Saturday, February 7, 2009

Shadow Tale

"Shadowtale is an amazing FREE MMORPG game you can play right in your browser!"
Is what they say. Right off the bat, you realize that this game bears a striking resemblance to AdventureQuest, DragonFable, and (if you still followed the chain of similar games) MechQuest. You are given a choice of two characters:

A male character:

Or a female character:

Both of which look pretty nice, in my opinion. Insofar, I was pleased. The guys looked manly (As opposed to girly anime types) and muscular, whereas the women weren't all big-chested, half-naked amazons (you know the ones I'm talking about).

On the aside, I like the beat-em-up genre of games, run around a screen and beat enemies up for little storyline-based reason. Good times. This game has a beat-em-up style fighting system, where you run around a screen and defend yourself against enemies... and here's where things start to get ugly. There are monster encounters on every screen when you leave town, sort of like an instance 'dungeon'. You do not heal between encounters and have to carry around food so you can heal after combat... which brings about another thing in-game that bothers me. Why give us a timer on food when we're only able to use it out of combat anyway?

Now the combat: Your character has five moves, count 'em, five. A basic sword slash, a follow up slash to it, a subsequent follow up, a running slash, and a jumping slash. Customization of fighting in combat: Zero. Enemies will occasionally flank you, forcing you to run away or get beat up on two sides to your death (Died at least 10 times at my current level to just that). Your basic attack is, for the most part, useless once you pass level seven. The majority of enemies of that level will either block you (no damage to them, less stun time) as their allies get behind you or have this really fast, cheap-shot attack so they can get in the first hit. You need to be right in line with the enemy to even deal damage, and basically look like an idiot whacking in the forward direction with your sword until you score a hit. But that isn't my biggest beef. I told you there were five moves, and none of those include a bloody BLOCK move. A quintessential part of all beat-em-ups is that you could counter your attack-spam-happy enemies by blocking and following up with some kind of cool move. The game is still in beta, however, so maybe it'll get better with some actual fighting maneuvers.

And now the aspect that REALLY grinds my gears. They call it an MMORPG, but MM assumes that it's Massively Multiplayer... it's more like Massively Spectator. You see other people in games and can chat with them, but
A. You can't party with them
B. When you see others fight, it just looks like they're pacing like idiots on your screen
C. You can't trade
So basically there's as much player interaction as a chatroom. You can't really do anything with other people.

And as all loyal DragonFable/AdventureQuest/MechQuest type games are, you can't do half the crap in the game without 'upgrading' to the members version. The game doesn't offer much to start out with, and the NPCs will actually start giving you quests to go to areas that only MEMBERS can enter! Other member benefits include cheap, better weapons, food, and quests (about 8x the reward of Free quests). This game is such a con!

This game may be good for a cheap, short term thrill, but all-in-all, the game is static. I don't think you can 'game good' with this game. Try Runescape, BYOND games, or other games that don't force you to pay money just to play the basic game!