion.
So that’s a complete shitshow.
There are other weird mechanics, too. Like, you can’t get harvestables from dead monsters unless you’ve read a monster book describing that monster’s harvestables, but I already have quests asking for specific parts of the monsters. So what happens, my character kills a Baskerville, goes to get its skull, and then just thinks, “Oh shit, skull, where is the skull?! Hey– hey you! Can you help me? Where is a dog’s skull?! He– no, I’m not on drugs, you ass. DON’T YOU WALK AWAY FROM ME. Crap! I’ll just have to go find a book to explain this. I hope I know how to read.”
The skill tree system is a complete nightmare as well. I think I might as well mention here: That dog-statue-thing in the upper-left-hand corner? No idea what it is or why it’s there. It goes batshit when an enemy is near, because reasons, which is nice, I guess. Anyway:
You may think this is your skill tree. You would be wrong. Well, kind of.
First of all, on the left, there? Each of those words with random red dots? Has a tree just like this. There are fifteen massive skill trees, all with very discrete differences.
Secondly, there are not trees. It looks like you start at the middle green ones and then move into the colors out to the edge of the circle for each skill, right? Wrong. Each individual skill progresses along the circle, so the green dots are all the levels for one skill. Visually it’s a complete mess.
I still haven’t been able to figure out the levelling system. Your level doesn’t display anywhere, you don’t seem to get experience points for killing monsters, and… I don’t know. Every now and then I just get a “level up” message and am told to apply skill points, but I haven’t been able to figure out why I’m getting them yet. Best I can figure, you’re awarded them as you progress per quest, but I can’t figure out how experience is doled out or what exactly it means to level. Whether you get skill points for just levelling or for quest completion or both I’m not sure. No one bothered to explain this to Sir Not-Amnesia.
Speaking of skill points! Instead of a normal tree system where you need progressively more SP to unlock higher levels of a skill, SP is color-coded and skills have to be unlocked with an appropriate color “level” of SP. You can unlock the first three levels of the green strength skill above using one bronze-colored SP each. There’s no progression to it; it’s not like one bronze, two bronze, three bronze, one silver, etc. I assume the skills on the outside of the circle need higher colors to be unlocked, which blocks them out until certain points in the game if SP is quest-based, but that means you can’t grind, which means that if you get stuck you can’t overpower yourself to compensate, you have to suicide through.
I honestly haven’t even gone through at 15 trees and figured out which ones I want yet, because they’re different in such small ways and I care so little about doing this game “right” that I can’t bring myself to devote the time to (if each tree has the same amount of options as this one) 345 different unlockables.What is the different between adding +5 to my damage and +5%? Why do I have duplicate skill sets for “steel” and “silver” even though the only difference is in material and this would make more sense as a general “Swordsmanship” skill?
Weirdly, despite not even having some “signs” (magic spells) and weapons yet, I seem to be able to apply SP to those skills.
I’m kind of running out of steam here, though God knows there’s more WTF to this game, and I have another few days til Fable III comes in the mail so I’m going to keep at it just because it’s fucking hilariously bad and I’m getting some kind of twisted amusement from it. I may make some followup posts depending on how much further I get or if things go even further off the rails and I’m bursting with the need to talk about this to someone because it’s so ridiculous.
This game is just complete crack.