For this amazing journey.
Enderal is one of those games that managed to immerse me better than even the biggest game names in the game industry and i just wanted to give my feedback for every part of it. Hopefully it will reach this wonderful team's ears.
For me one of the the most important things about any game is the music and its sound design in the game. Even if the game is not good, a good music and sound design can cause nostalgia in the long run. Enderal uses music to enhance its experience more professionally than most big-name gaming companies and on equal with the best. Especially the soundtracks that go in certain moments/cinematics just to give it that special "feel". For me Enderal goes to the very top of my list with games with good music and sound design.
Oh yeah, the The Winter Sky bard song made me stay in the inn for its full duration, teared me up, and instantly made me search it in the web and put it in my favorites soundtrack list - decades of gaming and that's the fourth song that ever made me do that. Love it.
Someone played a lot of with the different biomes. From Deserts, through forests to snowy mountains. Entering fir first time in the Crystal Forest my jaw literally dropped down. Its only downside is that many of those zones felt made, but were ultimately unused. Like the crystal forest - not a single quest in it or for it. A pity because i stopped to enjoy the view not once or twice. And the enemy placements were quite nice too, sometimes quite challenging - with 3+ mages or deathclaws.
Naturally one of the most important things. Using the skyrim's mechanics unfortunately could be sensed behind every corner. Enchanting and Stealth are still the easiest ways to become powerful. The AI still follows the same stupid tactics and can evade arrows from blind spots. The thick flora was also kinda annoying as one could face to face with an enemy yet because of the bushes/grass in the way the player cant see the enemy, while the enemy sees the player. Raw phyisical damage is grossly superior to magical one in endgame. Bugs, etc.
The talents were more miss than a hit, 3 talent points for something that is just semi-useful is not worth it for most talents. Still i guess they could fit in certain play styles, but ...3 points?
Yet the you managed to pull of quite a different feel to almost of the gameplay. Dreameater allows magic users to use "stealth archery" which on early levels is even superior to the physical one. The lack of armor promotes a very magical, kind of play style with armor/resistance buffs. Magical damage as a whole was different considering you had no impact perk - while elementalists can dish out more dps, the sinistropes' flexibility allowed it to feel equal or better even. I was nicely surprised how well balanced two two-handed to one-handed are - while one handed had more potential two handed became overwhelmingly powerful by itself with much less talent investment. The jekyll/hyde inspired werewolf tree was a whole experience by itself, wonderfully done tree. And last, but not least, the Phasmalist - probably the worse polished tree of them all, but with the most unique feel at the same time. Usualy in RPGs my first thing is to search for a summoner/necromancer or similar build and i have to say despite its lack of polishment the Phasmalist is at the top of my list of best summoner type builds. A tree totally not for new players. Without good knowledge of ingame mechanics and loot this tree is pathetic. But with said knowledge, it's so powerful that you can just run around a room to loot stuff and the summons will kill anything by the time you're done. Unquestionably needed more polish, but is wonderful non the less.
The Faction quests(story):
The Golden Sickle started quite promising. There was no warm welcome, but a cold trade style "prove yourself and pay when you screw up"(first 2 quests) - exactly what i would expect from a trading guild. Yet shortly after Dijaam stepped in everything went downhill, fast. Her introduction was OK-ish, a kinda stereotypical though girl that does anything to go up. But anything after that everything went totally off. She's supposed to be this intelligent woman yet after a short flirt she asks one of the trusted people(the player) of the Golden Sickle to betray the guild? I mean how was that supposed to work? She didn't bring anything anything to the table so to convince the player to side with her. Midway she goes totally berserk for no good reason, turns on you if you try to bring out the truth and dumps you if you go along to the end with her. The main villain was shallow as hell. I mean fine, he has the red madness and wanted to screw everyone, but he still i feels like something big was missing from him. The final battle was nicely done though - one of the most challenging fights of the game. But for me that quest was ruined halfway through.
As for the Rhalata, oh boy, oh boy. Quite challenging intro? Cool. Total ruthless character-partner, Tharaêl, that literally does anything to reach his goal, kills in cold blood and is mad at you if you play goody two shoes? Nice. Incredibly well done backstory quest with flashbacks and the of the the most immersive uses of music I've even experienced in a game? Awesome. Perfectly represented expedition with believable mercenaries, an awesome dungeon design and enemies? Awesome. A full roller-coaster of plot twists(from the death of Zar'Ah to the big reveals), two breath taking battles against the abomination and the father that actually defeats the player? Holy cow. I'm blown how well this quest line was made. I teared up on Tharaêl's story yet i was torn as i felt like he deserved some part of it. The Father was interesting through and through, he was looked, both literally and figuratively because of cult, and sounded, through Tharael, like evil incarnate. Yet, his backstory and interactions sounded like he was just a man devoted to science and nothing else, no actual evil intents. Also powerful enough to wipe his bottom with the player, but not hold grudge against? For me that was an interesting character through and through. As a whole, well done.
Other side quests.
Well... they are side quests. Mostly unremarkable or outright horrible - The Biggest Egg Hunt Ever... just... why? No reward for a lot of work. Though i'll note that Blood in the Sand was interesting because its non-ending, and Hidden in the Puzzle had very unique and interesting design, just loved that Indiana Jones "step of faith" reference, though the quest was kinda insulting for one's intelligence - way too easy.
