Inquisitor

This forum is available for our members to post their personal reviews of any RPG, MMORPG, or RPG hybrid that they'd like to critique.
User avatar
Kipi
Posts: 4969
Joined: Wed Mar 03, 2004 6:57 am
Location: Finland
Contact:
Inquisitor

Postby Kipi » Sat Sep 21, 2013 7:02 pm

Developer: Cinemax
Genre: RPG
Platforms: Windows
Released: November 2009 (Czech language), September 2012 (English language)
Version Used In Review: English language version


Introduction

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.
"As we all know, holy men were born during Christmas...
Like mr. Holopainen over there!"
[color="Red"]- Marco Hietala, the bass player of Nightwish[/color]

User avatar
Kipi
Posts: 4969
Joined: Wed Mar 03, 2004 6:57 am
Location: Finland
Contact:

Postby Kipi » Sat Sep 21, 2013 7:04 pm

There is no Balance!

If someone comes to me and says that Inquisitor has even a acceptable balance, I say that person hasn't actually played the game. There is no balance. Well, actually there is, but it's so bad and without any logic that to me it doesn't exists.

When I started to play Inquisitor I choose Normal from Easy, Normal and Hard difficulty. After countless hours and dozens of restarts I decided to play in Easy instead, the game was just too difficult to be fun. Even with Easy difficult setting the game was hard, but at least I managed to reach the end. There are numerous problems with balance, too many to cover each and every one of those so I focus the most important ones.

First of all, the enemies are not balanced properly. It's possible to partially explore a dungeon without any problems, then face enemies which can instantly kill you with single hit, after which the enemies are back to laughable easy to kill. In Easy difficulty these encounters were usually manageable by frequent use of reloading relying on luck, in Normal difficulty I was always forced to come back much later. It felt like the developers decided to make a dungeon for, in example, level 5 character and without any proper reason randomly thrown few level 15 encounters as well. And this only covers the normal, "filler" encounters in maps, the boss fights fall in completely separate category. Even with Easy difficult I was forced to use cheesy tactics most of the time to kill the boss and all the minions summoned. Even with exploits and cheesy tactics almost every boss fight required me to reload at least once, usually several times before I managed to win. Changing tactic wasn't the reason for this, it always came down to getting lucky, usually reloading until the boss failed to instantly kill me and my companions with first strike or spell.

Secondly, especially in Normal and Hard difficulties, it feels like the inflation has hit the health of monsters. It's not fun watching my character trying to kill a single bat in the very beginning of the game two minutes just because it had too much health. In addition, as the difficulty rises, the amount of damage monsters can do is also increased very much. In Normal difficulty it took very long to kill single bat and enough potions to make the local healer envious to you. Besides, the more hits a monster requires to kill, the more often I had to repair my weapon. Repairing, or replacing, my weapon after every two bats in the beginning of the game sounds something I would like to do...

There are lots of smaller complains regarding monsters as well; the ability to spot the player and his companions through walls, the ability to hit companions with spells through walls (seriously, how is it possible that a ghost manages to kill my companions with multi-target spell aimed to me when my companions are on the other side of the whole dungeon?!), monsters not affected by traps or map features and so on.

Finally, the potions. Oh yes, potions are the solution to difficult fights, not better gear nor more levels. If you don't have enough potions, you die, even against "normal" creatures. The amount of potions I need to carry with me is just absurd. In fact, it's a big surprise that the merchants are not millionaires in Inquisitor, one fight against one or two creatures may require even dozen potions to win. Combat in Inquisitor is not about tactics, levels nor gear, it's all about filling your inventory with potions and hoping those are enough until you return to town. Companions using potions from players inventory doesn't help in this either. Actually, in Easy difficult most of the potions were used by my companions, not by me.


Character Development

Inquisitor contains three different class to choose from; paladin, thief and priest. Each character posses a group of special skills, in addition to skills available to every class, and there are some minor changes to story based on the class. There are also five basic attributes; strength, dexterity, intelligence, constitution and speed.

The system used in skills and spells initially feels solid but is far from it. Each skill has a cap of 20 and are divided to four different ranks. Each rank requires specific character level, attribute value and skill level to be unlocked. Some skills also have restriction to each class, for example only priest can reach highest rank in skills related to spells while only paladin can reach the highest rank for melee fighting and armor usage. The skill level basically determines the effectiveness of the skill, like bonus to damage done by weapons and spells and change of success. The rank, on the other hand, determines what is possible in broad term. For example, higher rank in armor skill allows better armor to be equipped or learning of better spells.

The problem with skill system is, surprise surprise, the balance. For example, to learn second rank of skills related to spells requires character to reach level 15, which means almost finishing the first part of the game! This requirement is not in balance with the fact that most of the spells that require second rank are crucial almost immediately. Spells like levitation and resurrection comes to my mind. Also, due such a high level requirement, priests are very hard to play at the beginning as they have no proper spells to be effective in combat.

There are also skills which has no practical use at all due various reasons. For example, the skill to identify items is worthless since every class has immediate access to spell that accomplishes the same task. In fact, the spell is capable of identifying every item regardless of the difficulty, something the skill can't do, and the spell has no real chance of failing.

The game also fails to properly describe what different things do to player. Sometimes I had to make educated guess about the effect, sometimes I just had to invest points to the skill and try it out. Sometimes neither one helped and, especially certain skills, the effect of rank and/or level still remains mystery to me.

