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And because the game’s tooltips aren’t always there when you need them, it can be hard to tell what effect wearing a piece of gear will have on your character. You pretty much have to memorize a dozen of secondary attribute icons or be endlessly confused by why your characters at times repeat their attacks, where counters come from, and so on.
And on top of it all, your character sheet has some weird total value of your offensive, defensive and magical attributes. Even after beating the game I have no idea whether those values affect your character in any way or if they’re simply there to represent your general level of power.
Thankfully, you can mostly ignore all of that, focus on the cool active skills, and have a great time. And if you manage to mess something up, the game allows you to redistribute your talent and attribute points at any time.
The game’s itemization is another strange beast. Most of the stuff you find is as boring as it gets. Imagine my disappointment when upon spotting an illusory wall I discovered a hidden chest, and inside that chest I found an Axe. Not a Magic Axe, not an Axe of Something or Other. Just an Axe.
But then, at the same time, the game also has a number of item sets that not only provide unique bonuses and additional rewards for every piece of the set you equip, but also some major boon once you complete the set, like giving you 50% extra damage and the ability to bypass armor when fighting bosses.
And in general, the game seems to enjoy surprising you with some really odd design decisions from time to time. Most of the early enemies are either resistant or outright immune to poison, but the very first companion the game gives you is a guy specializing in poison attacks. Stuff like that.
The game also has an economy, if you can call it that. You can find gold. And there is a merchant who joins your party at some point. But the bulk of what she sells is completely useless, and the few items that aren’t, you can easily afford without scouring the levels for treasure or selling any of the excess gear you find.
On a more positive note, the game’s crafting system is the most fun I’ve had with crafting probably ever. You see, during your travels you’ll find some potion recipes. You will then need to brew these potions, which you do by solving a puzzle, a variation of Einstein’s famous riddle, where you have to arrange a number of plants, their properties and their origins in the right order by using incomplete information. I could probably play an entire game of just that, if I’m honest.
Operencia's visuals, while not cutting edge, are charming and do a great job of selling the game's fairytale aesthetic. For me, the game was stable, didn’t take long to save or load, and ran mostly well. A couple of levels featured some frame drops, but nothing too severe.
The save system is limited for no apparent reason. When playing on the default difficulty, you’ll be able to save your progress around campfires and upon quitting the game. There are also frequent autosaves, but you won’t be able to save at will.
The soundtrack is pretty decent, with some outstanding tracks here and there. There’s also plenty of voice acting, but its quality wouldn’t be out of place in the original Deus Ex.
Operencia: The Stolen Sun is Zen Studios’ first dungeon crawling RPG. And while this lack of experience is clearly noticeable in certain areas of the game, overall it certainly managed to impress me.
The game offers a great balance of exploration, puzzle-solving and combat. Its levels are varied and well-designed. And even though it doesn’t go as deep or as wide as some other entries in the genre, it offers a fun, focused experience that I can’t help but recommend to anyone looking to explore some nice dungeons.
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