Xairen here, I'm a very picky gamer with 25 years of gaming history. In the last decade I mostly shied away from AAA games and I love me a lot of the Soulsborne series. I played Diablo 1-3, PoE, and Warframe for my looters.
I saw the game announced and I got sold to the "Dark Souls combat w/ Looter mechanics" sales pitch. I left it there and didn't follow anything afterwards. I've been playing since launch on the PS5, finished the tutorial
campaign, and dabbled in the endgame.
As someone who went in blind, I figured I'd leave my 2-cents in here.
EDIT: There could be story spoilers here. Although with a game like this, you could pretty much tell what happens or how it ends. You've been warned. XD
The way I scored this, I started with a perfect score of 5. I deducted point(s) for every item I believe the devs/game didn't execute well, with consideration to the game's genre and the existing games within the genre.
Story - Macros is disappointed in you, female-voiced Orin brother - 2/5
- They had at least 3 years to work on the game and all they can come up with was this? (-1 point)
- The Codex had a lot more and they could've given life to the story by making cutscenes for some of those and sprinkled them throughout the short campaign. (-1 point)
- The dialogue between Orin, Zenun, and the Sanctum were also meh at best. This isn't something representative of 3 years of work. "Stay awhile and listen" is way more memorable. (-1 point)
- Overall, the story is just there to be one giant tutorial for the endgame that barely holds the premise together. To be fair, looters aren't really there for a good story.
Graphics (Valorplates, Weapons, and Enemies) - As beautiful as Moebius - 4/5
- The Valorplates and Weapons are both over-the-top and shiny. They match each other perfectly and most combinations look really good. There's a lot of detail in both and the only gripe right now is that there's no color customization.
- Some of the Valorplate designs are questionable since they're supposedly based on the Zodiac. Applying skins also doesn't show in the hub area. (-1 point)
- The enemy design looks good, they are easy to distinguish between one another. Again, from the design that they chose, they did a good job.
- It won't be for everyone but again objectively overall, they have done quite well in their chosen design. They hold together pretty well.
Graphics (Realms) - As confusing as Mesa, a ram, being poisonous - 2/5
- The realms are beautiful but they somehow made all the corridors look too uniform that players can easily get lost. It doesn't help that they decided not to provide a minimap. (-2 points)
- No good vantage points to enjoy the views. No cutscenes/vistas that showcase the realms. The players are mostly stuck in 'valleys' or corridors - if you looked up and around, there could've been so much to see if players were given vantage points. (-1 point)
- Side note - there's so much "diarrhea christmas lights" that the PS5 stutters when you pick up a bunch of loot, or even worse when you explode an enemy during combat - that you end up getting punched in the face or die.
Audio - I'm having a Vertigo - 2/5
- It's there to hype you up during fights but there's not much during the lull moments and you can hear the same music but just in different speeds. (-3 points)
- The weapon's sound effects are meaty. (2 points)
UI, Menus and Other Gameplay Features - A hot mess like Solaris' Arena - 1/5
- For a game with 3 years to develop and numerous example looter games to follow, this is extremely barebones.
- Multiplayer looter game but no Matchmaking at launch? (-1 point)
- A lot of missing QoL features (-3 points)
- No mini-map AND there's the confusing, uniform, corridor-like map design.
- Equipment sorting is severely limited.
- No mass-salvage. I mean, come on, this is a looter game which means there will be tons of loot. Most of the looted equipment will be garbage. This should be a launch feature.
- Skill builds save/load slots - players are free to re-spec anytime but purchasing skills takes forever. If you're going to do this, and you expect your players to do it a lot, why not provide a build save/load feature? 2 per Valorplate? Same goes for loadout save slots.
- In the Tower, what the hell are those symbols for? I completed the whole campaign and never saw those symbols. If they were used in the equipment menu there wouldn't be that confusion.
- Unequip and Copy Current Loadout are on the same button - BRUH
- Currency - after crafting all of the Valorplates, what are these resources for?
- The Weapons in the menu could use some icon to identify what type they are. There are some polearms that look like greatswords or other combinations.
Gameplay (Core & Loot System) - Zamora is a competitive cookie-cutter - 3/5
- The core gameplay loop is as cookie-cutter as it gets for looter games. They say they made an entirely new genre but let's all be real here, it's a melee looter game. "Kill mobs to get better loot to kill bigger mobs" is the name of the game.
