Great Old Ones Arrival – Review
Great Old Ones –Arrival, by Mahjong Knight is an action role playing game, developed by a two man team and steeped heavily in the mythos of H. P. Lovecraft, the story is centred around the coming of the great old one, as the game opens with dialogue from some of Lovecraft’s most well known ancient gods (Shub-Niggurath, Nyarlathotep and other), but neglects the most well known cosmic horror Cthhlhu, one has to assume that he will be the Great Old One they speak of.
In the game you play as the last guardian, in an attempt to stop the arrival of the great old one I assume, and assume I have to because the game is incredibly hard to follow, it is rife with grammatical errors and spelling errors, sometimes even with terms the game created (your special attack is called a Muson attack most of the time but sometimes it’s called a Masun or Musan attack), based on the overwhelming amount of issues English wise, I’m guessing neither of the developers is a native English speaker, so if you are looking for an engaging story you won’t have much luck here, if you don’t care about the story or enjoy laughing at awkwardly phrased translations Great Old Ones has something to offer.
Gameplay wise, the game is an isometric fixed camera action RPG, your character has a weapon (the first being a sword) which you can use to attack, chaining hits together for a standard short repeatable combo, and you have the aforementioned Muson attack, which is a powerful move unique to the current weapon, on the original sword your Muson attack is a circular slash, whereas the second weapon (also a sword but fire based instead of wind), does and AoE fire blast around you and lights your weapons on fire for a short while increasing the damage, just these two moves are wildly different in effectiveness, the first one is a slightly more powerful singular attack with a bad range, while the second is an effective burst attack followed by a short power up, so balancing is a bit of an issue, additionally when the attack is performed the screen freezes for a moment (as a cinematic build up) before the attack is launched, but your hero has no invulnerability during the interim time, meaning that if you launch it at the wrong time you get a bonus few seconds to stare at your mistake before you get interrupted, take damage and lose the energy the skill cost.
Apart from the offensive techniques, you also have the defensive roll, to avoid damage, which becomes absolutely essential as soon as you meet the first boss, you go from destroying simple skeletons without much care to being destroyed by the boss (a bigger skeleton), the battle is quite lengthy as you don’t do much damage and you need to wait for openings or risk taking a ton of damage from his attacks, the boss also has summonable minions and when he loses enough health he powers up and gains some more powerful moves for you to avoid, this is a trend that you’ll need to get used to as it will be repeated a lot, exploring a pretty basic level, dispatching fodder and then going up against a powerful boss who takes about the same amount of time to take down as the rest of the level itself.
Why bother with the fodder? Well exploring the levels and defeating the minions will net you soul orbs and experience, which can be used to power up and level up respectively, the souls going toward levels for your weapons (and later can be used to power up your dragon pet who will follow you in battle and launch attacks as their own leisure), and the experience automatically levelling your character at pre-set intervals, which increases your base stats as well, the other reason to explore ist hat each level will have at least one resurrection point, so if you fall to the boss you will be revived will full health to try again (the bosses health remains so if you have a revive point left you can chip the bosses health away over two or more attempts), after you have met the boss, if you try to leave their battleground, flying rocks will smash around you, I assume to deter you from running away and smashing environment items (graves, pots etc.) to refill your health during the fight, although I was never hit by the rocks so they could just be a reminder that you have something to do.
Graphically the game looks nice enough, a lot of the characters seem rather far away so detail is hard to tell and the levels are fairly bland, but the dragons, weapons, fairies etc. all look nice, the first few levels lack variety with all the enemies (minions and bosses) being skeletons and bigger skeletons, but then you get some rat monsters, spiders and more skeletons, one other thing to note is that when you take down a boss the screen will flash, a lot, like enough that it should come with a seizure warning.
Sound wise, the sound effects are pretty standard, nothing more to report there, the music is pretty simple and minimal, to the point where it is pretty unnoticeable most of the time, with the notable exception of one level which had sedate percussion and an eastern theme, followed by sudden spasms of loud, out of rhythm drums, sounding like a paint can in a washing machine, it’s almost as if they took an existing demo loop and then randomly pasted some drum sounds to see what it was like, but then forgot they added them and it just made it in to the final mix.
Overall the story is impossible to follow, the levels design is bland, there a multiple non game breaking bugs, including the introduction of your character showing that guns are useless on the evil hordes by shooting a wall instead of the zombies and demons, the tutorial congratulates you on winning before it actually should end and when you check your stats the map closes itself, but the gameplay is solid, the bosses are challenging but not impossible, and there is plenty to unlock and upgrade even if the pacing is a little weird, the game is also still in early access (at the time of this review) and the developers have been eager in acting on feedback, hopefully they will be able to bring someone on board who can clean up the story.
If I were to liken this game to coffee I would say, Great Old Ones – Arrival, is like fast food coffee, it’s a little rushed, a bit bland and some aspects can barely be called a drink at all, but it has the right ingredients, if you’re in a rush it’ll satiate your addiction for a while and if enough people agree to pay for it, if they get it their way, then they might spend more time getting the nuances right.