Sunday, 10 July 2016 00:00

Tormented 12 Review

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When I read the synopsis of Tormented 12, I knew immediately that I wanted to be the first to play it.

Set during the initial scattering of the tribes of Israel, you play a captured Judge (something like a guard/enforcer of the priesthood) who must do what he can to reassemble his broken people. I grew up in the church, and while I haven't kept the faith, I still recognize The Bible as an excellent source of story and character (see Binding of Isaac). And I love RPGs with a story that seems bigger than the character, so I was pretty pumped about this game.

As I started, I saw that the graphics were very simple--good, the developers must have focused on programming and story instead. In the tutorial, I was very nearly killed in the first example battle--great! This game is not going to be forgiving! But once I started the game proper, it all kind of fell apart.

An RPG set in a Biblical realm holds so much promise because the characters are already mildly familiar to anybody who's been through Sunday school. But instead of tapping into that rich wealth of character resources, it sticks with the same old races and classes of typical RPGs (druids in a Bible game? my dad would be pissed!). Even worse, though, is that it confuses them; you can be a dwarf, OR you can be a cleric. What? It does allow you to pick a tribe, which gives what I would consider race bonuses, but they seem to be pretty arbitrary (which is fine, since the average player probably isn't too knowledgeable about the fighting abilities of the tribes of Israel). You don't have custom control of your character a la color, gender, etc., but they're pretty difficult to see on screen, so that doesn't matter much.

You can customize your stats, but it turns out that you can do it wrong, which I did on my first attempt. If your stats aren't lined up right, you simply can't get through the first dungeon. Even the first mobs you encounter will cut you down effortlessly, and even though it's a top-down, avoid the guards type world, your objectives are all safely hidden behind enemies whom you must fight.

To quote Strongbad, "My hitpoints are, like, inexcusable in this dungeon, man."

The battle system is the same old turn-based slugfest but without the option to leave a fight (there's a Run Away button but as far as I can figure, it's always grayed out), which means that if the combatants both have high agility, it can become an unending series of Misses (seriously, I had to quit the game once to leave a fight).

There are occasional mini-games, but they're either so obscure or so obvious that at no point did I ever feel like I was completing a puzzle. I was happy, however, to see that some of the tasks require biblical knowledge because if someone doesn't know that history, they'll be required to read The Bible to beat a video game, and that's hilarious to me.

There's no solid tone to the game. It's set in Biblical times, obviously (and in fact, it says this explicitly, which is jarring since nobody at the time knew that they were in "Biblical times") but your character (a warrior priest, remember) cracks sarcastic jokes about his ex. There are hamfisted references to other RPGs and a few fourth-wall breaks that sound more like the developer talking to himself.

All plot problems aside, the game is poorly made. The controls aren't remappable, so I'm stuck using the arrow keys and Enter button to move and interact, which means my hands are stacked on top of one another while playing--awkward. There's no way to cancel any actions during the initial setup of the game, so if you hit New Game when you meant Continue, then you're in for the full ride of the intro or quitting the game to start over. There's no Confirm Save button, and if you're already in the game, there's no way to load a previous save without first quitting to the title -- we all know that the most relieving feature of any game is the ability to save right before trying something incredibly stupid so that when you end up impaled on spikes, you can reload to ten seconds previous and pretend you never tried. And there's lag! A single player game with basic graphics, and I'm lagging while trying to walk through a cave. How is this possible?

I do like the Optimize Equipment button and wish that more games featured that but that only barely makes up for the fact that you can't compare the weapons/armor/items you own to the ones you're wearing without removing them. And the skill system is never explained, so I'm still trying to sort out Dossiers vs. Scrolls vs. Chants vs. Codexes. Nor can I see my current trait levels.


The Verdict

It feels very much like this game was made by one person given the incomplete feel, the poor programming, the awkward jokes, and the typos (oh my god, the typos, misspellings, horrendous grammar). The creator does provide a splash screen sharing some thoughts with the player, but it exits so quickly that I haven't yet been able to read it--looking back, I'm sure now that it must be an apology. I would not recommend Tormented 12 to anybody.

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Joe Pilato

Joe Pilato works as an engineer and pub quiz host while developing his skills as a standup comic and storyteller. You may occasionally find him wandering the streets of NYC looking for adventure or possibly running into the woods to hide from civilization for days at a time.


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