This week's game was a giant gamble, one that I should have known would not have worked out at all. The problem is that I have this crazy inborn optimism that tells me that even though many MMOs look and play the same way, you never know how they truly play until you actually play them. I've literally played hundreds of MMOs for this job and probably a hundred or so before that, so I've seen my share of games that look one way and play the other.
So this week I decided to go ahead and roll in Inferno Legend, a new MMO by GameBox, even though it appeared to be an auto-player like League of Angels from a few weeks ago and other titles before that. I picked my character from five different classes: the Cyclops, Vampire, Samurai, Faerie, and Mummy. I barely got past the incredibly bad voice-acting that was presumably supposed to add life to the characters and popped into the game.
In Inferno Legend, you're going to be playing as a bad guy. You're a servant of Diablo, the lord of the underworld, but other than a change of look and color, there's not much else that is unique about playing the baddies. In fact, I hardly noticed I was playing the bad guy simply because the gameplay worked out like so many other games in which I played the good guys.
The game is supposed to be a romp through an epic story but plays pretty much like the other games I mentioned earlier. You'll play in a respectably pretty browser-based environment that is designed to give the illusion of free-form play, but the game is anything but. There's supposed to be a grid-based sort of exploration quality in it somewhere, but maps are really just a boardgamey linear set of events. You'll move a square, gain some gold, move another square, and attack an enemy. It's so bland and repetitive that I literally fell asleep while playing it one night.
Combat is turn-based, but up until around level 30, you can simply press the auto button and the game will work it all out for you. I'd say that some of the animations and character designs are neat, but they are repeated so much that they'll more than likely drive you mad, and there are too few skills to choose from at the beginning. The auto-attack gameplay ensured I'd win without effort anyway, though, so why should I care? As I said, things do get tougher around level 30, but only marginally so. If anything, all I had to do was repeatedly attack an enemy, choosing a slightly different arrangement, and eventually I won.
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As you defeat monsters, you can recruit them into your army, something that sounds more fun than it is. Building an army is an act of fashion more than anything as different creatures seem to have no real difference in ability. You can level up and switch out different pieces of equipment, but again I saw almost no real difference. I would use higher-level items as I looted them, but they just kept pace with the monsters at my level. As I leveled and found more loot there was no thinking involved; I would just replace the old loot and continue on. Sure, I pressed some buttons to gain new abilities or to try out new skills, but I had no reason to pay attention to what I was doing, simply because there was no incentive to.
The music in the game is so loud and obnoxious that it was better to just turn it off. Another watermark of a cheap, cruddy game like this is that the music is covering up the fact that there is hardly any sound in the game otherwise. Keep the music on and you'll be overwhelmed with epic loops; turn it off and the game feels dead.
I've now talked about this new style of auto-gaming so much that I've pretty much lost interest. The games that come from this genre (what would the genre be called?) are cheap, they're easy to produce, and they behave more like a slot machine than anything. True, Inferno Legend does give you the chance to experience some strategy when you face more powerful monsters, but overall it's just another click-fest that basically infects the rest of the hobby. I can see players being interested in it for its ease of play or social interaction, but I cannot stomach it. I wish that the developers would just advertise it as what it is. It's simply a playset, a thing to do that allows people to do things with a few digital things. That's it. There's nothing wrong with that, but advertising it as some sort of epic journey is wrong. On top of all that, the game features standard over-sexed lady art all over the website. At least the developers could pony up the cash for some original, less sexist artwork, but that would break the pattern.
Next week I will be jumping back into Stronghold Kingdoms, a great MMOFPS by Firefly Studios. The developers have added a lot to the game since the last time I played it, so this time around I might not die so easily! I will be livestreaming the game on our channel on Monday, the 17th of February, at 4:00 p.m. EDT.
Each week on Rise and Shiny, Beau chooses a different free-to-play, indie, or browser-based game and jumps in head-first. It might be amazing or it might be a dud, but either way, he'll deliver his new-player impressions to you. Drop him an email, comment, or tweet!