Sword Coast Legends

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The Burning Dawn have only helped people in the past. Why are we being sought out and murdered?

Sword Coast Legends is the most recent Dungeons & Dragons video game from Digital Extreme and n-Space. The developers aim to provide a full single-player experience, while innovating Multiplayer and Dungeon Master modes to provide for unique styles of play. Legends is an Isometric action RPG with some D&D elements. Unfortunately, many of those D&D hallmarks seem to have been abandoned or half-realized. With forthcoming DLC we can hope to see some improvements and expansions coming to SCL along with more depth and challenge.

Plot: The adventure takes place in Forgotten Realm’s Sword Coast on the continent of Faerun. The player creates a hero and starts the adventure escorting a caravan to the city of Luskan when “naturally,” trouble ensues. The protagonist wakes up from a ravaging nightmare to discover other members of their guild, The Burning Dawn, shared the same nightmare. The player gets the caravan moving by completing quests to learn the functions of gameplay. Upon reaching Luskan the Hero discovers The Burning Dawn guild hall has been destroyed. This begins the adventure by having the heroes discover why they are being attacked and finding their own way to save the Sword Coast.

Gameplay: Sword Coast Legends doesn’t bring anything new to the table in terms of action RPG’s. Character creation only offers 5 races and 6 classes whereas 5th Edition D&D has 11 races and 14 classes. Battle can be fun but quickly becomes repetitive with the ability cooldown system and slow battle speed. Exploration is enjoyable but with each character being able to effectively having the same skills takes away uniqueness of each class. Spending time to scour each dungeon and new area eventually becomes stale as the player repeats exploring using the easily accessible Ranger and Rogue powers. The skill trees in the game don’t match creation or spells of 5th edition and seem hastily put together if not an afterthought. Conversations with NPC’s can give advantages or disadvantages to the player depending on the hero’s ability scores and form a significant portion of the game. However, the writing seemed dull and having a high enough charisma stat allows the player to win over most NPC’s. It felt like a text heavy dungeon crawler that lacked major battle, exploration and skill functions that would have made it great. In general the adventure becomes boring due to the lack of ingenuity and originality in the script and mechanics.

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Difficulty: The adventure can be difficult but mainly has easy consistent gameplay. The quests provided in the game are simple to understand and the player is provided with a Map and HUD to direct themselves on which quest to complete first. Each exploration will come down to having the Ranger or Rogue search for traps and secret doors until the entire map has been searched adding a great amount of redundancy to the gameplay. Battles are mildly tactical as characters coming back to life after each death takes away the challenge of resting safely that was in previous D&D games. The ability system gives battle more depth unfortunately most of the time the player ends up just waiting for skills to cooldown. Additionally the plot is very easy to follow and most conversations can be concluded well with a high enough charisma. The game didn’t seem to have a lot depth in both the gameplay and plot making it hard to get the end.

Music: The music accompaniment to this game is fantastic. The composer Inon Zur in collaboration with The City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra wrote and performed a highly successful soundtrack to Sword Coast Legends. Each song provides atmosphere to dungeons, towns and world map areas. Within bar and taverns simple folkish music is played to accompany the light setting. Horns erupt as the companions run into battle to slay enemies and ominous string harmonies play while exploring open areas and while at encampments. The soundtrack gives the game great atmosphere and I personally use it when I play regular tabletop Dungeons and Dragons as it adds depth and feeling to the adventure when my team plays.

Summary: As a player and fan of Dungeons and Dragons 5th Edition this game was below average compared to its games in the genre and its tabletop companion. The repetition in the game made me restart 3 times because I became bored with the class I had chosen. The campaign is fun to play but unfortunately the party members you receive have every skill needed. This takes away from the limited skillset and creative problem-solving which Dungeons & Dragons is known for. Exploring dungeons and open areas feels like a chore and becomes tedious. We had Baldur’s Gate and Baldur’s Gate 2 created by Black Isle fifteen years ago that implemented every race, class and spell of 2nd Edition. This begs the question of why they couldn’t follow the same formula? Free DLC is coming out to expand the classes and races and I hope with patch updates they are able to fix some of the major issues with the game. The spells are a true let down in this game, magic user tactics within battle were entirely left out which made them seem more like magic archers.The skill trees are shared across most classes leaving out variation between the party since the heroes share the same skills. Many of the spells that go into the conversation and crowd control were entirely left making the magic user almost useless. Overall a disappointment and I think I came into the game hoping for too much, hopefully with updates and some DLC this game will become better and vastly more enjoyable.

