Just finished my first play through. I don't know if the PoE devs ever see these customer reviews, but I hope so; a lot of us are glad you made this. The game has a kind of flawed brilliance, and I'm eagerly hoping this is the foundation for a PoE2 and 3 set in this world.
Details: Started on release version (1.0?), finished on 1.0.4.0540, GOG version
Hard mode, non-Iron, non-Expert, PC = Wizard class, story NPC companions.
One has a feeling that this game was lovingly crafted, and it shows in many ways. Lots of nice little touches I won't belabor. Not everything works as well as it could, but the flaws are shallow ones, not deep ones. This is the most fun I've had in a CRPG for quite some time. I'll mention what I think worked well, and what I think could use improvement. on a 10 point scale, with a range for "at its worst" and "at its best", such as "7-10".
So here we go:
Art and graphics: 9-10. Incredibly nice work here. It's probably one of if not the most beautiful computer games I've encountered, and it keeps being beautiful from start to finish. It never hits that "DA:O" stage where I felt this area was a carbon copy of the last. Sometimes I found myself wandering around just to get another look at it all. Give your art & gfx programming teams a raise :D.
Music: 7-10. At its best, it's wonderful. I was especially fond of some of the melancholy pieces that appear at certain points in the game. My only reason for a 7 on the low end is tha I found one or two songs derivative of the LoTR movie music. Otherwise, it's nice, and fits the mood and tone of the game without drawing so much attention to itself that it breaks immersion. Nicely done.
Story: 7-9. I liked the start and the end quite a bit, but felt I lost the plot a little in the middle. I particularly enjoyed the game's ending, especially the philosophical themes explored with a certain female NPC's ghost. Didn't feel shallow like some RPG plots. That part worked at the "9/10" level.
Sub-quests: 5-9. A few felt a little generic, but some were great too. E.g, a certain lad starting with a 'D' in O.G. - that story was poignant and well written, and it worked really well even with a simple mechanic behind it.
Writing: 8-10. Please don't listen to the folks who've become so accustomed to modern dumbed down games they've forgotten that reading is fun . I thought the writing ranged from very good to brilliant. I didn't find it too verbose, though I did avoid the memorials.
Voice acting: 7-10. In particular I really liked the work on Eder, Durance, Iovara, the cut-scene narrator, and some others I've forgotten. A few of the more minor characters (not companions) I thought were weaker, more in the 7 range, but still not "bad" per se.
Title cards: 9. I loved these! The line drawings are wonderful, a bit reminiscent of title cards from old silent movies, and I liked the stat choices. Major style points here.
Combat: 4-8. This was one of the weaker parts of the game, but I think it has the potential to hang with the best, given some tuning. At its best, there were some really fun, tough, tactical fights (8/10). Still, too many "autoattack" fights (4/10) not requiring thought or tactics, especially in the mid-game where I felt really OP. Also there wasn't much variety: tank + ranged DPS worked most of the time. Regardless, I think there's underlying strength to this system, and it could really shine with more variety, better enemy AI, and maybe more enemy diversity in tactics used, resistances, abilities, and so on. Maybe fights could become a bit less static too: right now they tend to get positionally locked down. Some stickiness is good, of course, to avoid 100% chaos. But a wee bit of chaos is good! Excellent potential and a good underlying system though.
Spells: 7: Some good, but I felt like I wanted more variety. Even, say, a basic light spell + dungeons that are totally dark without a spell or a torch. More RP kinds of spells.
Health/Endurance/Camping mechanic: 8. I liked this and feel it's a real improvement to BG2 style systems. It isn't perfect, sure, but I did appreciate the attempt to push towards a less "rest-spam" play style, and I went with that flow rather than march back to town every other fight. I'd like to see an even stronger push in this direction in the future, like dungeons you get trapped in combined with an inability to rest anywhere near enemies. I want to wonder not just "will I survive this fight?", but "will I survive to leave this dungeon?"
No pre-combat buffing 8: I like this too. Matter of taste of course, but I feel it makes buffing more tactical and less "well of course you cast these 10 spells before each combat..." It'd be even more so with specific resistance buffs, like an anti-fire spell combined with some fireball chucking enemies.
Summary: I'm giving this game a solid 9/10 overall, with strong potential to get even better with some enhancements in expansions and sequels. It was really nice to play a good party combat CRPG again - not for nostalgia, but because they're seriously good fun! I hope you'll continue and won't dumb down the experience as certain other franchises have. Us PoE-type buyers may not be as legion as the Call of Duty folks, but we're loyal and will stick with you if you keep turning out high quality stuff like this.
Edited by demeisen, 23 April 2015 - 04:42 PM.