Rise and Shiny recap: Crowns of Power

Each week Rise and Shiny asks you to download and try a different free-to-play game, chosen by me, Beau Hindman. Some of the games will be far out of your gaming comfort zone, and some will pleasantly surprise you. We will meet in game each Friday night at 8 PM Central time, followed by this column the day after. I welcome any suggestions for games, either in the comments or at beau at massively dot com.

This week we decided to take a tour through Crowns of Power, an indie game made by Rampid Interactive. It seems as though I came along at a good time because the game recently received a new PvE server. To be honest, I was afraid that the PvP nature of the game would have scared off any potential explorers before I arrived, so it was good to see we would be able to try it out without any worry of being ganked over and over by someone with "420" in her name.

Let's get right to it, and be sure to leave your comments about the game below. Did you like it? Hate it? Read on to see what I thought.

Lore-wise, the game pulls the old "you have no memory of who you are" trick alongside the more original concept of letting your character choose which gods he or she will follow. The gods are all at war with each other since the planet you are on is in the absolute center of the universe as well as the absolute center of power, a likely spot for gods to wage war on each other. The god you follow is attached to the schools of magic you use, and you can have two different schools represented in your spellbook. I went for black and fire, for no other reason than that it sounded very metal. There are schools that seem to lean more towards healing or DPS, and all schools have pets that can be summoned.

Graphically, the game is no powerhouse. This doesn't bother me, since some of my favorite games are graphically primitive, while some of the worst games I have played need a supercomputer to run. As long as the graphics seem to flow, I can handle lower polygon counts and uglier color schemes. Having said that, Crowns of Power looks pretty good, along the lines of Everquest with some better models. Some of the mobs look downright impressive, like the scorpions or the bears, but some of the humanoids feel a little bit silly. It's a give-and-take, but overall the game looks good enough. It runs well, too, even when fighting in groups with spells flying every which way. I would say that the graphics will give you a spot of nostalgia, but will also surprise you with their more modern animations.

"...it would be nice to see a quest that walks my character through a story, or that simply has him exploring for experience. Some variety is all I ask."

Gameplay is pretty standard at first. You attack, you cast a spell, you loot the corpse. The real fun begins when you start seeing new spells and combine them with combat abilities, and when you realize that the combinations almost make for a skill-based game. While combinations are limited, fusing certain schools of magic can have very neat effects, and leaves plenty of room for the player who loves to research his character to the finest point. Personally, I only care to get into the game and to learn as I go along. To be very honest, I despise researching my class or abilities, preferring the I'll-regret-it-later school of play. If I make a mistake, I will adapt. If I am weaker for it, I just see that as character development.

Despite playing in this seat-of-my-pants way, I found that Crowns of Power allowed me to try out different types of play. One moment I could be jumping into the fray with my sword (surprisingly satisfying); the next, I could stand back to shoot totally metal beams of power out of my hands. Top this off with the options that stat allotment provides along with equipment, and you have a simple yet seemingly robust system for adaptation.

Speaking of equipment, it appears as though each piece of armor comes with a certain amount of offline XP on it, essentially automatically giving you XP while your character is asleep in a virtual inn somewhere. One of the members of my group said that when he logged in, the game told him he had leveled, apparently due to the offline XP. My equipment currently only gives +22 XP per hour, so I imagine that the offline XP is never enough to make going offline more desirable than playing, but it is still nice.

I had my issues with the game, of course. For me, it was a little disappointing to see that the majority of quests were of the kill-ten-rats variety, with the occasional gathering quest. While I understand that designing very involved quest lines (with multiple elaborate steps beyond killing or gathering) takes a lot of development power, it would be nice to see a quest that walks my character through a story, or that simply has him exploring for experience. Some variety is all I ask.

Inventory space is a big issue as well, since you need to have reagents on your character in order to cast spells. I am a master of inventory management (remember, I specialize in free-to-play) and I understand that selling those extra backpacks in your cash shop is a good way to generate much-needed revenue, but I started having inventory issues at the very beginning. The rest of the cash shop holds a variety of items, but I haven't spent a dime in it yet.

Overall I would say that Crowns of Power needs way more than a week to appreciate. Will it remain on my hard drive? Yes it will. In fact, that is the true measure of the games during the run of this column: will they stay installed?

Crowns of Power is a slightly nostalgic, slightly easy-to-learn romp through a series of kill-ten-rats quests. The community seems nice enough, and will even power level you if they feel like it (how do you think I got to 16 in less than 2 days?) There are dungeons and loot, but the variety of quests does not vary much in higher levels, according to the community members I asked. Perhaps the PvP server provides the variety that some might want?

If you would like to see some of the live stream from our play session, go here.

Alright, let's move on to next week's game. Make room on your hard drive for Face of Mankind, a futuristic MMOFPS that relies heavily on roleplay, faction, and the consequences of your actions. I have to admit that I have already played it some, and will recommend going through the beginning tutorials in New York before getting into factional combat.

I rolled a character as part of the CMG (the miners) faction, and named him Beau Hindman. Add me, and we will meet up next Friday night, May 21st, at 8 PM Central Time, USA. Have fun!
This article was originally published on Massively.