Rusty Hearts is a free to play 3D action oriented MMORPG game with fast-paced and highly-stylized beat-em-up style combat combined with solo or team-based dungeon exploration experience. The game features combo moves, unique cel-shaded animation, anime-inspired graphics and a variety of PvP modes. The game is developed by Stairway Games and is being brought to the US by Perfect World Entertainment and WindySoft. Rusty Hearts Closed Beta Test started on 27th July.
The game is a mix of the Castlevania, Persona series, with some Dynasty Warriors, mixed in with a dash of Devil May Cry.
Characters & Skills
For now, the choice boils down to three characters, while the fourth will be unlocked later. Frantz is a typical vampire in-your-face jack of all trades. Angela uses magic while Tude is a brawler with quick reactions.
What I have noticed is that the game is friendly to beginners. The instructions are precise and are presented as the story flows related to the selected character. Each character has the ability to choose specialization in one of two weapons, as well as one of the two types of armor. As you progress you will be gaining skill points for which you can purchase new skills or level up the ones you already selected. The skills are divided in Normal, Special, Buffs and Passive group.
The controls are pretty simple. K - attack, Z - block and C - grab. Other skills are placed in slots corresponding to the keys A, S, D and so on. You move with the arrows keys, jump with space key and dodge with Left Control Key. Also take notice that this game has a gamepad support and that it's very well implemented. When not in dungeon, you can use mouse click method to move around the city.
Quests are divided in several categories. They are spread nicely across the leveling path and dungeons, so you will rarely find yourself slashing trough the dungeon solely for gaining EXP and leveling up.
Story quests often bring some in-dungeon cut-scenes, which tend to be annoying at some point when you are eager to unleash devastating combos to unearthly creatures. Other quests consist of classical gathering of items of some sort from specific mob types in dungeons or challenge tasks.
Challenges vary from completing the dungeon alone, completing it in a party, on certain level of difficulty to achieving a certain grade at the end, not getting hit more than certain amount of times or acquiring certain amount of style points. In that way, doing some dungeons several times feels a bit less “grindy”, since you will be focusing in dispatching enemies in the most stylish and flashy way possible using all available skills, worrying about the sequence of skills and placement of the mobs in a way that the clearing of the room looks as an endless combo. With more friends in the party and on VOIP app, greater the fun.
Each new map consists of several parts designed for characters of certain level. Each part is a dungeon that needs exploring on various difficulty levels with boss waiting at the end almost exclusively in the biggest room.
Since we are attacking the gloomy dark castle, the obvious way to start the cleansing is from the sewers which we all know as a source of all evil in the world. You will be cleaning aged power and water plants, rusty pipes, and turning some ancient valves. The second map consists of lower parts of the castle and includes Vine Cellar, Cafeteria, Library etc. It seems that new map (tier of the castle) springs up every 10 levels or so.
Stages are fairly short and straightforward. Defeating enemies restore your HP and MP. Stages come in Normal, Hard and Very Hard difficulties level. You need to beat Normal to advance to Hard difficulty level and so on.
Enemies come in various forms, but you can divide them in three categories based on their attack - melee, ranged and defenders. You should always go for the ranged enemies first, since there is annoying situation where if the ranged archer or caster is off screen you will not be ready to react and Block the incoming arrow, knife or fireball since you don't see him, and the game has no intention of alerting you that you became a target. Stuff like that is more annoying on harder levels of play.
Higher difficulties contain more enemies and potentially a mini-boss (stronger, different colored name monster) in every room. The drop rate is much higher and exp is much better.
Like Dungeon Fighter Online and Devil May Cry series, there's a rating system that takes into account how many abilities you use during a dungeon run as well as how well you perform combos. Once you get past the first set of stages, stages have a special "Blood" difficulty, but you need to meet certain requirements before you can enter.
Loot & Awards
After defeating the boss, there is a chance that the Margoras will appear and open the portal to Other World. You and your party are warped to additional, bonus room, where after defeating a dozen of enemies you will be rewarded with a chest full of riddle boxes. Those boxes could contain anything, from crafting materials, costume parts blueprints, consumable items to gear parts of varying quality.
If Margoras does not appear, you are presented with 12 cards each containing some gold or gear items. The number of gear cards is determined by the number of bronze, silver or gold cards collected from dead enemies. The quality of cards and difficulty level of a dungeon also determines the quality of the gear. You pick a card, say “uh!” or “ah!”, collect the loot and exit the dungeon. If you are greedy you can re-pick the card by paying certain amount of gold.
Crafting & Auction House
Crafting in game so far consists of cooking, costume tailoring, item crafting and enchanting gear. Cooking will give you dishes and potions with wide range of buffs. Cooking is not a skill that needs leveling. Collect drops from mobs in dungeons, buy some additional cooking materials from Patricia in town and invest some gold. Food will restore your HP, MP or for 60 seconds buff attacks, defenses, critical chance or power etc.
