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Sep 06 2012

Review of Inquisitor

[rating=4]

Inquisitor is a game that can safely wear the badge of being old school without any worry that people can call into question its vintage. It’s a game that was originally released in Europe in 2009 after an alleged 10 years of development. It’s as if the developers missed the boat for the early 2000’s action RPG frenzy and simply waited for the HMS ARPG to roll back into the harbour.  Not only that, there is a general cantankerous murmur of discontent within the gaming community with the current offering of glitzy high-budget RPG offerings. It seems a perfect time for a wizened and battle hardened action RPG to be released (re-released?) unto the eager hordes of the loot hungry.

It would be unfair to simply label Inquisitor an Action RPG. It’s much more than that. Inquisitor sits in a rather wonderful middle ground between Diablo and Baldur’s Gate. As well as the slaying there is a positively biblical amount of text in this game. Your role as inquisitor involves questioning locals about their neighbour’s possible heathen leanings as well as beating the shit out of millions of spiders, bats and orcs. As such the game has a slower and more deadly approach to combat and it’s a system I really like.

Inquisitor’s action flies in the face of Diablo 3’s very streamlined and arcadey combat. Hell, for starters there is a stamina bar; lose it all and your characters movement and attack speed will be slowed to a crawl. There is even a “Speed” stat which determines the pace at which you traverse, I was amazed at how slowly a beginner character will move. It can be annoying but I appreciate the dedication to older arcane stat systems that largely get ignored in now-days RPG’s. Clicking once on an enemy and your character will continue to attack them until it or you dies. This clears up your attention span and fingers to focus on quaffing potions which is another relic of by-gone RPG’s. More on that later but first I want to point out something I absolutely loved in the game’s combat that’s so simple and satisfying yet almost never done any more. Enemy’s, once low on health, movement will slow right down and they will flee. This simple thing is such a blast from the past but amazingly just overlooked as a great way to end a combat; you viciously showing no mercy on a clearly terrified and exhausted opponent.

Things can get pretty dark in the shadows

The combat is also hard. Playing on medium and I was constantly on the back foot, scrounging through everything in my inventory to win a fight. Rather than all your loot being simple merchant fodder, a chore in normal grinding gears of the RPG, you will use those obscure potions and scrolls to try and give you that little bit of an edge to overcome opposition. It’s the first game since Dark Souls where I have felt any real sense of achievement. Handing in an orc warrior’s head to the local captain of the guard, an orc I had to fight tooth and nail to eventually defeat, and he gave me a rousing line of text as to how impressed he was that I defeated “one of those things”.

The non-combat side of the game is no push-over either. Things are not spelt out for you and you will have to question basically everyone and explore far and wide to progress in your quests. I’ll be honest and say I got as stuck as anything, completely unable to progress. I hit the internet in search of a guide but far and wide I couldn’t find a skerrick of information. Obviously this is because the game hadn’t come out in English and let me tell you searching through message boards in badly translated Czech isn’t fun at all. That said, it’s refreshing to play a game that doesn’t patronise you.

Yep that’s a dead girl and a pentagram alright

I know not everyone’s not going to adore it, but the art style really works for me. Gritty and grim, perfectly reflecting the alternate reality where everything the inquisitors tortured innocents for is actually real. The subject matter is pretty intense and it’s rather daring to take on a real world subject like dark ages religion and put you in the role of the church’s investigator. For some one working for the church you are given a pretty wide range of moral approaches from openly extorting everyone you meet to being a paragon of medieval virtue. The music too is a standout and draws you into the gothic world with its haunting organ soundtrack.

It’s not perfect though. I can see why it has taken 3 years for this game to get a translation; it’s incredibly verbose. Verbose to a fault, in fact. The already bulky glut of dialogue is bogged down in constant “Ye’olde” turns of phrase. There is way too much “My son, good lady, kind sir” and all the rest of it and I think a lot of the waffle could have been stripped away to make the conversation trees more punchy. My other major complaint would be the reliance on chugging potions which is a symptom of an older action rpg design. Smashing hot keys to burn through potions and survive a battle is something that has deservedly left the gaming vernacular and should stay that way.

In cave only orcs can hear you scream

Inquisitor is a chunky game. I’m about 30 hours in and only just nearing the end of the first of three acts. There’s three classes with widely varying approaches to combat, each with such a variety of skills and spells that you won’t use them all in a single play through. It has a great big story and I’m yet to notice any issues with the game’s translation. It won’t be for everyone as it’s steadfastly created in an older mould of game that’s never heard the phrase “hand-holding”. I’m thoroughly engrossed though and praising the heavens that this blast from the past was summoned using the black magicks of translation. Inquisitor gets a saintly 4/5 stars.

3 comments

  1. John H

    You really haven’t noticed any problems with the translation? I’ve played for only a few hours, and the text makes me cringe constantly. And, I’ve actually laughed aloud several times. As just one example: I highly doubt that medieval sheriffs referred to arrests as “busts”. 😉 Overall, the game appears to have been translated by a Czech teenager who learned English by watching popular American television.

  2. Michael Raston

    Nothing jumped out at me enough to warrant me thinking “This is clearly a translation of dubious quality”, but I’ll admit I may have been slightly prone to skim-reading.

  3. John H

    I wondered if you’d just been skimming, Noble Lord. 🙂 Don’t get me wrong, Noble Lord, if you can take the goofy text as part of the experience, then this is a game some of us old guys might like, if just for the reminder of games past. …Noble Lord… Unfortunately, Noble Lord, I am finding the text to be really jarring against the overall experience, so I’m not sure if I’ll be able to play it much longer. We’ll see.

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