So, I haven't gotten very far into this game yet, only played for a few hours or so, so this are mostly my first impressions of the game. Though, first impressions are really important, because thats where you either get me hooked, or make me uninstall. That's where you have the chance to make me interested in the story, or completely bored, or incredibly frustrated. And I'm not going to continue playing a game that's made me frustrated, when I have other games that don't and are much more fun.
The art is amazing, the story and the world is really intruiging, and it's fun to return to a game so ruthless. I love the management of health, food and stress, though the later two might drain a bit too fast. I also love how extremely fucked up the game is, with the fact that your character can literally be raped if one of the guards kill you, leaving you to crawl around bleeding out of your anus till you die. That's disgustingly awesome, in a really fucked up way. I like the fact that the different characters feel relatively balanced. Magic is not too op since a lot of magic costs your mental strenght, which really punishes you for spamming it, and the non-magic people have talents that do genuinly feel useful in one way or another.
I really like the fact that a lot of basic supplies are so rare. From medicine, to healing items and so forth, it all being rare makes it really rewarding when you stumble upon some in some random box. And you play really carefully to avoid being infected, starting to bleed or whatever else, as you don't want to lose those precious resources.
The feel of the game is amazing. The moment you first step into the dungeon, fleeing from the barking dogs filled me with so many emotions. Fear, intruige, desperation and such. I loved exploring that first area, reading a few books on the backstory, finding the sobbing girl and growing in anticipation of how I would be able to release her, and, of course, being in pure god damn horror at the guards you first meet. Their design, while simple, is just to god damn disturbing, and it immediately tells you what kind of feel this game will have. The fact that the game is also seemingly randomly generated, at least to an extent, is also really nice. It keeps you from feeling safe, and like you can never know exactly everything this game has in store for you.
However, one thing that I do think is bullshit is that you can't see what a spell does before you buy it. The souls you use to buy spells are rare and not even guarenteed to drop every run. So the fact that you don't even know what they do until you pick them can make you feel really cheated, because if you pick something that really doens't help you, there was nothing you could've done to know that that was the wrong choice.
Another thing, I really do dislike that so much information about basic game mechanics are hidden. For example, there are some alchemy books you can find that teach you what the different colours of potions do, which is cool. The problem is that they're random drops, which can really fuck you over in some cases. And I haven't yet found a single thing telling me properly how combat works. I get it that it's kinda the point to not be hand-held, but you can go too far.
For example, your chance to miss. I have no idea what influences your chance to miss or hit. Your class doesn't seem to influence it much by what I've noticed, nor do the weapons have any 'hit' or 'accuracy' stat. It's possible that your phobias can potentially influence it, which in that case is actuall bullshit. Since you have no way to influence your phobia, as far as I know, if you start the game with a phobia for deformations or monstroseties, you might as well start over, because half the enemies in the game seem to fall under this category. If not, well that's still shitty. Not being able to influence your chararacters capability in combat to hit at all feels really weird in an rpg, and all around shitty, as when I miss, I don't feel like it's my fault for using the wrong weapon or something, just random luck.
Also, the system with how you can target different body parts seems like it's deeper than it really is. From what I've noticed from testing out a bunch of stuff, the best method really is to just cut off the hand that holds the weapon, then their head. Doing anything else doesn't seem to be as useful in any major way.
To be fair, a lot of this stuff is intuitive and you can figure a lot of it out, but still, it would be nice to have confirmation.
The only thing I've found to tell me about a combat mechanic is a wounded soldier down n a cellar, or whatever it is, who tells you that you should guard when you see an attack incomming. This is kind of dumb though, because he's hidden really deep into an area filled with tentacle fuckers that will mess you up on a low-level character. As far as I can tell, this kinda works. It reduces the dmg the guarding character takes from all attacks, which is neat, but also kind of useless, to be honest, in a game where you have to attack to actually finish the fight. As far as I can tell, there are no enemies who have 'prepare yourself' type of attacks, where they give a warning the first turn, then unleash a devestating attack the next turn.
It's also seemingly useless against my absolute fucking *BIGGEST* problem with this game, and why I just can not recomend it, and why I regret buying this game
The fucking instant death mechanics, jesus god damn christ.
