Thursday, August 22, 2013

Actual Wanderlust: Rebirth

Wanderlust: Rebirth turns out to be possibly the smallest download for a game on Steam that I've ever seen. It installed before I'd even realized it was starting, which was a big difference compared to how long it took Robb to install the Civ V expansion! We ended up giving it a good try last night, with almost 4 hours of playtime.

The game did feel a little like Secret of Mana, but not exactly in a good way. I really liked that game, but my top memory of it is actually getting into situations where I wanted to go one way, and my brother wanted to go another way, and we'd get stuck because the screen wouldn't scroll unless we were both walking in the same direction. Eventually we ended up deciding the only way the game would work is if whoever was playing the main character got to always choose where we were going. Wanderlust: Rebirth isn't played on a single screen so it didn't quite have the issue that badly, but in order to advance to the next section of a level all 4 players needed to crowd onto a little door. With loot being individualized that meant that frequently someone would want to wander off to pick up stuff in a corner alone, but then we couldn't just advance to the next screen when they had their item. We had to wait for them to get to the exit too. Also some of the screens had secret walls to knock down or chests to bust open... It really felt like it would have been better if I could have gone to the exit while other people searched for secrets and when they gave up I could just advance instead of waiting for them to catch up. Or maybe a run button when there were no enemies on the screen or something.

The gameplay seemed reasonably fun. Hordes of enemies swarming in and 4 different character classes to choose from with vastly different ways of playing. I played the healer and didn't really have much in the way of offensive power but the heals seemed ridiculous. In an interesting twist from most games the healer seemed almost guaranteed to score the most points on the meters at the end of each level because the other people couldn't earn award for healing, rezzing, or having friends earn awards while buffed but I could. I was also less likely to suffer multiple deaths which were worth negative points because no one else could rez me. So if I died it was only once, and most of the time if I died everyone else did too.

The story seemed pretty mediocre and felt a bit like a cross between the worst of Diablo III's story with some Chrono Trigger mixed in. The world ended, but it was all just a dream. Bleh. Presumably if we'd gotten enough levels and gear we could have killed the final boss when he went supernova and gotten a different ending.

I did like leveling up, and getting gear seemed reasonable enough. It had crafting recipes wanting huge numbers of trash drops but we weren't allowed to share which sucked. I didn't get all the stuff for any crafting recipe while we were playing, but only because other people couldn't trade me their Fibers.

There was also a 'screw the story, just throw enemies at us' mode, which felt like a better game. But then I went and doubled down our loot on a pull of a slot machine and it came up skeletons which killed us so we got no levels at all for doing it which was sad.

There were sections that felt like WoW raiding all over again. One part had a bandit throwing bombs at us, with little icons lighting up the ground just before they'd land and we had to dodge around to avoid them. One boss was immune to damage until we tanked him under a falling rock to break his armour. By the end of the game I was too sleepy to actually dodge that stuff which was unfortunate but it was a good addition to the game I think. Some enemies exploded for 20 times Robb's max health in damage, so we had to learn to identify those guys and not stand beside them.

Would I play again? Yeah, I think I would. It was fun enough. I suspect if we weren't using Skype while playing it would have been worse. And I don't think the game is worth the full price at all. But at 75% off I'm happy I picked it up. And it had full controller support! Woo!

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