Tacticular Cancer: We'll have your balls

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Review RPG Codex Review: Underrail

Discussion in 'RPG Codex News & Content Comments' started by Crooked Bee, Feb 2, 2017.

  1. Crooked Bee pro-vacation Patron

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    Tags: Stygian Software; Underrail

    I bet you all thought we'd never post an Underrail review (not to be confused with Undertale or even Undertail). You know, that isometric single-character turn-based RPG with interesting and uniquely mechanically refined systems that's really fun except for Deep Caverns?

    Well, think again! Thanks to the efforts of community member MediantSamuel, we now have an Underrail review -- just before the expansion comes out later this year, too. Here's an excerpt from it:

    One of Underrail's best gameplay features in my opinion is its sound system. The sound system turns the enemy AI into noise sensitive beings, enabling enemies to call for help when engaging you or letting you abuse their curiosity by throwing grenades to lure them at your discretion: usually into player-made minefields so you can watch them march to their doom as though they were sound-influenced lemmings. On the flip side this also means that nearby friendly NPCs will investigate if you happen to have a shootout, often trudging in puddles of acid and caltrops while they wonder what exactly that noise was.

    Enemy variety in Underrail is generally satisfying. Human enemies make up the majority of opponents but due to the above mentioned sound system and the AI’s ability to make use of traps, grenades and special abilities engaging them is always an interesting affair. As could be expected a fairly large variety of non-human enemies also exist in appropriate locations. For example the player will often find rathounds in caves which are easily dispatched while psi beetles and siphoners lingering by underground lakes may require a little more thought and effort. Well-armoured burrowers tend to populate areas in swarms and are resistant to standard ammo while creatures lurking in the darker places of the underrail take a more cautious approach to deal with.

    The default experience system Oddity pairs itself nicely with stealth focused gameplay by rewarding the player for exploring and choosing not to punish or penalise them for avoiding combat as the standard Classic system would. Oddities can of course be found on enemy corpses, this way both playstyles are rewarded though this approach clearly favours combat focused characters more than pacifists. The choice of an alternative to being railroaded into fighting all the time is definitely welcome regardless of how enjoyable and well-tuned the combat actually is.

    [...] Due to the somewhat infamous reputation of the Deep Caverns I think it’s only natural I cover them at least partially in this review. Launching to complaints of endlessly respawning monsters, vague directions and yet more backtracking, the Deep Caverns have suffered a variety of changes since release that intend to balance the daunting final area. I can appreciate that the final area of an old school RPG should be a slog but the Deep Caverns takes this slightly too far with enemies around every corner, low supplies and a lack of direction. Despite the positive amendments and updates throughout 2016, this beautiful and atmospheric area filled with lore and backstory is still a chore to play through and often stops playthroughs dead – something I hope Stygian Software intends to continue to work on in the near future.

    [...] Whilst Underrail does have its areas of contention (Deep Caverns, backtracking, walking speed, ability cooldowns) Styg has demonstrated through recent updates that he does understand and appreciate at least some of the issues people have with Underrail and is committed to making it as great a game as he can. Despite the struggle that is the Deep Caverns the rest of the game is more than worth playing and only slightly detracts from the whole experience.​

    Read the full article: RPG Codex Review: Underrail
     
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  2. Excidium II Arcane

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    "MediantSamuel" reviewing Underrail :M
     
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  3. Drowed Arcane

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    Well, it's the first review of the game here, which is sad in a way.

    It's funny to see how the game was in 2010 when it was still called Timelapse Vertigo.

     
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  4. Deuce Traveler Prestigious Gentleman 2012 Newfag Patron

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    Thanks for the review MediantSamuel ! Come on down and receive a proper fisting!

    I think it was a great game, but I found the lengthy backtracking infuriating at times (as did the reviewer), and I had a harder time of it than I should have towards the end of the game since I focused on the wrong skill sets and character build (went high on social skills as secondary set and light on crafting skills, instead of vice versa). Still, it was a fantastic effort by Styg.
     
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  5. Junmarko Arcane Patron

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    I liked the old name a lot. "Timelapse Vertigo" - sounded like it came straight from an old sci-fi pulp magazine.

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Feb 2, 2017
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  6. flabbyjack Arcane

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    :5/5:
     
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  7. Ludo Lense Arcane

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    This is a pointless "review", it reads more like an advertorial brought to you by Fanwank Productions because it was the RPG Codex GOTY 2015 and lip service must be paid.

    It is an overly positive general outline of game's basic systems interspersed with references about the common complaints around here that goes like this "Some people thought thing x wasn't good but they don't understand amazing thing y which makes thing x the best" (Spoilers, the story doesn't become magically interesting after finishing the Deep Caverns).

