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Review RPG Codex Preview: Lords of Xulima

Discussion in 'RPG News & Content' started by Crooked Bee, Aug 12, 2014.

  1. Crooked Bee pro-vacation Patron

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    Tags: Lords of Xulima; Numantian Games

    Last week, the isometric-meets-first person RPG Lords of Xulima got released on Steam Early Access. For this preview, I am joined by the esteemed community member felipepepe and we just talk and talk and talk about what the game currently has to offer. (We could've talked even more, but you have to stop somewhere.) Short version: we enjoyed it. Have a few snippets:

    F: I’d say it took me about half an hour to go from disappointed to excited. As I invested myself and understood the logic behind each mechanic, I was impressed. I can’t sum Xulima up in just a few words. The exploration is similar to Geneforge, but much tighter and with Zelda-like elements, while combat is that of blobbers, with an added layer of formations and positioning. All surrounded by robust resource management. I can recognize the individual mechanics, but they are put together in a brand new way. The small Spanish team behind Xulima clearly played a lot of RPGs and carefully examined the mechanics behind each game, what worked, what could be different, and what they could offer. Xulima is the result of that, a careful collection of mechanics and gameplay elements. It feels familiar, but for every aspect of it, there’s a interesting twist.

    Using a musical metaphor, Xulima isn’t a cheap "Best of RPGs" CDs done by a mediocre cover band. It’s one of those albums where a good musician makes readings of his favorite songs in a new, amusing coating. [...]

    CB: It feels like every corner of the world has at least something interesting to it, something that makes it worth exploring and clearing out that fog of war. The only thing I kept wishing for was edge scrolling for the camera – sometimes you just want to have a good overview of the surrounding area, which the zoomed-out map can’t really give you. You can also explore in any direction, or venture into any dungeon, as long as you’ve found the key and/or can defeat the encounters in your way. I wouldn’t call the game fully "open world," since – similarly to Divinity: Original Sin, to use a recent comparison – enemies that are significantly higher-level can be essentially undefeatable, but it does give you enough freedom and sometimes even alternative paths to reach the same objective.

    F: I also like that dungeons have a unique feel. Some are just combat areas, others a clever mix of traps, enemies and hazards, and some just one big elaborate puzzle. They aren’t very long, but usually entertaining. Inside, you’ll often spot traps (as long as your Perception skill is high enough). Some of them appear as red areas that can be disarmed, similarly to Baldur’s Gate. But there are also spikes, which should be carefully navigated around (you can even use the keyboard for more precise navigation), or hazards, such as a room on fire, webs full of spiders, or venomous gas, that you can either endure or neutralize by using expensive magic scrolls. [...]

    F: Every action you perform, from simply walking to forcing doors open to resting, consumes food. Run out of food and you'll suffer a massive debuff, or even die of starvation on the Hardcore difficulty setting. And man, is food expensive. In fact, everything is expensive, especially healing your characters of status effects. In the early game, lifting the curse from two or more characters can mean selling a piece of gear to pay for the bills. [...] There are also various other ways to find yourself broke, as beside food you need torches, lockpicks, magic scrolls, and so on, and those blasted peasants keep raising their prices as you level up! (Not the most elegant of game mechanics, but it works well enough.) Not to mention the thieves roaming the roads, who will steal a fortune and run away unless you kill them quickly, or a vast desert requiring huge amounts of food to be crossed. I honestly don’t remember ever playing anything like this before, even 30 hours in I was still counting coins and thinking about the cheapest way to do stuff. [...]

    CB: I had to stop playing the game after the second temple just so we could discuss it and do this preview, but I am really looking forward to what the rest of the game has to offer.

    F: I’m happy to inform you that after the second temple things get even more diverse, and exploration opens up a lot. I could access three other temples at once, deciding which to face first. There were huge deserts, burning gardens, and some other nice surprises. Surprises that I hadn’t thought the game would be able to deliver.

    This all goes back to what I think is Xulima’s main issue: the presentation constantly makes you think less of the game. A lot less.​

    Read the full article: RPG Codex Preview: Lords of Xulima
     
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  2. Jedi Master Radek Arcane

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    This resource management thing got me interested.
     
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  3. HiddenX The Elder Spy Patron

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    Thank you for the preview Crooked Bee and felipepepe!
    As a backer I could play the game right now, too. Would you recommend that or is it worth to wait a few more weeks for polishing and balancing?
     
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  4. Make America Great Again Jack Dandy Arcane

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    You guys never played Dragon Quest? :?

