Tempestuous Savagery

Seething with rage unabated.

I would advise against making Kenork angry, but he exists in a perpetual state of unbridled wrath and I don’t think he knows how to relax. So I’d advise against making him angrier than he already is. Not that I’m sure that’s possible, either. So maybe it’s best if you avoid contact with him at all times. It’s better for your health if you do. Chronicon is a delightfully engaging and tremendously enjoyable ARPG featuring four character classes, satisfying character development, numerous locations to explore, thousands of items to find, dozens of quests to undertake, and much more.

It’s a deceptively content-dense experience.

One that doesn’t end once you’ve completed the main campaign. Allowing you to further refine your build and face the challenges present in Tinka’s Realm, while pushing further beyond Legendary difficulty. Unlocking the Mythic difficulty levels which are significantly more challenging.

Conceiving that build won’t be easy, though. The Berserker, Templar, Warlock, and Warden all have four distinct skill trees. Each specialises in a different damage type and affords bonuses to certain skills, offering unprecedented freedom when developing your build. You won’t need to invest in skills that don’t interest you. Nor will you be limited to a handful of equipment choices, as myriad equipment sets exist that cater to every aspect of your chosen character class. It’s an amazingly rewarding (if not slightly daunting) experience. One that isn’t tarnished by the usual frustrations encountered when farming items, because if you find something that doesn’t fully meet your requirements you can customise it. Either by adding new (or altering existing) enchantments, adding new (or altering existing) sockets, or by transmuting it.

I did advise against making him angry…

Besides the four distinct skill trees, there’s a shared Mastery tree that is available (and partly tailored) to each character class, which primarily affords character development after Lvl 100, but its benefits can be felt long before then. It has basic modifiers (such as +%Lightning Damage) alongside unique modifiers (such as immunity to trap damage), and is customisable to an extent. Allowing you to focus on specific aspects of your build. While simultaneously having complete control over when you invest, how extensively, and which benefits become available as the branch develops.

It’s the superb execution that makes this concept work.

As is true of many concepts present in Chronicon, which might suggest that I’ve got nothing but unending praise for it and its developer, and that is somewhat true, because it’s so refreshing to have meaningful character development that actually influences how your build develops.

I’ve followed Chronicon through Early Access for nearly four years anticipating the full release. Naturally, I had high expectations for it and it has exceeded those expectations in every conceivable way. I wouldn’t say that it’s reached its full potential, though. There are ways to improve the experience or expand existing content, and I’d be surprised if the developer didn’t already have plans to do just that. Regardless of what may (or may not) happen in the future, Chronicon is currently an entirely capable ARPG, built with dedication by its ambitious developer, and delivers an experience that’s wholly engrossing because it’s truly fun to play. Few ARPGs have shown as much promise as Chronicon has, and that’s why I highly recommend it to those who enjoy ARPGs and value purposeful character development.

Have a nice week, all!

Moggie

Thunderous Fists

Righteous punching ensues.

Unlike many of the surprises that I’ve had this year, the full release of Chronicon is a very welcome surprise. I wasn’t aware that it was due (or even planned) to be released this year. But it’s available now and I couldn’t be more excited about revisiting the main campaign, while finally being able to explore the infernal landscape of Act V. I’ve been looking forward to doing that. The patch notes for the full release were extensive, while its lone developer has continued to show their unwavering dedication to delivering the best possible experience by addressing numerous known issues.

Resulting in three post-release patches in less than five days.

Which is why it’s been a pleasure to follow its journey through Early Access, and why I’ve experienced each new update with my poison Warlock while anticipating the full release. It’s been a great journey, too. I’ve known few Early Access titles to change as extensively as Chronicon did.

I’ve decided to temporarily retire my poison Warlock for the full release, though. I’d like to experience the main campaign from a fresh perspective. To see everything from start to finish as a freshly built character would. Not that I’ll be freshly built, as shared progression affords certain advantages, but I won’t be relying on those advantages. Besides taking two Bottomless Bags out of the shared stash. But that’s purely for convenience, and because I have an irrational desire to hoard items. I’ve been actively avoiding the services of Theo, Chantie, and Gemma as well. I doubt that they’d significantly change anything prior to the conclusion of Act III, but I’d rather not use them. I’m hoping to be able to increase the difficulty to Legendary before arriving at Act V, too. Allowing the fabled True Legendary equipment to start appearing.

Drawing strength from the skies above.

I’d been deliberating between a lightning Berserker and a holy Templar prior to release, and eventually settled on the Berserker as they better represented my intentions for this build. Utilising various skills from the Sky Lord tree allows them to deal impressive damage with shouts, while they become exponentially more powerful as their rage increases. They’ve also got excellent base mobility. Alongside naturally heightened health and mana regeneration. This allows them to endure close quarters combat when needed, but easily reposition if they’re taking too much damage.

They can certainly hold their own when facing tough opposition.

