Fictorum Review -- Join the Dark Side
Gaming has a proven formula. Often, you play as a hero, rescue the damsel, and destroy the villain's evil plan. Storytelling such as this helped define gaming. But there are also games that turn that plot structure on its head. Fictorum is one of those games.
Created by Scraping Bottom Games, this script-flipping action RPG provides a different way to experience story... through the eyes of a villain.
When you begin, you are the most powerful wizard in the world -- quite literally a god. Legendary powers are handed to you for whatever purpose you see fit. Launch fireballs out of nowhere to destroy towers. Use the environment to launch a preemptive attack on your enemies by toppling gigantic bridges. That is the power of Fictorum.
The story is one of the best elements of the game. Simply put, you are the last mage of your order. The Grand Inquisitor has eradicated all the elders and casts you into the corrupted Miasma. There you are reborn and on a quest to destroy every part of the Inquisition.
In a way, this is a kind of Choose Your Own Adventure story because it involves you, and there are choices that you make that affect the story. For instance, traveling from one island to another, you can run into a side quest asking for assistance. Your choices are simple: Keep going or help destroy a base. Both reasons are for your own goals, but each affects the story differently. If you help, the Inquisition marches closer, but what you did could cripple their army.
Choosing your own story puts you in an empowering role. Sure, you might be all-powerful, but there are consequences to your actions. There were times where I had to back away from the game and think about each action I with which I was faced, making me appreciate the character that I created.
Character Creation is a Standard Affair
For me, character creation is a small but important part of the game. I add this because it is important to my own personal story. This is where I literally name my character, but more importantly, it's also where I mentally create a backstory. Naming my character Victor Von Doom after the Fantastic Four villain was too good not to do -- especially with all the powers at my disposal.
Your standard options are included here, such as clothing, colors, and most importantly, your main power class: Fire, Lightning, and Ice. For me, I wanted the true power of the dark side with Lightning. Sadly, not having a female or creature body types does hinder this process.
Fictorum's Gameplay Starts Fresh, But Grows Repetitive
In Fictorum, wielding power has never felt so good, especially when you absolutely obliterate an enemy. Being overpowered is fun. But in contrast, the enemies are underpowered and could be tossed with a single mouse click. I’m not sure if this was because of your power or the low-level enemies, but it seems to be the rule rather than the exception. After that, well...that is it. In most cases, you can speed run an area with little to no combat. In rare exceptions, the enemies come towards you right at the beginning of the stage. I remember at the end of the first stage, I stood there plotting what I would do and here comes all the enemies towards me from the end of the stage.
After that, well... that is it. In most cases, enemies aren't all that intimidating and you can speed run an area with little to no combat. In rare exceptions, the enemies come toward you right at the beginning of the stage, full of fury and bloodlust. I remember at the end of the first stage, I stood there plotting what I would do and here come all the enemies, running toward me from the end of the stage, which made combat sometimes feel a bit lopsided.
The level of freedom in this world is a tease, too. Being an all-powerful mage, one would think that you could go anywhere -- but no. Each level is present like a tabletop game with story decisions. These decisions place you into the world with certain objectives to complete -- and most of them are fairly simple (destroy this person or destroy this town).
Within the tabletop-game atmosphere, these levels are held on small, encapsulated islands with one main path. This is where I have some problem with Fictorum. While these are randomly generated, it feels stagnant... like something is missing. I keep doing the same objectives. Island hop to the next, and I do it again with a slight difference. After a while, it becomes a bit repetitive, even when you wield such power to destroy at will.
And yes, almost everything in the world is destroyable. And sure, it is fun to destroy houses, fortresses, and massive bridges, but the physics alone are not enough to redeem this system. Some of the structures are important to the quest, like the portal protectors, but destroying them with one hit takes the fun out of it.
Fictorum is a fun but often repetitive game. While the character creation and story are the best parts of this, just being a villain in a game is refreshing. I would suggest that you turn off your brain and enjoy the mindless fun of being an overpowered villain. If and when a second Fictorum game comes out, some simple fixes would be implemented to create a fantastic game for all to enjoy.
Fictorum is available on GOG.com for $19.99.
[Note: A copy of this game was provided by the developer for the purposes of this review.]