One of the fascinating aspects about the gaming culture is that there’s a treasure trove of ideas waiting to be explored, in hopes that our experiences can evolve and perhaps take us to a whole new level of joy. The recent influx of indie developers makes this statement even more justified because we’re now seeing an entirely new set of companies who are starting to make waves, even more so than the ones we’ve all become familiar with. That isn’t to say the big dogs are losing their magic touch when it comes to development. It’s just these indie companies have less of a burden to worry about and can afford to take some risks to see their game thrive for the long term. This brings us to Fictorum, an action fantasy rogue-lite RPG from Scraping Bottom Games, that throws players into an open world environment where you take control of a wizard who can destroy anything in his path. Each map you explore is procedurally node-based meaning that no experience will ever be the same, you’ll always have something fresh to take part in every time. With a plethora of magic under your sleeve and the freedom to take out just about anything in your way, Fictorum conjures up a unique experience that provides a lot of cool explosions and adventures, but perhaps lacks in that long term appeal.
What to Expect
Rogue-lite games certainly come with their perks such as always having plenty of replay value, and the constant challenges that each stage brings whenever you play through it. The downside is that over time you start to realize that there’s no real direction behind it other than the challenge itself, and for Fictorum it fits that description well. There’s a lot of cool things to explore in Fictorum, such as its deep spell casting system that allows you to come up with creative ways to turn everything around you into a heap of bricks, and of course being an RPG you follow a story of trials and tribulations that ends in a battle for freedom. However with all that being said, the overall presentation of Fictorum just didn’t seem to resonate well with us, there are some good aspects but we found that the cons seemed to creep up in the end and casted a terrible spell on the overall performance of the game, which brought down our expectations greatly. Let’s dive deeper into that area during our gameplay breakdown and provide our two cents.
So let’s start off with the story (or lack thereof) to kick things off. The reason we say lack thereof is because the minute you boot up the game there’s no real backstory at all, no cutscenes that detail the events leading up to the Fictorum’s destruction from the Inquisition, the supposed villain of the game. You start off the game with a unique in game tutorial that guides you through step by step on how to fully utilize your tools in the game, and this we actually liked. Most games have you read long dialogue or have an NPC show you the ropes, but in Fictorum, the explanations are sort of steered into the ground as you run up the hill towards the end point of the map and we thought that approach was a nice touch. It allowed you to stay immersed in the game as you learned how to take control of your character and use spells carefully. After all that’s done you go into the create a character screen where you can customize your wizard to your liking, but it’s not a deep customization compared to other RPGs. It’s not bad but it’s not great either, the job gets done and you move forward into the main part of the game. So going back to the story aspect, there just didn’t seem to be any real direction with regards to the story and while the game provides a written script of events about your character, it didn’t really resonate with us.
It seemed like more of the focus was on the gameplay than to create an immersive experience with regards to a solid story, which isn’t very concrete at all and that kind of robbed the game of its shine. You’re basically playing a game that sooner or later becomes all about destroying whatever stands in your way without really having a true objective behind it all. You’re able to rewrite history after you die during your adventures but even that doesn’t really save the game from its severe texture loading problems as well as rigid character animations. What we’re saying is that Fictorum doesn’t feel complete in any area whether it be the story or the gameplay, which sadly hurts this game’s great concept. As we said earlier in the article we really do like the idea of Fictorum and the direction the team wanted to head in, but just the way everything was executed just didn’t glue together well and so you end up with a game that feels jaded and it starts to weigh on you after a while. After spending a great deal of time trying to fight our way through a horde of enemies we grew tired of it because it was like we were fighting for nothing, and because it’s rogue-lite you have to start again anyway.
We didn’t run into any inns or places to heal our character that often because in this game, your health can only be regenerated by purchasing specific items. We tried looking for these items but got so caught up in trying to fend off randomly spawning enemies that it became second thought, and instead just focused on trying not to die so fast. There didn’t seem to be missions that really helped to bring life into the story either which also turned us off because if you look at the vast majority of RPG titles, they typically come with an assortment of main missions and side quests that you can partake in to provide you with more incentive to keep playing in order to reach the end game. The overall design and layout of the stage selection was poor in our opinion and really could use a lot more fine tuning, while the levels themselves just felt a bit TOO open to the point where things felt barren. It became increasingly harder to come back to play this game because just the flow and pace of the game was inconsistent, and again didn’t provide us with any sort of real reward to our hard work. Scraping Bottom Games took that risk of trying to tackle a new way of playing RPGs but sadly that risk didn’t pay off in the end, at least for us. Maybe with more updates and patches later on the game could improve, but at this moment the game lacks polish and because everything just feels all over the place we can’t find true enjoyment in it.
Honey's Gameplay Consensus:
Fictorum’s long term appeal can only surface if the team can somehow paint a more detailed picture of what happens throughout the game, as we stated throwing in cutscenes or even more voicing to give off more realism. In its current state it feels more like a beta than a full fledged title, and the game drops August 9th which kind of worries us. Visually the game lacks that attractiveness and often reminds of early PC titles from back in the mid 2000’s. We had the game running at max settings and even then the texture loading issues were still prevalent which was disheartening to say the least. Do we recommend this game to anyone who’s willing to take a risk and try something new? That’s a tough one because on the one hand there’s certainly some cool aspects about the game like we mentioned earlier, but all of that just gets overshadowed by the lack of a real concrete story, loading issues among other things. What it eventually comes down to is pricing and right now there’s no official word on that just yet. So if Fictorum ends up costing more than what’s been put into the game itself, then chances are it’s not going to be a worthy one. However if the price is cheap enough then maybe it’s worth a shot since if you don’t end up liking it, at least you won’t feel too upset about it.
Cool visuals and explosions.
We like the spell casting customization.
Lack of voice acting or real dialogue to draw you in.
Loading times and texture issues became an issue.
Animations felt very dated and weren’t up to par.
Honey's Final Verdict:
While our experience with Fictorum wasn’t the greatest, that shouldn’t stop you from giving it a try yourself as we emphasized in the consensus. Not everyone’s tastes will be similar to ours and so we don’t want you to take our review too strongly and view Fictorum as a terrible game. In our eyes it simply lacked the finesse and in the end it didn’t provide us with any major direction for us to take with the main character. If you’d like to check out more reviews from us be sure to click on the gaming tab and of course, show your support by leaving a comment down below. Follow us on Twitch for when Honey’s Gaming goes live as well as Twitter to stay updated on all the latest gaming, anime, and pop culture news!
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Author: Rob "NualphaJPN" B.
A passionate fan of gaming, writing, journalism, anime, and philosophy. I've lived in Japan for many years and consider this place to be my permanent home. I love to travel around Japan and learn about the history and culture! Leave a comment if you enjoy my articles and watch me play on twitch.tv/honeysgaming ! Take care!