capt_blakhelm's Realm of the Mad God (Steam) (PC) review

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A repetitious Bullet-hell Fantasy browserMMO

Review Date

January - 25th - 2020

Realm of the Mad God

GenreMMO, Twin-Stick Shooter, Bullet-Hell RPG, Rogue-lite
ThemeHigh Fantasy/Western Style Fantasy
Art Style"8-Bit Style" pixel art w/ outlines. Voxels? or basic blocky 3d environments
Value for Price(Free to Play) Low to Infinite
Replay ValueLow to Infinite
QualityLow to Medium
Completion TimeUnknown Uncompleted
Review Purpose/ScopeInformation for those unfamiliar with the game. A first impression based on limited gameplay time.

This review serves little to no purpose to long time fans of the game

Overall Rating★★★☆☆

- OKAY -

Realm of the Mad God has potentially infinite replay value, but you have to LOVE the grind to do so.

I've played RoTMG in two sessions: Once when it released on Steam and another recently. I remember now why I uninstalled it the first time - It's rather boring.

Realm is a Rogue-lite MMO in the vein of Gauntlet, where you run around a massive flat land defeating enemies, leveling up and upgrading gear until you die.The loop is pretty simple and from my experience, a slow burn. Like most modern rogue-lites, you're expected to eventually die and death grants you the currency Fame, which from what I read can be used to strengthen your pets, which are one of few things that persist after you die, since they can't.

Realm gives you a short tutorial of the core gameplay mechanics and controls.

This tutorial is brief because there isn't much to the base gameplay - shoot enemies, use your special, avoid their shots and don't die. Sure, there some nuance in managing the camera (either by rotating it or moving it ahead so you can see further, but lose sight behind you), using the environment for cover, where to aim, and how to kite/dodge, but gameplay hour one will look mostly like gameplay hour 100 or 1000, except with more bullets coming out of you and your enemies.

You're left to your own devices after the tutorial.

From here you can roam the Nexus (player hub) and not buy the bevy of cosmetics and gear because of course you don't have enough currency to buy anything from the shops. There is a store to spend real money to buy game currency, but there little to no freebie currency to mess around with before deciding the game is worth your monetary investment. I started with 40 coins for some reason, but had nothing I could spend it on. There's a vault with dozens of chests but you can effectively only use one of them (another "special" chest is open, but I could store stuff in it). An empty Pet Area zone stores you pets once you find some (or probably buy them). You can change you character name once before you have to pay alot of coins for the privilege to do so again. Some players will probably recruiting for guilds and requesting trades in the open chat. There seems to be plenty of players in the Nexus and game world, so I can't fault Realm for appealing to a certain group of players. You're given quests to level up, slay bosses, and kill the Mad God. Now leave the Nexus and go kill things.

The thought of a bullet-hell rogue-lite MMO is intriguing at first, until you get to the anemic combat.

The combat boils down to you endlessly shooting (or slashing), occasionally using your special and dodging the bevy of bullets from enemies. Realm doesn't truly capture the excitment of a bullet hell shmup, which is one of my personal favorite genres. The game takes place in a large world with multiple "biomes" of varying enemies with different movement speeds, types, health, and shot patterns, but it is all the same: Shoot and don't loose your health. Your shots have little visual flair, and barely any audio feedback, so the combat has no impact. Combine this with a single background that repeats ad-infinitum and you have a recipe for boredom. The track is nice IMO, but I suppose the game is best enjoyed with your own music or podcast.

Some enemies have wild, bullet-hell style shot patterns an others can cause typical RPG status effects like Confuse and Blind. You can pick up potions to heal and restore MP, but if a fight is too hard you should back off. But this ties into the slow upgrade loop of the game, because now you have to kill a thousand more low level enemies to level up, gear up and slightly survive better.

Realm has possibly the least satisfying loot upgrade path I've ever played in an RPG.

Enemies and bosses semi-regularly drop loot, but often times, it is loot for another class or gear you already have. Worse off, you can't sell loot and your vault space is limited, so there's little reason to keep loot unless you've invested money and time in the game to get vault chests and pets to feed gear into. I imagine this is some way of the game forcing you to go into more difficult areas, but because you only have one life, that is a huge risk, especially with the fact that Realm is an RPG, so better gear is essential to survivability.

ROTMG has technical problems at fullscreen.

Play fullscreen, and certain prompts don't render properly, greying out the screen and making the interface completely un-interactable (I have to press the option button to fix this). If you hover your mouse over a tooltip on the right side of the screen, it will get cut off by the margin. These are not issues when playing in windowed mode. I think fullscreen may even be a culprit of the games frame rate drops.

I could see this game being a big hit with kids and teenagers with no or limited income, spending their weekly allowance on the ability to buy chests and gear and otherwise playing the game infinitely. You could play and upgrade for near forever, if you're not bored within minutes like I was.

While I spoke at length about this game, There's not too much to the game itself, so the core gameplay is extremely simple and many will find it dull, and the best part of the gameplay loop requires a significant time and money investment. Even then, this boils down to improving your numbers.

Completely broke gamers can find enjoyment out of Realm of the Mad God, but I'd urge anybody with a decent game library to spend their time somewhere else.

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