Beauty and Apathy Abound in DVide Arts’ Open World RPG
Like a hot date who belches in your mouth whilst kissing you goodnight, DVide Arts Incorporated’s RPG, Earth and Legend, charms you with its beauty at the same time as it suggests an apathy for its target audience that borders on contempt. And the insults begin at the gate with players being offered some-odd thousand in-game gold pieces if they give the game a five start rating before they’ve actually played it.
And it doesn’t get much better from there. If time spent with the game is like a romantic encounter gone sour then your Earth and Legend date a few hours in is backfiring in your car and asking you to pull its finger. An RPG of any stripe should be about creating narrative via interaction and choice. Earth and Legend is bereft of both. The game’s central narrative taps into the age-old theme of come back when your level ten. While eventually the story does lead the player into some decent boss fights, its details: come back later and something entirely forgettable about runes and giant monsters read like a placeholder.
Interaction with the game’s mechanics offers only slightly better fare. Earth and Legend’s role playing system sports three skill trees, each of which comes with a small handful of skills. Most of these offer up a bit of a bang by way of an animated flourish and power boost to your avatar. The overall system however like the game’s price tag is a façade. The system offers such slim pickings that the player ends up using almost all of the skills. The near absence of choice in this regard means the player never feels like he’s creating a character, which I’m pretty sure is one of the central draws of playing an open world RPG
There’s no denying that the game is pretty, it’s aesthetic pleasing. Characters, monsters and terrain, indoors and out, are by and large well-rendered and attractive and can even be said to possess a measure of character. DVide Arts Incorporated’s artists did an excellent job. Unfortunately their fine work ends up throwing the game’s shortcomings into sharp relief as the lion’s share of player interaction with said elements sinks over time into the lower depths of facile vapidity. Aside from a few boss fights, Earth and Legend’s antagonists are made up of a series contained, homogenous mobs. You get one type of monster per mob, and each monster group is rooted to its one particular spot in the game world. So, the level-one player, will leave town, mosey over to the boar mob and fight them until he hits level two, then walk over to the crowd of ratmen and fight them until he hits level three, then wasps, then treemen and so on and so on. It’s bad enough that this sort of MMO-grind is boring beyond belief, far worse that it completely obliterates the illusion that player is interacting with a virtual world. How difficult would it have been for the developers to mix and match a few monster types and spread them out over a set type of terrain? The best CRPGs make the players feel like he’s moving through a digital tapestry; Earth and Legend at its worst makes the player feel like he’s running the course of some pencil pusher’s rat maze.
Which brings us to the loot system. At no point will the Earth and Legend player ever encounter a single meaty loot drop. Players hoping to acquire items of substance will likely end up paying for them with real cash. And this, sadly, is Earth and Legend’s only choice of consequence: Whether to suffer through hours of insipid grinding or pay real money for in-game gold. The worst aspect of Earth and Legend’s micro-transaction system is that investment returns are ultimately rather slim. The armor looks kind of cool, but like the weapons, you have only one type for every fifth level. And while it at first seems that the player has options when it comes to weapons: an axe, a sword, a hammer; it turn out that each weapon type has exactly the same stats, so once again, the player is left without a meaningful choice. On the occasions the player finds a weapon or a piece of armor, the arms are invariably several levels below character level and will at best garner a gold piece or two if sold in town. I caved and spent ten dollars. When I later upgraded my phones OS, the in-game moolah vanished with my characters. I am every bit as sure that if I’d contacted DVide Arts Incorporated they would have helped me reclaim my gold as I am that I wouldn’t waste my time doing so.
Again, there’s no denying that Earth and Legend is pretty. A sweet, glowing moon highlights changing night cycles. A genuine sense of wetness saturates the landscape whenever sporadic rainstorms hit, and if you’re in town then, the cute little NPCs will bust out dripping umbrellas. To be fair, the game offers a host of fine detail, when it comes to its environment. It boasts a tight and well-defined control scheme as well, with respondent animations that are for the most part fluid and attractive. If the developers simply removed the anemic story and leveling system, and while they were at took a pass on the money grubbing and review graft, Earth and Legend would no doubt prove a serviceable action game. DVide Arts Incorporated however chose to engage in questionable in-app tactics and bill Earth and Legend a role playing game. If it is an RPG then it is at best a mess and at worst an insult, which is a shame because these days a good Western-style, Android RPG, like a good woman (or man) is hard to find. Thankfully however not every facet of Earth and Legend disappoints like a good date gone bad, there will be no need to engage in an uncomfortable conversation, simply hit uninstall or better yet, don’t bother with it in the first place.
Review graft and freemium pay or grind tactics render this 3D ARPG a complete drag at the end of the day.