Tag Archives: Diablo 3

The First Few Hours – Warhammer 40k: Inquisitor – Martyr

Warhammer 40k: Inquisitor – Martyr acts a bit like an action RPG fun house mirror.  The game is an obvious reflection of the standard Diablo formula, but does everything just a little bit differently.  The end result is a decent game in its own right, but one that will irritate an unsuspecting portion of the audience that it courts.

The game begins with the player controlled Inquisitor, a galactic enforcer of loyalty and religion, embarking a mission aboard the Martyr, a derelict Space Marine ship that went rogue and disappeared for centuries.  A quick investigation of the ship reveals that it formerly housed a long dead Space Marine leader of undetermined allegiance and is now the focus of a secret investigation by another Inquisitor who also has undetermined allegiance.  In the opening hours of the game, the player attempts to hunt down this other Inquisitor and figure out what the Martyr really is.

As far as stories go, this one is functional.  Its true virtue is to serve as a vehicle for the world of Warhammer 40k.  The player collects crew from across W40k’s Imperium of Man factions, fights its traditional Chaos foe, explores the dark realms of its cities and abandoned space stations, and generally revels in one of the better representations of this universe.  Fans of the W40k world will find much to like here and even newcomers will find Inquisitor – Martyr a relatively accessible entry point into the W40k world.  On the other hand, people who dislike the grim dark future of the 40th millennia will find nothing new or interesting.  Inquisitor – Martyr seeks to channel Warhammer 40k, not improve upon it.

The same cannot be said for the action RPG formula which the game seeks to model.  Thought clearly inspired by Diablo and its host of clones, Inquisitor – Martyr makes enough evolutionary tweaks to almost turn itself into a revolution.  The standard leveling, looting, and fighting mechanics are all there, but the emphasis is less on the former two….and arguably less on the third as well.  Leveling and looting are noticeably slower than the standard model with the player rarely experiencing substantial jumps in kill power.  Fighting is also notably slowed with the introduction of a cover mechanic which allows the player and enemies to hide in order to reap defensive bonuses.  The end result is that progress feels slow on and off the battlefield.

Perhaps the biggest gameplay innovation is the pacing.  Missions are discreet fights across small maps with specific, and occasionally varying, objectives.  Leveling, equipment swapping, and all other forms of maintenance are relegated to the pause between missions.  This creates a nice balance between character improvement and combat with each operating in its own spheres without the other spoiling its flow.  There is no standing in the middle of a blood drenched battlefield comparing shiny new swords or trying to tweak a character build.  On the flip side, the pauses between fights serve as an exhale from the game’s combat and gives the story an opportunity to breath.  While hardly used to its fullest in Inquisitor – Martyr, this model could give future ARPG’s a chance to focus on story.

Overall, the game has a solid collection of mechanics which made the first seven hours a lot of fun.  Dark clouds do loom on the horizon.  Without a compelling story and thanks to limited numbers of enemies and settings, the charms of the Warhammer 40k universe are fading against the repetitive grind of constant battles.  The slow progression ensures that the battle system won’t take up the slack.  It’s becoming harder and harder to see how Inquisitor – Martyr will earn its full price tag.  Even if you’re a big W40k fan, I’d wait for a sale.

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Submissions and Social Lubrication

It’s officially been a year since I started Mind Decline and it has honestly been wonderful to see the site grow.  Starting from humble origins, MD is now slightly less humble pulling in about 100 views a month.  It’s not much of a platform, but I’d like to share it.  Starting now, MD is accepting submissions.  Read over the Submit to MD! page and send in your article!

To kick it all off, see the below article by Blergosaurus:

Social Lubrication

By Blergosaurus

I do not self-identify as a gamer. On the gaming spectrum (I don’t think it is so much a spectrum as it is two distinct groups of gamers and nongamers that overlap little if at all), I would consider myself something of an ignoramus. I played a little growing up, watched college friends and roommates play for hours, and occasionally helped in Starcraft II. I have a Steam account with two games, both of which I enjoy playing.

I guess I use gaming as a social lubricant. I don’t have anything against gaming, I’m just not interested in pursuing it for my own satisfaction. I am generally aware of big developments in the gaming world through word of mouth, online buzz, or other news stories, which enables me to be part of the dialogue with gamer friends by asking them to expand on what I know already. What little I do know does not come from personal interest in gaming, but from an interest in the individual with whom I’m seeking to interact. It’s like my relationship with football and fantasy leagues: I watch games and learn basic statistics so I can have a conversation with the custodian or a potential employer.

