Before the demise of ActionTrip.com, I started to freelance a bit with PlayStation Lifestyle, mostly to get some extra cash and pick up games that no one else wanted to review. It turns out that it was beneficial for me to do so, as it gave the managing editors a chance to work with me and when AT folded, they were the first to come and say they wanted me on board in some form or fashion. First up, I’ve been assigned to review two rather large RPGs, and with the first one (that releases next week) I’ve started to have a small panic attack. How can I play this game without an RPG strategy guide?
It’s an action RPG, so I don’t need assistance in planning a strategy like I would with a turn-based game. However, there are so many choices to make, and how do I know if I’m making the right ones? I’ve already found a flub with one of my choices for skills. If only I chose to add a science skill, I could have prevented one fight. If I had improved my strength sooner, I could wield this badass staff now. And how do I know which dialogue trees will give me the best ending?
Simply put, it’s stressing me the fuck out.
I’m trying to stick to a certain character and make my choices based upon that, like one would do with action role playing, (see also, how Chris plays his RPGs), but the thought that maybe I’m not doing something right or that I’m angering my companions is just so stressful. Granted, I know this means that I can take what I know and replay the game making those “right” choices and seeing how things go.
I admit there is something magical when it comes to playing an RPG blind and not knowing what your decisions will do. A good strategy guide will tell you how your choices will go without spoiling too much. A perfect example is the strategy guide for Dragon Age: Origins or The Witcher 2: Assassin of Kings. These guides would tell you who your choices would anger or please, but they wouldn’t fully give away the complete ramifications. For example, in The Witcher 2 strategy guide, when Geralt has to choose between chasing after an evil mayor to help arrest him or run off with the Scoi’atel, the guide tells you which choice will please which alliance, but it never mentioned that if you arrested the mayor, an entire village would be burned to the ground.
In this current game I’m reviewing, I had an agonizing choice to make over believing a rebel and letting her go or following my orders and bringing her in. I have a feeling I made a terrible choice, and my poor character is going to court chaos because of it. I sat at the choice screen and stared for a good five minutes. Now that I’ve seen how other things have unfolded, I now have plans to replay and make all new decisions, which I’m guessing was the developer’s plan all along.
I still really want a strategy guide, though. I wish more strategy guides would be published for these smaller, not-AAA yet not indie video games. I know why they aren’t, but it doesn’t help my need.
And I have a mighty need indeed.