    GOD YES, THIS I SO fucking love this thing :bounce:
    I adored it in Ultima 4-5, and in Conquistador too.
    It's what kept these games feeling more like honest-to-god adventures than just "games", imo.
    That tense feeling of "Well, we're heading for a long adventure, better stock up on stuff" and "Oh god, we're all out of food and we're far away from civilization, how will we survive"...

    And it sounds like this takes it up a notch and combines it with fun exploration and combat. God! FUCK! I can't fucking wait for this game. Thank Jesus! :D
    Good thing I have Trails to keep me busy until the release.

    Keep these so called "not full-fledged" RPGs coming... I can't get enough.
     
    Last edited: Aug 13, 2014
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  5. felipepepe Prestigious Gentleman Codex's Heretic Patron

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    Wait. They have been tweaking the classes a lot in the past days, so you are in serious danger of having your playstyle ruined by a patch. Also, the SUmmoner class seems to very interesting, I would wait for it.

    Unusual bro, not new. ;)

    Besides, not only I never played a western RPG like that, but the comparison with DQ is a weak one. The exploration is much more important, with traps, fog of war, hidden passageways... it's closer to Geneforge.
     
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  6. Make America Great Again Jack Dandy Arcane

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    Ohh, now I see what you were getting at. Hmmm.

    Anyway, damn good in-depth preview, as was expected. These always seem to reach the details that matter the most.
     
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  7. Magellan Learned

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    For an indie RPG I was actually very pleasantly surprised by the presentation. Anything in particular that rubbed you the wrong way about it?

    By the way, great job on the preview!
     
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  8. Applypoison Numantian Games Patron Developer

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    Mean 1-2 punch at the start :P

    Still, quite a nice recap of the game's flavor, along with a honest indicator of the hike ahead for the dev team (which is currently fine-tuning the difficulty/mechanics presentation, and defending some of the more controversial traditions of the genre).

    About the first 20 minutes; a RPG regular probably won't be impressed by the landing of Velegarn. It is meant to be a "oh, cool" introduction for players less familiar with the genre, a kind of 'mercy' addition. That said, the tutorial can definitely be improved in many ways, since the learning curve is pretty steep for those not familiar with Wizardry/M&M. There's plenty of room to insert some of the depth into the game's early moments, that would connect nicely with the rewarding gameplay which hits right after.

    About the more humble 'feel' of the early interface/exploration...
    Show Spoiler
    I blame facebook games :negative:

    But
    Show Spoiler

    :updatedmytxt:
     
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  9. Gwendo Liturgist

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    I've been hearing about how the game is unfairly difficult, forcing people to rest after each combat and such... And how hard it is to hit enemies (I personally hate combat mechanics where the missing hits are prevalent, it's too frustrating and boring).

    This preview put more emphasis on the difficulty of resource management than combat.

    I have nothing agains't difficult games (love Dark Souls, was a beta tester for Knights of the Chalice), but as I age, I find myself less patient with games that are difficult in unfair or boring ways.

    So, I'm undecided about if I should buy this game.
     
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  10. CWagner Scholar

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    Unless you do weird stuff (fighting enemies quite a bit higher than you are or using those advanced weapons they mentioned), you hit far more often than miss.

    Instead of resting you can also use your clerics heal spell. (For some reason the AoE heal of the Paladin is only available in combat).

    The game is hard but not over the top. I tried my first time on hardcore and I'm a rather bad gamer and still managed to clear 3 areas. After it's released I'll probably stay with the normal difficulty though ;)

    It's easier than AoD ;)
     
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  11. Make America Great Again Jack Dandy Arcane

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    Still, this bothers me too much and I can't just keep it cooped up inside:

    I think criticizing the game's presentation of all things was pretty dumb. Like, compare it to most """smaller-scale""" RPGs like Vogel's x5-regurgitated titles, Eschalon, or KoTC... It looks and feels much more polished than them, and even has some voice acting.
    I mean, yeah, Facebook games are shit, but just because they have some visual similarities... ehh, burning the game based on that is no good.

    Of course, I recognize you praised the game pretty quickly afterwards since you're not fooling around when it comes to these kinds of articles. It's just that, I dunno. The whole "presentation is bad" part felt very subjective.
     
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  12. Crooked Bee pro-vacation Patron

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    Well, okay, if you insist...

    Sure, it may be subjective, but the intention was actually to make our criticism of the game more objective - i.e. look at it from other people's perspective. If presentation was a merely subjective point for us, both felipe and myself would just ignore it since we're both accustomed to playing games that look much worse.

