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- Developer: Orphic Software
- Publisher: Orphic Software
- Release Date: 15 July 2015
- Time played: 15 hours (INCOMPLETE)
As I mentioned in my First Impressions article for AntharioN, I don't really know how I ended up backing AntharioN but I ended up doing so, and actually on the second Kickstarter campaign (the first AntharioN campaign failed to get funded). The game was released a few months ago and it's described as an "epic old-school fantasy RPG that combines tactical turn-based combat with the freedom of a huge living-breathing open world." I'm not quite sure why there are a lack of commas with the adjectives or if "living-breathing" is an actual word, but I'll stop being a grammar nazi for the time being and agree on most of what they say in their description, except I don't believe really feels epic. So, let us see why.
If you told me to recite what the plot for AntharioN is right now, I couldn't tell you - suffice to say you're a bunch of prisoners (Elder Scrolls trope anyone?) that somehow get given a quest in preventing an ancient evil being resurrected to take over the world - so it's basically your typical, throw-away fantasy plot that's pretty much forgettable right? Oh alright, just to satisfy my interest I'll look up what the plot is again. Here we go:
.... oh wait, it doesn't seem like there's anywhere that the developers give a summary of the plot either. Guess they probably didn't care too much as well?
Okay I'll stop being a hard-ass now. At the very least I felt that as the developers mention, each of the five provinces seem to have a bit of character along with their major towns. You can tell they've taken the Elder Scrolls way of building lore by providing you books to read about Antharion's history and culture, but they're much shorter than their Elder Scrolls counterparts and obviously the lore isn't as fleshed out as that franchise (but the guys at Bethesda had a head start by a few decades).
AntharioN works like your typical oldschool CRPG in that just about everything can be driven by the mouse! Hurrah! The game also bears some similarities to games like classic dungeon crawlers like Wizardry 8 or custom party RPGs like Icewind Dale as you can indeed customise your party of four in AntharioN. You'll be able to choose the race, sex and class of your characters and assign attribute/skill points accordingly. So far so good, this is what you'd expect from a CRPG.
Unfortunately, like oldschool CRPGs, it can be quite easy to get yourself in a position where you only realise too late that you have a deadbeat party of incompetent fools and the only solution is to restart the game (or restore a previous save game, if you're lucky). For example, you'd often think mages are pretty awesome to have in a party right? Not quite so in AntharioN thanks to RNGesus. Mage spells are potent there's no doubt about that, but considering that each time you cast a spell it has a pretty high chance of failure (and Murphy's Law dictates these should occur at pivotal points in the battle) there'll be lots of facepalms, rage and restoring of save games. Your time in this game is better spent on ditching the mages, bringing in some warriors or archers and investing points in alchemy where you can create potions.
For example, you'd often think mages are pretty awesome to have in a party right? Not quite so in AntharioN thanks to RNGesus.
I also found out that thieves are pretty useless as a class. Sure the lockpicking comes in very handy but that's the only thing you'll be relying on him to do. In a fight, especially if you pick melee for your thief, he seems to be more of a liability than an asset. I thought "surely thieves could backstab or something, right?" Wrong again, Mark! Wrong again. Maybe I should've read the manual on this... oh wait, there's no manual! Silly me!
Also, since all resources are finite in the world (once you've killed enemies no more will spawn so you can keep killing for loot, like Diablo) and you actually need to consume food to even rest, this means you could potentially reach a point where you get stuck and you'll have no choice but to restart the game. It's harsh yet at the same time very similar to games of old. So it really depends on what you deem as fair or annoying with respect to whether this is a good thing or not.
So overall, I'm not a fan of the gameplay, although I'm kind of conflicted since many of these criticisms are traits that were commonplace in old CRPGs; not only that, but some players cherish these traits and want to see them make a comeback. Consequently, all I can say for certain is that I didn't enjoy the game while I played it, but others might. Maybe I'm getting too soft in my old age? :)
No complaints about the audio. You've got some nice environmental effects that trigger at the right times and the yawning sound that is heard every time your party rests is one of my personal favourites (unfortunately, if playing AntharioN late at night, resting the party prompts me to yawn as well).
This is by far the best quality of the game. Just read my review of Antharion's soundtrack here if you want a more in-depth look at it. Eric J. Gallardo creates a soundtrack for an indie RPG that rivals some of Jeremy Soule's work on the Elder Scrolls games. It's that good.
What you see is what you get: the game has pretty basic graphics reminiscent of games in the 1990s (although admittedly the graphics are higher-res at least). The animations are also basic too in that your party don't actually walk - they kind of just glide around Antharion like they're Marty McFly on a hoverboard. Finally, the game has only the introductory cut-scene but no more after that - well at least 15 hours into the game anyway, so maybe that should be rephrased to a "low occurrence" of them. Graphics is definitely not one of the game's strong points although it has its retro charm that some may find appealing.
The animations are also basic too in that your party don't actually walk - they kind of just glide around Antharion like they're Marty McFly on a hoverboard.
I really tried to like this game, partly because I'm a backer and partly because I love these style of games - well at least role-playing games with turn-based combat, in the same vein as the Ultima or Wizardry games. However, due to the way I decided to setup my party and its skills, along with RNGesus working against me, it meant the game turned out to be a laborious grind. Since monsters were way too hard in certain areas, I had to ensure I killed every other monster on the map which was at a lower level in order to give my party a chance to level up. I felt like I was playing a typical JRPG where grinding is a necessity to succeed instead of something that's "nice to have" (i.e. makes you party a more efficient fighting machine). I spent many times reloading the game and eventually, the grind got to me and after playing the game for 15 hours, I couldn't motivate myself to play the game any more. I'm guessing at the rate I was going, the game would've taken me 60 hours to complete. Worse, I could've got to a stage where despite killing all monsters I could find, I would still not have enough experience to go toe-to-toe with more challenging foes.
The game went through a flurry of changes and bug fixes when the game was first released although it seems to be more stable now. I don't really have many complaints except with the quests. Firstly, the quest log is only filtered by completed quests and current quests. It doesn't bother to identify which out of the several quests is the quest for the main storyline or not. Also, I encountered an instance where I inadvertently failed one quest but had no idea how. Only after asking through the forums did I realise I had consumed an item that was actually a quest item. It would've been nice if they actually marked it as a quest item or if they didn't want to do that (since it's apparently a choice between using the item or giving it and gaining a reward) they should've at least notified you that you had failed the quest.
Score – 6/10If you like oldschool RPGs that punish you for using the wrong party setup (think old 1990s D&D RPGs), where combat is turn-based and heavily dependent on RNGesus, AntharioN may well be worth a look. On the other hand, if you're tired of these old RPG mechanics and you're wanting a game with an involving plot and better visuals, you'll want to give this game a miss. Whatever you end up deciding though, be sure to check out the soundtrack by Eric J. Gallardo!
AntharioN is available from these retailers:
Is the game worth $14.99 USD?: Yes. Despite me probably not enjoying the game as much as I hoped, there's quite a bit of content here and many hours of entertainment if it indeed is your sort of thing.
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[ LINK: Official AntharioN Website ]