First Impressions of… Operencia: The Stolen Sun

An unending darkness veils the land.

Operencia: The Stolen Sun is an ambitious old-fashioned dungeon crawling experience with modern sensibilities. It features numerous innovative approaches to traditional mechanics, notably when brewing potions, as gathering raw materials won’t be necessary, but you will need to discover and decipher the recipe. Potions replenish each time you rest, too. So you won’t need to repeatedly brew potions as you use them. Resting is accomplished via camping and is limited by the amount of firewood that you have, which encourages planning ahead and utilisation of different resources.

Exploration is generally pleasant while the majority of puzzles are logical enough.

However, party management is crucial, and that’s where this experience feels most flawed. Companions can be incredibly helpful or remarkably mundane, with the only capable healer being the last companion to join your party. Building anything but a Mage also feels extraordinarily ineffective.

As there are few companions that can cast magic, and ironically the most capable is the aforementioned healer. But only with lightning damage. There’s an abundance of companions that deal physical damage, though. But there’s only one companion built for ranged weapons, and his skills are limited in effectiveness. Which was one of my only sources of elemental damage while exploring the first few areas, as I’d opted to build a Warrior. As I (obviously) would. That’s not to say that companions aren’t useful. They are, but they can be confusing as sometimes their attribute points reflect completely different proficiencies than their skills suggest. Jóska has ridiculously high Agility, but doesn’t really seem to benefit from it as he has few skills requiring the use of a bow. I’ve honestly found his Stealth tree to be the most useful.

We’ve not once questioned the legitimacy of their claims, and now we’re just going to open an ancient portal?!

I’ve got mixed feelings about Operencia: The Stolen Sun. It’s definitely an interesting and entertaining dungeon crawler when you’re exploring the world, discovering secrets, and revisiting areas. But combat feels so wildly unpredictable, and certain skills, like those that stun enemies or put them to sleep, seem pointless to even invest in as the majority of enemies are immune to them. Which is absurdly annoying when an enemy spawns other enemies, as you’re unable to interrupt that process. So you quickly become outnumbered as they spawn one new enemy with every turn that they take.

It certainly feels like something went awry at some point.

When customising the difficulty I did set the (strangely named) Betyár setting to hard, which affects combat difficulty, but I doubt that has fundamentally changed how combat feels, as the aggressiveness of enemies (and their damage) is not an issue. It’s how unbalanced most encounters seem to be.

I’ve no issue with criticising something that doesn’t seem to be working as intended, but I don’t like to be inherently negative about something. So I hope that this post doesn’t read that way. As I’ve been enjoying the majority of my time with Operencia: The Stolen Sun, and it has the potential to be something truly wonderful. But certain things significantly detract from the experience. Not that it seems that it was always this way, as earlier information suggested that combat was unpredictable but not to this extent. So this could be the result of balancing which could change again in the future. I can’t really fully recommend Operencia: The Stolen Sun, as while it is an engaging RPG experience, it is unfortunately marred with inconsistencies in combat, but I’m hopeful that the developers will address these issues in a future patch.

Have a nice weekend, all!

Moggie

First Impressions of… Legends of Amberland: The Forgotten Crown

To break an ancient spell.

Legends of Amberland: The Forgotten Crown is a wonderfully charming grid-based movement dungeon crawler featuring extensive character creation, multiple character classes (including racial classes), numerous quests to undertake, and an expansive world to explore. You’re encouraged to trek across the land to uncover its secrets, and to delve deep into dungeons to acquire exceptional equipment. It’s a somewhat simplistic approach but it’s so incredibly satisfying. As it perfectly encapsulates the overflowing sense of wonder you get when exploring a vast open world for the first time.

It truly is a wondrous experience.

Rather surprisingly there are fast travel mechanics, too. They’re not immediately available, but it shouldn’t take you too long to gain access to them. Unless you do what I did and fight the troll on the bridge. If you do, then you may not fully understand how that particular boat will benefit you.

