ollers of the Realm is best described as a pinball puzzle RPG. The game makes use of the mechanics known to a pinball machine and places them in to a medieval fantasy adventure, that lightly implements the features of an RPG. Taking on the role of a Rogue thief as the game’s main character, there’s a strong emphasis on story telling as presented through the game’s cut-scene introduction.
The high usage of narrative voice-overs and fully voiced characters attempts to build a strong set of characters that players will find themselves immersed within as they venture throughout the game. While it’s great to see this implementation and the time taken to flesh out a strong cast is appreciated. Due to the game’s mediocre and “Heard it all before medieval” storyline it was relatively difficult to even care who the main character actually was, or who she would come to meet as I spent more time with the game.
A fair amount of my time spent with the game was focused on the gameplay itself as I found it challenging and enjoyable, and also where the game held the majority of its strengths. Unfortunate as it may be the story itself is fairly bland and makes no attempt to actually diverse itself from any other medieval tale that people would have know doubt heard before, through any other form of media.
" Taking on the role of a Rogue thief as the game's main character, there's a strong emphasis on story telling as presented through the game's cut-scene introduction."
Wondering the land as young thief destined to save the world from an ancient darkness, after it’s former protectors have been imprisoned by a an evil witch. Players will meet other characters along their journey that will form the basis for their team, each with unique and different abilities. Other than her home and family being torn away due to years of war and tyranny making its way throughout the land, not much is known of the main character.
The idea of a game using the mechanics of a pinball machine as a means of use within its level design, story telling, character mechanics, and gameplay, sounds a lot better than it actually plays. Navigating the game’s levels through the means of flippers placed out in certain areas of the maps is where the game holds enjoyability. But the implementation of a story along with RPG elements don’t really seem to make much sense when applied to actual gameplay.
For instance, the player is able to recruit party members throughout the course of the game either by purchasing them within the game’s store, via the use of gold collected from breaking objects and defeating enemies in the game. Or by meeting characters who play a role within the game’s story. Each of these characters that the player encounters will take on a role that most will find familiar to most RPGs. Those such as the Healer and the Knight which players will meet during the early sections of the game.
"Navigating the game's levels through the means of flippers placed out in certain areas of the maps is where the game holds enjoyability."
Items are available to purchase for each of these party members, which serve purpose in enhancing their skills and stats, which can be used in providing tactics, additional damage, chance of parry, increased critical strikes, bonus gold rewards, Mana, and the like. Items are available to buy once the selected character has met the required skill level, and certain items can be shared directly across the entire party rather than to that specific party member.
Items come in the form of stamina potions, gauntlets, cloaks, daggers, and so on, all relative to the game’s medieval theme. Now while all of this sounds great and could possibly make what is essentially just a pinball game vastly interesting. When applied to practical means I can’t help but think this would have just been better off as a straight up pinball game without the RPG and story, while still keeping hold of it’s tremendous level designs.
The different classes of characters available actually do make an interest feature in terms of gameplay. The Rogue is light-weighted and quick, and makes use of a special distraction perk which takes on the form of the character’s pet dog. The Knight is heavier but stronger and this is essential in taking down certain enemy types. Those such as the Healer is able to revive the other characters should they face defeat by falling from the bottom of the pinball table.
"When applied to practical means I can't help but think this would have just been better off as a straight up pinball game without the RPG and story, while still keeping it's level designs."
As said previously the characters that the player will encounter are familiar to classes seen in a standard RPG. The problem that lies within the use of these RPG elements isn’t down to the character-specific traits, but within it’s emphasis on skill attributes and items. They don’t really seem to add anything to the game or to that of the character’s abilities.
So long as the player switches characters when dictated by the game’s hints and tips, in order to overcome certain enemies or bypass certain routes on the games map, then the items at the player’s disposal fail to add anything that can be considered of any value.
There’s no denying this is an enjoyable game and an interesting take on pinball. It’s fairly creative. But with that being said this is a game about skill and accuracy. The game can have all the items, perks, and skill attributes that it wants, but at the end of the day this is a game about skill, practice, and accuracy. And I feel this stands in direct conflict with the story and RPG features that the game fails to make any real use of.
"The problem that lies within the use of these RPG elements isn't down to the character-specific traits, but within it's emphasis on skill attributes and items."
