Deep Realms on Facebook: Depth that's both delightful and detrimental
Deep Realms, for all intents and purposes, is an attempt to get the lot of social gamers into a genre that has largely been dominated by fans of the Final Fantasy series or Dungeons and Dragons. (Full disclosure: You're lookin' at one.) Developed and published by Playdom of Social City fame, Deep Realms nails the classic role-playing game (RPG) shtick while introducing a plethora of social elements to keep players coming back and connecting with one another. Folks who know what a d20 is or can tell you the difference between Cloud Strife and Squall Leonhart will feel right at home with Deep Realms, but will the average FarmVille player dig this much complexity?
Playdom does a wonderful job of easing players into the game's travel system and battle mechanics. Even the six classes and their ability trees should be simple enough to understand for your standard Facebook gamer. You are a humble farmer (sound familiar?) who out of nowhere is thrown into a quest to find your estranged brother who went off into a miscellaneous cave after giant rats attack your homestead. The standard framework of an RPG storyline is there, which is enough to train you how to navigate the world.
Each map is littered with tiles, which each cost one Energy point to move to, so it's easy to see where the gameplay hook stems from. While the whole Energy bit is admittedly getting old, at least this is an inventive method. Tiles have a seemingly random chance of hiding a monster inside, so to speak. This will launch players into battle, which is a turn-based affair of players and monsters trading blows. While the battle system is easy enough to understand--your options are to either attack, drink a health potion or run away--the way in which attacks are assigned is something to be left up to Playdom to explain. (To break the fourth wall for a moment: Explaining exactly how Deep Realms works would take thousands of words.)
Once players hit a certain level, they must choose to enlist in a certain school of combat from six options like Sorcerer, Warrior, Archer and more. You know, the same few roles some of you have been dealing with since the 1970s, which somehow never get old. Regardless, this adds a layer of depth not found in most social games, but it is just the beginning. Once your lowly farmer-turned-sorcerer (at least in my case) reaches Level 5, you're ripped right out of the cave you were exploring. Why?
Because Playdom has something(s) to show you, that's why. You know that adventure you were busy embarking on? Well there is a litany of features and options that, if you're used to playing with friends, supersede your quest. Without getting too bogged down in the details, there's an Arena to fight friends in, a Tavern to rally friends to fight giant monsters with, a Bazaar to buy items in, Elixirs to trade between friends, Spirits to conjure for bonuses when fighting friends, Collections to watch out for when questing, Gifts to send to friends ... you get the idea.
Deep Realms, for all of its beautiful, seemingly hand-drawn graphics, smooth animations and engrossing music, is an incredibly complex game. Especially when at one point you're simply clicking around a cave and another you're bombarded with a list of other things to do that have nothing to do with your brother. If it turns out that he was eaten by bipedal rats wearing vests (you'll see) in the end, it'll be no wonder why considering you were too busy hanging out in Town. The game's myriad features should be introduced slowly, not when you haven't even left the first dungeon. Deep Realms, while borrowing features from several games we've already covered, adds a layer of beautiful, shiny polish that's undeniable. This game deserves your attention, but just be ready for Level 5--it's a doozy.
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Have you tried Deep Realms yet? What do you think of the game's complexity and how it's presented? Sound off in the comments. Add Comment.