Review: Fictorum

How to get ficted.

Review: Fictorum
Developer: Scraping Bottom Games
Publisher: Scraping Bottom Games
Available At: Steam

Fictorum is quite an odd beast. It’s an action RPG with vignettes instead of a story, a third-person shooter with loot, and a Rogue-like with explosions. It’s a wizard simulator that allows you to start with huge destructive power and grow more terrifying from there. The basic plot of the game is that you play the last of a school of magic users who survived his own execution at the hands of the Inquisition, so now you’re hell-bent on getting revenge on the baddies. You do this by progressing through a series of small decisions or fights in an attempt to make it through to the next area deeper within Inquisition territory. All the while the forces of the enemy start to conquer the lands, driving the player ever forward if they don’t want to have to face a full army.

Although there are a number of problems with Fictorum, one thing that the developers get absolutely right is making your mage feel like an extremely powerful force of destruction right from the get-go. When players begin they only have access to a single fireball spell, but thanks to destructible environments and an excellent and intuitive spell tailoring system this single spell can be used in multiple ways. The left mouse button fires the basic spell, but holding down the right button brings up a triangle with three runes at the corners. The default runes give different upgrades to the spell for an amount of extra mana expended, allowing for multi-shot, velocity or power, or any combination of the three. Need to kill a group of enemies running towards you? Multi-shot and power should take care of that, with the spell now firing off three fireballs, each with a larger, more powerful blast radius. Need to destroy a distant tower projecting an impenetrable forcefield around your escape point? Augment the spell with velocity to send it flying farther, faster and harder.

Throughout the procedurally generated mission players can gather equipment and new spells by looting buildings in towns they pass through, as rewards for completed quests or by buying them from vendors. New runes can also be found, allowing for greater customisation of spells.

Running around with powerful spells flowing from the tips of your fingers feels great, and sometimes everything comes together well, but more often than not, confused area design and some really poor enemy AI puts a real dampener on proceedings. A mission might call on the mage to protect a town against corrupted monsters, but instead of telling the player where they are or how many have to be killed you simply have to run around a large, procedurally generated area and hope that you run into a greebly. Most enemies will simply charge you en-masse allowing themselves to be easily picked off with a spell or two, but occasionally they will be able to snipe you from half a map away with spells dealing massive damage. With some patching, Fictorum has the potential to be a fun Rogue-like Red Faction with magic. As it stands it’s a fun but frustrating novelty. 

Too uneven to be great but there are few games that have done powerful destructive magic better.
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