Although the game has a story to tell which largely directs the flow of the gameplay and the objectives it delivers to the player. All the player is essentially doing is pushing flippers and destroying enemies. And since the nature of pinball is largely reliant on the player’s skills and control, simple objectives in the game such as reaching a certain gate located on the map, can become increasingly time consuming as well as frustrating.
The nature of an RPG is built around player choice, as well as some form of exploration and control of character progression. But since the game, for the most part guides the player through each level and the player’s only real input is to switch characters when needed and figure out how to overcome obstacles and enemies, the attempted implementation of RPG mechanics just feel shoe-horned in as a way of making a pinball machine seem more interesting than it actually is.
Frankly, I would have enjoyed the game more had it not tried to implement RPG gimmicks, and the basic goal was just get reach the other side of the map. There’s no denying the creativity and design here. Rather than using a simple pinball table, the game takes flippers and places them within the game’s world which in turn makes it appear more arcadey than immersive. And while the story is by no means great or for the most part even that interesting or memorable, it serves as a means for player purpose, and adds a nice touch to what is essentially just a glorified pinball machine.
"Frankly, I would have enjoyed the game more had it not tried to implement RPG gimmicks, and the basic goal was just get reach the other side of the map.< /span>
Level structures aren’t standard to a simple table with enemies and flashing lights that the player is required to defeat. Gameplay takes plays from a top-down perspective peering in to the game’s level, with pinball flippers as the primary means for traversal. The levels have more in common with a simple maze that requires precise timing of using the flippers than to that of an actual pinball machine. It’s in this use of level design that demonstrates the game’s strengths and enjoyability.
As the game’s world adheres to it’s theme of medieval fantasy and magic. Players can be expect to be bouncing around villages, fields, and towns, each with their own branch of distinctive levels. There’s dens, courtyards, caverns, sewers, enemy hideouts, and the like. It’s fair to say the level variety is plenty and the game makes good use of its setting. Progressing from one stage to the next is presented through the game’s map, with past levels to go back on and replay, should the player wish to earn more gold or re-experience certain levels again. And why not? the levels are fantastic.
While I didn’t actually expect anything amazing from the game’s levels due to the theme it takes on, I was pleased with the design of the levels as each one has to incorporate pinball mechanics in order to keep things interesting, and this is where the game shines. Playing through the game with a mouse and keyboard the controls are simple in nature and are user-rebindable should the player desire more control. The player will spend most of the game controlling the left and right flippers, while switching between characters at certain points in the game.
With brief instances of navigating the ball itself with full player control without the need for flippers, I found this to be fairly useless as it didn’t add anything to it’s gameplay. Should the player wish to use a game pad instead, the game welcomes them to do so and I found no control issues whatsoever with either method. It’s one of the only few RPGs that come to mind, where I have no problem recommending a game-pad instead of a keyboard, as they seem to adapt much better due the nature of such games containing a hefty number of controls.
"The use of deep colour and lighting allows the game to visually pop, and it delivers an acceptable amount of detail. "
The visual aspects of the game take on a cartoonish aesthetic with semi-realistic exaggeration. The use of deep colour and lighting allows the game to visually pop, and it delivers an acceptable amount of detail. Nothing appears flat or washed out and the textures of brick work and grass fields look rich in quality.
The game offers various presets to tailor different PC configurations and the performance is reflective of the what the game delivers on visually. Needless to say the game runs without flaws, and enabling the highest preset is by no means taxing, even for those with low-end hardware. The game doesn’t offer up many graphical-specific options and given it’s theme and visual style it’s fair to say it doesn’t need to. A light bloom here and there or maybe a few particle effects would have been nice, but the game looks as well as it plays and is by no means a turn-off.
Rollers of the Realm is an enjoyable and challenging game. Character class pinballs put a twist on traditional pinball and this is what the game thrives on, along with it’s intricate and creative use of level design. While I’m not particularly fond of the RPG features in the game, the amount of creativity the game holds is quite impressive and the game as a whole is vastly distinctive to anything out there at this point in time. It feels like quick and easy fun that attempts to keep you invested by integrating a story that’s by no means interesting. It’s in the gameplay where this game holds up well, and it’s the only thing that I found to be of most entertainment.
This game was reviewed on the PC.
Fantastic level design and a solid control scheme.
RPG mechanics fail to add any real interest the game other than character classes.
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