by Amanda French
[dropcap]S[/dropcap]o many games try to bank on nostalgia these days, and so many have failed or misrepresented themselves, that it’s understandable to be wary of any new title that promises you the pixelated moon and stars with a healthy helping of hype and some impressive coattail acrobatics. The question is: are Numantian Games, the Madrid based studio, doing just that? Their latest game, Lords of Xulima (don’t worry, the name threw me off too) is billed as a 2D isometric turn-based RPG that tips its plumed hat to such titles as Ultima, and Might & Magic. It also promises challenging gameplay, over a hundred hours of content, and a broad range of customization for your party of six. After over nine hours into the game, I felt I had pretty good idea of what the answer was to my question.
The game opens with a very simple cut scene where our hero delivers a grim monologue, followed by a very imposing (read: cheesy) call-to-action by some god-dude to go to the land of Xulima and stop some evil princes from being evil. If my summary sounds vague and unclear, it’s because I promptly forgot much of the game’s premise by the time the actual gameplay began. That isn’t to say the writing is badly done, but it certainly isn’t memorable. This is a game that really focuses on gameplay, not plot.
At character creation, the player can choose to jump into things with a pre-generated set of heroes, but being the control freak that I am, I chose to generate my own team of adventurers. I found myself disappointed by the level of choice I had. Character creation consists of three simple steps: pick one of the ten classes (of which all stats and starting spells are predetermined and unchangeable), pick a deity (who provides a small bonus without there being any explanation what some of the stats even do in the game), and pick a portrait (all of which varied in quality from photo-realistic, to ugly deviantART level anatomy). When a game boasts 100 skills to choose from, I want to…you know…choose from them!
I quickly got over my annoyance when I realized how hard the game was, and it occurred to me that Numantian Games decision to control starting stats was perhaps their attempt at giving more players a shot at, you know, actually succeeding. But while the game is challenging, I felt it was justifiably so. When you die, you know why, and you can learn from your mistakes. Puzzles are also challenging, and after I completed my first major one of the game, I found myself doing the Ickey Shuffle—which is what all challenging games seek: to give the player a real sense of accomplishment.
With a decent soundtrack, great graphics, and addictive battles, I really felt Lords of Xulima was one of the better crowd-funded games I’ve seen released. Is it perfect? No. But what game, indie or not, is these days?
If you’re looking for more Lords of Xulima info be sure to check out our previous coverage, including our Early Access Review.
[author image=” http://cliqist.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/amanda.jpg”]Amanda French first cut her gaming teeth by playing such classics as Sonic the Hedgehog 2 and Super Mario World at the ripe age of four. From there spawned a lifelong love of video games, particularly narrative heavy adventures and open world games. A creative writing graduate of Full Sail University, Amanda writes fiction novels in her spare time. You can find her work at the Independent Author Network under the pseudonym, Illise Montoya. Amanda’s all-time favorite games include Dragon Age: Origins, Fallout 2, and Tekken 5. She lives on the California coast with her husband and young baby son.[/author]