Rise and Shiny: A bit of Wakfu, a smidge of Spiral Knights, and some Lime Odyssey

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This week in Rise and Shiny, things did not go as planned. This sort of thing actually happens often enough to almost be a problem: I pick out a title or am tasked with taking a look at a certain game, but communication lines are crossed and the game I was supposed to give a first impressions-style look at closes down its beta in the middle of the week. Like I said, it does happen, enough to force me to plan out my articles on a month-long calendar. Even then, things can change.

So instead of talking about the game I said I was going to be this week, Seven Souls Online, I decided to go over the three games that I gleefully jumped into over the last few days. This will not be a typical first impression-style piece but instead will hint at the specific adventures I had while playing these games.

These wonderful, wonderful games.

Wakfu screenshot
Wakfu is all the rage right now, so I plan on giving a more detailed first impression of the game later. Heck, the truth is that I've written about it already and really need to wait a while and cover the later levels and experiences of the game. Because the launch of this game was on Wednesday, my experience so far has consisted of jumping in to grab my usual name, finishing the tutorial area, and making my way into the world below.

Let me just say this again, in case my past gushings have not been clear enough: Wakfu is one of the most original IPs and MMOs to come out in the last decade. Ankama has designed a game that, no matter what you think about the payment model (please, no more payment model discussion, please), is attempting to put players through some standard hoops but mostly tasks them with figuring out unique lore, delivery of content, and unusual systems. While you're in the tutorial area, a floating island above the "real" planet below, players can discover bits of the lore by reading giant slabs of stone that hover on the screen and illustrate the epic and tragic story of a giant ogre and the drowning of the world. Well, something like that. I am still following along.

New players are also shown how to mint their own coin, how to grow plants and animals (or destroy them in order to help maintain an ecological balance), and how to participate in the unique turn-based combat that will likely take up a lot of the player's time. All of this is achieved in a Flash-based or similar environment (personally I think the game is made of magic poof) that will run on every computer in my house from my gaming PC down to my 10-inch netbook. There is more personality in one area of Wakfu than in the entirety of certain other, blander MMOs. There is life, energy, movement and beauty. All of this in a game that is unabashedly "cartoony" and whimsical. To put the icing on this cake, Wakfu is a work of genius. Flawed genius at times, but genius. More on it later.

Spiral Knights screenshot
Next up I jumped into the first expansion mission in Spiral Knights. Expansion missions are part of the new system that Massively reported on last week; they're a series of quests that give more of a sense of direction to players. Normally the game is sort of rinse-and-repeat as players who play the role of small, robot-like space knights venture into the depths of a massive clockworks in the hopes of eventually finding the stuff needed to repair their massive home ship, recently crashed on the surface. Every time I go into the clockworks, I find something different, and every time I regret it as my aching wrists need to be soaked in icy-cold deathwater to ease the strain from an hour's worth of clicking.

The new missions have not only helped explain what the game world is and how players are supposed to act in it but shined a much needed light on the depth that was always there, hidden away under layers of non-stop action. I took on the first part of a three-part mission to stop an evil lord who seemed to have a love for tossing bombs at people. I faced new creatures I had seen before, and much to my delight, got to hear some new music and sounds effects. The sound design in Spiral Knights is still some of my favorite, and I will mention it every time.

I'm not going to lie; the first mission was tough. I've learned to charge my attacks and to bob and weave my way between enemies until I can let loose a massive smack with my sword or explosion from my gun. All of my equipment is currently at level 4, so I'm no slouch. The toughest enemies were these tank-like baddies who seemed to resist everything I could hit them with unless I was able to sneak around to their backs or made them drop their heavy armor. Once they did, I was able to pick the armor up and toss it away from them to keep them vulnerable. I was in the middle of this great battle as my wife started to try Wakfu, so occasionally I had to look back and explain something. Soon my mind was cast into a surreal fog of adorable violence. I kept it together, however, and finished what I think was the first part of the mission. I'm going to try the rest later. It was, in a word, epic.

Lime Odyssey screenshot
Despite the unusually sad news that Lime Odyssey is shutting down in Korea, it's still alive and in testing here in the states. I jumped at the chance to see what the game was about and found a sort of junior version of Allods Online. The graphics in the game feel a bit like Allods' -- very sharp, clear, and bright but more realistic than cartoony. I chose to play the diminutive animal race and was quickly tasked with gathering items and killing monsters. I think any game that turns you loose on non-stop kill and gather quests sort of sets off alarms in my head, but the kills are painless and the gathering that is peppered between moments of violence keeps it interesting. Allods is a great game in the way that it is set in such a unique world, and it's wonderfully pretty, but I always disliked how intense the grind was.

Lime Odyssey seems, so far, to have tamed that grind and replaced it with rolling landscapes, plants and animals that resemble something out of Ryzom more than World of Warcraft, and an interesting take on crafting. Combat is standard but lively, and the game does move forward rather quickly. I wonder at what point the insane grind kicks in (the point at which I leave the game) but I'm not really sure that it will. Either way, it's possibly one of the best-looking new F2P titles that has come out in a long time.

So my lack of luck with Seven Souls Online transformed into several days of exploring plenty of new content. This may not have been a normal edition of Rise and Shiny, but I like to adapt when I can. Next week, I will be giving the standard Rise and Shiny treatment to Spirit Tales, a new Anime MMO that is so cute it will make your teeth ache. I will be livestreaming the game on Monday, March 5th, 2012, at 5:00 p.m. EST. See you in the chat room!

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. I welcome any suggestions for games -- drop me a note in the comments or email! You can also follow me on Twitter and Facebook!

This article was originally published on Massively.