games is a tricky thing; sometimes a game you initially despise will grow on you, and
sometimes a fantastic-looking game that has you going like a four-year-old on a sugar high
will get old in a big hurry. That's why it's good to take your time with these things, to
give seemingly bad games a chance to redeem themselves and good ones a chance to go south.
I took my time with Knight's Chase, I.Motion's medieval adventure game, because
frankly I didn't like this game much the first time I loaded it up. Frankly, I still
don't. I played the thing for hours, too, and never got more than halfway through the
puzzle, mostly out of frustration with a clumsy control and fighting system, impatience
with nit-picky and obscure puzzles, and sometimes sheer boredom. But I gave it a chance.
In Knight's Chase, you take the role of William Tibbs, an American law student in Paris whose fiancÚ is missing. Soon enough you find yourself transported back to medieval France in one of your former incarnations, that of a Knight Templar. Once there, you must make your way through a maze of puzzles and fights in order to recapture your girl and make the world safe for Templarism. OK, a pretty intriguing premise, and given the current popularity of things Templar, maybe even a selling point. But other than a few vague connection to the Knights of the Temple and some historical, but seemingly irrelevant references to them, I really didn't get much of a Templar flavor; maybe this all picks up later in the game, but there wasn't enough use of this potentially fascinating theme to keep me playing. The Look:
The game actually doesn't look half-bad; the interiors are nicely done, and you get a good quasi-medieval feel from them. It's clear that the I.Motion people put a lot of work into their 3D mapping, and it shows. On the other hand, the characters are rendered not nearly as well; they're clumsy and stiff, and the incongruity of the settings and characters was perplexing. More time could have been spent in making the medieval characters look a little flashier - especially the various knights, guards, and crossbowmen you fight. As it is, they're all pretty generic and colorless. Gameplay:
But looks aren't the problem with this game; gameplay is. I never really enjoyed playing this game and can immediately think of at least three reasons why. First, the fighting system is just awful. Essentially, you move close to your opponent and push one of the four direction keys. Depending upon which button you push, your sword will move up to down, down to up, right to left, or left to right. Pretty primitive, and not helped by the very slow response time my character displayed. What should have and could have been one of the strong points of this game, an exciting, complex and fast-moving fighting system, is instead a boring and mushy slog. Secondly, the puzzles in this game were just not very logical; my whole take on puzzle games is that they should be difficult, but somehow informed by a logic that allows you to solve puzzles after some deduction and enlightened guessing. In this game, you just keep trying stuff until something happens. Often the solutions to important puzzles are counter-intuitive for no good reason - like reaching into a fire to find a key. Sometimes the puzzle demands real-time split-second solutions that will take many saves and loads and forever to figure out. This is indeed puzzling, but it's scarcely ever fun. Finally, the control system is very clumsy; you have to leave the main screen to do just about everything, and especially when time is at a premium this sort of clunkiness will get you killed a lot. Why not a pop-up or pull-down menu or a taskbar? Overall: The Templars have been undone once again. There are some good things in this game (like the premise and the 3D mapping) but they are overwhelmed by the truly bad ones (like the fighting and control systems and the odd logic of the puzzles). I love games with medieval themes, but I can't recommend this one.