    Also the baby gloves is just off-putting. No mention of the fact that the Odyssey system leads far too many times to "Clear entire room, find secret, get exp" rather than "clear entire room, get exp" making it pointless, this is a combat game through and through. No mention of the tedious backtracking compounded by re-spawning enemies. No mention of how susceptible enemies are to kiting. No mention of how easily you can make a trap build even when using common sense and not going for flavor, Styg overbalanced things by assuming that everyone will re-roll when hitting a wall and a priori player knowledge was the norm. You could argue (weakly) that this a "stylistic" design choice but even then a review should have giant blinking lights warning people to this fact.

    And even when flaws get mentioned, they get hand waived away in the most ridiculous fashion.

    "Many early game quests in Underrail tend to take the shape of “go here, find this and bring it back” which, while not the height of creativity, serve to let the player loose to explore side routes..."

    "Despite the struggle that is the Deep Caverns the rest of the game is more than worth playing and only slightly detracts from the whole experience."

    Really? Clearly all those people who explained in-depth why these points in the game were the reason why they dropped Underrail were just some sort of mass delusion. Easily proven wrong by a throwaway sentence.

    But by far the most egregious part:

    "...a spiritual successor to the original Fallout..."

    No.

    Underrail has absolutely none of the atmosphere that made Fallout 1 special. You can easily see this even from the start from how psionics get treated in the world. You are psionic, see trainer, get skills, kill rats. It is more reminiscent of those MMO moments where every single class trainer is neatly stacked in the same building (the unflattering single player MMO comparison can be pushed even further...)

    Underrail has absolutely none of the exploration that made Fallout 2 special. If you go once through the game you pretty much see everything that is relevant, the replayability is given solely by different builds. For all its lack of direction in terms of navigation, it is a pretty straightforward experience.

    What Underrail does have is the adventure of xtreme vermin extermination via a dozen methods. Which is fine, the systems here are actually very well made, it allows for many playthroughs with different builds that require genuine thought to make work. Unfortunately "SPECIAL" is not what made Fallout special and it seems people forgot that.

    Personally, Underrail feels like a game made by programmers rather than designers, it inspired no "sense of wonder" in me. Still it is a min-maxers heaven and if that is for you then go for it, just stop gnawing at the Fallout franchise for recognition and hive mind approval since it has nothing to do with the experience of those games and aims for very different things.
     
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  8. naossano Cipher

    naossano
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    The approach you describe with player home seems to me quite a good idea.

    The point is not to take 9 hours to go back home each time you want to craft a hammer, but to have the player weight the cost and benefit to go back now to make that hammer (if it is really worth it), or to keep going in the Wasteland, and make said hammer later, at a more convenient time, when it makes sense for the character to go back home.

    Being one click away from your safehouse is one of my many complain about the games that features the god awfull fast travel teleport system. It is so easy to get back home then back on where you are that it no longer become a decision in which you have to weight the cost and benefit. You just click twice.
     
    Last edited: Feb 2, 2017
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  9. Make America Great Again Darth Roxor Prestigious Gentleman Wielder of the Huegpenis, Hater of Eternity

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    Ah, the "Underrail is the spiritual successor to Fallout" meme.

    It's been over a year and I still haven't heard a compelling explanation for this other than "you have a single character and walk around in isometric view while getting perks".

    Also:

    FFS get at least your basicest facts straight.
     
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  10. Kalin Arcane

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    Deep Caverns is the best part of Underrail, if you can't deal with it you're a dumbfuck faggit.
     
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  11. Make America Great Again DarkUnderlord Bringing that old Raptor magic.

    DarkUnderlord
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    DICPAWS would be better - or maybe SWAPDIC for the Codexian crowd.
     
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  12. Goral Arcane Patron The Real Fanboy

    Goral
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    Interesting that neither Crooked Bee nor Blaine (and whoever else proofread it earlier) noticed such an obvious mistake.
     
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  13. ArchAngel Magister

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    This review came early. It is not 1st of April yet. Also when are the other 6 reviews coming? No? Not controversial enough?
     
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  14. ArchAngel Magister

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    Also no Underrail review is complete without mentioning the most memorable quest in the game or in most RPGs
    Show Spoiler
    Man serial killer woman that traps you in her house without weapons or items
    ... you can only be excused for not mentioning it if you played a female character.
     
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  15. FeelTheRads Arcane Patron

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    It's a gross exaggeration, but it's still the closest thing to Fallout since Arcanum. I think big part of it is in the bellyfeels rather than rational, though.

    Regardless, you reviewed Age Of Teleportation positively while crying than in Underrail you have to do stuff that's not just clicking on script triggers so your opinion is irrelevant. :fuuyeah:

    P.S. This review is a good advertisement piece.

