I’m rather late to this party but wanted to share my thoughts on this game and a potential sequel. The IE games were an embarrassingly large part of my life in my late teens. I haven’t played many games since then because I thought the few that I did play sucked. For years I thought BG2 was the high water mark for games, with art since traded for bland 3D graphics, story for MMO and D&D mechanics for click-the-shiniest-button or whatever.
My brother-in-law told me about PoE about a year ago as I had long since stopped looking out for good games myself. Skeptical until I had a look around the forums and the wiki, it wasn’t long before I was writing pages of notes on my character’s background (I played a rauatai/elf/scholar/wizard on hard). Being a completionist and not having as much free time as I’d like, it’s taken me this long to finish it.
Obsidian, you didn’t disappoint. If I could pick one thing that took this game further than just a reincarnation of the IE, it would be the setting. The world in its appearance (and all the art work that went into that), history, metaphysics and even geology (!) struck me as incredibly imaginative in a genre that has been interpreted a thousand times already. And the lore was an effective part of the story rather than a random set of facts, giving the whole game a refreshing sense of cohesion.
As I busied myself in Defiance Bay and then Twin Elms, for some reason I thought that the ending of the game would be its weakest link but no, this game just refused to let me down. I have seen on these forums that the closing events of the game did not ring true for every player, and that’s fine, but I loved it. These days we expect villains to be written with at least an attempt at making their motives understandable but IMO that is rarely achieved. In the final dialogues however, I looked at those ‘yeah actually I agree with you’ options and had to, if only for a few seconds, consider choosing them. The notes of philosophy were just right, not so much as to be pretentious but enough to make me think.
To highlight a few other things I particularly liked about this game:
The renaissance setting worked perfectly as part of the story and helped to give a sense of a growing civilization rather than a static world.
The art (visual, music and writing) was beautiful and emotive.
The class structure, spells/abilities/talents and combat mechanics were fun to play, the battles were tactically engaging and I found it easy to strike the right balance between roleplaying and strategy.
The game took itself seriously and the humour was subtle and well placed. I have seen the other topic here but please don’t ruin a sequel with unnecessary comic relief. It was also nice to get through a game without every other character hitting on me.
With the risk of sounding like I think the game is perfect, some things I didn’t like so much:
Multiple races of kith. I feel like elves and dwarves have been done to death and it’s time to drop them from fantasy. If all the kith in the game had just been humans I don’t think it would have changed my experience one bit, with the possible exception of Pallegina (and the godlike are really just mutated humans rather than a genetically distinct species).
The game needed more interaction within the party. I really liked the companions and there was a lot of untapped potential in those characters.
The dialogue for the PC seemed a bit flat. I got the impression that this was intentional to avoid forcing a particular style of speech on the player, but it felt awkward at times responding to the eloquent dialogue of a NPC with something that made my character sound bored.
Overall the combat was great but enemy magic users were too weak. A bit like BG1/IWD1 they don’t have sufficient magical protection and I missed the spell battles a la BG2. The final battle was over way too quickly. You could say that I should play PotD but this complaint is not about the overall difficulty of the game.
So is it better than BG2? Perhaps it is, and that is complement enough. I believe artistic integrity made this game what it is, and I don’t know exactly what part crowdfunding plays in that, but it is a rare thing so please don’t forget it.
On to the White March...