I know when a major game is coming out insofar as it will affect my social interactions with people. I deliberately saw a classmate before Diablo 3 came out because I knew I wouldn’t see him for a few weeks after it did. I couldn’t go out with a roommate Monday or Wednesday nights because his WoW guild met then. An old boyfriend had his custom level featured as a “level of the week” on Little Big Planet, and that’s awesome so of course I played it.

I like knowing things so I can interact with people about a topic they care about; however, I find it intimidating because I am aware of how little I know relative to the amount of knowledge available, and I never feel like I’m asking the right question(s). Thankfully, many acquaintances will dumb things down for me so I can understand what they are saying and how it applies to other ideas. Sometimes it can get frustrating because I can never hope to engage with them on a level that actually interests them. It’s like having a conversation with a child: the speaker may enjoy explaining an idea to the receptive listener, but ultimately isn’t going to get anything out of the conversation himself. I would like to understand more than I currently do, especially for an industry as ubiquitous as gaming. I want to relate to acquaintances on this topic, but don’t know where or how to start.

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Review – Grim Dawn – PC – Steam Review #2

Now with a fresh coat of grim.

In 2006, Iron Lore Entertainment released a fun little Diablo clone called Titan Quest.  Hitting at the right time, Titan Quest, and its expansion Immortal Throne, filled the gap left by Diablo 2 and the many developers unable to competently build in the action RPG space.  The game was entertaining and had a few interesting mechanics, but didn’t do anything earthshaking.  I mention Titan Quest, because now the reconstituted spirit of Iron Lore has put out a new effort in the form of Grim Dawn.  Unfortunately for them, this time, there’s competition.

If you’ve played Diablo or any of its clones, you know the basics of Grim Dawn.  Players control a single, powerful hero who destroys legions of monsters through clicking and loot. Titan Quest’s wrinkles return as well.  Monsters drop components that the player can combine to create more powerful versions which can then buff an item or serve as material for the game’s crafting mechanic.  In addition to components, the Grim Dawn carries over a dual class system that allows the player to invest in two class skill trees thereby allowing for potent combinations.  Sadly, poor loot drops also return with all but the rarest of loot feeling rather underwhelming.  All told, the solid, but unspectacular base game, returns with a feeling of been there, done that.

Of course, this is still early access so there are a number of systems still in development. The most interesting is the faction system which should allow for branching paths and quests.  Each faction in the game, including enemies, have a favorability meter that tells the player what their disposition is.  In theory, the player will get to choose which faction to align with including the horrors that are overwhelming the world.  At present, only the good faction of helpful villagers works so the others are really just measurements of how badly the Cthulu hate your guts (hint: lots).  Still, the villager quest does show some of the potential.  Unfortunately, much of that potential feels misused.  Rather than grant the player access to special new things, the faction system grants them access to the merchants they should have had from the start.  Hopefully the system won’t just act as a gateway to the crafting guy.  Even so, the finding of villagers out in the wilderness and the small touches that show general improvement on the town are compelling.  A quest to get cloth results in tarp roofing for some of the areas.  It’s nothing game changing, but it helps show how the player is having an effect on the world.

Another new addition is unwelcome. The game communicates the story by telling the player all the amazing things that happened while the player was selling nondescript loot.  Towns destroyed, empires fallen, and horrific experiments performed are just some of the interesting plot points that the player has absolutely no involvement in.  The player will pick up logs from time to time, but that only goes to show how much is happening outside of the player’s sight.  If Grim Dawn is to draw its players in with its story, it can’t just talk about the fun stuff.  It needs to show it.

I mentioned this game to my father, who enjoyed Titan Quest.  He responded that he wasn’t really interested because, with Diablo 3 and Path of Exile in the world, he didn’t really need another action RPG.  That is the argument Grim Dawn needs to overcome.  It needs to present something unique that its competitors don’t already have covered.  If it doesn’t, I can’t see Grim Dawn doing well.

Steam Review: Again, Steam recommended a game that was only okay.  What I’m coming to realize is that Steam’s recommendations are only as strong as the depth of the genre that the player is interested in.  If there aren’t a lot of good games in the genre, Steam will recommend what it has.  Good to know.

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