The fact that the very first enemy of the game has an instant death mechanic on a coin-flip is just pure cancer, I'm sorry to say. It's not *Fun* to have your max hp character just instantly died just because he missed his attack, and then a coin-flip, nor does it feel fair. I don't feel like there was anything I did wrong, and if there was, then I don't know what I did do wrong. If you can influence how much your character misses or hits his attacks, I have no clue. I've played this game for hours and I haven't found a single note, book or anything really detailing how combat works. I did talk to that one injured guy in the dungeon who told be to guard. So I did try that against one of the guard enemies. And, I still died. I tried it one more, and I still died, through my guard, so I'll assume that doesn't help.
And the fact that so much of the game is just decided by coin-flips makes a game otherwise based on intelligence and rational thinking feel like gambling. Comparing it to dungeons and dragons, there are a lot of similiar luck based mechanics. The difference is that 1, you can influence these luck based mechanics by adding modifiers and such and, 2, almost none of them result in an instant game over. The people who designed Dungeons and Dragons realized that putting an instant death mechanic on something based on luck is not good game design.
*AND*, and this is important, if there was something I could've done to avoid those instant death mechanics, then you did not communicate it properly. Remember, games are a two-way street. I will try to understand your games and all it's mechanics and such, but you also have to actually give me ways to understand your game.
Another example of this problem is the god damn tentacle things, that somehow just teleports you to a dungeon where a witch then one-shots you with a fireball, as far as I can tell. The first time this happend, I didn't even realize the tentacle thing did it, I thought it happened because I walked across the pentagram on the ground, because why would a tentacle thingy be able to do that and, more importantly, why would this game, based upon being smart, punish you for trying to avoid a fight?
Like, those tentacle fuckers are though, they deal a lot of damage, but they're slow. So my gamer insinct is to run past them, as I'm pretty sure most people's instinct is. But no, that's wrong. Not because anything in their design says it is, not because anything hinted that that would happen, but beacuse the game designer randomly decided that to be the case.
Now the thing is, all this *COULD* be fine if one single thing was true:
If saves were plentiful. They're not. The only ways I've found so far is either by those books that allow you 1 free save, then turn to dust, which are random drops as far as I can tell, and can not be relied upon. The other one is the bed by the crow statue that's, guess what, behind a instant death mechanic on a fucking coin-flip. This one especially gets me because the game implies that the room is at least somewhat safe. There was nothing about the statue that implied danger of any sort. Hell, I thougt the implication was that the crow statue was watching over to make sure I WASN'T harmed. Then, I see that fucking screen that says 'heads or tails' and I just wanted to rage-quit right then and there because why dude, just fucking why. I failed, got jumped by the crow monster and one-shot. There was 1 full hour of my life on that character, just wasted because of a coin-flip.
If you're going to put a game based so much on trial and error also on luck that the player can't really influence, then you can't make saves so fucking hard to get. I'm not going to waste 1 hour of my time carefully navigating the levels just to get oneshot in the prison-dungeon because I missed 1 attack on the half a dozen god damn guards, if I also have to start over again, from the very fucking beginning of the character creation meny, having to watch your unskipable game intros and the music during your log that becomes ear-screeching after you hear it half a dozen times.
Now, there's an example of all of this done right in your game. The guy who sells the potions outside the prison. The potions he sells you are all harmful, but it's fine, because 1, the whole situation is really shady, the item description says that it's suspicious, it's not based on luck, and 2, if you do fuck up and drink it, you're not immediately dead, you have a chance to remedy your situation. And, more importantly...
YOU CAN IMPROVE FOR NEXT TIME. Now you know not to drink that potion, your next playthrough will go better because of this knowledge. I died becaue I drank the potion of full-healing at low health once, because I was that desperate. But that was fine, because I had learned something. I wasn't angry.
But what do I learn from dying to the first enemies instant death mechanic for the 20'th time just because I missed my one attack? Nothing. All I learned from that death is that I don't like this game very much, and that I regret buying it. I didn't feel punished for making a mistake, I felt cheated by a god damn coin-flip.
right now, this game is a 3/10 for me. There is genuine potential with the story, the art and the hunger and stress management. However, the game is just too full of these instant death mechanics, if you couldn't tell, that just ruins it for me. I want a game where my own skill rewards and punishes me. If you are able to push through dozens upon dozens of dumb deaths for a decently interesting story, then go ahead. But honestly, I'd recomend just watching a let's play instead.