Errrrr. Huh? OK, so I haven't played River King yet. But, look, it's in the title! I have however bought it. And that gives me the right, NAY, the authority to write about it. Anyway
, it's a game published by Natsume (the folks behind the incredibly
cute farming simulator, Harvest Moon. While it is both innovative and addictive, what appeals to most is it's charm. Also, I suppose if there are indy console folks - they'd be at companies like Natsume, D3P and the like. Well, getting back to the point, there's an undeniable (and infinite) charm to the series. It's pleasant, calming, and almost something of an exercise. And now they've brought all the fun of fishing into the arena! Just
read the shit on the back of the case:
- Take the role of one of four family members, seeking the River King
- Assist villagers and other shoreline folk
- Win it all in fishing and cooking contests
- Take on crafty critters in tricky trivia challenges
- Between trips to the waterside, you'll collect rare items, trade for better equipment at shops, and make new friends
You can't tell me that doesn't sound hilariously fun. I want to take on 'crafty critters' in 'tricky trivia challenges.' I want to fish and cook and then compete and win! This stuff sounds fucking great! Sometimes you just have to step away from the chainsaw and the zombies and the swords and the wars and such. It's important to note that I actually like the Natsume more than the Animal Crossing game(s). Animal Crossing tries to get by on being witty and silly, Natsume's games take themselves seriously - as seriously as these games could, at least. Here's the official blurb from the Natsume web site:
Hook, line and sinker, you're part of a long line of fishing folk. From father to son and mother to daughter, knowing where and what to fish was always part of your family mangrove tree. Only one thing is missing from the long list of accomplishments, a fish that shook hooks for generations: The River King. Perhaps today, perhaps this cast, you'll feel the strum of a tight line as the legendary giant pulls you into angling immortality.
If that's not fun, then I don't know fun. Maybe when I play the game I'll give an actual opinion. For now, let me pimp the old Harvest Moon stuff - it's great. If you liked Animal Crossing or any sort of alterna-sim from the past (Sim Ant. SimFarm, etc), you'll probably appreciate the micromanagement of these titles - though, I'll admit, they're not quite as in depth.
I don't even know where to begin. This game is awesome. But it's a far cry from Indigo Prophecy. Funcom and Mr. Tornquist went a different direction here to get that cinematic feel. However, and this is problematic, the dialogue is great but flows for total shit. People dont' respond to eachother quickly enough, the lip-synching is godfucking awful (as in, they might as well have shot every person talking from behind so we could IMAGINE their lips moving), and everything has an awkward pause. Essentially, what should have been the games greatest strength (the dialogue) is marred beyond repair by lazy mouth animations. Goddamn shame too because the combat is crap as well. Hell, even some (most?) of the puzzles are trash. Essentailly, the dialogue and environments (utterly gorgeous) save this game from being total crap. It's simply not a tight package. Seperately all of the parts are mediocre. When put together, the parts that were at the top of the "mediocre" pile before become something in the category of fantastic. You really appreciate the dialogue once it's given a face. But you don't appreciate the face once it's given the dialogue.
I'm not sure any of that made any sense.
Here, let's clear that up: The game needs
three more months of polish.
The worst part? Disc 1. The installer is completely gimped. Here's the list of things it does (yea, yea, I mentioned it in another thread, but it warrants repetition):
- Every time you put the disc in it tries to install.
- It does not check for DirectX, it merely pulls up the installer - if you have 9.0c installed, you have to know to hit cancel.
- It checks your C:\ drive to see if you have enough space. In other words, prepare to make a registry change if you have a tiny C:\ drive.
- It takes up just under 8gigs of space on the hard drive. Don't ask me why. Which leads into...
- The Xbox Game is only 1.4 gigs. Yea, I know the textures on the Xbox version cap out at 852x480. So what. 8 Gigs is HUGE. Especially when it's...
- Split across 6 CD-Roms with roughly 613MB of data each.
Essentially, Funcom (or Aspyr) have some explaining to do.
I've kept this sucker short and vague because I know a bunch of people here want to play the game and spoilers would ruin it
. I will spoil one thing though - despite all of it's shortcomings, you'll love it. With 3 months incubation back at the developer's office, it could have been a masterpiece. For now it's merely in the shadow of Indigo Prophecy. Of course, every other adventure game for the last 10 years has never seen the shadow of Indigo Prophecy. In other words - it's fucking worth it. Go. Buy. Now.
Edit: One more thing
, the game is more fun with a controller. I actually went out and bought a 360 Windows (wired) controller today as I love the 360 controllers. Yea, I bought it because I'm playing a bunch of indie games, but with Dreamfall it makes the game about 5x more fun. See, the game is obviously made for consoles (much like the aforementioned Indigo Prophecy), but you can tell some tender loving care went into Dreamfall when you have a controller plugged in - basically, interfaces change to be more intuitive. I've never seen a game do that and it's the first time in my gaming hisotry that I've looked at the computer as a possible alternative to the console rather than "Where I play FPS and mouseclick heavy games."