Besides Shouts I’ve invested in a single Brawl skill, Lightning Jab, which replaces my default attack, and is solely used to regenerate mana. I won’t be actively increasing the damage for Brawl skills and/or Lightning Jab, as my intention is to greatly improve the damage and efficacy of Shouts.

The diversity and complexity of character development in Chronicon is one of the reasons I’ve been so excited about it. Despite restricting myself to a poison Warlock build, mostly to keep other builds fresh for the full release, I’ve seen how each character class offers new opportunities, and could fundamentally change how you experience the content. I’m also fond of being able to fully customise my equipment to suit my chosen build. I’ve nothing against wading endlessly through a sea of viscera, but actually being able to make use of equipment that you’d otherwise sell or salvage is great. I’ve got nothing but praise for Chronicon (and its developer) because it’s one of the most refreshing, engaging, and wonderfully fun ARPGs in recent years. It’s definitely worth your time if you’re looking for something familiar yet fresh.

Have a nice week, all!

Moggie

First Impurressions of… Cat Quest II

Tales of a mewsical mewgician.

Who tours the flourishing fields of Felingard strumming their lute, opening gravitational rifts, and summoning lasers from space. Who traded the majority of their health for ranged magical damage, and who now relies on their trusty canine companion to deal physical damage while they frantically skirt around enemies. Cat Quest II is the wonderfully fun and mechanically diverse sequel to Cat Quest, which purrfectly illustrates how cats and dogs can coexist peacefully. Or could if they weren’t embroiled in a meaningless war being fought to prove the superiority of their species.

Magic has been greatly expanded in the sequel, too.

Which affords greater build pawsibilities, but equipping a magical weapon, such as the Bard Lute, drastically reduces your maximum health. So you’ll be trading survivability for heightened damage potential. However, there are a few weapons, such as the Stormbringer, that allow you to have both.

Due to the co-operative mechanics present in the sequel it’s pawsible to build towards both magical and physical damage, as you can easily switch to your canine (or feline) companion to defeat foes unaffected by either damage type. Of which there are quite a few. The individual damage types matter, too. As some enemies are entirely resistant to fire or arcane damage, but are susceptible to ice damage. Which encourages you to keep multiple magical weapons upgraded. While most magical armour will increase a certain damage type by 15% per piece, allowing you to deal 45% more damage if using the appropriate magical weapon as well. But you can also combine different sets for their statistical bonuses. Such as the Bard set which increases mana regeneration, or the Gentle set which reduces the mana cost of spells.

Those who set paw in this tomb will become terriers.

Until I reached Lvl 100 I always had my companion wearing the Dog Soldier set, which is interchangeable with the Cat Soldier set, depending on whether you favour health or armour, and increases experience gained from defeating enemies by 20% per piece. It feels as though equipment has been significantly rebalanced in the sequel, making it harder to choose between raw statistical bonuses and pawerful passive effects. Wearing the Arcane Mage Hat would’ve afforded higher arcane damage, but the Skeleton King Crown granted additional armour and increased survivability.

Which I was in dire need of when using a magical weapon.

Upgrading equipment has been simplified, too. Rather than opening chests and randomly acquiring upgrades, as you would in Cat Quest, you now visit Kit Cat (for armour) or Hotto Doggo (for weapons) to upgrade specific equipment, which costs slightly more but has a guaranteed result.

Cat Quest II is an incredibly impurressive sequel that revisits previously established mechanics and implements more intuitive iterations of them. Everything from equipment choices to enemy variety has more depth and feels more complex, which results in a greatly satisfying experience that’s delightfully fun. It’s also littered with just as many (if not more) cat puns. As is this post. With the release of the Mew World update the experience is at its best, with Mew Game being reintroduced alongside the Meowdifiers which make revisiting the campaign even more fun than it would be otherwise. Or more challenging. Depending on which approach you decide to take. I would highly recommend Cat Quest II to those looking for a light-hearted, enjoyable, feline-themed ARPG experience. Especially if you love cats as much as I do.

Have a nice week, all!

Moggie

A Glacial Cacophony

Terrifying visions of the future.

There are few releases that I’m anticipating as much as the full release of Last Epoch. Not only are the developers continually supporting its development during Early Access, but they’re introducing new ideas through subsequent updates which they’re executing with staggering proficiency. I was quite impressed by the implementation of Idols. They’re reminiscent of the Charms introduced in Diablo II: Lord of Destruction, but unlike Charms you don’t need to sacrifice precious inventory space to carry them. They’re stored in their own inventory which is unlocked (and upgraded) through quests.

It’s an interesting solution to a known problem.

Not only does it limit the number of Idols that you can carry (and how many benefits you can have), but it means that you’ll never need to choose between more benefits or more space. You can have both. Their limited inventory also encourages you to consider the best Idols for your build.

As you won’t be able to mindlessly flood your inventory space with more Idols until you’re unable to hold anything else. I’ve always felt that Last Epoch has the potential to be something truly special, and I greatly appreciate how the developers have put thought into the implementation of new mechanics. Rather than taking inspiration from other ARPGs and careless introducing conflicting mechanics. They’ve splendidly established themselves through their dedication to the player experience. Introducing new ideas only when it benefits the player experience, and adjusting existing ideas to further refine it. I’m quite excited that they’re going to be introducing shrines, too. Mostly because they’ve hinted that not every shrine will have a positive outcome, and that you might wish to avoid activating some of them.

