Rebuilding the Jedi Order

Haunted by the past, hopeful for the future.

While being hunted by the ruthless and unwavering Galactic Empire, our diffident protagonist, Cal Kestis, attempts to retrace the journey of a Jedi Master and seeks to uncover the secrets of the Zeffo. An ancient civilization that had an unprecedented understanding of the mysteries of the Force. Who were also fascinated by rolling giant balls around, and who would bestow their knowledge unto those capable of doing so. Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order is an extraordinarily engaging narrative-driven RPG in which you endeavour to rebuild the Jedi Order while collecting many stylish ponchos.

You’ll also be collecting various seeds for the Mantis’ terrarium.

Those, much like the ponchos, are of the utmost importance and contribute greatly to your success, should you ever wish to befriend Greez. Which has its benefits. He does become slightly less crotchety with every seed recovered, despite being incredibly vocal about his hatred of nature.

Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order also features vast landscapes to explore and it’s ridiculously fun to do so. While many of the rewards are cosmetic, secrets, such as Stim Canisters, are incredibly valuable and are always worth pursuing. Even if you’re being relentlessly pursued by the sadistic Second Sister. She can wait until you’ve discovered every chest, secret, and upgrade for BD-1 on every planet. It’s not like you’re the last hope for hundreds of Force-sensitive children. Which is not to suggest that exploration is always frivolous, as exploring each of the ancient tombs often results in Cal strengthening his connection to the Force and learning a new Force ability. Of which there are only a few but they are incredibly useful. Not that I’d necessarily agree that being able to jump twice requires a deeper connection to the Force, but I digress.

Surprisingly agile. Unsurprisingly bloodthirsty.

Character development is tied to Force abilities, as each one further expands the skill tree allowing for greater proficiency in combat and heightened character statistics. There aren’t too many ways to develop Cal besides that. You can fully customise the appearance of his lightsaber, and unlock new lightsaber styles throughout the main campaign. Each offering its own unique fighting style with its own advantages and disadvantages. Which is perfectly suited to the exhilarating lightsaber duels with the Sith, but doesn’t significantly alter the offensive (or defensive) capabilities of his lightsaber.

That’s reserved for the Lightsaber Mastery skill.

You can find equipment that allows you to explore previously inaccessible areas, but it doesn’t aid you in combat nor does it change Cal’s base statistics considerably. However, while limited, character development is meaningful, as each investment into the skill tree yields decent rewards.

I wasn’t really sure what to expect from Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order. Whether it would be a complex RPG experience akin to Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic, or whether it would favour an action-orientated approach emphasising storytelling. In retrospect I’d say it was mostly the latter. But that’s not to say that there aren’t RPG mechanics, and utilising them will only further the techniques and abilities available to you in combat. Or while exploring planets. Exploration certainly makes up the bulk of the experience but that’s not a bad thing. Not when the exploration is as enjoyable as it was, and when you’re actually excited about returning to Bogano for the fifth time. I’d highly recommend it to those who enjoy Star Wars (in any shape or form) or those looking for an in-depth single player RPG experience.

Have a nice week, all!

Moggie

Secrets of the Zeffo

A civilization fixated on rolling giant balls around.

Given that many of their secrets allow for greater understanding of the Force, and that you don’t need to be Force-sensitive to roll a giant ball around, it does seem like an odd way to assess the suitability of those searching for answers. It certainly makes exploring ancient tombs more interesting, though. If only the Galactic Empire didn’t have the Sith who could just as easily uncover these secrets, then we might have a chance to rebuild the Jedi Order. Not that the crew of the Mantis is without hope. We’ve rolled enough giant balls into their sockets to uncover the secrets of two ancient tombs.

Now we’ve just got to uncover the secrets of the third.

But, as we’ve gained additional Force abilities, and BD-1 has been upgraded with new technology, we’re going to completely ignore the Galactic Empire to explore planets. To acquire ponchos and other cosmetic rewards. Maybe uncover a few secrets, too. Those tend to offer the greatest benefits.

