Legend of Edda is a bright and shiny new game from Games Campus. It pits your character against uncountable, endless hordes of all types of monsters and even other players. According to my on-again-off-again education about Anime (I consulted those weird teens that sit in the Barnes and Noble reading Manga) the artstyle of the game is called "Chibi," the Japanese word for "little people." I was sure to ask if the word could be offensive, in the same way that calling any little person a "midget" could be. I have been assured that it is not used in such ways.
Still, I hesitate to say that the game is cute. It is, but not just cute. It speaks to that same area of us that enjoys Domo, or that relishes in YouTube videos of puppies barking in their sleep. It's not just cute -- it's something deeper than that. I love how tough everything seems, how every character has such a low center of gravity. The standard top-down view is perfect for such a world.
But, what about the grind? How about the PvP?
I know, I know -- the grind. I will be talking about the grind more lately, since I am studying the sub-genre of "cartoony, bright-and-shiny, grindy, imported games." I even covered it some last week in my Free for All column. Essentially, though, playing Edda comes down to this:
Grind is what you make it
Is it a chore? Perhaps, if you force yourself to do it beyond your comfort zone. If a grind is laid out in smaller chunks, or if it is done in a way that allows the player to pop in and out of play, then the grind is more than tolerable and even enjoyable. While I would love to point to games that feature nothing but non-stop glorious storytelling with wonderful, interactive cut-scenes as an example of how to really make games, they just don't exist. There are a few examples that come close, but generally games without a grind are not called games, but "real-life" or "virtual world" simulations. That's especially odd, when you consider how much of a grind the average human being goes through just to survive.
The grind in Edda is harmless, just like it is in the other games I have been playing. Kill 10 rats? Yes, I will, and I'll return for more. Why? because along the way I might level once or twice, and might hook up with some strangers to help the grind go even faster. In fact, someone almost put it perfectly in one of our other columns last week, when he commented:
"Koreans don't actually love grinding. They just don't care about it. That coupled with the fact that they mostly play in internet cafes with their friends as opposed to by yourself at home (like westerners) makes it less a tedious task and more a chill social experience with friends. They also prefer to work for their rewards as opposed to westerners who just like the endless hamster wheel of pats on the back and illusions of progress (quest exp jumps as opposed to continuous exp from mobs)."
While there are some parts I disagree with -- the use of the word "Koreans" as though he can see into the lives of all players from that area, and the use of "mostly" -- he hits on a good point. He has the social part right, and it is easy to see why. Ever take a trip to your local coffee house? Next time you do, notice how many people are reading books or just sipping coffee. Now imagine if they had placed several banks of PCs in the same room. Playing games would become more of the "chill" social experience that he speaks of, and the grind might become a perfect activity for a distracted, caffeinated crowd.
Edda makes me feel like I can play for hours without expending too much energy. Yes, it sounds lazy, but let's remember that we are talking about an easy-going gaming session. Not all play times need be to filled with screaming fits over Ventrillo.
Activities (almost) galore
Besides killing monsters and gathering loot, Edda provides a player with other distractions. There are the standard (and often under appreciated) social aspects that exist in any game, but Edda also allows players to participate in massive RvR-style fights. Honestly, though, the entire experience needs quite a bit of tweaking in order to actually be a riot. First of all, getting into the battle is almost a luck-of-the-draw series of events. If you happen to see the little blinking light that indicates a battle has started, you can click on it to enter the battlefield. Unfortunately, most of the time you are pushed right back out of the packed instance. In order for me to get in, I had to constantly click on the icon until a player dropped out. Once I finally got it in, though, I enjoyed the chaotic battles between hordes of tiny people. Sometimes the battlefield became too congested and confusing, something that could be fixed by allowing players to toggle off other player's effects. Most of the time, I just tab-targeted someone and hit attack. The sound on the battlefield was insane, too. This could be fixed by allowing for more simple adjustments -- something I hope they add in the future.
When it worked, though, the PvP was exciting and hilarious. I love the fact that the game automatically clothes players in color-coded robes. It would be easy to literally get lost in such a crowd, especially considering the camera angle.
Dungeon-running seems to be the hip thing to do. While I achieved level 10 and was allowed to go into the first instance, I quickly learned that finding a good group would be absolutely necessary to succeed. I just ran out of time this week before I found such a group, but I am definitely going to try again. I wasn't able to try crafting, or to even buy a mount, but I think the game is going to stick around long enough for me to attempt both.
I would like to tell you more about what the game has to offer, but I haven't reached that level yet. As far as a first impression, I can tell you that the game looks really, really good. I love the cozy little towns and the varied monsters. The "chibi" avatars are fun, but still deadly. The semi-forced camera angle helps with performance, so players should be able to run the game on older machines. If there is one thing I would have liked to do differently over this last week, it would have been to group more. I could only imagine how much more fun the grind would be with friends -- and if it would truly become that "chill social experience." Now that I am familiar with the pacing of the game, I will definitely be logging in to bang out some quests.
Next week, let's take a look at War of Angels, a new good-looking game from gamigo. I am on the Eres server under the name Beau. Now, go log in!
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. We meet each Tuesday and Friday night at 9 p.m. EDT (6 p.m. PDT); the column will run on the following Sunday. I welcome any suggestions for games -- drop me a note in the comments or email, or follow me on Twitter or Raptr!