Finally, one thing regarding stamina and speed attribute. In Inquisitor speed attribute affects to the movement speed of character. If stamina gets too low, the speed is reduced to half. Now, the only reason speed is so important attribute is the fact that the initial movement speed of character is slow, very slow. Increasing speed attribute is crucial to make the game more bearable due lots of traveling back and forth. The relation to stamina level also makes it mandatory to carry lots of potions around, just to make the character move faster. If you don't do that, the movement becomes very tedious process.
"As we all know, holy men were born during Christmas...
Like mr. Holopainen over there!"
[color="Red"]- Marco Hietala, the bass player of Nightwish[/color]

User avatar
Kipi
Posts: 4969
Joined: Wed Mar 03, 2004 6:57 am
Location: Finland
Contact:

Postby Kipi » Sat Sep 21, 2013 7:05 pm

Items and Inventory

There are three different grades of item, as well as few unique items; normal, better and best. The grade of item affects to the magical properties of the item, though exactly how is still unknown to me. There are also potions, scrolls and other miscellaneous items as well, everything one could expect from RPG. In addition, the game also contains magical trinkets generally referred as "seals". These seals behave exactly like wands in games like Baldur's Gate or Icewind Dale; seals can be used to cast specific spell charged to it, each seal having predetermined amount of charges available. Every class can use seals regardless of attributes or skills and, especially at the beginning, seals are very powerful tool against monsters. In fact, it's very good idea to carry several different seals with you to help in difficult fights.

The main problem with items is the lack of information of effects. This is especially a problem with seals and potions; there is no indicator of how many points a potions restores or how much damage a spell cast from seal can do. In case of seals, the game is even very vague of what the spells even does! For example, the description of certain seal says that it casts firewall. Fine, and what does that mean? Only way to find out is to test.

The inventory is something bad. It uses the grid system and there is five pages available to fill. Those were the good things, everything else is bad. Moving items between pages require dragging them around, a very tedious process especially when trying to organize. After all, there is no way to automatically organize the inventory, so one must do it manually. Using items like potions require double clicking, something which doesn't work always properly. Sometimes the game refuses to recognize the second click, sometimes the game thinks that I double clicked while I didn't. Oh, and there is no automatic comparison of items so I had to do it manually.

Trading is another feature that feels like it was rushed. The process of buying and selling lots of items is very tedious due "drag and drop" system unless the player manages to notice the small, almost invisible icons in the window. Also, each time the player starts trading the inventory of merchant is randomly determined. So, if you don't see anything good at first, just quit the trading and initiate the dialogue again to get completely different stock. While this system has its advantages, like being able to get good items from merchants as long as the player has the patience, there is one huge disadvantage as well. The merchant had that epic weapon with godly magical properties but you wasn't able to afford it yet? Well, good luck being lucky to see such weapon next time!


Graphics and Sound

The graphics and visual art used in Inquisitor are quite good. The world is beautiful, especially when one remembers that the game tries to be old-school in style and use similar view system as Diablo. The only real complain I have is that the animations of are often not that good. This problem is not ground shaking, though sometimes it's just too obvious to not notice.

The music is also good, though nothing overly special. The sound effects are okay, though nothing special there neither. Some of the sounds made by monsters are a bit low in quality, which is a bit annoying since you will be hearing those sounds often.

There is no voice acting, which is only a good thing due the amount of dialogue. There could have been no way to have good voice acting implemented without reducing the amount of dialogues while reaching good quality. Inquisitor is one of those few games where the lack of voice acting is very good thing.


Anything Else?

There is one thing which requires special mention; map design, more specifically one dungeon in the first part of the game. Imagine a huge dungeon complex, divided to nine different maps. Sounds promising, right? Wrong! This dungeon is one of most tedious, boring and annoying aspect of the game. The problem is not actually in the layout of dungeon itself, but the size of it in combination of all the other problems this game has. Too often I found myself in need to return to town to repair my equipment, sell some loots to make room for new items or resupply potions. Usually I had to make at least two or three such trips per map, each time I had to walk back to surface, visit the town, and then get back to the map I was while fighting against the monsters that had respawned. When combined with slow movement speed due depleted stamina, the whole dungeon complex was to painful to finish. Of course, there is a way to quickly return to town or do some trading while staying in the dungeon. The method relies to special item, though, and is way too expensive to eliminate the problem.

As for the stability, Inquisitor is surprisingly stable. I know one bug related to quests, though the quest is optional one and most players won't probably even get it without knowing how to get it beforehand. There is also a bug which corrupts the graphics, though saving and restarting the game solves the problem. I have also heard of bug that corrupts saves, though I have never experienced it myself.

Finally, Inquisitor is a long game. It's easy to spend forty or fifty hours in it and still find new things when restarting with new character. Unfortunately part of the length comes from tedious fights, slow walking and reading the walls of text.


Scoring

There are lots of things I have complained about and I'm certain some minor things were forgotten. Inquisitor is like a unpolished gem; lots of good ideas and lots of potential but too many problems. If the balance had been reworked, interfaces cleaned and improved slightly and translation had been better, including proper pacing, the game could have been one of the best games released in 2012. In this state, it's not.

This doesn't mean the game is completely terrible. The writing and story manage to save a lot. In fact, those are the main reasons I even finished the game. So, if you like a good story with lots of lore and details and can deal with flaws and problems in actual gameplay, this game is worth to consider, especially if the price is cheap. I paid a bit less than 9€ from it which I consider a good deal. If story and writing is not your thing or you are looking for solid and balanced gameplay, just pass this game.

My Score System: 6/10
GameBanshee Score System: 3/5
"As we all know, holy men were born during Christmas...
Like mr. Holopainen over there!"
[color="Red"]- Marco Hietala, the bass player of Nightwish[/color]