January 05, 2017

Rings of Power - Ranking

Story & World

I've never been more pumped to continue exploring a game world than with Rings of Power.  Not only was giving the entire world map at the beginning a bright idea, but making it tile precise is a masterstroke.  I spent a lot of time just exploring the map rather than the actual world, scouring its considerable breadth looking for single huts in the middle of nowhere or figuring out if a transoceanic journey to that new city was feasible or not.  Each city felt very distinct and the more minor locations were likewise full of flavour.  Even after the initial world tour, there was plenty of backtracking, following new leads, picking up spells that had been too expensive, or just doing some good ol' fashioned trading to generate some income.  I knew going into RoP that it had a non-linear quest structure, but I didn't realize just how open it was until I started leapfrogging sections of some quests.  For example, late in the game, I had picked up the trail off a stale quest involving meeting Fen Ho of Fenopolis.  In order to meet with him, I had to slay the witch Hideous, which I did do but it took awhile.  I didn't head straight back to Fenopolis and, as the fates would have it, I didn't end up back in that region until much, much later.  Fen Ho wanted a protection deal from the guild of Protectors (which I already had), and then gave me information on the Ring of Will (which I already had).  I'm pretty sure I killed him outright, which brings me to another part I really enjoyed, as you can kill anybody outright.  Not only that, sometimes the normally docile citizens of the cities will initiate combat as soon as one attempts to talk with them, including shopkeeps, who have an approximately 0.0% chance of besting a group of professional spellcasters.  Great stuff all around.

The story is a tad generic with the typical Good (Nexus) vs. Evil (Void).  The end villain, who assassinated Thalmus and "tricked" Buc into gathering the rings for him, does this big reveal about how he has "a secret up his sleeve" and then says he serves Void.  Yeah, no shit buddy, I came here thinking I'd be fighting Void himself, not his bottom bitch.  17/20

Character Development

Base two stat system which not only is bugged, but uses bars to represent HP/MP instead of cold, hard numbers.  Bars are fine for beat 'em ups, but in RPGs, I prefer to have my data as precise as possible.  The only time numbers are shown is when a character levels up, displaying the new maximums, but that doesn't matter if one doesn't know how much a spell costs.  The lion's share of spells are pretty useless, and I think a party could get by with purchasing only two or three spells for each character.  2/20

Combat & Monsters

Did you read the previous post?  It's pretty much my review of the combat portion, so what about the monsters themselves?  There's not much variety, mostly humans who are one of the six classes, but there's also bears, wyverns, dragons, and that's it.  Wyverns and dragons share the same graphical representation, so they really went all out here with the monster design.  I'll give you a one for having shopkeeps sometimes be monsters.  1/20

Graphics & Sound

Though the monsters are lacking in the graphics department, the rest of the game is not.  Locations are nicely detailed and distinct.  Cities are a little repetitive, as cities are wont to be, but even then, each one had at least one unique place which stood out.  Character sprites are nothing special, at least until combat starts and everyone gets down with their funky selves.

The score to this grand adventure is pretty epic and the majority of music fits the atmosphere of the game.  I really dug the sailing tune and, even after getting the dragon, would often hop into one of my many boats littering the continents and just tool around.  One quest even forced me to take to the seas since the dragon couldn't find a place to land on the island I needed to go.  For that, I was most thankful.  14/20

Gameplay

An extremely robust economy keeps gold in high demand throughout the game.  Random encounters give paltry sums of coin and cash needs to be generated through trading.  Each city has a resource that it specializes in and is cheap to purchase, and also is in need of another one, giving a nice sale price.  Spell costs scale nicely with their level; I had many occasions where I had to mark down a city to return to later when funds were available (this was before I discovered most of the spells were ass).  I only did the trading thing for the first half of the game and then kinda, sorta, unintentionally broke the economy when I discovered a way to get chests to regenerate.  Every time the world map is brought up, all the chests in the world refill.  Well, at the palace in the city of Sparta, there are seven such chests near the entrance.  At first, I was just going to exploit this a little bit, but then the chests started giving me items I had never seen before, starting with a stone which allowed me to summon my first dragon.  I had to stop myself after reaching 99 Wepons (arrgh!) but it turned out to be a good thing as I had plenty of funds to nourish my dragon for the rest of the game.

Controlling Buc in any situation was a complete nightmare; movement is so clunky I'd often overshoot places I wanted to go, which was really bad when I was attempting to navigate my boat along the shoreline (food/water costs are cheap for shallow waters, expensive for deep).  After townfolks starting attacking me, I would try to examine a person before talking to them to see their current mood.  Examine doesn't work like conversation, where you can be some distance away.  No, not only do you have to be right next to the person, you have to be facing them as well.  Clunky controls means I'd often walk into a person, swapping places with them, or, even worse, they'd move around as well.

Pacing is a hard one to judge in such an open world game, as it's really dependent on the player's skill.  A second playthrough would undoubtedly go much smoother, but without the magic and mystery of exploration, there would be little appeal left.  And there's already not a whole lot of appeal to Rings of Power (oh snap!).  Just jokes, RoP, you're still kinda fun.  12/20

Final Ranking: 46/100