Released: November 2009 (Czech language), September 2012 (English language)
Version Used In Review: English language version
Inquisitor is a RPG developed by Czech company called Cinemax. It was released in 2009, after being in development about ten years. The first version was only in Czech language, the English version was released three years later. The translation was done by different people due the original developers not working together anymore. This is also the main reason why the game lacks any big updates, after all the people working with the game now can only alter some scripts and text in the game.
Inquisitor combines the gameplay elements of Diablo with heavy and detailed writing. It tries to achieve the feeling of "old-school" and the game can be considered as such.
Heresy rules the world!
Inquisitor focuses, as the name hints, to battle between Church and heretics. The game takes place in imaginary world, with very close ties in real history of Medieval times, where magic is real and heretics are common.
The story takes place in kingdom of Utherst. The forces of lord Devil himself have invaded the world and the player is tasked to get rid of all heretics and abominations. To achieve this the player must investigate the crimes of local area while fighting against the heretics and monsters.
The story and writing are definitely the best aspects of Inquisitor. The amount details is overwhelming, in some cases even absurd; everything has a background of high detail. Characters have history, which reflects on their actions and behavior, every mentioned piece of lore are described in detail, even the most mundane item has a story behind that rivals short novels. Good example of the amount of details can be, in fact, seen in the description of mundane, non-magical items; the description may reveal how the local soldier found out hundreds of years back that certain type of blade is more efficient in certain cases and how king XYZ decided to make this new blade the standard type issued to his soldier, until king ABC overruled the decision sixty years later. And how does all these pieces of information affect the game? In no way, but that's not even the point! The point is, everything has a place in history and lore.
Speaking of characters, everybody has their own agenda. These agendas explain why the characters did what they did. It doesn't only matter if the NPC made a false accusation but also WHY they made it? Were they just envious or did they want to scapegoat someone of their own actions? It's up to player to discover the real truth behind and everything is not always as it seems initially.
The story itself is dark and mature, but the game also includes one special aspect which takes it to completely new level; torture! Just like in real world inquisition, the player can torture the suspects to get more information and even to make them confess. All the classical torture mechanisms are present; iron maiden, rack and so on. Unless the suspect decides to attack the player, in which case killing him or her is only right, and has been decided guilty, the game brings the "Grande Finale" in form of burning the victim at the stake! Seriously, neither torture nor burning are something one can see often in game, at least I haven't played any.
Unfortunately the investigation comes down to talking to everybody again and again and again and once more just to be sure. There are also some logical problems with investigation. First of all, sometimes you can accuse somebody without any real evidence while sometimes you must be 100% sure and have all related items in your inventory. So, I can accuse NPC A from heresy just because two people claim so but can't accuse NPC B even if half the town have witnessed his or her heretical behavior and I'm carrying items which proves everything, only because I'm missing one piece of item or proof? Also, during the torture, the questions available are very limited. It feels like the questioning was not fully implemented, even though it's one of the main aspects which makes Inquisitor so different from other games.
Walls of Text and the Journal
While the story and writing are very engaging, there are lots of things that are implemented badly. The story progresses more or less always through dialogues, with few exceptions of floating text appearing when player discovers something while exploring. The progress is updated to journal, which have separate sections for notes, quests and evidences.
The first complain comes from the translation. While I haven't played the original Czech version, I have heard from several sources that the quality of writing is very good in it. Unfortunately this quality doesn't carry over to English version. Sometimes the quality is good, most of the time alright and at times very bad. Grammar and spelling mistakes are surprisingly common. Sometimes the dialogue is so bad it doesn't really fit to the game at all. Perhaps the best example of such dialogue takes place with certain soldier. This soldier uses words like "cuz" a lot, which makes the conversation feel like it was made by some teenager who uses language more suitable to text messages and facebook chat in daily conversations. I was even expecting to see "lol" during that dialogue, and I admit I was a bit disappointed when I didn't.
Another problem with dialogue comes from the pacing of text. When somebody says something, and usually it's a long one, the reply is just slammed to the dialogue interface with no extra empty lines to make the text more readable. Wall of text is very describing in Inquisitor, and the size of font doesn't make it any easier to read. In fact, very often the whole reply doesn't even fit to the, rather small, dialogue window, which forces the player to scroll back and forth to read the whole reply and all the possible answers available. While this as itself could have been manageable, the scrolling bar is so terrible to use that I often ended up only skimming the reply and checking if the journal has been updated. This is a real shame since the replies are usually full of information or background lore worth of reading, it's just too much of burden to fully read everything.
Sometimes the length or replies, very long being normal in this game, urges me to pull my hair off from frustration. Seriously, when I asked you if you knew something about the orcs, I wanted to know if had any information of where they came from and how I can kill them. I didn't want to hear the history of your family and how your great-great-great-great-grandfather thinks that orcs are not real!
As for the journal, the best way to describe it is Cluster of Clutter. There is no organization besides the three different categories. Even the logic behind where the update goes is questionable; sometimes it goes to quests, sometimes to evidences and most often to notes. Most of the time I had to check the quests section for general description of quest and then other two groups to figure out what I should do next. And even that is not often helpful since the updates usually doesn't contain any kind of hint or clue where to go next or who I should talk to. The hints and clues are given during the dialogues, if given at all, and due the problems of dialogue system it's very easy to miss those. And thus I had to talk everybody again, unless I happened to talk to correct person immediately.