RPG’s as a genre tend towards a certain selection of protagonists, usually from two distinct camps. On the one hand: do-gooders who ultimately have a kind heart despite whatever exterior gets slapped on them, or a (mostly) blank slate the player then fills with personality throughout the game’s choices.
Quest for Infamy sits distinctly in a third camp. While the hero, Roehm, isn’t necessarily evil he most certainly isn’t good. Stooping to just about whatever it takes to get the job done, the “hero” of Quest for Infamy is well on his way to such. The game itself might also be in for a little infamy as well, making some good design choices and some pretty poor ones as well.
Quest for Infamy is a bit of a blend between traditional point-and-click adventure games and RPG’s. Featuring ye olde graphics of yore and an interface that might have been built in the 80s, Infamy’s style is a refreshing take on the genres as is its gameplay.
Taking control of Roehm after an unsuccessful night of passion with a baron’s daughter, the player finds themselves in a podunk village with more than its fair share of eccentric inhabitants. Roehm’s goals aren’t clear – that is to say, he has none except to survive. Rather than face the protective baron’s justice, Roehm decides to try and make a fresh start in his new village.
The usual RPG/adventure bullshit ensues. The game will not proceed to the scheduled execution of a criminal until Roehm talks to to everyone of interest in the town. While this serves to familiarize the player with the layout of the town and its residents of note, the inorganic nature of the flow is jarring given that the rest of the game is fairly open. It isn’t until after the opening bits that the game truly begins to shine.
After Roehm gets to know the town, the execution begins (a pixellated yet bloody affair) and afterwards he remarks that he might as well “make a friend.” This is code for “choose your class” but the process is actually enjoyable. Rather than talk to the right teacher and begin training Roehm must first pass a test. For each class (brigand, rogue, or sorcerer) the test changes appropriately.
From the choice of class, the game’s story proceeds down a somewhat linear path no matter which you choose, but the subtle nuances and characters involved change enough to make it interesting and varied. As Roehm gains notoriety and commits various acts of “heroism” (one quest involves taking blood from a man – an option being to stab the piked head of the criminal and collect his juices in a beer glass), the larger plot unfolds and the characters come crawling out of the woodwork.
And the characters themselves are fairly enjoyable. Despite hit-or-miss voice acting, the personalities Roehm interacts with are fun and dynamic, with very well-drawn dialogue sprites to accompany them. Roehm himself is every bit of the ass that he was promised to be, and yes: the player can affect just how much of a snarky jerk he is.
Dialogue is indeed a highlight of the game, given its premise. Roehm’s lines are usually snappy and quick, but he isn’t as quick as he – or the player – thinks he is. NPC’s often react just as smartly to his quips, leaving him stumbling at times. It’s a nice, human feel for the protagonist.
The rest of the gameplay, however, is a mixed bag of quality. The adventuring interface for the game is, frankly, awful. Rather than an intuitive menu providing the actions Roehm may use to interact with the world, the player must either right-click through them in a one-way sequence or memorize the keyboard hotkeys for each. Other menus are accessed via a dropdown toolbar.
Wandering about the world is similarly frustrating at first. The triggers to move from one area to the next are ambiguous and less than obvious, and navigation in the beginning is a headache. On the flip side, no matter what action is being used, the cursor will include a blue star to clearly indicate what part of the sword/walk/look/use cursor needs to hit to start the fun.
Combat, rare though it might be, is fun. Pitting Roehm against his enemies, he can slash and stab in a variety of different ways as well as use abilities and items. Death doesn’t mean the end, either; Roehm wakes up with a headache and a smaller ego, but that’s about it.
Overall the game was fun. It was difficult to proceed very far as the save system was consistently corrupted with every update, and the initial interface learning curve was somewhat irritating. Yet despite that Quest for Infamy, proved to be an enjoyable experience and everything I thought it might be.
Look forward to Twinfinite’s full review when the game is completed!