While ponchos and other cosmetic rewards are neat, unlocking new (or upgrading existing) equipment and technology allows for further exploration of each planet. Or allows for progression through the main campaign. Cosmetic rewards are only useful if you’re actually going to wear them, or apply them to BD-1 and the Mantis. Force echoes can also be discovered, and they serve to enrich your understanding of the history of the planet you’re currently exploring. So there are quite a few things to do on each planet and exploring them is ridiculously fun. I’d just be more enthusiastic to find anything other than secrets if the rewards from chests were more meaningful. Not that I’ve ever cared for cosmetic rewards. So the aforementioned probably says more about me than about the rewards themselves.

BD-1 is the bravest companion a Jedi could have.

I am intending to return to each planet to fully explore it, though. Collect all of the chests, secrets, and interesting technological upgrades present. Even if I’ll have more ponchos than any one Jedi knows what to do with. I’d personally prefer some robes. Not that we’d be able to hide from the Galactic Empire very effectively when we resemble the atypical Jedi, but at least we’d look stylish and that’s what truly matters. It won’t take too long as I’ll have my trusty (and sometimes) confusing Holomap to lead the way. It’s definitely one of the better maps I’ve had the pleasure of navigating planets with.

It just becomes confusing with larger planets.

Notably, it highlights the areas that you can (and can’t) reach with your abilities as they currently are. Which not only allows you to know what’s actually inaccessible, but also (rather conveniently) highlights the areas that have become accessible as a result of acquiring new equipment or technology.

I’ve greatly enjoyed my time with Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order. It’s a very capable single player experience which doesn’t artificially extend existing content. Everything happens as you would expect it to, and besides Stim Canisters, which are arguably the most valuable secret, there are few reasons to revisit (and fully explore) every planet besides the cosmetic rewards. Which some may consider a failing of the exploration mechanics. But I find it very refreshing to revisit planets as and when I want to, without being required to grind through hours of thoughtless content. You’ve no obligation to collect everything but you can if you want to. Or you can continue with the main campaign. Or you can do some combination of both. It’s entirely up to you when you want to approach things, or if you want to approach them at all..

Have a nice week, all!

Moggie

You’ve Failed Elysium

You don’t want to be this kind of animal any more.

Which is understandable, considering that you wake up half-naked on the floor of your room at the Whirling-in-Rags with no understanding of the basic concepts of reality. It’s hardly a prestigious position for an officer of the Revachol Citizens Militia to be in. But that’s why this protagonist is so endearing, and why exploring the ever-evolving city district of Martinaise is such a pleasure. Disco Elysium is an incredibly satisfying narrative-driven RPG in which you attempt to learn the truth behind a brutal murder. How you solve that murder and who you become in the process is up to you.

I’ve written before of this ambitious protagonist.

It’s such a bizarre approach to character development, but it’s perfectly executed alongside the dialogue system which affords the opportunity to create a truly unique detective. Who isn’t perfect and doesn’t naturally succeed at everything. Whose failures are just as important as their successes.

You’re encouraged to be unorthodox and explore everything while talking to everyone. Make decisions when it seems right to do so. Return to characters (and conversations) later when you’ve gathered more evidence. The dialogue system is expertly designed and responds (as you would expect it to) to the acquisition of new evidence, new information, or new items. Thoughts can also be useful when solving various tasks. These can be internalised in the Thought Cabinet as you learn of them, and they can provide very specific (but potentially useful) responses to certain dialogue options or checks. It’s one of the best dialogue systems I’ve ever seen. It’s so flexible (but logical) and promotes diversification in all things. Not every character will solve every problem or approach every task in the same way. Nor can they.

I sincerely wish he was making this up.

You’ll also be exploring the rather colourful history of our beloved amnesiac protagonist along the way. These memories won’t always be pleasant, with most manifesting as nightmarish visions which haunt the detective and fuel his alcoholic tendencies. Not that you need to be an alcoholic any more. That’s entirely up to you. As you explore Martinaise you’ll have many opportunities to develop new personality traits, express existing ones, or become the herald of impending doom. Revachol will then respond accordingly to your decisions, and new opportunities may arise as a result.