    And regarding Deep Caverns, what Styg has demonstrated is that he doesn't have any idea why people didn't like it. In his mind it's still because it was too difficult so he thinks it's perfectly fine.

    So that should be kept in mind when calculating the potential of future expansions or games from him.
     
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  16. commie The Last Marxist Patron

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    Preposterous idea! Everyone knows Krai Mira is the spiritual successor to Fallout! :obviously:




    Also:

    'Sup MediantSamuel Styg?
     
    Last edited: Feb 2, 2017
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  17. FritzedProcess Educated

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    I don't agree with the reviewer's assessment regarding Underrail's backstory. Most of the stuff is implied, through conversations with NPCs and logs and e-mails you find... where they belong, as opposed to that jarring backstory exposition through audiologs that break the fourth wall constantly that's so common these days (imagine playing an RPG set in WWII where you play an american GI in Peleliu and the 2nd lieutenant starts explaining stuff about Pearl Harbour and shit like your character was born the day before, because it's assumed that the player knows jack shit about the historical background).

    In Underrail you find diaries, and e-mails where one person is talking to another person (sometimes centuries in the past), not to you, and you find those in places where they make sense (such as an abandoned research installation, not in a PDA in some scripted encounter's loot because someone felt it was the right time for an info dump). It's a game about the secret story of the world (in this case, of the Underrail) but it starts as something simple, such as getting admitted to a station instead of living in a hovel and doing some work for the aforementioned station, and you end up getting mixed in something bigger. It's about place where the inhabitants have been living underground for so long that the surface is a myth to most (and it might not even be the surface of planet Earth), and much of the stuff you deal with is shrouded in the mists of time. To put it shortly, it's a game that rewards those who read and pay attention to detail, which more or less is the reviewer's point, but IMHO, it was the proper way of doing it.
     
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  18. Kalin Arcane

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    ^ This guy knows what's up.
     
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  19. veevoir Klytus, I'm bored Patron

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    While this is a good point - I'd rather make the consequence an in-game cost with in-game resources rather than time. So instead "do I go further or take 9hrs to go back home" it should be "do I go further, backtrack 30 mins to latest location and get it at 500% markup from local blacksmith or go 9hrs back home"
     
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  20. himmy Arcane

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    Despite the many valid criticisms of the game, even the Deep Caverns more fun to play through than PoE and some other games that sends people here into violent orgasms.
     
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  21. Make America Great Again Kem0sabe Arcane

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    I love underrail, despite some issues with it, like the lack of an in-game map and the bare bones quest design.

    That being said, this review isn't very interesting to read, the writing is more like a bullet point list than a well thought out essay about what is fun and what is not about the game.
     
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  22. MediantSamuel Savant Patron

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    I agree - the perils of registering for Underrail related reasons and then finding out I actually liked Age of Decadence more. :M

    I agree it isn't a fantastic piece of writing. It's something I started in early 2016 and then dropped for a long time while I considered if my writing would actually be good enough for the 'dex. I believe it's at least competent and that I highlighted the games flaws & strengths where necessary while avoiding being overly positive.. majorly positive, maybe.

    We can boil down any system by saying "do this, find this, get exp" but it's fairly redundant to do so. I thought the oddities were a nice addition that were implemented well, I guess we have to agree to disagree.

    I could've pushed harder on the flaws but my opinion is always going to be that I think it's a good game and these problems are minor at best. I did mention backtracking twice, although I suppose I could've poured on my own salt for effect a little more. I probably should've talked more about how DC is so egregious but I was trying to be positive.

    Ultimately it just sounds like you don't like Underrail and you're annoyed that I posted a review where I did like it. Sorry friend.

    I'd just like to point out that it wasn't actually me that put 2014 there. :M

    I do tend to agree. :negative: I'm hoping my writing improves going forward.
     
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  24. Make America Great Again Darth Roxor Prestigious Gentleman Wielder of the Huegpenis, Hater of Eternity

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  25. Jazz_ Scholar

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    One of Underrail's best gameplay features in my opinion is its sound system. The sound system turns the enemy AI into noise sensitive beings, enabling enemies to call for help when engaging you or letting you abuse their curiosity by throwing grenades to lure them at your discretion: usually into player-made minefields so you can watch them march to their doom as though they were sound-influenced lemmings. On the flip side this also means that nearby friendly NPCs will investigate if you happen to have a shootout, often trudging in puddles of acid and caltrops while they wonder what exactly that noise was.

    Nitpicking asshole mode on:

    You can omit ''in my opinion'', redundant, it's a review, your opinion(s) by definition.

    mode off

    And by the way, I don't get what's so ''contentious'' about the cooldown system.
     
    Last edited: Feb 2, 2017
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