Not that there are any drawbacks (that I’m aware of) to owning different boats. Other than remembering where you’ve left them all. Or randomly discovering a new island overflowing with colossal creatures which decimate your fledgling adventurers, but that’s why exploring a vast open world is so fun. You’re going to find dozens of things that you’ll need to come back to. There are no quest markers, either. So you’re relying on what people have told you, what you know about the world, and the information in your quest log to guide you. Thankfully, quest items don’t (mysteriously) spawn into the world once a quest has been discovered. So you’re able (and encouraged) to explore locations as you discover them. It’s a refreshing approach, and greatly reduces how often you’ll need to revisit locations to complete quests.

The fearsome red dragon protecting their cave of treasures.

While there is an abundance of combat throughout, revisiting locations is relatively safe as enemies don’t respawn once they’ve been defeated. Which means that you won’t need to trudge through countless random encounters while exploring. This certainly accelerates the pace at which you can collect quest items, discover new locations, and progress through the main campaign. On the other hand, it also means that you won’t be able to farm random encounters to level up. This is likely to affect higher difficulty levels, where the amount of experience points required per level is greater than usual.

So higher difficulty levels should be consistently challenging.

While character creation is extensive, character development is fairly simplistic. Once you’ve gained enough experience points simply visit a town and speak to a trainer. The character classes dictate statistical growth and skill acquisition, while bonus attribute points can be invested as you see fit.

I’ll admit that I’ve been consistently surprised by how much I’ve been enjoying this casual RPG experience. Legends of Amberland: The Forgotten Crown doesn’t necessarily do anything that you’ve not seen before, but what it does do it does capably and it does so by sculpting an enchanting world to explore. An enchanting world which is peppered with castles, caves, fortresses, and towers of every description. An enchanting world which is teeming with great treasure and even greater dangers. It’s arguably one of the oldest (and simplest) concepts for RPGs, but one that is also painfully absent from the majority of modern releases. While this experience could be considered an acquired taste, I feel that those who enjoy RPGs will find something to enjoy here. For that reason, I highly recommend it to fans of RPGs old or new!

Have a nice weekend, all!

Moggie

Secrets of the Infinite Labyrinth

Of which there are many.

Infinite Adventures is a delightfully engaging grid-based movement dungeon crawler which features numerous character classes, an extensive dungeon to explore, dozens of quests to complete, and myriad mechanics to tinker with. Despite not creating one myself, I’m intrigued by the potential of having a roster of party members. Mostly because each character class is flexible enough to capably fulfil different roles in a party. I was most impressed by the Geo Templar who not only became one of my best damage dealers, but could also buff party members or heal them if the need arose.

Hence why the character development is so incredibly satisfying.

No character class is ever what it seems to be, and through Gambits, which have a percentage chance to occur in combat, they have the capability to act somewhat autonomously. These could allow them to retaliate against enemies, cure ailments, and heal (or even resurrect) party members.

Each character also has their own Rank. If you’re starting with a fresh save file, most of the characters that you’ll be able to create will start at Rank D. However, as you progress through the main campaign, and by completing certain quests, you’ll gain access to higher quality tokens to upgrade existing (or create new) characters. Upgrading existing characters costs two tokens, while creating a new character will cost one. Upgrading a character also awards them attribute points and skill points, with the amount of each tied to whether they’re a Noble or a Commoner. It doesn’t seem to affect their health or resource pool, though. Nor does it seem to unlock any new capabilities for their character class. So, while it does provide some benefits, it’s not vital and characters can be upgraded once you’ve acquired the means to do so.

Yet another of the reasons we’re investigating the Infinite Labyrinth.

It’s not just your party members that you can upgrade, though. By handing in various tomes to the Adventurer’s Guild you can unlock powerful enchantments for your weapons and shields. By collecting the appropriate kind (and quantity) of Rune(s) you’ll be able to alter the properties of your equipment, or increase the quality of it (and the potency of existing enchantments). Equipment can be just as easily be disenchanted, too. They’re rather intuitive and forgiving mechanics which I didn’t really make use of until the final floors of the Infinite Labyrinth, but they’re certainly useful throughout.

Infinite Adventures is surprisingly content-dense.