Which is why you should make the most of each passing day.

Interacting with as many characters as possible, exploring as much as you can, and steadily progressing the investigation to a satisfactory conclusion. While Revachol will respond to (and is influenced by) your decisions it’s not governed by them, and the world will keep moving even if you don’t.

Of all the experiences I’ve had this year, Disco Elysium is one of the best. I’m not really sure how to explain it. There’s such a rich, compelling, vibrant narrative at the heart of the investigation and learning about each of the characters is an absolute pleasure. Learning more about the detective kept me engaged, as did the exploration and the myriad tasks requiring my attention. It never felt particularly drawn out. Never sluggish or slow. Key events during the investigation were superbly represented by unique scenes, which not only highlighted their significance but illustrated the progression of the main campaign. It’s an absolutely gorgeous world to explore and a testament to the developers’ desire to create a one-of-a-kind experience. I’d highly recommend Disco Elysium to those fond of narrative-driven RPGs!

Have a nice weekend, all!

Moggie

Dumpster Divin’ Hobocop

There are worse things that you could become.

You could be a horridly broken human being who (rather successfully) drank themselves to existential oblivion. That’d be a delightfully ludicrous concept for a protagonist. A woefully inept detective who barely understands the fundamentals of reality itself, but can still perform exceptional (and otherworldly) feats befitting one of his reputation. Disco Elysium has executed this concept well. Not only does it provide the perfect foundation to build a unique character on, but it explains why your character has no recollection of where they are or what they’re supposed to be doing.

That’s always been a funny inconsistency in many RPGs.

You’ve allegedly lived somewhere for your entire life, but you need to ask someone else (who may not even live there) where various things are in order to undertake basic quests. I realise that this is designed to introduce the player to particular mechanics. But it’s always been humorous to me.

Disco Elysium also allows you to explore the self-aggrandising tendencies and selfish nature of the protagonist. Or you could nurture their apologetic and selfless inclinations instead. Or you could be a maelstrom of human emotion that doesn’t adhere to any stereotype. It’s a rather fascinating approach that presents a very malleable protagonist, one that has a (particularly colourful) identity before you meet but could easily be shaped into something else if you’d prefer. There’s a rich narrative at the heart of the experience, and the world offers many different opportunities to uncover unique facets of your personality that you didn’t know (or didn’t want to know) you had. You’re encouraged to explore your surroundings, to speak to people, to undertake myriad tasks, and to roll dice by attempting numerous dialogue checks.

It’s true. He usually doesn’t.

It’s certainly an unorthodox approach to a narrative-driven RPG. It’s also brilliant. It’s exactly what you’d like to be able to do when building a character, as having both strengths and weaknesses affords the opportunity to experience something unusual with every attempt. You can’t be perfect. You can barely function as a human being. But the fractured reality in which you live is beautiful. You can be outlandishly brilliant and devastatingly moronic in the same conversation. It’s a ridiculously ambitious idea, and it’s superbly represented through each and every interaction.

I’ve really been enjoying the experience so far.

Which is the best way I can describe it. It’s an experience. The deeper I’ve dug into the investigation, the more I’ve begun to consider how many other things may be happening. Or how many other people might be involved. I doubt I’ll ever have the answer to every question I’ve asked, though.

I definitely don’t trust certain characters, and I can’t shake the feeling that certain interactions are too coincidental to not have repercussions. I’m trying my best to remain impartial. But being unable to do everything with the same character makes that somewhat impossible. There are certain situations that you won’t be equipped to deal with, and it may become necessary to work with others. I’ve tried to avoid working with others by prioritising exploration. Hoping that by earning more skill points, encountering new characters, and acquiring different clothing that I might be able to solve most things by myself. I doubt that I’ll be able to get very far on my own, but it serves to illustrate the unconventional way that you can approach situations as they present themselves. I’m sure to be a truly rich tapestry of human experiences when this is all over.

Have a nice week, 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