Thursday, 08 September 2016 00:00

The Warlock of Firetop Mountain Review

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The Warlock of Firetop Mountain is an RPG with, primarily, elements of chance, risk, and strategy.

At the outset, one picks a character, each of which features varying stats and types of attacks. Additional characters can be unlocked once one progresses, by using souls which are obtained by defeating enemies.

Within The Warlock of Firetop Mountain, there is no rest option, unless one finds a bench, providing gameplay a sense of being unforgiving; the right decisions will have to be made if one expects to survive. If one runs out of stamina (which are one's health points), then one dies; the player must come across these benches (and there is, usually, no option to turn around!) or use provisions which restore stamina. Should the character die, the player must use an item to resurrect the character at the last bench visited, or start over with a new character (although a number of souls are saved, as these are used to purchase new characters).

Parts of the starting dungeon do not seem to be procedurally generated, leading to replaying the same adventure again if one chooses the same choices as last time. Some of the rooms and outcomes of certain decisions were the same. However, one part is said to be different with each play-through. This is somewhat disappointing, as it greatly takes away from the re-playability of the game; the player could, perhaps, write down step for step choices one made, marking where mistakes were made, thereby making the next play-through incredibly easy. It also seems as if, ultimately, one is forced to head a certain direction; exploring other regions of the starting dungeon leads to dead ends, forcing one to head back and choose to head the other direction. The game would have far more depth if all regions were endless, and the player could venture deeper and deeper into whichever way is chosen; this echoes the comment regarding procedural generation.

The combat is innovative in design, as it features a small grid, almost like a miniature chess-board.

The enemies, however, do move in predictive ways—seemingly following the same pattern of moves and attacks. There is also a bit of a lack of RPG elements. One can obtain loot, but it is fairly rare, and most of the time, the loot obtained does not directly help one's character but rather influences the choices one can make and also the outcomes of certain decisions. The character does not level up, nor is there a feature that is found in most rogue-type games that allow the player to invest points of some sort in order to permanently strengthen one or all characters. Indeed, there does not seem to be any way to customize one's character in order to make him or her stronger, or any equipment that can be found that would raise a character's stats. Nor is there the feature of rolling for stats found in certain RPG titles such as Dungeons and Dragons. The main, and perhaps only, rewards to playing are unlocking additional characters and unlocking achievements.

It also seems as if, although choices matter significantly, there are times where one could face a battle in which one's odds are quite questionable, yet there is an escape button. This lends to making some choices feel inconsequential but also not unforgiving. There are several orcs in the room, a battle which one may not survive if one is not extremely careful? Oh, do not worry, you can escape from the room! Otherwise, the choices one makes do play a more or less significant role.
The text and visual aspects of The Warlock of Firetop Mountain are executed well, however; I am sure that people who enjoy tabletop RPGs will enjoy these features especially. The Likewise, the soundtrack is quite fitting—it is at once atmospheric, while also featuring effects that one would expect if one were to venture through a dungeon.


The Verdict

Overall, The Warlock of Firetop Mountain is different from typical RPGs and offers a substantial amount of potential—the developers did say they are working on adding more content and this is partly why I am more inclined to recommend checking it out. Any features this title may be lacking at the present moment may be implemented in future updates, at which point this title would be worth picking up for most RPG fans. This title is worth checking out if one enjoys tabletop RPGs or if one is looking for an RPG with a different and less common combat design; Disgaea, for instance, features a grid-style combat field, but the size of the map is far larger than what is featured in The Warlock of Firetop Mountain. However, as mentioned above, there are features which are lacking and which provide a sense of incompleteness, particularly given the price.

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Chris Hubbard

A fan of RPGs above other genres, Chris has been playing video games for as long as he can remember. Some of the games that had the most influence on his gaming preferences have been the Final Fantasy and the Diablo series. More recently, most of Chris' gaming time has been going toward Gems of War and Clicker Heroes (give it a try, it can be addicting), along with open-world RPGs such as Skyrim and ESO. He's also dabbled with RPG Maker software, and it is a goal of his to someday create an RPG.