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Review: Realm of the Mad God

Review: Realm of the Mad God

The following is a video game review by new member of The Pit, Kyle Orski. Orski is our new Entertainment and gaming expert. He spends most of his time entrenched in gaming, so he is well-informed in this field. Enjoy his first article for The Pit!

 

A friend of mine brought to my attention this peculiar little gem that has recently made its appearance on the Steam market. Realm of the Mad God is a retro-styled 8-bit MMO focused around hectic and hellish shooter gameplay where you, and up to eighty-four other players, are let loose upon a world teeming with crazed gods and their minion legions. It has the trappings you’d expect from most MMOs; you quest with friends, gain levels, collect sparkly loot, and interact socially with the players around you. However, that is where the similarities end.

Now I’m a huge fan of anything 8-bit and this game is no excpetion, but I’m an even bigger fan of how refreshing this game turned out to be. Where most MMOs strive to mimic the competition, Realm breaks the mold with its lightning fast combat and unrelenting pace. From the second you hit its pixelated beaches, and all to way to Oryx’s fortress, you will be assailed by all manner of beasties in seemingly endless waves. For those used to a more plodding pace, Realm could very well leave you breathless and begging for mercy. Thankfully, this mercy can be granted with a swift tap of the F5 key, whisking you away to the safety of the Nexus, the monster-free social hub of the game. The Nexus houses all your character needs, like healing, trading, guild creation, and name/class customization.

Apart from the breakneck pace, Realm offers even more genre-defying features. The characters you will play are bite-sized; you can achieve the max level of 20 in less than an hour if you’re an experienced player. You might think this would shatter any form of long term play, but there’s one important factor I’ve held off on mentioning. Characters are allowed only a single life. That’s right, your beloved characters do not maintain the quasi-immortality that is rampant is nearly every other game out there. Upon death, your character is deleted and all items lost. This unique feature creates a white-knuckled sense of urgency as you and hordes of other players face off against an army of gods. Do you courageously charge into the fray, risking life and loot, or do you flee and live to fight another day? Character death happens very frequently and you can only fight it for so long before it finds you too.

This exciting permadeath mechanic is also a major component of Realms fame currency system. If you live long enough to reach level 20 you can begin to earn fame by your continued survival, but you can’t spend your amassed fame until the character earning it bites the big one. Think of it as cashing in the events of your life. Slaying gods and qualifying for secret achievements will maximize your ascent to stardom. The more you accomplished, the more fame that life will be worth. Fame is a persistent value and your reserves won’t be reset to zero as a result of death.

Of course there’s more on the line than just fame when it comes to reaching max level. Realm sports a diverse selection of classes to explore, but only one, the Wizard, is available from the start. You gain access to new classes by reaching level thresholds with classes you have available. Priest is unlocked after reaching level 5 with the Wizard, but other, more advanced, classes will require you to reach level 20 with multiple classes.

With all this leveling ahead of you, you might wonder what kind of content Realm contains to keep you playing. Quests are streamlined in that you automatically acquire them in the form of navigation markers that will lead you to a boss or god encounter. Defeating your opponent will net you a large xp reward, fame, and a chance at glorious soulbound loot (provided you’ve done enough damage to qualify). Aside from quests, dungeons may randomly spawn from the corpse of an enemy that you may explore with friends in order to confront unique bosses and gain special gear. The Mad God Oryx himself will be challenged by all players in a zone once 25,000 monsters and slain and his cadre of lesser gods are vanquished. Keep in mind that god battles are not meant to be taken lightly and will require the combined efforts of dozens of players to defeat.

All in all, Realm of the Mad God is an MMO many will find addicting because of its simplicity and sense of mortality. There’s much more to discover beyond the basics of what I’ve talked about here. Even after playing it for the better part of three days, I still had to tear myself away to write this. And the best part? It’s completely free. So get out there and show the Mad God what you’re made of!

Pit Gaming Guru

Kyle Orski, left, with Brad Swaile from Death Note at Youmacon 2009.

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