5/10

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Lisa: The Painful RPG

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Brad, you have to find her and in the end will you have made the right decision?

Lisa: The Painful is an RPG made by the indie game company Dingaling. Lisa is set in a post apocalyptic world where only men are left. The protagonist Brad Armstrong finds a female baby that he takes home and shelters for many years. The game was loosely based on the novel The Children of Men by P.D. James in where there is a world of mass infertility and follows a protagonist that goes on a journey to protect a fertile woman. Lisa is extremely emotional and has great gameplay similar to classic RPG’s.

Plot: Lisa has a remarkably dark story line. The game begins with the protagonist Brad as a young child being beaten up for defending his friends. Brad proceeds to walk home alone to encounter his intoxicated father who immediately throws a bottle at Brad for being a terrible child. Time jumps ahead as he is finding a female infant that was abandoned. He names her Buddy and hides her away from world which only men inhabit now because he believes most men would find and either rape or murder her. Throughout the years Brad becomes her foster-father as he raises and protects her from the dangers he knows exist, almost against her will. During those years of raising the child, Brad deals with his own addictive struggle with Joy (a strange drug) and ultimately becomes addicted again leading him down the same life path as his intoxicated father. The girl ends up getting kidnapped by the hero’s best friends which starts the journey to save her life, to discover what happened to the world and possibly save Brad’s life.

Gameplay: The world travel and battles within Lisa are difficult and enjoyable. Traveling around requires walking from area to area to which Brad will find abundance of NPC’s, teammates, items and enemies. Travel can take time but encountering the NPC’s and enemies does provide hilarious dialogue that riddled with one-liners and quotable remarks. Finding the right combination of teammates affects battle plans but ultimately is worth searching for stronger characters for how difficult the game becomes. As characters (including the hero) level up they gain new abilities and fighting techniques, this game does a great job of incorporating button combos within the battle, allowing characters to do more damage. This game heavily revolves around the choices that Brad has to make during his adventure that involve death of partners, loss of items and human body parts. The choices Brad makes affects the relationship with his teammates, Buddy and in the end, himself.

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Difficulty: The difficulty came from 2 places with this game. First, the actual challenge of the game was incredible. Finding stronger teammates to fight seemingly impossible enemies was fun and added more to the story depending on who you were trying obtain. Once again depending on the critical decisions Brad has to make, the player may end up losing 1 of the stronger teammates. Even with stronger teammates, leveling them up and being equipped well many enemies were still challenging and some could eliminate characters outright from the game. Secondly is the emotional challenge of this game. The more the story progresses, the more the player thinks about the decisions they are required to make. Decisions and repercussions that come about become worse and make the party weaker both physically and emotionally. Some of the things Brad decides and discovers can be quite disturbing and surreal making the player wonder how the party can continue in such an environment. The physical and emotional challenge both add a huge amount of difficulty to the adventure.

Music: Widdly 2 Diddly created the soundtrack for Lisa. Each song adds uniqueness to the game with a variation of heavy synth, fuzz and ambient songs for each area and encounter. The variation in the music reminds me of cheeky RPG’s and really makes the game fun to play. The soundtrack consists of 90 tracks spanning the entire game giving every area new atmosphere. The ambient tones used in the game are used while in caves and abandoned areas giving the player a sense of isolation and unnaturalness. Heavy synth is used in a majority of the soundtrack giving good background sound to carry the team through the rest of the adventure. Widdly 2 Diddly created a fantastic soundtrack to Lisa that is available for purchase.

Summary: Lisa: The Painful was a really similar yet different experience to me. I found the game to be challenging and parts of the game depressed me a bit with how dark it became. Dingaling really knew how to draw out the emotional side of the player as your decisions made really affect the outcome of the game. The game provided so many questions about my reality that it was almost frightening trying to finish. A world without women would be a very dark and aggressive place and I believe that the creators of this game put that thought into their head when creating the game. The dark reality that Brad and the player knows and faces is prevalent when you read the dialogue of the NPCs and enemies. There is only 1 girl in existence and she is the only hope of the human race surviving. This game is heartfelt and surreal, I recommend for anyone who like story rich RPG’s.

9/10

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