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Fictorum Review

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Fictorum is a new Action RPG developed by Scraping Bottom Games, set as their first release on Steam. After garnering some interest in the Reddit community and YouTubers, Fictorum has finally let itself free onto the world in all its destructive glory. We haven’t had a true destruction game since Red Faction, with plenty of games only really supporting minimal environmental and object destruction. Now, we can sit back, charge up a spell, and watch as buildings and walls collapse in front of us.

Story

Starting off, our character the Fictorum has just escaped from execution by the Inquisition, as they aim to take over the lands and stop any wizard who gets in their way. Escaping certain death, you race towards the one who would put you to the sword, a higher-up in the chain of command. Traversing countless mountains as the Inquisition is hot on your heels, you must blast through waves of Inquisition members, bandits and corrupted abominations.

Fictorum is setup in a very similar fashion to FTL, with several maps for you to traverse and reach the opposite end. Across this map, you have points of interested to travel to, with adjoining parts. You must select one, completing a story or encounter mission. Connecting the dots till you reach the end and move onto the next map. As such, it is hard to put a definitive time on a run-through, though it seems to last over 5 hours.

Gameplay

For keyboard controls, you got your basics, WASD for movement, Shift for sprinting, Space for jumping, F to force push doors open or loot, Q and E for ring spells, 1-4 for spell selection. You then use the mouse to look around and aim, with the left click for a quick shot or right click for channelling and augmenting your spells. While on the map board you simply move the cursor and left click to select options.

The game is split into 2 parts, 1 part story and map movement, 1 part action and magic casting within a level. The 1st part allows you to equip armour to yourself, increasing your mana or health, casting speed and more. You can also augment your spells with 3 runes, ranging from ones that increase their range, damage and radius, all of which that also increase the mana cost of the spell. You can only have 4 spells equipped so you will have to decide how you will fight on the ground.

Besides equipping items, spells and runes, you will also be collecting Essence, either by destroying items or by completing quests. This essence is both your currency and upgrade points, buying gear from merchants or being used to increase the effects of runes. This will be one of the main ways you will improve yourself, as the Fictorum does not level up conventionally besides an increase in health, mana, recharge or casting speed when completing a map.

Once you select a point on the map, you will bring up a story scroll, detailing the area, people and event that is occurring. From simple back stories and role playing to choices and diverging paths. If you choose wrongly, or correctly, you can go into a battle map, situated atop a mountain with houses and people to help and/or destroy.

The maps are very similar to one another, instead of going for a beautiful or varied style it goes for a fun place to explore and blow up. You are often given tasks of killing enemies or destroying buildings. If you decide to actually explore the buildings you can loot cabinets or equipment. To leave a level you must blow up 3 towers that protect the exit gate, and jump into. If you don’t want to complete the mission you can still leave, but expect less of a reward.

Overall thoughts and feelings

The music in Fictorum is very sparse as of now, I found plenty of times where the only sounds I heard in the map overview were ambient or menu presses. When you finally do get to listen to the soundtrack, either on the main menu or in battle, you are treated to fantastical, almost orchestra-like music. From drums to pianos. Infusing energy into its tracks, whilst flowing between calm explorations, to house looting to hurling fireballs at oncoming hordes.

On the graphical side of things, the way the environment and effects are done make the game look very pretty and flashy. However, if you stop for a minute and look at the actual textures and models, they look outdated, stretched and horrifying. The mountains themselves can sometimes look as if someone dropped a paint bucket on them. Flowing with the combat style, and the mission types, the graphics aren’t meant to be observed so closely, only in passing, but it does detract somewhat when you finally notice them.

The destruction in Fictorum is a welcome sight, in comparison to other games where destruction is limited to certain objects or has pre-scripted destruction animations. If you hit a wall, building, tower, bridge etc it will break depending on where you hit and the damage you deal. However, it isn’t as good as it could be, plenty of times I hit a flat wall, to see parts of it get destroyed where I never touched, or a wall taking absolutely no damage when other parts of it were breaking. If we were able to set the amount of destruction to occur, based on our systems, it could be so much greater. I am totally fine with the rubble disappearing after a while, as with so much rubble it can get quite intensive on your system.

Overall Fictorum gets a 7/10, it doesn’t feel like a full release, more of an early access build of the game. The music feels underdeveloped, alongside the battle maps that are repeated too many times with boring mountains above the clouds. Spell customising can be quite fun, with on the fly control of how you use your mana and runes. The difficulty ramps up as you go along, but isn’t too punishing if you play your cards right. I am sure fans of FTL and Red Faction will love this game, but you might want to wait a while for patches to sort out some of its problems or potential DLCs for better maps and levels.

Find their Steam page here: http://store.steampowered.com/app/503620/Fictorum/

Rating:
7/10
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Computer Games Design Graduate from Staffordshire University with Animation and Motion Capture as my main subject. I am a neutralist both in world views and people, everyone and everything is equal. If sexism comes up in a game I will weigh it based on the themes at play and the story implications it has. Not afraid to give harsh criticism. Graphics and technology don't make the game, it's the gameplay that makes the game. Favourite Genres: RPG, Adventure, Action. Favourite Games: Joint 1. Final Fantasy VII (PS1) Joint 1. Jade Cocoon (PS1) 3. Persona 3 (PS2) 4. Tales Of Vesperia (X360) 5. Dragons Dogma (X360)

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