Rise and Shiny recap: Dream of Mirror Online

Each week Rise and Shiny asks you to download and try a different free-to-play, indie or unusual 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 each Tuesday and Friday night at 9 p.m. EDT (8 p.m. CDT), followed by this column the Sunday after. I welcome any suggestions for games, either in the comments or at beau@massively.com or Twitter me @Beau_Hindman.

At some point in his life, every man has to attempt to grow a beard. I am not talking about a finely chisled goatee, or one of those odd looking Robin Hood-type deals. I am talking about a full beard, a substantial mound of hair rooted in our face -- an escape-attempt by the very testosterone that makes us a man in the first place. I knew I had a chance this time when, after suggesting to my wife what I would attempt, she only shrugged. Normally she pulls on any scruff that pops out of my chin and says, "You look homeless. Shave."

As you grow this beard, there will be times when you will be very conscious of it.
  • When you first step out of the shower
  • When you are eating and food falls into it
  • When you are playing MMORPGs
Some MMOs are better suited to a beard: EVE Online, for example. EverQuest II will feel all right. World of Warcraft? Only while PvPing. If you're like me, though, and spend most of your time within balloon-bright cartoon-fests like Dream of Mirror Online, then you might be surprised at how it feels while playing bearded .

See, if you're busy spamming missiles at a pirate or ganking Alliance, then the beard will feel like the tell-tale sign of either an intellectual gamer or a dedicated PvPer. Reaching up and scraping the back of your hand against your newly forested chin while playing with giant-headed cartoon dogs, however, might have a much more jarring effect. I swore that when that moment came, I would leap up and run bare-footed to the store to buy a six-pack, a carton of smokes and the latest issue of Car and Driver.

Surprisingly enough, that didn't happen. Instead, I found myself having fun. Yes, it's true that the movement controls are somewhat -- infuriating -- but I found that playing on the widescreen monitor helped that a lot. Essentially, "WASD" movement means something completely different to the makers of DOMO (see the video below). And yes, it's true that the game is slightly GPU-intensive for some reason, often lagging as soon as multiple players appeared on the screen. I couldn't imagine trying it on an older PC with less than three or four gigs of RAM and a nice processor.

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Despite those main sources of frustration, I found myself looking forward to exploring the world more than anything. I wanted to settle in a bit. Luckily, the initial starting zone provides the player with enough information and practice to make her way into the greater world with ease, and the splendid cutscenes that are peppered throughout the game help the player feel immersed.

Yes, immersed in a game that looks like DOMO. It is very possible, you know.

At first you are sent on the usual "kill 30 rats" quests, but they are easy enough once you locate the mobs you need. I became stuck trying to figure out how to trade off the quest items to the NPC, but a duo of helpful players set me straight. After hitting level 10, though, you are sent to figure out your preferred career path. While I wanted to play as a hunter, I couldn't find the NPC who would assign me the job. Still, it was neat to read that I would be able to choose a sub-job later.

Crafting is still a bit of a mystery, though. I believe you equip the correct tools on your character and meditate to make items. For some reason, the system reminded me of Final Fantasy XI's crafting, which asks the player to concentrate on glowing orbs or balls of fire in order to make items. Frankly, though, I never got far with crafting in that game either.

Forget all that, though. The true sweet-spot in DOMO is in customization. While the cash shop remains an odd mix of lotions, pills and clothing items, I believe that clothes truly make the player in DOMO. You'd be hard-pressed to find any two players that look alike in this game, and that is a good thing. I have been in debates before about cash shops and how they might make their money, and I always point to fashion items. The PvPers usually laugh at me when I suggest this, but I still believe that fashion items are some of the most profitable of any. DOMO seems to be a fashionista's paradise. In the end, DOMO is a game that feels like it provides something for everyone. There is robust lore, crafting, combat in massive quantities, flight, insane customization, roleplay, and exploring.

In other words, I have a feeling that I have barely scratched the surface.

So, will the game remain on my hard drive? Sure, for a while at least. This little PC only has 500 gigs, though, and I'm running out of room. In fact, I will be culling quite a few games in order to make room. My criterion? If it hasn't been played in over two months or so, it's gone. Since I will be leaving some actual blank spaces on my hard drive, I need something to fill them up with. I want suggestions, please. While I receive quite a few tips per month, nine times out of 10 I have already played the game. I want odd games -- little freaks of indie goodness. So, fly my minions, FLY! Help me find something that I haven't played before, and we can explore it together.

Next week we are looking at Zentia, a game that has recently stolen my heart. Add me on the Tortoise server: the name is Beau. In order to get into the game, go here and get your closed beta key! While you're at it, add @ZentiaTheGame on Twitter to receive beta updates.

Now, go log in!
This article was originally published on Massively.