Tailoring costumes works in the same way as cooking, and probably will be done by most players, since all the playing characters throughout the game look the same (except weapons) without the costume parts. That practically means you will grind your ass off in dungeons, waiting for rare tailoring material drops so u can make yourself unique in aesthetic way.
Most of the gear in the game can be dismantled at blacksmith, where a giant skull will chew the item and spit some materials. Acquired materials quality depends on the quality of the dismantled item. Steel, leather, fabrics, solvents and some other rare materials come in grades from lowest to highest and can be upscaled in the same way as in Team Fortress 2 metal combining.
Ruska the blacksmith can craft some decent blue items in increments of 5 levels. Then those blue items can be brought to Estel (Angela Skill Master) near the fountain for another upgrade that will scale your blue item to gold (yellow) status. That level of crafting requires the blue version of an item, mithril steel of highish quality and usually 5 rare drops from bosses named as the piece of their soul.
Enchanting mechanics works mostly the same as in other free to play games. The more you enchant a weapon with pebbles and other gems; the chance of wrecking it is greater. Some enchanting can be done on the spot by dragging and dropping pebbles on the gear items. Other requires a visit to the blacksmith Ruska. First way is safe until the fifth pebble is placed the second is way until the third enchantment. From 4th to 12th enchant there is a chance of loosing all work and from 13th to 20th there is a chance you will loose the item.
Auction House is easily accessible via hotkey, so there is no need to run from one side of town to another, just to buy the missing ingredient for the crafting or enchanting. As much as this feature is convenient, the lack of sorting options while searching for an item and loosing the search if you switch the tabs make the Auction House a clumsy, unpolished tool to use.
Game has a stamina mechanics which works mostly the same as in DFO and discontinued gem Valkyrie Sky. You have 1000 stamina points at your disposal every day. Each dungeon you explore will drain certain amount of points. At the end of the day, when stamina is depleted you have limited options of what you can do in game. You can still explore the dungeons, but you will not be awarded with any EXP or gold and the drop rate of items will be low. Eventually, the cost of the repair bill of bashed items you wear will be the ultimate factor in deciding to stop and wait for stamina to refill. The Stamina does not regenerate over time. The bar fills every day at 2PM CET, or sometime in the middle of the night in US.
Right now, I didn’t see any food or potion recipes that can add some precious stamina to your bar. Probably they will be implemented later in the CBT cycle or the stamina system will be somehow revised in the future, since it’s the major topic on RH forums. Take notice that multiple characters on your account don’t share the same stamina bar and that PVP aspect of the game doesn’t require stamina. Each character has four slots effectively making 12 stamina bars available for play. When the fourth character is introduced that number will jump to 16. On the other hand that will drastically increase the grind fest feel since you will be doing all the same quests and dungeons for each of four characters and variation of them.
The PVP part of the game is nice and a bit less laggy than in other games of the same genre. Also, as mentioned before, it doesn’t require any stamina. When you choose PVP Battles from your character menu a list of available rooms pops up. At your disposal are several types of arena battles.
Tag Team Battle pits each member of your team against randomly selected opponent from opponents’ team. The player who wins stays on the battlefield and takes on the next opponents’ team member. You get the picture who wins.
Team Deathmatch Battle puts your whole team of certain size against the whole opponents’ team in what it seems, for now, to be a button mashing fest. As soon as some guilds are established and some coordination over VOIP apps is developed, we will see some nice matches with smart strategies and executions.
Survival is a last man standing mode, where your button mashing and pussy tactics come to shine. Only first three places take the PvP points.
VIP Battle lets you decide the important person in your team, which you need to protect while also trying to kill the opponents VIP player.
The Cash Shop is also introduced to players in this early stage of CBT. From what I’ve seen from the list there are no gameplay breaking or pay-to-win items (yet). For starters, there are leveling packages, drop rate related packages and guild related packages. Resurrection scrolls, health and mana potions are all there too. There are also boxes containing a gem of specified color but with randomized quality. And finally there are costume parts. Limited for 30 days, somehow overpriced costume items can distinguish you from hundreds of other players of same character.
After everything is said, I can wrap this up with my opinion about the game. From what is presented now ingame, and from developers statements and some peaks at a korean website of the game, this will be mostly PvP game. There is no PvE endgame content as far as i know. After people level up, they will be farming last stage of the last castle tier on the "Blood" mode for gear and materials, so they can upgrade for the unforgiving PvP scene. The game is still buggy here and there, but that was expected sine it launched in CBT ten days ago. Some parts of ingame and UI text are still not translated, or translated in Tarzan english.
I will continue to monitor this game, and will bring you the updated review when new things ingame are available.
Pros: +Stylish graphics +Gamepad support +Various PvP modes +Cooperative gameplay
Cons: -Buggy (But its Closed Beta) -Limited persistent world environments -Almost there with the translations