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 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