    From this perspective, precisely "because they have some visual similarities," people will just see what they perceive to be a Facebook game and move along. Felipe and myself took our time to look past that, but do you think an average RPG player or game journalist would? Next, the game's presentation clashes with its gameplay and fails to convey that this is supposed to be a deep oldschool RPG. Finally, and this is indeed a more subjective point, I just think the art style isn't very good - it looks a bit amateurish in places, which also brings the game down a bit. Look at the Codex thread (and earlier newsthreads) for the game, and you'll see similar complaints there, so again I wouldn't call this "very subjective".

    There's a similar comment to yours on the RPGWatch regarding our criticism of Xulima's presentation, in which the poster also wonders why the game seems to have been overlooked, with barely anyone on the web talking or writing about it. Well, I'd say presentation is exactly one of the main reasons why.

    Finally, I don't think calling out the (very unfortunate) presentation flaws and saying how unfortunate they are amounts to "burning the game", but YMMV, of course. It's just part of writing, or trying to write, a balanced review, and as far as Codex reviews go, this criticism is extremely mild.
     
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  13. Make America Great Again Jack Dandy Arcane

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    Hhmmm.
    Point taken.
     
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  14. belated Savant

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    Unless changed in the most recent patches you can actually use the paladin aura of healing outside of combat. Then you also have the advantage that it heals everyone regardless of their positions in the combat grid.
     
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  15. felipepepe Prestigious Gentleman Codex's Heretic Patron

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    This is perhaps the main point to me. KotC looks like an old-school hardcore game:

    [​IMG]

    A simple glance at this screen will make a RPG fan understand it has a lot of mechanics beneath those simple graphics. Xulima doesn't do that. You'll never guess how complex and interesting the game is from looking at some screenshots.

    And the slow start only pushes that even forward. As I said, I was a backer and was excited for it, but the first 30 minutes were disappointing, while the rest surpassed my expectations.
     
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  16. Make America Great Again Zorba the Hutt Arcane Weasel

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    Enjoyable and informative read, thanks guys :salute:


    and good to have something decent as the pinned news article again
     
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  17. I'm With Her Hobo Elf for prison Arcane

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    Yes, this is the Codex Approved Review I was waiting for. Based on this article and from videos I watched on Youtube I decided that it may be best for me to wait for the game to be finished and hopefully polished first before I dive in.
     
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  18. Dorateen Arcane

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    One thing I have been wondering about and haven't seen addressed. How does the game handle death and dying, with regard to player characters and the Protagonist?
     
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  19. felipepepe Prestigious Gentleman Codex's Heretic Patron

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    It's one of the things I wanted to talk about, but edited out, since it was already too long. No one actually dies, they only get a "fatal wound". This is a serious debuff, that makes your character almost worthless in battle. You can heal it by getting healed by a priest or by resting for 24 hours.
     
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  20. Dorateen Arcane

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    OK, good to know. I guess that's one way to ensure Gaulen is kept around. Even if he gets fatally wounded in battle, the player is going to have to rest eventually.

    Still looking forward to this.
     
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  21. MicoSelva Prestigious Gentleman Monstroterratum Furiosum Patron

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    Good preview, Mr and Ms Smith. :salute:

    I too feel that this game will be lost among giants of 2014 incline. I was very interested in it myself, but now I had to move it to the b-list of my backlog, and stuff rarely comes out of there.
     
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  22. norolim Savant

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    So, the game has level scaling... lost all the interest.
    Show Spoiler
    :troll:


    Good read F&CB. I can't wait for the final release.
     
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  23. Tigranes Prestigious Gentleman Arcane

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    Looks good, Codex review sold me and I'll probably pick it up on full release. It's a pity the game is so damn ugly (in a stylistic sense) and the kind of interesting hooks it makes on mechanics are hard to communicate quickly. I don't imagine it selling well unless they really work on that part, and I too just thought it would be another blobber clone.
     
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  24. Mortmal Arcane

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    Its not that ugly, i really like the 2d part , and its a 16$ game its really nothing . Its less expensive than kotc or any vogel games at release.I guess its not selling a lot , its not on any pages on steam best sales.
    Good review but i dont understand why naming it a "not full fledged rpg" , its as complete as any classic.
     
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  25. felipepepe Prestigious Gentleman Codex's Heretic Patron

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    It's more a game about fighting and exploring... the story is just a backdrop, and there's no input from the player on it. NPCs are just service or quest dispensers. And the quests are limited as well, you just kill monsters or get an item that's behind a monster.

    So no, I don't consider it "as complete as any classic". But it's ok, because I think it's not trying to be anyway, the developers knew they had a limited budget and focused on their strong points.
     
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