Druidstone: The Secret of the Menhir Forest Review

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Eschalon: Book II

Release Date:2019-05-15
Buy this Game: Amazon ebay

The same can be said about Druidstone's skills and items. Both of them are represented by cards. Mind you, there are no card mechanics of any kind in the game. The icons just happen to look that way, and that also reinforces Druidstone's mobile game feel. Which is a bit baffling, because the game doesn't play like a mobile game, and its UI is well-crafted and responsive.

And when it comes to Druidstone's story, the game sort of just throws you into the thick of things and expects you to figure out who's who and what's going on as you go. You're given next to no introduction and no reason to care about the characters or their journey. Eventually you figure out that there's a forest that's being corrupted, a Warden who has to protect it but can't figure out why, a mysterious and powerful evil Sorceress whose mystery is only exceeded by her power, and a bunch of druids who stand between the Sorceress and her evil plans.

As the game progresses, the story takes quite a few turns, but never really starts to make sense. Plenty of story threads go absolutely nowhere. The evil Sorceress who is supposed to be the antagonist is absent for most of the game, and in the few instances where she appears on screen, it's fairly obvious she has some split personality thing going on, but that's pretty much all you ever learn about her. The game does a very poor job of explaining things to you, and as a result it's very hard to care about anything that happens, especially since you play the part of a passive observer throughout it all, without having a say in anything. And while the bits and pieces of dialogue you get between missions are generally well-written and your characters are fairly likable, you don't spend enough time with them to start caring.

Going back to the topic of consistency, one of the characters you encounter on your journey is a Wild West bounty hunter for some reason. Your fourth party member is a Japanese ninja spirit from another world. And pretty much every lore-related question you may have while playing the game never gets an answer.

With that in mind, the fact that the game ends with you rebooting the universe and fighting a space and time-eating demon that was the Sorceress' alter ego all this time without being foreshadowed once, doesn't even manage to raise an eyebrow despite the fact that an hour ago you thought you were playing a game about saving a forest from some nefarious evil-doers. At that point you just shrug and roll with it.

Thankfully, all this madness happens within the span of 12-15 hours of playtime, and as such things don't get a chance to become stale or infuriating enough for you to quit in frustration. And I guess, we can consider that a plus.

Technical Information

The game ran very well and took mere moments to load. I didn't encounter any bugs and can't remember any blatant typos. The game did crash on me once, which forced me to replay a fairly lengthy level.

Which brings us to Druidstone biggest technical flaw - its save system. I don't see a single good reason for this game not to let you save at will. With how annoying it is to repeat literally the same steps while replaying missions, and with the possibility of the game crashing on you, letting you save your progress, or at the very least giving you checkpoints, seems like the obvious choice.

Furthermore, every time the game autosaves, it creates a new save file, which left me with 76 of them by the time I finished my playthrough.

Another thing to mention here is that the developers intend to add a level editor to the game in a future update, and that should allow you to extend your playtime by playing through some user-created missions.

Conclusion

In the end, I was not a big fan of Druidstone, but I'm also not unsatisfied with the time I spent with the game, either. It's a relatively short experience that can surprise you with some tactical challenges that are wrapped within a pleasing set of aesthetics and surrounded by a rousing soundtrack. However, if you're looking for deep RPG mechanics or an engaging - or at the very least coherent - story, you'll probably end up disappointed.

I really wish the developers had a better idea of what they wanted this game to be, because we continue to see release after release chasing the Legend of Grimrock formula and falling short. I doubt Druidstone will invoke the same level of copycat activity, and I can only hope that will lead to the team returning to its roots and blowing us away yet again.