And seriously, how many people are going to tell me that they trust me, because i don't look like a bad person? I mean cool the people of Enderal are trusting, but... no!
Oh boy, oh boy. I'll probably write essays about each act, but will try to keep it short for each one.
What made me download Enderal in the first place. Creepy, lovely soundtrack, awesome, onward.
Though i must say the cinematic and visions didn't make much sense on first playtrough.
A bit slow start, i wont lie, the first quests felt like just the casual fetch side quests, but putting out the fires during Taming the Waves was put the pacing in its track. Oh and those dubbed books and the way sea of eventualities as explanation of magic were awesome.
Tealor Arantheal told me that he trust me because i don't look like a bad person... you too Brutus?
The trial during Part of Something Momentous, Part II was awesomely made - a puzzle quest of the finest quality.
The Aged Man's manor was hell of a way to naturally input a ton of lore into a single quest.
A random bandit taking out the main character? Definitely puts an entirely different feel to the story.
Finding your own body so early into the story and in so random place in my opinion is not a good idea. Until Act4 i was totally confused what was all that about, and still am about the location.
An ancient temple that leads to working subway train? I give you props for that improvisation. How the main characters didn't crash it with i don't know, but i don't care either, it was awesome.
Being stealthily taken down by the Nehrim army while you specialize in stealth? Nice! That feeling from the random bandit greatly enhanced - the main character is not invulnerable in this story and escaped both cases with well placed by the story "luck".
Yuslan: "we can be sure that neither of us did it"(killing Lishari). I mean, the player didn't do it, but why should how can anyone be sure that it wasn't Yuslan? An instant big red flag that Yuslan was the traitor all along. Was that added in the story on purpose? Its placed very badly if so.
A story of a great healer losing his little girl and sacrificing everything to bring her back? When he was talking to her corpse put a tear in my eye. One can truly go mad with grief over such a loss. And the mysterious woman killing him sent a shock through my spine. Another side story well done.
Jespar having to kill his sister and drinking himself under the table after that - one can truly feel his pain through that. Well done. Though whats with the mysterious woman here, she lets him die just to bring him back up instead of just protecting him - was something else planned here? Looks unfinished in terms of a story - as if something later in the game was supposed to reference back to this. It doesn't really fit into the story.
And then there is the story of Rynéus, the ninjas were cutting onions around me again I'm sure. Jokes aside, daddy, the whole paradise looking illusion, the reveal? Breathtaking side story.
A siege lasting more than few hours? Finally a media that actually acknowledges that sieges don't last just a couple of minutes/hours. Though there is a huge plot hole hanging in the air here. At the end of act4 the player uses a teleport scroll to go to the Sun Temple. These scrolls are literally everywhere in the game, how come the Nehrim army didn't use them to get into the city?
The whole star city quest line was exquisite. From the lore to the deadly traps and that invulnerable mechanical dragon. I actually died twice while having a min-maxed character during that quest. So mark me impressed.
I knew that Yuslan was the traitor, but that backstory made me realize why. Its not hard to connect whats going on when he went to see his dead family and wanted to stay and die there. Still, hell of a away to bring a tragic story and actually make me feel for the villain.
His plot twist, here he's the traitor, at the end quest didn't come at a surprise, but the way he did it... i was lost for words. And the whole plan of the High Ones was brilliantly laid out - literally the very same steps from the last cycle. Loved every part of it.
The black guardian though - yeah sure it was a fine way to give one good final boss battle, but why? I sure can understand it from story telling point of view, the guardian literally fed lore to the player and explained a bunch of stuff - as a quick tool to give the player all the needed lore and explanation that was missed during the main quest. But he doesn't really fit into the story - how did we so randomly encountered him and why so late in the game? Learning from him that the player is fleshless... kinda ruined the ending and i think didn't had the impact it should have had.
An open ending and the Dreamflower Elixir dilemma. Oh boy, my mind was twisted here. Could Yuslan be true about the elixir and i'm in a coma and everything since has been a dream? Or the elixir works and i'm truly traversing the sea of eventualities so the events can suit my needs? Or maybe are both? I died in one eventuality but i'm now in another? Wonderful ending indeed.
Some additional, bad, notes about the main story:
-The whole black guardian thing makes me think that the game was planned with at least 1 more Arc, but time ticked too fast. Would have loved to get that lore from a main story quest instead of an exposition statue.
-The story feels like it was made with only 5 characters in mind, not counting the High Ones. The player, Arantheal, Coarek, Yuslan and Lishari. Arantheal and Coarek leading the two human army sides and being stoic leaders. Yuslan for his whole traitor thing. And Lishari actually had her own non-stereotipical character and depth and was involved in Yuslan's story. Everyone else felt like they were added just as tools for the story or just to have filling. This is especialy ture for Jespar and Calia. Remove those 2 from the story and literally nothing changes. The one thing they matter, is to save you from that random bandit that took you out in act 2, but that could had been done by Lishari. These 2 characters give nothing to the story except filling.
-The mysterious woman - OK i understand that she's mysterious. But nothing revealed on her?
-The Daddy nightmare sequences - i enjoyed every single one of them. They were creepy and full with immersive atmosphere. But truth be told i didn't get what role they played in the main story.
But as an end note. The game was totally awesome. I thank the entire SureAI team for all their efforts for bringing out this wonderful game. You are AWESOME!
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