I’m not sure how I ended up here or how I’m getting back.

While revisiting Last Epoch I’ve been building a Mage. I hadn’t built a Mage prior to this, and my first inclination was to specialise in the Sorcerer Mastery for ranged dominance. Then I remembered the Spellblade Mastery and the choice became obvious. It was first built around Mana Strike and Snap Freeze, with Snap Freeze pinning down foes as I cleaved them in twain. I wasn’t sure which weapon to wield, though. I eventually decided on sceptres due to the inherent bonuses to the damage dealt by spells. Which suited my build as, besides Mana Strike, all of my active skills are classified as spells.

I’d also later abandon my shield in favour of a catalyst.

Instead relying on Teleport (to escape combat) for a while, before realising that Flame Ward could aid my survivability and allow me to remain in combat. As this build relies on chaining together certain skills. Which is much harder to do when you’re having to Teleport out of combat frequently.

To say that I’m impressed with Last Epoch would be an understatement. It was a capable ARPG when it first became available for Early Access, but it has improved exponentially in every way since then. I’m just curious as to what new content (besides the aforementioned shrines) the developers are cooking up. The fifth class hasn’t been announced yet, and there are still two Masteries for the existing classes which have yet to be implemented. So I’m looking forward to those. Anything that promotes more build diversity and unique ways to utilise each class is certainly going to enhance the longevity of an ARPG. I’m just hoping that they continue to take their time with the development, and not rush the release even if it’s taking longer than they originally anticipated. It deserves to get the recognition it has earned when fully released.

Have a nice week, all!

Moggie

Delving Into Dungeons

Plagued by gnawing uncertainty.

There are few things as satisfying as crawling through a crumbling dungeon while being besieged by hordes of monsters. Clinging to that last scrap of bread as your hunger grows, but pressing on in hopes of acquiring great treasure and attaining even greater glory. It’s often an entirely perilous pursuit. But that’s not going to stop me. I’ve always been fond of exploring new locations, and I’m glad that dungeon crawlers offer countless opportunities to do so while reminding you of your fragile mortality. Especially when you’re encouraged to build a fresh party of adventurers with each attempt.

As each attempt should then differ from the last.

But even if the same party is maintained with each attempt, failing the last should encourage a different approach for the next. If the RPG mechanics are adequate then the outcome should change. Which doesn’t mean that it’ll be a guaranteed success, but at least a different kind of failure.

Grim Dawn executed this exceptionally well with its challenge dungeons. While your character build remained the same, the dungeon would reset and the Skeleton Key (required to enter the dungeon) would be lost. Forgotten Gods, the second expansion pack for Grim Dawn, introduced the Shattered Realm to stand alongside challenge dungeons. However, unlike challenge dungeons, the Shattered Realm encouraged you to clear each level in the best time possible, and would offer extra rewards if you did so. Obviously Grim Dawn is not a grid-based movement dungeon crawler, but it does utilise some mechanics which would suit the genre well. I’d definitely appreciate a dungeon crawler that introduced content similar to the Shattered Realm. Rather than simply providing randomly generated floors to wearily trudge through.

A delightfully devilish interpretation of dungeon crawling mechanics.

Which is why I’m quite fond of how Book of Demons implemented its dungeon crawling mechanics. Rather than designing a fixed sequence of floors akin to Diablo, the developers opted to utilise dungeon generation mechanics which allow you to decide just how long you’d like to explore the dungeon for. I’ve actually been thinking about revisiting a few ARPGs this year. But I’ve also made a surprising number of purchases (despite not intending to) in recent months. I’ve been enoying Death end re;Quest after completing Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot, but I’m unsure of what I’ll be playing next.

I’ve been thinking about the Early Access for Stoneshard.

But I’ve also been thinking about (the recently purchased) Infinite Adventures. Then there’s Wasteland Remastered, which might not be a grid-based movement dungeon crawler but is certainly a worthy consideration. Especially when I’m keen to begin my post-apocalyptic adventures in Wasteland 2.

Last Epoch was another worthy consideration as that has already proven to be quite a capable ARPG. But it’s so very difficult deciding what to do next when there’s so much that I’m enthusiastic about. Let this post serve as forewarning that I’ll likely be flooding Moggie’s Proclamations with gaming content, and that I’ll be incredibly happy while doing so. There might be some creative content as well. That’s always a possibility. I’ve written before of my nostalgic love for dungeon crawlers and I’ll probably do it again. While I do love ARPGs, I’ve always enjoyed bringing together a party of adventurers with different abilities and talents. I sorely miss party-based RPGs. Which is why I’ve been investing in numerous JRPGs, as they’re often party-based with turn-based combat and those are two of my favourite things.

Have a nice weekend, all!

Moggie