- Loot system is good for the most part, there's variety and randomization in the stats. Almost everything can be useful even as transition equipment. Materials are abundant to upgrade equipment to useful levels and rarities.
- Outside of boss battles, the trash mobs offer nothing of value. They're unnecessary and only gives chances of losing HP. Bonus missions are also useless because all the good loot can be found somewhere else. They have to make these 2 offer something worthwhile otherwise people will just keep running past them straight to the actual objective. (-1 point)
- There are 3 doors in the hub and 2 are inaccessible. It looks like those 2 doors were cut content to be sold off as DLC later. Debatable and unprovable at this point in time but it looks suspicious. (-1 point)
- Overall, the fundamentals are there but it needs more polish.
Gameplay (Combat) - "I am power" - 3/5
- Combat is really good, quite solid. The best way to describe it is "A Souls-like combat system that can be inconsistent at times that gives it an arcade-y feel."
- The fundamentals is the solid part. They copied From Software's formula for a lack of better phrasing. Then added some of their ideas and removed some from the original. Not exactly the same, but you'd get that feeling.
- It can be inconsistent because there are some things that you expect but doesn't happen. Example 1: Say you have 2 enemies of the same size, one of them you can stagger with Greatsword R1, the other you can't and you end up getting punched in the face with half your life eviscerated. Example 2: Parrying, with some enemies, a white parry is good enough, while it has to be blue for the other. The recovery windows for enemies also vary quite a bit, making your parry inconsistent. It's like you need to remember which enemies are good to parry and which ones you just have to dodge. Design choice maybe? To be fair, I did not test if the "Parry Window" is for the actual parrying or the window of attack afterwards.
- The different weapon types provide players variety but the ease of mowing down enemies kind of makes this moot.
- There are different ways to deal damage but there are clear balance issues. As of this moment, Critical Hits and Soulshatter are the clear winners. Breach & takedowns are situational, mostly for beefy boys. If the intent is for everyone to use all damage sources, then doesn't that kind of throw out the tinkering for builds part? Needs some serious rebalancing to make the others desirable or competitive. (-1 point)
- Ailments are mostly recolored damage mods that function 'the same', there was much left on the drawing board in terms of making each one unique. (-1 point)
- This will be controversial, but I do like that you can't cancel animations. You read the enemies as best you can, commit to a move and get punished if you read it wrong. There will be some ridiculous moments though, which quite honestly can be infuriating. The worst offender is, once you read an enemy incorrectly and commit to a move, you get hit once and you get either dogpiled to death or combo'd to death. I do understand why people would want it.
- Overall, the fundamentals are there but it needs more polish. The actual combat can be good enough to carry the game for some people.
Valorplates - "Call forth 12 Spirit Warriors to aid you in battle" - 3/5
- They look gorgeous and are distinct in appearance from one another. Again, some designs are questionable because they're supposedly based on the Zodiac.
- They were marketed as the 'classes' of the game that will make you play differently but you won't see this until the endgame when you're able to play around with the Augments. At that point, the best choice is obviously Hinterclaw because crit is king. Pair this with the half-baked Ailment system and this gives the impression that they're just skins doing pretty much the same thing. (-1 point)
- To be actual unique Valorplates, I believe the devs made the wrong call to not give them unique stats (Might, Spirit, Vitality, Move Speed, etc.) and unique ACTIVE skills. (-1 point)
- Even better if there was a selection of maybe 5(?) active skills but you can only equip 2 at once so that players can really tailor how they want to play.
- Overall, the fundamentals are there but it needs more polish.
Final Thoughts - "You would dare to raise your weapon against a god?" - 2.5/5
Macros (Godfall) is a beautiful wolf that tried to ascend to godhood but failed because "YoU'rE nO oNe, MaCroS."
He had the potential but Orin (questionable design choices) and the Sanctum (half-baked / barebones systems) interfered.
I hope the game doesn't end up like Macros himself, disintegrating into oblivion, but like Orin instead who keeps on reviving no matter how many times I throw him at the same boss to ultimately be a good
Currently, it's impossible for me to recommend the game to anyone whole-heartedly. They'd need to love Dark Souls-y combat and looters to like this game. Even still, not worth it at full price. If you can get past those, go ahead get it and enjoy the game. Otherwise, there are other looters that are doing it better. Play those and wait for this one to go on sale or get better.
There's so much room for improvement and if the devs decide to stick around, they may just pull off a No Man's Sky.
As for myself, I like the combat and loot enough to keep on playing.
Hey! If you made it here, thanks for reading! :)