Game code provided by Developer
Wave of Darkness is another Early Access title on Steam. It’s got a lot to do in it and it’s not too far off completion, depending on community feedback – which the developers, Dreamatrix, seem to be keeping a close eye on and are responding to fairly regularly on the forums. It’s got a lot on its plate and with it being designed to be challenging and not hold your hand, it doesn’t necessarily do itself justice to anyone but those that are really into those sorts of games.
I love my RPGs and I’m more than willing to give anything of the genre a chance, and I think Wave of Darkness definitely is for those that are already very capable in these sorts of games, that have the archaic “old school” attitude to working everything out for yourself. For some it will be a breath of fresh air but many will find the scattered tooltips in the tutorial less than helpful – and the tutorial quest confusing and unclear.
There is a lot going on in the game. The HUD itself is a little confusing at first, mostly due to there being buttons for things like dwarven glossary amidst the inventory and character sheet buttons. The number of buttons sort of relays how much there is to the game once you start opening menus and see just what each one entails. Each one is filled with information that may or may not be needed, but it shows just how much is available for you as a player as well.
Inventory should be straightforward, as should skills and character sheet – but it’s not so. Your inventory is fairly small but can be expanded by differing types of bags that will allow you to carry a ridiculous amount of items. Skills comprise of bonuses to hit chance, resistances, crafting and faith (magic points) regen; which I can’t say have been appealing as rewards for levelling up. The character sheet doesn’t have tooltips for any of the attributes so you’re left completely in the dark as to what you are specifically getting out of the stat increases. It leaves behind the empowerment of levelling up, and even through those hit chance increases, it didn’t seem to do me a huge amount of good.
Combat is looking to be reworked and for good reason, it’s currently not very fun; in that way – as well as the story being quite strong – it reminds me of Morrowind. It’s frustrating to watch your character attempt to hit stuff and miss the enemy just as often. I was supplied with save games across multiple sections of the game and I didn’t find that my character could hit anything with much success in any of them. The fact that you have to increase your chances to hit via levelling skills just made it so I could try and be better in one area of the game, before getting past it and then struggling to hit another type of enemy I hadn’t skilled into.
In the end I relied on hitting enemies with spells – which I don’t fully understand how to create properly – which seemed to do the job far better and quicker, though the waiting on cooldowns was a little annoying. Spells however, are interesting; you can make them and then level them up, and you can have as many as you like so long as you have the spell runes to make them. You can choose between protection, missile and ward, and then lay a few runes in there and create it if it sounds any good. It’s a really neat way of handling spells and as they are really powerful it’s something worth exploring lots of variations of.
The other thing that really stood out for me was the storytelling. It’s full of dialogue– though your character is unpleasant – but only with some NPCs and it uses words selectively to give you less direct hints for quests, which can either make things more challenging or needlessly obscure. Some of the quests are made more interesting through this but others like the tutorial are made confusing since it says one thing but could mean another. I spent far too much time on the tutorial trying to find a way around a blockade, when really it meant for me to take a boat trip directly to the town I was trying to reach.
Wave of Darkness still has a way to go but if it can sort out the issues with combat and user accessibility, it will have a lot to offer anyone who likes the genre as its strength lies in its quests and storytelling. Once the combat is reworked it may be a lot easier to enjoy but unless you’re a big fan of these sorts of games you may want to hold off until that’s sorted out.