Good mixture of combat and story

User Rating: 7.6 | Kult: Heretic Kingdoms PC
I always wondered how could this simple (and buggy) game get such a high score on many game sites and magazines. But when I think about it... it's quite possible. What makes this game seem so good is that it doesn't pretend to be another revolutionary rpg. The story is simple, combat system - simple, character advancement - all simple. Together it blends into well balanced gameplay. The Heretic Kingdoms are ruled by "Inquisition", whose main goal is to wipe out any traces of religion, gods, worship... you get the picture. You play as a young girl, member of the inquisition. You are tasked to find and destroy the Godslayer sword (a sword which killed a god, long time ago). Some cultists want to use this sword to resurrect the dead god - or just use it to get to power. The graphics may seem outdated, running on isometric engine, but I, raised on infinity engine games, didn't mind that much. All of the backgrounds were rendered nicely and each one was different and original. The character avatar changes depending on her clothes and weapons. You can zoom in and out a little; you know, that kind of graphics like Beyond Divinity or Sacred. As I've said, the gameplay is very simple, you get used to it very quickly. You can play as a fighter, archer, wizard, mixture of them all... depending on how you distribute your skill points (melee, missile, intelligence and one more thing - maybe dexterity? don't remember) Major feature in this game are attunements. If you've heard of Kult, you must have heard of attunements. So what are they? When you use an item (weapon, armor, mag. staff, rings, whatever) and you gain experience by killing monsters, you slowly unlock that item's attunement. It works like learning a spell: the attunement appears in your known attunements table and you may turn it on (like memorizing the spell). As you gain levels, you get more slots for active attunements. Some of them have restrictions - like you may not wear armor, or you must carry a weapon of certain element. Oh, elements! There are four elements -> four schools of magic: air, water, fire, earth. If you are a wizard, you cast a spell when you attack with a focus of that element (focus is a magic rod or staff). Next thing, which is original for Kult is Dreamworld. It is like a parallel ethereal dimension. No idea, what I'm talking about? OK. You press "D" (switch to dreamworld) and this is what happens: background turns misty blue; trees, buildings (that kind of stuff) stay; monsters, people disappear; ghosts and fiends appear. Like I said: parallel ethereal dimension. It actually affects gameplay in a great way: you can't kill a tough fighter - simply 1.switch to dream world, 2.get away some distance, 3.switch back, snipe him with arrows or fireballs until he gets close, go to step no.1 until he's dead. The funny thing is that if you want to feel safe in the dreamworld you must kill all the ghosts first... The story is quite nice, some twists, some sidequests... just the thing you expect from an RPG. Some quests have even different solutions, which greatly adds to replay value. Sound? Well... All right. I liked the music, it's this familiar Baldur's Gate kind of music, it's not irritating if you listen to it for a long time. It's nothing groundbreaking, but it sets the atmosphere well, and that's the purpose of a game music. Voice acting... I don't remember hearing it much. Most (or all?) of the dialogs are just written. There are some cutscenes which tell some part of history. The voice telling the story is ok, although it seemed to me a little overpassionate. But it's no big deal and the cutscenes are few. Value: Kult isn't BG2, but still, a nice simple mixture of Diabloish combat (click enemies to death), nice story and relevant and interesting quests. I could probably mention length. OK, it took me over 50 hours to finish it, but that's not a significant number, I'm a very slow player (even Dungeon Siege took me 55 hours). So you could say it's a pretty short game for an RPG. Weaknesses: It's easier to talk about weaknesses of a great game, because they stick out more visibly. This game does everything at 70 - 80%: nothing is perfect and nothing is terribly bad. There are some things though which annoyed me, like: Stability - Get the latest patch or forget about backpacks unless you like your windows desktop very much. They really could have spent some more time testing. Fonts. Yes, fonts. Is it so hard to make a bigger, nice looking medieval style font? I mean, is it so hard? Why do I have to read all dialogues, item descriptions in what looks like an ugly Courier New? Grrrrr. Ok, I'm fine now. Overall impression: this last year (2004) wasn't very rich with RPGs and I must say that this game belongs among the best ones (not counting MMOs).