I had hoped that it would be, but I didn’t anticipate that I’d have a list of objectives to complete on each floor. Or that I’d actually want to complete them all. I’ve written before of this incalculable list, and it’s one of the reasons I found it so enjoyable to explore each of the floors thoroughly.

It’s fair to assume that the developers of Infinite Adventures were extremely ambitious. That ambition has manifested as a rather complex and rewarding grid-based movement dungeon crawler, which never feels particularly forced or repetitive. I’m really enthusiastic about the diversity of the character classes, too. It’s so refreshing to have a party-based RPG with meaningful character development, where you have full control as to how each of the characters develops. Or, if you prefer, a whole roster of characters to choose from. It definitely seems to have taken inspiration from the dungeon crawlers of yesteryear, but delivers those mechanics with modern quality of life improvements and without sacrificing depth or difficulty. I’d highly recommend Infinite Adventures to those who enjoy enthralling dungeon crawling experiences!

Have a nice weekend, all!

Moggie

The Pride of House Giamata

On a journey through shards of fractured realities.

We’ve explored dusty caverns, frolicked in ancient fields, and now we’re trudging through an anomalous elemental realm. Each winding path effortlessly alternates between the bitter chill of winter and the molten heat of the sun. It’s much like an English summer. There’s just less complaints about the constant temperature shifts from all concerned. I’ll admit that Infinite Adventures took me by surprise. It’s the grid-based movement dungeon crawler that eluded me for many months, but once I learned of it I knew I’d be purchasing it. As it superbly represents what I love about party-based RPGs.

Firstly, the character classes are delightfully diverse.

I was most surprised by the Sohei who seemed to be able to deal damage and do little else. But then I invested in the Enlightenment tree. Which not only allowed him to heal himself (and those around him) with Healing Circle, but he could prepare and then dispel it to deal impressive damage.

Secondly, the mechanics are functional and engaging. Exploring the Infinite Labyrinth (and defeating the enemies found therein) rewards you with numerous materials, these can be sold to Firbog (the blacksmith) and he’ll offer higher quality equipment as a result. You can also visit the Adventurer’s Guild to invest in Exploration Skills (which offer myriad benefits), unlock Wild Portals (which function as single floor randomised dungeons), or hand in various tomes to increase the number (and strength) of enchantments available. If that’s not enough to do, you can also visit the Deeproot Tavern and undertake countless quests. These may require you to gather different materials, defeat powerful enemies, or escort certain NPCs into the dungeon. It never feels particularly forced and you’ll always have something to do when exploring a floor.

But one of many reasons we’re investigating the Infinite Labyrinth.

My only minor criticism is a certain boss. He’s not necessarily difficult to defeat, but invokes similar feelings to those I have about the Bed of Chaos in Dark Souls. It’s a very random encounter. I don’t really know whether I’m doing well or not, as I’m just waiting for him to deal ridiculous damage to the entire party. Shi Lorath certainly is a mystery. I’ve tried casting Bolt Shield on the entire party but that didn’t seem to help, nor did trying to Taunt him to focus on my Warlord. I’m just hoping that the difficulty I’m facing with this encounter is due to inexperience. Not that the boss is entirely random.

As that would be quite unfortunate.

I’m quite keen to begin developing a roster of different character classes, though. Which could help to solve my current predicament. Not that I feel it’s necessary on the default difficulty, but whether it’s necessary or not doesn’t stop me from trying out different builds for each character class.

While I was reasonably sure of what to expect from Infinite Adventures, it has pleasantly surprised me with satisfying mechanics and meaningful character development. It certainly has the potential to be a truly great dungeon crawler that is reminiscent of those of yesteryear. I’m just slightly disappointed about the encounter with Shi Lorath, as it does spoil what has otherwise been an enjoyable experience. It also feels out of place alongside functional mechanics and appealing boss encounters. But I’m still hoping that my party is at fault somehow. In either case, I don’t mean to deter you from purchasing Infinite Adventures yourself. It’s a captivating grid-based movement dungeon crawler with great party-based RPG mechanics, and it features enough content to not become too repetitive too quickly. I just abhor entirely random bosses.

Have a nice weekend, 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