(This review contains spoilers. Read at your own risk)
Despite being a backer since July 2014 and starting playing on the release minute (not hour or day) I just recently finished the game, mainly because real-life stuff got in the way, and I wanted to write a review in case you guys needed (one more) feedback on the product you have made, I hope you'll read it and take it into consideration when trying to improve the game. I mean, companies pay for these, and we the primary users of it, are giving these reviews for free, so why not use them?
So, first of all, let me give my overall impressions. I thoroughly enjoyed the game and also felt the Infinity Engine vibe that was promised in it. For this, I would say that if you take the game as a standalone, without having previous experience in similar games I would give it a 8/10, for reasons that I will further explain. However, for "what was promised" compared to "what was delivered" I think this is a 10/10, mission absolutely accomplished, a great example of a kickstarter campaign and a huge hope for the future of video-gaming that shows that a game developer can indeed fund today a game of passion without having corporate finance thieves dictating what game will be made next according to the last statistical curve they got from their market analysis department...
So, now I will talk about different parts, detailing what I liked, disliked and what could be improved. Please note that I will insist much more on things I disliked even though there are overall many more things I liked about the game, because I believe only with honest criticism we can improve things.
In my opinion the most critical part. You definitely delivered on your promise. Supplying something very familiar to IE game mechanics while still taking steps to add your personal touchs that sets this game apart. However, and this is my most important suggestion of the whole review, I think that in trying to stay faithful to the original IE games you also simply copied it where you could have actually improved a little. To be more precise, what you should have gone for is not how previous games were made but rather what people who made previous games would have made if they had the chance to make it today. In that sense there were a few things that could be improved, mainly combat rythm/pace. See below:
Combat rythm/pace: in my opinion, combat definitely feels too "roll-the-dice"ish, in the sense that people swing blades around much too slowly. I believe this really takes away from "realism" and "fun" at the same time, usually when designing a game you have to chose one or the other but not here. Because of this I found myself often equipping my frontline warriors with very light armor because otherwise it felt much too sluggish. You definitely should try to improve the animations, diversify them, make them more rapid, more fluid...
Character creation: in my opinion although you tried to prevent having "dump stats", well, this was more or less unsuccessful. And this is such a shame because there is a very simple way of discouraging extreme stats: make the last one or two levels of each skill require an extra point. For example from 6 to 16 it takes 10 points, over that it takes 2 points per extra skill point and below that it only gives you 0.5 points to remove one skill point or something like that, you get the idea. This would definitely reduce the number of extreme stat character you would have and also prevent more dump stats. (Just do it! Yes, Shia Laboeuf reference )
Inventory management: very clever use of having a "party stash", nice implementation.
Difficulty settings: in my opinion perfectly implemented. Loved how clear it was that which option gave us what. This is so important and so many games get this wrong.
Endurance/Health meters: very logical, realistic and original mechanic that works well with this kind of game. Well implemented.
Weapons: fairly good system. Crafting etc feels logical and balanced. There are no OP weapons in the game though like in Baldur's gate. In that sense, you feel you never find an epic item in the whole game. It is open to discussion whether this is good or bad. Personally, I like finding few magical waepons and very few absolutely epic OP weapons and items, they add character to the game...
Items: great to have two ring slots, however, why not necklace slot + cape slot? (not very important)
Mage: I think it was overall implemented ok, however, if you compare mages here to IE mages there is a HUGE gap in customization and diversity. I mean, no need to describe it in details but just think about all the different types of mages you could have in IE games: magic school specializations, mage or sorcerer, wild mages, cross-classing etc.... I mean in fantasy games such as this, warrior should be the "meat" of your party but mages should really be the characters that set your party apart, that define fantasy. They're the damn Gandalf for Wael's sake! Is Gandalf, just another character in the party he is in? No. Here, both in their diversity (see above) and role on the battlefield, they really felt underwhelming compared to IE. If not compared to IE then they felt ok, just another character class.
Spells: again, nothing really amazing, felt a little underwhelming. Just compare to spells in IE where you could demon-call, summon all kinds of beasts and monsters, use powerful magic even dangerous to yourselves, becoming more and more mysterious the higher you go in spell level. Here? Nothing special. Just regular spells, although some were presented as original, they were actually just "meh".
Buff spells: just a note on the duration of spells, buffs etc, I think they felt a little short (IE experts might know better than me about this though), and visually there weren't any cues as to what was used on our characters, and the ones used looked ugly.
Other classes: didn't feel anything wrong with other classes. Although admitedly did only play with party members supplied by the game. Nothing special to say here.
Environments: I absolutely loved the hand-drawn environments, gorgeous and vibrant. Nothing to say here really except keep doing the same thing.
Characters: On the other hand, 3d character models looked kind of ugly, especially when zooming in. This really is very obvious especially at the character creation screen, which is the most important part of any RPG in my opinion, if you decide to kepe these models, I suggest you at least reduce the size of the models during char creation screen, it is that ugly yes. They look overall "fat" and unrealistic. The second point that makes character 3d models ugly is the color pallet. Yes, the light rainbow colored items and armors (two unique light leather armor both in light turquoise color??? Really???) which really is more closer to my little pony than baldur's gate. Same goes for weapon enchantment effects: they look ugly.
Monsters/dragons: Nothing special to say, not too ugly, nothing to write home about either.
I really liked the general story,
Characters: I think characters were all well fleshed-out, interesting except, notable exception, Grieving Mother, whom I found to be forgettable and boring. I especially liked Kana's story personally...
Quests: nothing to criticize. Very entertaining quests that never repeat themselves and that feel meaningful.
Endgame resolutions: absolutely loved the endgame recap resolution screens, so much different variety of results according to actions that you take, I really loved it.
Races: in the end, you don't feel that orcs are "missing" in the game. This was a good call. Orlans and Aumae's are really nice and original races and give enormous amount of character to the game.
World and backstory: excellent. Very well fleshed out, all the cultures feel original yet familiar at the same time. Nothing to say here except that you should build upon it now.
I think this was also a feature that was uninspired and could be improved a lot. I mean, when I first heard this would be implemented people imagined all sorts of things like tactical placement of improvements, a living town with people living in it that pay taxes to you, a whole court with travelers etc giving you special missions, a lot of interactions with a lot of prisoners (personally I had only 1 and didn't see any use for it). I mean there are tons of ideas out there, very few of them were implemented...
That's all for now, again, I really thank the whole Obsidian team for this game, whoever is reading this from the team REALLY PLEASE TRANSMIT MY THANKS AND CONGRATULATIONS, I MEAN IT. It was something like a dream come true for me at release and I really hope you take it to the next level by improving things especially on the game mechanics side.
This was my review, however of course this is highly open for discussion for anyone who wants to do it.
Edited by Gfted1, 06 October 2015 - 07:21 AM.
Added spoiler tags.