When Peter Molyneux claimed that the world within Fable would change based on the players actions, people were excited. The end result, however, wasn’t quite as impressive as we had hoped. Similar incidents have been appearing within the gaming industry for quite a long time, with BioWare claiming Mass Effect will end in a culmination of all the players choices in the previous games, in to one personal tailored ending. And as we all know, that was a straight up lie.
Vidar, created by developer Dean Razavi, is a retro styled RPG that really does try to deliver a true world changing gameplay experience, and its complexity and mind-boggling depth can be seen even in a short 15-20 minute demo of the game.
The game is a classic style RPG, both in visuals and gameplay. Anyone that has played Legend of Zelda, Pokémon or Final Fantasy will identify with numerous classic RPG motifs. You can walk in and out of anyone’s house, and the NPC’s are always eager to share their problems with you and throw a quest or two your way.
It is a standard RPG formula, but the main selling point is not a nostalgia trip, but rather what the game’s story delivers. Vidar offers the player a world that evolves and develops, that will change on each playthough. To many people this may sound like a marketing ploy, and that “every playthough will be different” means some NPC might have slightly different dialogue, but Vidar is boasting more than that.
For demo purposes the game had fast forwarded up to a point where three NPC’s in a village had been killed by a mysterious beast. After a really good voiced narration outlining the premise of the plot, I discovered that Etal, Szabina and Borbolo were the unfortunate victims to be claimed by the beast on my first playthough. As you would expect their graves were present and some NPC’s mentioned their passing. The deaths of NPC’s can dynamically change the quests given to you, and I was sent in to an ice cave to complete a mini-game that is similar to the ice-sliding game found in Pokémon.
After puzzling my way through the slippery ice maze and lighting some beacons, I’d ran out of time, and I was assured the village would have suffered for my failure. On my second playthrough, however, different people had been randomly killed off, and I now had a different quest: rescue poor Erik from a different part of the ice cave. This time I succeeded in rescuing Erik, until fate gave me the finger and he fell through some thin ice to his death. Erik’s death would affect his fathers life, as you would expect, and how he copes with his sons death will be dependant on who else survives in the village.
The story can quite easily become complex and branch off in to different directions, either through seemingly random events or the players own actions. Puzzles play a big part in questing, and the story is diverse enough to really make you want to dive in to another playthough.
This is an indie game with an ambitious story mechanic, but from what I’ve played it really does seem like it will deliver on all fronts. The game world, although solemn and bleak, is comfy as you are taken back to the old ways of playing a top-down retro RPG. Vidar really does have the potential to be a game that delivers on being completely dynamic, all while having the fun and enjoyment of playing a puzzle based RPG.
Vidar is on PC, and an alpha preview demo can be found on the official website here.
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