The concept of a horror MMO (Massive Multiplayer Online) completely eludes me. Horror is about tension: the tension of knowing that there?s something out there that will reveal itself, it?s only a question of when and how. Horror is an intimate affair, best experienced as an individual or a small group. So when I am presented with an MMO, a sprawling environment swarming with more foot traffic than a mall on Friday night, quite possibly the last thing I feel is horror.
Review by Carl Lyon
Yet Gravity Interactive is presenting its baby Requiem: Bloodymare (no, I don?t have a clue what a bloodymare is either) as a horror MMORPG, an oxymoron if I ever heard one. True, there have been attempts before in Resident Evil: Outbreak and the horror-western Priest, but neither experienced any real level if success (especially not the stillborn Priest). Requiem may have a slight leg up over the competition in an enticing business model (more on that later), but how does it really compete as a game, let alone a horror-themed one, in the post World of Warcraft landscape?
The first impression, after sitting through a few slick menu transitions, is that there really isn?t a hell of a lot going on here. You?re right. Requiem gives you a whopping three races and six classes, which are locked into those three races in sets of two, meaning that if you want to play a brawler type, you?re married to the beefy Bartuk, rogues are locked into the elfin Kruxena, and so on. After rolling your character (I made a Bartuk warrior named CrudBonemeal) you?re let loose into the game world to grind.
Grinding is pretty much the meat of Requiem. Whereas games like World of Warcraft give you respite from the kill-and-collect shuffle with trade skills and crafting, Requiem sends you out to engage in non-stop hunting and gathering, killing various beasts and right-clicking on stationary objects in your endless quest to gather more shit for that guy in town, who upon your returning with an armful of Ice Crayfish tails sends you back out again to get a score of Mutant Sea Lion heads, all so he can make armor or stew or pants or whatever other excuse they can drum up. The problem is that these quests can take an obnoxiously long time, as the starting areas on the game?s three servers (at least as of this review) are chock full of low-level characters all looking to do the same damn thing as you, leaving the population of that specific enemy dreadfully poached out, and you with your thumb firmly inserted you-know-where waiting for them to respawn.
It?s a shame, because Gravity obviously put some care into bringing a few new ideas to the table. The DNA System lets you tweak your characters attributes in a fashion similar to Final Fantasy VIII?s junction system, although in a slightly less maddening fashion. The Possession Beast lets you, after collecting certain artifacts, take on the mantle of a marauding monster to slay your foes with greater efficiency. Even the overall visual design of the game itself is fairly original and attractive. While the Turans bring your run-of-the-mill human character to the race table, the Bartuk add a touch of muscle and tusked brutality to the mix, and the slight-framed Kruxena offer a Species-like mix of feminine softness and chitinous monstrosity. Monsters are varied and quite disturbing at times, with Rob Bottin meets Clive Barker by way of H.R. Giger designs that at least offer a dash of originality to the otherwise bland, shallow meal. However, this care simply didn?t carry over to the overall programming, which makes the supposedly ready for prime time game feel like a beta test by leaving some dreadful bugs and overall sloppiness in the program. Text will randomly be chopped off or garbled, mouse clicks will often be ignored, and the Havok physics engine is so poorly implemented that the death throes of the characters evoke laughter more than disgust.
However, Requiem will still find its audience through a rather bold business model. The client software and the monthly service are completely free. Where it can hope to bring money in is through tiered, higher-level subscriptions that give you more money and experience per kill and micro-transactions for various rare items and equipment. While I can?t see the paid option being too heavily used (I, for one, have yet to pay a dime) it?s a fascinating experiment wrapped up in an attractive but mundane experience.
For more information visit PlayRequiem.com