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Chris Kavan's Video Game Reviews (451)

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God of War 4/5
Doom (2016) 3.5/5
Armada 3.5/5
Detroit: Become Human 4/5
Destiny 2 4/5
Horizon: Zero Dawn 4.5/5
Oxenfree 4/5
Murdered: Soul Suspect 3/5
Kirby Star Allies 3/5
Celeste 4.5/5
Dark Quest 2 3/5
Just Cause 3 3.5/5
Guacamelee! 2 4/5
The Incredible Adventur... 4/5
Rise of the Tomb Raider 4/5
Dead Rising 3 4/5
Layers of Fear 3.5/5
Prey 3/5
Zero-K 2/5
Tales from the Borderla... 4/5
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt 4.5/5
Hammerwatch 3/5
AereA 1/5
Divinity: Original Sin 4.5/5
The Yawhg 4/5

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Sword Coast Legends   PC (Steam) 

A Legend Cut Short    3.5/5 stars

Sword Coast Legends was going to be the new torch-bearer for the D&D isometric RPGs that helped usher in a fantastic era for players who enjoyed deep stories, character and customization. Baldur's Gate, Icewind Dale, Neverwinter Nights - if you grew up playing these titles, you know how good they were. Sure, these days Divinity and Pillars of Eternity have kind of reinvigorated this genre, but before they got off the ground SCL was going to save the say. But n-Space, a somewhat more obscure developer, was shut down shortly after releasing SCL and couldn't deliver on much of the promises they initially presented and whoever took over (Chinese holding company - other foreign power?) couldn't be bothered to do much either. Thus SCL, as of this writing, is now a single-player only experience. The MeltedJoystick crew managed to get a multiplayer session in - but the servers are now shut down, thus any hope of playing with friends is likewise dashed. There is good gameplay to be found, but it is barebones to what it could have been.

Presentation: The game looks pretty good from a 2015 perspective. Characters, backgrounds, enemies - it really invokes the feeling of the classic isometric RPG but upgraded enough to get in some much-needed detail. Likewise the music and voice acting are also of good quality, even if some of the random shout-outs from the party members gets old (it's a common problem as I find the same annoyance in Divinity). But running on Unity comes at a cost, the biggest of which is the absolutely killer loading time. From starting the game to traveling, the loading time is terrible - no matter what rig you may be running. Plus, there are many a bug to be found, from a weapon that continuously shrinks you (Titan's Maul for those keeping score) to losing a lot of progress after being stuck behind a piece of furniture to being stuck in dialogue loops required a restart - bugs that could and should have been patched, but, alas, will never be thanks to the game being all but shuttered.

Story: Not too bad this one. Set in the Forgotten Realms world on the Sword Coast (hence the title, ya dummy) we follow our group (or single player now, sadly) who is traveling with some guildmates to Luskan. The party is all part of a guild called the Burning Dawn - and are also party to having some terrible nightmares involving demons, death and world-ending catastrophe. The dreams are getting worse and, it turns out, have attracted the attention of some fanatical religious nuts known as the Guilded Eye. It seems they will stop at nothing to kill you and all your guildmates as they believe the dreams are going to usher in a demonic force, all tied to a powerful relic.

After an attack, the party finds itself aligning with an elven priestess, Illydia and dwarven rogue, Larethar, all on the same trail. There are plenty of other characters in the game as well, each with enough back story to make them more than cardboard cut-outs, and each with a nice little side quest to flesh out their motivations and character. The game takes you through several cities and areas - and it does a nice job of make each feel unique. The Underdark especially stands out - as does the late-game Derro setting full of massive forges and... interesting characters.

The game does feel like it wants to be more and I have a feeling if n-Space was still around and still working on this, it would rival some of the big games of today with its content. Sadly, we're going to have to live with what we have - good on its own, but so much potential wasted.

Gameplay: Isometric RPGs are all about control - one character or a party, you choose the abilities/spells/potions to use and hope for the best. The combat system felt pretty reasonable. Even though I was a half-elf Paladin, I was the closest thing to a tank we had. My Paladin status never came into play (I never felt like a lawful good anything, what with looting everything in site and such) but the skills had some heft. I died a handful of times, as did others, but the game never felt unforgiving. If anything, the game was a bit too liberal, as much of the weapons and armor I had by end game I earned fairly early on - with only a late-game upgrade changing things up much.

The loot system in multiplayer is fairly evil. You either have a "get there first and get everything" option or a "treasure only appears for some people and others get nothing" option. If there is one great leap forward in loot systems these days it is the personal loot drops where everyone gets their own loot and as far as I'm concerned everything else is simply intolerable. Plus, having only certain characters being able to adeptly disarm traps and open locked doors/chests gives them a distinct advantage - as does someone who can spot traps/hidden doors.

Another annoyance from mutliplayer is the fact that lots of the dialogue options interrupt everything else. Thus if you happen to be buying or selling or simply just trying to check something out and a person talks to someone important - it just automatically transports you to that character regardless what you were doing. And only the main character has the option to choose the main dialogue choices, which is made more annoying when certain choices might require a skill that character doesn't have though someone else might (strength, wisdom and the like). You also can't travel anywhere until the full party is gathered, but you play an awesome deep horn while you wait, leading to some great music while slowpoke catches up.

The game balance seems a bit off to me. The game gives you hundreds of potions, yet I rarely used them for any reason. The weapons and armor seems incredibly stout, even early one, rendering most battle comically easy. There are a dearth of side quests and random encounters you can have along the way, but none really stand out. The game tries its best, but everything feels halfway done at best.

Replayability: With the ability to create your own character, as well as having multiple party members, there is some variety to be had, but as the story stays the same no matter what, it does lead to repetition and there is not a huge variety to weapons and armor either. With the servers being shut down, multiplayer is also out meaning the replay value has gone way down.

Overall: Had the developers not been bought out, I could see Sword Coast Legends as a nice little aside for those who grew up with the original games, but, as it stands, without any support behind it any more, Sword Coast Legends is a shadow of what it could have been.

Presentation: 3/5
Story: 4/5
Gameplay: 4/5
Replayability: 2/5
Overall (not an average): 3.5/5

 

 


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