Saturday, July 21, 2012

One Night on Rusty Hearts

If anyone thinks all MMOs are too similar to each other, they should try Rusty Hearts.  As someone who played RPGs on computers and then played World of Warcraft for many years, playing Rusty Hearts felt like I had just moved to a foreign country.  

I haven't played many RPGs on consoles, but my impression is that the game was designed by a group of people who loved console RPGs, loved the aesthetic of vampire games, and thought it would be great to combine those two and allow multiple people to play together.  There is a hint when you first start the game where it says 'Rusty Hearts is gamepad compatible.'  I have read that the game is quite similar to the 'Castlevania' games I never played.

Character creation

There is none.  You initially get to choose between four characters.  I picked 'Natasha' the first time but it told me that Natasha came in later in the game and so I went back and chose 'Angela.'  Truly that is all you can do to start out. No changes in appearances, not other options, only four characters to choose from.  I've read that you can pay for different appearances and characters from the store if you want.  Equipping items does not change your appearance.

My sexy character with Victorian frills and extra large sword

You start the game with a video that uses the in game graphics and puts you in the middle of a fight.  There are no options during the video segment, but to go to the next segment or to the actual game.  Fighting is pretty straightforward where you need to face the monsters (typically some type of demon or skeleton)  use a letter to perform either your normal or a special attack.  Movement is a little odd in that you have to use the arrow keys and can't use WASD like I am used to using, but it worked.  I am sure it would be much easier with a gamepad.

The animations for fighting are pretty dynamic, with flourishes and different moves while fighting even if you are just using your normal attacks.  Also, at least early in the game, you are much stronger than those you are fighting against, taking on around 5 or 6 monsters at a time without any issues.

The fights are divided into segments divided by walls, and the game lets you know when you finished an area so you can go around a pick up what was dropped or take a break.  All three characters participate in the initial gameplay and videos, though you only control the character you chose.

Once you finish you are put into the gameworld and someone in front of you wants to talk to you.  I found these sequences odd, because the game inserts dialog for all three characters although you only see yourself.  I'm guessing the designers wanted to have the team feel of a game like 'Final Fantasy' but only allow you to control one character since others can join you.

Frantz inserting himself into my conversation
The mission I tried after the introduction probably took about 30 minutes and included several smaller fights and one mini-boss at the end. The path is very linear and if you pause very long and arrow appears to make sure you know which way to go.  The mini-boss was definitely tougher but not difficult.

I could see how this mission structure could work well for someone not playing often.  In a relatively short period of time you can complete a mission and it makes it pretty obvious what comes next so long gaps between playing the game shouldn't be an issue.

I didn't try it, but it is possible to craft items by bringing the right items to the correct NPC.  Gathering seems to be from the creatures you kill and anyone can craft anything.

There is a room you can go to with a single click when you are not in a mission and it provides storage (which can be expanded for a price), and a daily fortune.

If I was wary of strangers bearing gifts, I don't think I'd play MMOs.


Performance was quite good on my older machine, though I didn't try to push the settings.  The combat is quite action oriented and it does seem like they took the effort to make sure that you didn't have issues due to performance.  In order to accomplish this, the character appearance is quite pixilated.

Overall impressions

I am very glad I tried Rusty Hearts although the game isn't for me.  The whole Goth, melodramatic story made me want to roll my eyes more than once.  That said, the game tries to accomplish something very different from the other MMOs I've played and it generally succeeds.  The gameplay is fast, there are no issues with performance, and it makes it easy to go from one mission to the next.  For someone who likes the setting and is looking for a relatively easy game, it could be very entertaining.