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A lot of possibilities but a broken combat system

  • Irog
  • 06/18/2017 01:48 PM
Nether Quest is a RPG strongly influenced by table top RPGs. You create a party of 2 to 8 characters to journey on your quest. You have a large selection of classes to choose from. You can also choose gender, native town and portraits. Unfortunately, the character creation window doesn't display character statistics and weapon proficiency. For example if you want to build a good archer, you'll look for an elf... but there are 5 types of elfs. And there is an appealing class listed that you can't select. If it was hidden and made available after completing the game, it would add replay value but visible and unavailable makes it frustrating.

The game world has a lot going on and the designers put a lot of work into it. It's like a whole D&D campaign was built for you. RTP assets make up the majority of the game. Some custom elements were added but they have below average visual quality and thus contrast too much with the environment. The music selection is great. Tracks perfectly fits the action or calmness of towns.

You can do a very wide variety of actions in Nether Quest: talk to NPC, ask questions about a specific topic to them, attack them, read their minds, steal in the shops, detect traps, pick locks, fetch distant items with a boomerang, bring rope to climb mountains, ... All these possibilities are really nice. Such selection of possibilities builds a very complex system of menus and sub-menus.

Managing item and equipment is really tedious. Each charter has a maximum weight he/she can carry that depends on his/her strength. Character charisma influences the amount of information he/she collects from NPCs as well as trade prices. So you'll naturally want your charismatic noble to trade and then give the equipment to who's going to wear it. But some character refuse to give items to another and the ones who give items to others will at some point refuse to do it again. In a table top session, this creates interactions between players but in a single player video game this creates frustration. In the inventory, you can add bags whose purpose are to remove the weight of the items placed in the bags. But the transfer screen to put items in the bags does not display item weights.

Some menus give the impression that an action is possible but actually isn't. When you talk to an NPC, the action menus give the opportunity to use equipped items (like a weapon) on the NPC. You can kill an NPC this way. But when you have a rope equipped, you can't tie up the shopkeeper to rob the shop. You can use a boomerang to retrieve distant item but you can't target a distant NPC.

After fighting my way through the character exchange system and their unwillingness to share, I finally got everyone equipped for the combats. But when I engaged in a first battle, I realize you only get one action per turn and not one action per character. This breaks any strategy building and the need for more than one character. The AI also get only one action per turn whatever the number of monsters involved in the fight. So just send your strongest fighter in the middle of them. Furthermore, there are no obstacles on the battlefields to build some variations. The only element of strategy that would be left is equipment and weapon choice but you can modify equipment during battle at no cost. You can move, put away your boomerang, equip a hammer and smash the enemy with the hammer in the same round!

When you navigate the map, enemies are visible so you can avoid combat and this is a good point. Some well identified tiles are poisonous. One of the class is immune to poison but the whole party has to stay together. For numerous party, this represents a huge cost in healing items. The poison immunity would be better used if the poison-resistant character could move alone and retrieve treasure across poisonous tiles.

At that point, I restarted the game and built a 2 members party: a barbarian to deal with the combats and a noble to handle the talks and trades. This team worked much better that the diverse 8 members party I originally assembled. But the game only gives XP to the barbarian. It rewards killing but not socializing. And my previous thief did not XP by picking locks.

Later, I saved right after a fight and didn't notice my barbarian was poisoned. I loaded the save and looked though the inventory for an antidote and the barbarian died while I was browsing the inventory. Apparently, poison keeps running while you are in menus. I reloaded several times but could never get the antidote fast enough. Then I reloaded and immediately ran into the nearest monster to trigger a fight. There in the turn based fight I had ample time to drink the antidote and a some healing potions.

I reached the second town, bought and equipped new gears and talked to town folks but my interest in the game dropped so low that I quit.

Nether Quest has a deeply thought-out world and offers a lot of possibilities but many are cumbersome to use and the combat system is broken.


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It looks like a lot of time and energy went into this game, but it´s sad how the combat is :(
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