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Review: Narborion Saga (PC)By Snowtwo At 12.06.2017 15:10

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Narborion Saga is a seemingly straightforward experience. Taking place in the standard fantasy setting, right from the get-go the player should feel more or less at home, assigning clearly D&D-inspired stats, selecting feats and spells, and even a basic character icon. From there, the story unfolds in a manner that anyone familiar with Sorcery! will recognise. This is to say that a series of potential options and choices will appear, with the player selecting one and having the outcome added to the ongoing story in a manner reminiscent of reading through the pages of a book.

Combat is fairly straightforward as well. Taking place on a giant grid, the player is given control of their piece, with a certain number of action points that can be spent on movement, casting spells, and other such things with ease. It won't take long to feel at home.

However, this is merely an aside before touching upon the real problem. The game is distinctly unpolished and it really stings. For example, right off the bat, when the player is assigning their stats, certain ones are simply more valuable than others, and these isn't 'niche' stats to be used only when making the player specialise, but, rather, reaching the point where it is actively punishing for not investing in certain stats.

HP does not seem to hold a cap, as a further example of this, meaning that the player can take their character and turn them from a wimp to a beefcake simply by chugging healing potions well past where their 'starting' health should have been. This means that there is little point in holding on to said potions and every point into downing them instantly. Magic, by comparison, is outright hampered, since it does a fixed amount of damage and has various minor issues, but the biggest flaw is that it draws upon a set pool of mana, which does not replenish naturally. It can take multiple Magic Missile spells for even a maxed out mage to kill a single monster, which is fine, but after investing 3-5 mana out of a pool of 20 or so, and then not being able to reclaim it, it won't be long before said mage simply can't afford to cast anymore.

Moving beyond that, there are further unpolished issues that arise. For example, the player is represented by a piece in combat. A piece that resembles a cardboard token on a stand, which is perfectly acceptable. However, both the player and the monsters seem muddled and indistinct, and the pieces fail to ignite interest. To make it worse, while the enemies behave mostly like one would expect, at seemingly random they will appear to simply run off in random directions in the middle of combat. While this might be a saving grace at a key moment, it's due to what appears to be faulty AI, as opposed to tactical investment.

To top it off, the puzzles feel like they're unfairly hard at times. The average player isn't a code breaker or anything of the sort, and some of the puzzles are unfairly punishing for things that could not have been reasonably expected.

Why is this merely unpolished, as opposed to bad? Because it's clear from the amount of work and effort that cogs are turning. People are working. Lights are on and people are writing a story, and it's fairly solid. After all, three books is a sizable chunk, and the multitude of episodes with the many possible paths shows that the majority of work is going into the story. Something as simple as deciding to help a bunch of 'little people' can allow for some sizable impact later on, as opposed to refusing to help them, which can be just as sizable. The multitude of outcomes was not wasted. It just feels like so much time and effort went into telling the story that the game itself got ignored, and it hurts.

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Final Score
With some rebalances, polish, and work, the shortcomings of this game can easily be fixed. For those looking for enjoyment in this growing genre, [i]Narborion Saga[/i] is easily among one of the better options and still quite fun despite its shortcomings. It's just that said shortcomings also can't be overlooked when trying to be transparent and give a good and sincere opinion, either.

6

/10

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