Playing QuestRun reminded me of a few times that I’ve played Dungeons and Dragons with a really unimaginative dungeon master. You see, in Dungeons and Dragons, you create your character from scratch and charge into a world created by the dungeon master, become a main character in your own fantasy adventure, discover new worlds, forge lasting relationships and discover something more about yourself. Or, if you have a terrible dungeon master, you fight, you fight some more, and – if you find the time – squeeze another fight in there.
In QuestRun, you are put in charge of troupe of three adventurers that could be comprised of a paladin, a sorcerer, a bard, an apprentice, a priest, a rogue, etcetera, and you fight. You fight a lot. That’s all the game really is; fighting, collecting loot and fighting some more.
Perhaps this wouldn’t be such a grating formula if the game gave you some measure of control over how these grueling battles played out. Minimal control is given, but your three adventurers attack automatically after their action bar fills up. The player’s input is relegated to switching around character formations and equipping items. That’s about it. It should be noted that each character class has a special ability that can be used, but they only have one and you have to wait for their readiness gauge to fill up. How does the gauge fill up, you ask? Well, by getting beaten to a pulp by the myriad of enemies that are thrown at the player by the game. Think limit breaks from Final Fantasy VII.
An additional problem with the special abilities is that some of them are bordering on useless. For example, the paladin has the special ability to heal the entire party. However, the priest also has that ability, and not only does the priest have this ability, the priest is just plain better at it. This makes the paladin’s special ability moot and reduces her to a warrior/meat shield, for the most part. Other special abilities like that of the bard, apprentice and rogue are also pretty bad. The bard can “charm” enemies, which I believe increases their chances of missing attacks, but the effects of it last about three seconds. The apprentice also has a healing spell, but it’s worse than the paladin’s, which makes the class a terrible fighter and a terrible spell-caster. Finally, the rogue’s special ability is to steal while attacking, which can either be great or a waste of time. That is, if the rogue manages to survive long enough to do any of that.
In addition to special abilities, each class has a stance that can be activated for the whole party. The priest can activate a stance which boosts defense but lowers strength and speed. The warrior types have stances that do the opposite. Also, all the stances can be active at once, for some reason, which would probably cancel the effects of them out. I found the defensive stance to be the most useful, but inevitably the game will crush you many times over as you scramble to understand just what tactics will work for you. This leads me to my next point.
Now, for the biggest problem with this particular game; the difficulty curve. It starts you off with two available dungeons, one comprised of a gauntlet of marauding peasants, and another which is a gauntlet of similarly pathetic goblins. Then you hit the next dungeons, which gob-smack the ever-loving crap out of you with terrifying creatures that can take out your weaker spell-casters with a couple of hits. I managed to fight my way to the end of a dungeon just to have the single boss summon two face-ripping demons who proceeded to decimate my entire party – who were at full health.
Though the concept is conducive to something one may want to do to kill a couple of hours on a lazy Sunday, QuestRun is ultimately not very intuitive. Not only that, but the fact that you as the players are really only expected to switch around the characters on the field, hand them a better sword occasionally and press a couple of buttons to flip on various stances and activate special powers, makes the experience dreadfully boring.
It’s mindless dungeon-crawler with uninspired combat while also being stressfully difficult and unintuitive.