Whenever an independent outfit starts thinking about making an RPG, people hold their breath because that’s something that can make or break a company. Indie developers can make stuff like retro style games and 2D fare, but role playing games tend to cost more and require more time to develop. Upstarts take tons of risk when they go for an RPG as one of their earlier projects, some of which had broken some promising companies. With Legends of Aethereus,
Legends of Aethereus is an indie RPG made by Swedish developers ThreeGates and funded through Kickstarter. It’s basically the hack-and-slash RPG that most gamers would recognize. You can fight enemies in the game and get loot, craft weapons and armor, and become stronger on a quest to quell evil with your blade. It’s what most people would expect in a solid role-playing game for the PC. What they wouldn’t expect though are stuff like guns, bombs, and mines to mix things up.
You get the usual classes and customization options that you can expect from an MMORPG. In fact, this game really looks and feels like an MMORPG, even though it’s not really one. It’s just how it was envisioned when it was unveiled and started being funded in mid-2012. It was pitched as an epic-scaled RPG, and it is like that in a way. There would be some unique character classes with their own skills, tons of customization and crafting, and even PvP for the more competitive of RPG players. ThreeGates did deliver on most of their promises for this game, so it’s not all too bad for something that got $35,000 from Kickstarter.
In terms of presentation, the game’s visuals match its name’s apparent grandiosity. The environmental design of particular interest with well-done lighting and good attention to detail. The animations don’t show a whole lot of polish though, but that’s most likely because of the developers’ limited time and resources and it not bad to a point where it’s worth crying about. The music does compensate for it, with an epic opening theme and fitting gameplay BGM that can pump you up and screaming for blood. For an independent product, it does have pretty good production value as a whole.
The story in this game is fairly generic at best, but it does set the tone for players. In the planet of Aethereus, chaos has started to linger as a battle between good and evil rage on after a cataclysm had shaken the land to its very core. It’s standard RPG fare that is then carried over well enough with nice pacing and good enough writing to keep it from being incoherent and nonsensical. A lot of other RPGs these days tend to jump guns and sharks all over the place in its narrative, so it’s nice to see one that doesn’t.
As for the gameplay, it’s also what you could expect from an RPG, with quests, experience, and loot to be had all around. If you’ve played Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning before, then you’ll know what to expect in Legends of Aethereus in terms of its questing and exploration. While the quests are one dimensional, the open world does give opportunities for players to look around. On the other hand, the combat system is like that of Skyrim and War of the Roses in how timing is the most important factor and mindless button mashing is punished rather quickly.
Unfortunately, there is quite a lot of grinding to be had, which is not good for those who get bored by busywork easily. It plays like an action MMORPG (i.e. Vindictus, Guild Wars 2, etc.), so it may not be to everyone’s liking. At the very least, reaching level 10 shouldn’t take too long and you are eased into the difficulty in leveling up. Also, while the story isn’t too bad, it’s not fleshed out well enough as to make the in-game lore and background more interesting. If it had dug deeper into whatever was happening and showed more of its world, then it may have held on to the players’ attention and justify much of the monotony in between.
Legends of Aethereus is a game that is better when played with others, so you may have to either get friends to play with you or wait until this game does get more players online for the 4-player cooperative multiplayer. Until then, you will have to make due with the singleplayer campaign, which may not be to everyone’s liking with not enough interesting places to explore and all the grinding necessary to progress through the game. This is a $30 title that is best left for those who really like their RPGs a bit old school, but with a bit of a curve ball as well.
Tested in PC. Final Score: 6.5/10