There is a certain difficulty in attempting to review (or in this case preview) an MMO. In a single-player game your experience with the story and mechanics is a fairly accurate prediction of what others can expect. On the other hand, MMOs grow and change with time and the ability of their playerbase. One person’s experience can be vastly different from another. Taking that into account, Life is Feudal MMO is the most joyless and frustrating game-world I’ve encountered.
A big part of the appeal of MMOs is forging an online community. To that end, I bought an extra copy of the game (in addition to the free one obtained for this review). This was so my husband and I could play together, co-op style to hopefully negate some of the early game struggles.
I point this out because inevitably someone will suggest that I only had trouble because I was trying to solo a multiplayer experience. You cannot do everything yourself and trying is only asking for failure. Since I didn’t meet many other players online I brought my own for the best chance of success. Sadly, even with two people working cooperatively, the odds are heavily stacked against you.
In It For The Long Haul
This game is supremely grind heavy to the point of feeling more like an incremental clicker game than an immersive online experience. Every action, from gathering a single apple from a tree to digging a tunnel requires a click and progress bar. You receive a minuscule amount of experience for each action you perform. The only way to progress is to just keep clicking away to slowly accumulate more points.
It takes a prohibitive amount of time to accomplish anything in this game. Just raising your experience level so you can be slightly less crap at something is a seemingly endless slog of repetitive motions. The Steam page touts a mini-game mechanic that’s supposed to break up some of the monotony, but in my whole time with the game I never encountered this feature.
The complex crafting, which was a major selling point for the game, is undermined by broken placement mechanics. You are shown a grid and told that certain buttons will move and rotate where your item can be placed, but they just don’t. This was true, both when attempting to build on a tile or just set down what your character was carrying so you could move unencumbered again.
Setting things down appears to be especially sensitive as I was unable to get it to work correctly once in over 13 hours of gameplay. I got around this by putting my character into a combat stance which would cause them to immediately drop whatever they were carrying. It was an inelegant solution, but the only one that reliably worked.
Just a Flesh Wound
Since I brought it up, let’s talk combat. Life is Feudal MMO promises a non-target, physics-based combat. That is literally all I can tell you since actually attempting any sort of combat is a death sentence for new players. Owning to its “hardcore” nature, death has real and lasting consequences.
Now, I feel it important to mention that I think it’s great that dying actually matters. It helps curtail griefing and other unsavory practices. The problem is that you don’t just loose your items upon death. Instead you’ll also lose some of your hard-won experience. Those points that you invested hours of time into slowly acquiring? Have fun re-earning them after a random bear mauls you to death.
There’s a difference between creating a game that is mechanically difficult and one which is difficult through poor design. The key being that players can slowly master and overcome difficulties with gameplay mechanics. Problems stemming from design elements will always needlessly hinder progress and unfairly punish players. In Life is Feudal MMO the challenge comes almost entirely from attempting to overcome the latter. A problem many players will solve just by logging out for good.