For many years now, the term ‘JRPG’ has been a bit of a misnomer. Many games recently released have deviate from the traditional roots of the genre. It used to mean a very clean and defined set of mechanics and narrative tropes which work together forming an immersive and fun experience allowing games such as Final Fantasy VII and Chrono Trigger to come about.

However the term is slowly fading into a meaningless fad word which developers use to entice their consumers. This is the state many of the latest Final Fantasy games are currently in.French developer Cuve are an attempt to recapture the mechanical side of this genre with their game QuestRun.

The first thing I noticed about QuestRun was in that the game has no options menu meaning the entire game is capped at 720p with no full screen mode. I think this might be a bug because there are several prompts from the ‘tips’ section that crops up as levels load mentioning it.  The other thing to note is that the game has only one track which is a mere 45 seconds long and loops throughout all levels and menus.

The game has no tutorial to teach you how to play the game nor does it explain what even the most basic mechanics are. After a mere 3 levels the difficulty is ramped up to what seems to be an almost impossible level. The difficulty curve is also so unbalanced that, even after playing four or more hours, I still hadn’t completed some of the “Intermediate” levels. The main problem is also what gives the mechanics their best spice — Perils. These are introduced randomly throughout the level and they force you to make a sacrifice in a major way by forcing you to kill a party member at random or destroy all your items. This is also where one of my biggest problems lay.

Perils throw off the balance in this game due to how much they impact gameplay and the seemingly random nature of them. For instance, I had just beaten a tough enemy and lost a party member; just as I was about to revive her with my only potion, I encountered a Peril, telling me to kill a party member or get rid of my potion. You can just imagine how the following fight went.

There is a shop which the game allows you to spend coins earned from ‘quests’ in order to purchase more classes to use and pets which add a risk reward encounter to levels. On paper, this sounds really cool, but it creates a rather imbalanced system in the game where throwing away items makes you essentially invincible, removing all challenge from gameplay.

The game’s difficulty is just inconsistent, going from super easy to super hard and back again. From the store I bought a pet that converts items into health for your party, which made my party invincible when combined with the healing ability used by my other classes. The game became no challenge at all after this and I just felt bored. I would have really liked to see more depth in the actual gameplay and be given more to do rather than sit back and wait.

Each level contains the same mechanics, involving your party of 3 to defeat several waves of enemies until the level boss. During this time the player can use the abilities of different classes. However the levels drag on and it all becomes very dull, especially because the number of spells the player receives are limited and overall not very effective outside of healing spells. This problem could have been solved with a more interesting variety of spells and enemies to encounter.

Each level is called a ‘Quest,’ although none of them really felt like one. There could have been a deep narrative and epic fights, but instead the game fails in its attempts to make quests interesting. Each level plays out in exactly the same way, offering little in the way of variety. For example, one level has you “protecting a princess.” Upon starting the level you have a prince, princess and a knight in your party. You’d think the level would be lost if the princess were to die, but instead the it plays out like every other where the level continues until all the characters are dead or you reach the end of the level. It’s inconsistent because it doesn’t really matter if the princess died or not.

QuestRun has no main plot, no overarching goal and no real point. It contains no storyline, it contains no character motives, it has nothing engaging about it. Sadly, my impression of the game is that it’s a hollow mess. It has several good ideas on the surface and it seems set up to be a solid and fun game, but instead it falls short containing no depth and no particular reason to play.

While arguably generic, I really liked the sprite artwork of this game. The backgrounds are particularly appealing although they felt empty at times. The character design is nice too, having influence from many japanese style games, as well as european history and mythology.

The game looks bright, cheery and fun, but I really can’t find that anywhere in the actual game.
In summary, this game aims high to try show off some good ideas in practice and otherwise attempts to do something very basic in the sense of its mechanics, and potentially have a  really fun game on their hands. But instead this feels as if it just got out of bed minutes before a final assignment is due.

 

 

Written By: Benjamin Turner

Review: QuestRun
Pros:
  • Pleasing Aesthetic
  • Interesting Concepts
Cons:
  • Repetetive
  • Lack's complexity
  • Missing Polish
5Overall Score