OK, these two games have nothing to do with each other, but at least one review is a positive and one is a negative.  First, To Be or Not To Be.

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It is permadeath, but you have options

This is Ryan North’s choose-your-own-adventure version of Hamlet. You can play as Hamlet, Ophelia, or Hamlet’s Dad, and you can follow Shakespeare or not.  And you will do all of the above, because in classic CYOA style the paths are pretty short and you’ll want to get a good sampling, at least.

I suppose some very earnest and glum person might not care for North’s off-the-wall humor.  I am not that person.  It’s pretty hilarious, and though North is not as well-versed in verse, I have to admit that in terms of choosing adventure, he’s got Shakespeare beat. I’d venture to say that his version of Hamlet is even better than Cowboy Wally’s. It’s also pretty cheap, so what are you waiting for?

About the only other thing to say is that as an engine for a mostly text game, it’s done very well.  You have to do maybe a little too much clicking to explore a previous path to the previous branch, but there are save points to help out, and it’s really not onerous to explore a bunch of possible plots.  There are also a bunch of illustrations for those who don’t like to read.

Next, Black Desert Online.  I promised a Steam pal a review, and here it is.  That is, there’s a review that indicates how some people might like it.  I didn’t manage to.

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One badass cutie, coming up

I heard about BDO, strangely enough, from a rave review of its character generator. And by golly, it does have a magnificent character generator. For instance, in the above image the blue spot isn’t a tattoo, it’s a control. You can take that area and shift it, rotate it, or resize it, and so with each other part of the face and body.

And yet, the process reveals that after this next-gen character generator, we really need a next-next-gen character generator.  As you can see, by default you get a cute Korean girl. And… what do you do next?  She looks fine.  Honestly it’s more interesting to spend the time in Oblivion  making its potato faces a little more acceptable.  Given a beautiful face, about all you can do is mess it up.  A next-next-gen program might help you discover how to move the face in a particular direction– e.g. you want Faye Wong or Lucy Liu or Ritsuko Taneda or Maggie Cheung instead of the default face.  Most of us have no idea how to program a face– what polygons to nudge to get those characters.

Once the game starts, what do you get?  I’ve read about it being a Different Kind of MMO, but it seemed like every other MMO I’ve tried, only more generic.  You have a starting village where you talk to people and learn the interface.  There are starter monsters that never go away, and yet killing a few seems to make an NPC happier. There are quests and item sellers and other PCs dashing around and having endless discussion of Trump in open chat. Combat is mostly mashing keys, though I’m told you get various combos later (but no real aiming). You can certainly keep busy, but none of this is as well done as (say) The Secret World, and the world isn’t as interesting as (say) DC Universe Online.

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It is gorgeous, I’ll give it that. It’s a pleasant colorful world. Above is how your character will appear in the world after all that customization: almost identical to other PCs.

Now, from the real review I linked to, you can see that you can invest in businesses, go fishing, hire NPCS, and so on.  Which sounds excruciatingly dull to me.  I can be amused building bases for awhile, as in Empyrion, but hauling products was a chore in Civ 2 and I doubt it’s improved since.  (Well, I did like Euro Truck Simulator 2, but the minimal tasks required to drive a simulated truck are more interesting than following a path in an MMO.)

So, if all this sounds like your cup of simulated medieval gruel, dive in!  I absolutely can’t say I’ve spent enough time in the game to really see what it has to offer.  But I do say that it does a poor job of selling itself in the first 4 to 5 hours.

 

 

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