Review: FICTORUM

Awhile back a band of guys took to Reddit with no idea how to make a game. Two years later they resurfaced with Fictorum, and the fruits of their efforts are now available to purchase on Steam. Now that the game is out and people are buying, we decided to take a look to see just how well it played:

Story

You are a powerful wizard wishing to destroy the Inquisition. You travel the lands and do what you can to rid the world of the evil that plagues it. The story is told by your movement on the map and with every place you visit comes another excerpt is added to your story. 

Gameplay 

You begin each phase on a map with options to move around ultimately towards a glowing rock which signals the objective you must complete to progress to the next chapter. Once you get inside a level you're dumped on the outskirts of a town with an objective you must complete to progress to the next stage. Usually, the objective is destroying the towers that create a magical barrier blocking your exit, but occasionally you'll be tasked with destroying objects/people before moving on as well. 

As a wizard, you have a pretty solid command of magic and can begin the game as a master of fire, ice, or lightning. Don't feel like there's a ton of pressure in this selection as this simply just gives your character some starting spells to jump into and you can use literally any other spell you find later in the game. That said, I found fire and lightning to be the easiest spells to use in the early game and ice is damn near impossible for completing missions.

I won't lie, this game takes a bit of getting used to. My first two playthroughs I absolutely hated it because the enemies would swarm me in numerous and unfair numbers, and the breakable objects would fly off of buildings and trap me until my health drained completely. In short, this is an indie game and the expected difficulty balance that comes from most games shouldn't be expected.

That said, once you learn how the game operates, it doesn't take long to turn the tables. Hitting enemies from a distance and picking them off as they come to you is a much better strategy for this game, and it can be just as fun. As well, it's also best not to blow up buildings while you're inside them which is just as true in real life, so lesson learned there I guess. 

Even when you learn the system though, things can get a tad repetitive. Learning new spells can be fun for awhile, but ultimately you'll find yourself in a grind doing the same thing over and over again until you inevitably die due to this game's obsession with depriving you of health. I definitely would be more invested if I had more chances to heal up, but as it stands it's too much of a grind to stay alive and grind some more.

Graphics

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Visually the game looks decent on the max settings. The magical effects are top notch, but the rigid character movement leaves a bit to be desired. Ultimately it's tit for tat and I'm not gonna bash on it too hard because I've seen far worse PC games in my day. 

Replayability

There's definitely a lot of replayability in this game, especially if you turn on permadeath. One big positive about this game is that no two playthroughs are the same, and every time you pop this game on you'll be thrown into a different scenario. As mentioned though, those scenarios aren't all that different and revolve around you entering a village and blasting your way out using magic. It's a fun gimmick, but I found myself growing tired of it after too long. 

What Could Be Better

I know I sound a little critical in my take on Fictorum, but it's only because I see the potential for things to be done better. There are a lot of spells to take advantage of in this game, but when I have 15 soldiers running at me full speed I'm going to default to lightning stream to take them all out and protect my precious health every time. The aggressiveness of the soldiers does not allow me to take advantage of the customizable spell options, and my limited mana is already depleted and draining my health by the time I can hit the spell I wish to use. 

Really, it all boils down to health. When I'm constantly worried about dying and having to restart an entire section (which is possible if you turn off permadeath), I'm more focused on what keeps me alive than I am having fun exploring the game. If the development team patched in some sort of healing factor that prevented me from having to sell all my belongings just to get a full heal from a vendor in the late game I would definitely sink more time into it.

Final Verdict

It's a fun concept, but it'll take some frustration before the fun is found. At the moment I can't recommend it as a buy at any price, but provided the health issues get resolved I could definitely see this game improving a great deal.