A long, long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, I remember playing a series of adventure/rpg's by Sierra called Quest For Glory. They were fun, had humour, puzzles, exploring, quests, combat, character development and an enjoyable story. Since that time, I have found nothing really similar until now. Let me introduce you to a new Indie adventure/rpg from Instant Kingdom called Driftmoon.
The first thing to stress is that this is definitely a mixture of two gaming genres; adventure and rpg. While different from and not as complex as the old QFG series, it does contain many of the same elements. First of all, it's supposed to be a light-hearted and fun game which doesn't take itself too seriously. In some ways it reminds me of the excellent Frayed Knights which successfully adopted the same tone. Consider, how often have you faced the pizza cutter of DOOM while playing your standard rpg? That's not to imply that the game is in any way silly, it's definitely not. Underneath all the humour lies a serious and complex game.
There is no character creation other than giving your male avatar a name and choosing your difficulty level, then after a brief conversation you will quickly find yourself pushed into a well. The next section of the game serves as a tutorial and as an introduction to the story and main quest.
The game is very interactive. Be sure to explore carefully and move everything which can be moved; you never know just what might be hidden under that box. Collect whatever is lying around, including berries from bushes and mushrooms; after all, you will need to eat. All items you find will have to be equipped, but that is a very simple procedure.
It won't take long before you'll get your first level and then you will have two choices to make; which attribute(s) to raise and which skills to develop. Each skill has 3 levels of mastery and I found some much more useful than others, but that can often be nothing more than a preference for a particular playing style. I would suggest that you put at least one skill point into the goldfish early on, it will be worth your while.
Combat is primarily melee and ranged; I'd estimate I used 70-80 percent melee, but there are times when ranged is better. There is a skill tree that emphasises each, with whirlwind attacks and many shot being but two examples.
Fighting takes place in real time with pause available and any companions you have with you will also assist. You can change their weapons and armour easily before combat as you acquire new and better equipment. There is a very limited form of magic available, but it is rarely used. Health potions can be taken from a quick bar during combat if you so desire and the game pauses automatically when your health drops to a dangerous level. If you die it's time to reload a save.
I found the combat on the default difficulty setting very easy, so if all you want to do is experience the game this is fine, but for those who want more of a challenge try the higher levels. However, this is NOT a combat heavy or centric game; it is a game full of exploration and fun where the combat is there to enhance the total experience. The story is what moves the game along, not the levelling. I made level 24 by the end.
Other game elements
The game is chock full of dialogue. Not only should you talk to everything and everyone you can, and that includes animals, but many will have extra dialogue options available as the game progresses. This is especially important for the various companions who will join you from time to time during certain quests or events. Talk to them regularly; they always have useful observations. Explore fully and take your time; it is rewarding.
The story and game is basically quite linear. In each area you visit, you complete a number of quests and then the plotline unveils a new area for you to visit and explore. While you can easily return to most, but not all areas, there is little reason to do so. The in-game map allows fast travel between discovered areas in each location, as well as the differing locales on the world map, so there is no need to waste time trekking around. This even applies with dungeons of which there are quite a few. Be sure to chat with some of its inhabitants.
Did I mention the puzzles? You'll find a couple of easy ones early on, but some are quite tricky and complex. Most have clues available if you look for them, but they certainly are a fun and welcome addition to the game. I enjoyed them all and there is a good variety. There are mazes, revolving doors, sliding carts, and timing puzzles to name only a few. Old Schoolers will love it.
The game has a more or less top down view, though a slight camera tilt has recently been added that can easily be adjusted from the keyboard, which I feel improves the game.
I rarely make use of in-game music and sound effects since I find them a distraction, but while the music was fine without being memorable, the sound effects were well done and effective. There is no voice acting as would be expected in a small Indie game. I certainly didn't miss it.
The not so good
I suppose I had better address some of my few criticisms to make sure this at least appears to be a balanced review. Some people will not enjoy the predominantly top down view, but with the tilt, it's really not too bad. The combat is not very engaging; it's clearly not an action rpg and while this doesn't bother me, some people may be disappointed. The game, as I said earlier, is quite linear and therefore, it has very little replay value. Sure you can try higher difficulty levels or different weapons, but there is really little else. Graphically, it is good for an Indie, but it's never going to win any awards.
While most of the writing is very good, there are some sections which are almost cringe worthy in their use of cliché. It's certainly not a major distraction, but in a few places I winced. My final criticism concerns the ending. It felt almost rushed and anti-climactic. Without giving anything away, I wanted more time to explore the final area and the last battle, though it had a couple of challenges, was still far too easy. I wanted more.
One thing I did really enjoy though, were the many references to elements from 'popular culture'. Some were hidden gems which I will leave you to discover. For me, they were a delight.
All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed my time with this game and was disappointed when it was finished. I could have kept playing and fortunately, the availability of fan produced mods should make this a reality. My advice is to grab the demo and give this game a try; I don't think you will be disappointed. I haven't enjoyed a game as much since Frayed Knights. Bottom line; it's not perfect, but it's been a long time since I enjoyed a game as much as this one. Think QFG and FK mixed and blended together and you'll have some idea of what to expect. I eagerly anticipate more from this marvellous couple.
- Lighthearted FUN game
- Has Adventure game elements
- Interesting/revealing dialogue
- Plenty of humour
- Linear story
- Top down view
- Combat is not complex
- Little replay value