This week the Game Hopper visits Koramgame's Spirit Tales. In this recurring column at MMORPG.com, our goal is to take turns giving you brief glimpses at some of the games which just don’t get enough coverage for any number of reasons. Look at our Game List. Many aren’t MMORPGs, but almost all are MMOs of one form or another. Then count the number of reviews we have for them. We’re addressing this, as quickly and as efficiently as we can, but the simple truth is that a lot of games fly under the radar. So, with The Game Hopper, we plan on bringing you a new game every week that you might not know much about. We’ll do some brief impressions and an overview on the game and then let you guys chime in with your own thoughts.
You might be wondering why a hardcore MMORPG site like ours would even give any notice to Spirit Tales, the decidedly and undeniably cute action-MMO that most of our stodgy veterans would shrug off. The thing is, if you're a fan of titles like Flyff, Eden Eternal, and other Asian-import MMOs, there's a lot to like about Spirit Tales. A game doesn't have to be for everyone to be enjoyable. For instance, the F2P grinders are usually not my cup of tea. But as anyone who watched the stream last weekend can attest: I had a lot of fun tooling around in this super colorful world, whacking flower-monsters and transforming into my spirit form.
Here is the bullet-list of the game's main features, straight from our Game List entry.
The six classes are split between the three tribes, which really don't seem to affect much other than your spirit form itself and the customization options available for your character's looks. It seems that there are no healers, at least from my play-time during the press beta, as the game is a mix between Diablo-esque potion downing and quick regeneration out of combat. I can't imagine, with the potions, you'd ever need a healer really. Though I didn't have time to check out any of the dungeons in my brief foray into the beta.
The above is a clip from my stream from last weekend. Please bear with the clicking and inane chatter.
The gameplay itself is fairly straightforward for anyone who's played an MMORPG in the past, well, ever. You can control with WASD or click to move, and you can draw the camera all the way out for a nice 3/4 view or zoom in close behind your character. Since the game felt like a kid-friendly Diablo and the click to move was responsive, I spent most of my time in the 3/4 view. It just worked well. But make no bones about Spirit Tales: Hell Mode this game is not. As the cute nature would imply, the questing and combat are very casual-oriented and lacking in a lot of challenge. This is the type of MMO you'd play with your young son or daughter, or your extremely casual-gaming girlfriend. Not something you'd likely spend hours on by yourself trying to "min-max" your way to the top.
There are however a lot of skills to choose from, and the skill-trees are set up like WoW, Diablo, etc. You'll start gaining skill points at your first earned level, but won't be able to start spending them until level five at the earliest as each skill and corresponding increase is gated by level. In essence, you can't put all your points into one skill right off the bat. You'll either have to hold onto them and spend them as you level, or branch out and try other paths down the skill trees. There's also a pretty nifty in-game pet system. You'll be able to find eggs, loot them, or buy them from the in-game store and like any good pet system they'll fight alongside you and help make combat feel like less of a chore. In this way, it reminded me more of Torchlight than Diablo. But this sort of pet system is also becoming commonplace in a lot of the Asian-imports.
For my time I played the Warrior, which seemed to focus a lot on single-target damage and heavy hitting to get things done. His skills ranged from burst DPS to AOE ground attacks with his giant hammer. That's another thing that's worth mentioning. It seems that each class has their own weapon type, but just one. The Fighter uses fist weapons, the Warrior uses hammers, and so on. This isn't such a bad thing, but for players who like variety in their weapons, they won't find it here.
There are some other nice features to the game's rather deep UI too. You can inspect monsters in the world to find out what loot they drop (need a specific crafting mat for instance?). It's one of the few recent import MMOs that doesn't just let you path your way to everything in your quest log, but it does let you click on the map and run to a spot. Since the maps are rather narrow path-wise and somewhat small in scope this works out well. Think of each zone as about half the size of someplace like Westfall in old WoW, and you're on track. But there's little exploring, as each map is mostly just a collection of corridors disguised as open outdoor areas. It's very much got an old-school "Diablo 1" feel to the maps.
If it seems like I keep comparing Spirit Tales to old school action-RPGs, it's because that's what it reminded me of. And it's not necessarily a bad thing. The ultra-cute visuals, the light-hearted difficulty, and the easy-going pace of everything make this basically the world's cutest action-MMO. I hear there's ranked 5v5 PVP later on, some pretty gnarly dungeons to crawl through, and the in-game "Sweetheart" system is perfect for those MMO-ers who like to duo a lot of the time. If you go into Spirit Tales expecting the best MMO since "Sliced Bread: The MMO", you'll be disappointed. Yet oddly, if you go in expecting a cute game to play with your kids that's really lighthearted and easy-going, you just might be surprised.