July 25, 2011 9:00 PM |
[Gamasutra contributor Emily Short examines Loadingames' browser-based single-player RPG Misfortune, appreciating the game's structure and art but picking apart the many flaws in its writing and tone.]
Disclaimer: Misfortune is a browser-based RPG of sorts with limited action turns per day. It falls into the same general market as Echo Bazaar, for which I have done some writing work. I received some free mission credits in order to enable me to write this column.
Remember Wizardry? Long hallways, wandering monsters, the occasional trap or treasure. Spells with names like cocktails: the Mahalito, the Dalto.
Misfortune takes you back there. The player has "mission credits", which refresh over time. It costs one mission credit to accept a quest at the local pub. Accepting a quest sends you off into an algorithmically generated, square-cornered map of passageways, gates, and secret doors which bears a strong resemblance to old Wizardry maps, though the images are now in color and significantly larger.
Your task is to wander this space, knocking over barrels and searching rubbish piles looking for keys and loot-drops, and doing battle with the occasional wandering dog or ruffian who comes your way.
Fighting isn't a tactical, turn-based challenge but rather a matter of clicking on your opponent, and this is not inherently all that fun. In the higher levels of gameplay, fighting is more about self-healing than anything else -- you need to be healing yourself constantly during a fight and timing the heals to occur when they can do the most good. It's easy to be overwhelmed by attackers from behind or coming from one side, and to die before you have the chance to land a single blow.
Story elements occur through encounter dialogue boxes as the player travels the map. There are early hints of out-of-control automatons, a repressive royal regime, and possibly some sort of secret resistance at work. Certain story events give the player loot; others set qualities which advance gradually (In the course of playing, I had several encounters with an unfortunate man trying to court a woman named Shmolinda, for instance). A few special missions are unlocked by story progress, as well, so if you've spent enough time with your aunt, she may send you on a custom courier job, for instance.