They've done the impossible: they actually made a dungeon crawler I hate.

User Rating: 3.5 | Silverfall PSP
Silverfall takes the crown as the worst dungeon crawler I've ever played. Many of the tried-and-true formulas that I've come to expect from a modern dungeon crawler are missing.

First and foremost, the entire game levels with you. When you pass through an area at level 10, all the monsters are level 10. Return to that area at level 40, and all the monsters are now level 40. No area of the game becomes "safe" to pass through to farm loot or finish old quests. It effectively makes leveling pointless, since the only effect leveling has is allowing you to equip different weapons, armor, or spells. And when low-level weapons are armor sometimes have better stats than higher level items, why bother? Your spells become more powerful as you level them up, but since the monsters do, too, there's no difference in combat. Also, spells are capped at level 10, which makes them almost useless against level 80 monsters.

Second, their "targeting" system is worthless. You typically can't target a monster until you've started an attack, and you have to manually align yourself perfectly with the monster. Locking on has almost no effect - you don't turn automatically to face the monster or hit more reliably when locked on, so you may have to run away, run back, run away, run back until you get the angle such that your weapon is actually connecting with the monster and causing damage.

The maps are huge, which is normally a good thing. In Silverfall, not so much. You have to cross so much country between plot points it's easy to lose track of the rather thin story. Also, spend too much time in an area and the monsters will respawn behind you, meaning you have to fight your way back to the few town areas to sell and replenish supplies.

Which is another problem: vendors are few and far between. I'm constantly having to drop things from inventory because there's no vendor nearby and you can't teleport back to safe zones to buy and sell like you can in Baldur's Gate, Champions of Norrath, Elder Scrolls, etc. Also, the vendors you do find have very limited stock of critical items like health and mana potions. Most vendors have only 3 or 4 of each. The one mercy is the vendors replenish their stock between screen loads, so you can leave an area and re-enter it repeatedly to replenish your stores if you're desperate.

Monsters are a source of annoyance, too. Aside from leveling with you, their AI is nonexistent. Each monster has a defined zone within which it can roam. Step outside that zone, and the monster will turn back and leave you alone, even if you're standing right in front of it, shield down, vulnerable to attack. Also, they regain all health and mana as soon as they move off screen. Get a particularly hard monster down to 1/4 health, retreat to replenish health and mana, and then go at him again: guess what. He's back to 100%, not 50% or less like you'd expect.

Graphics on the PSP version are awful. Early PS2 fare at best. The animations make your character look like s/he is running bowlegged, and the textures are blurry and poorly defined.

Finally, some side quests are absurdly difficult to complete. You meet someone at the beginning of a dungeon and they give you a quest. You fight you way through the maze of muck, and complete their request. Now you have to slog all the way back through the maze to talk to them and tell them you finished it. No secret door opens to give you a shortcut. No warp portal appears that you can jump back to them. And if you've taken long enough, all the monsters have respawned behind you (complete with a higher level to match any levels you've gained), so you basically have to do the dungeon 3 times: once to actually do the side quest, once to go back to your contact and tell them it's done, and a third time to get back to the far end of the dungeon (since the monsters may have respawned yet again) so you can continue to the next area.

So, play Titan Quest. Play Neverwinter Nights for the fourth time. But don't play Silverfall.
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