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Random reviews of games I've played

This time: The Chronicles of Spellborn. Good, clean, bear killing fun!

Author: biff10426

The Chronicles of the Bear Slayer: A The Chronicles of Spellborn Review!

Posted by biff10426 Friday March 27 2009 at 9:50AM
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After seeing a number of those World of Warcraft commercials featuring prominent stars such as Mr. T, William Shatner, Verne Troyer, and Jean Claude Van Damme, I was left wondering if Stephen Colbert played any MMO's himself. I know he mentioned he used to be some sort of Dungeons and Dragons nerd in his youth, so it wouldn't be surprising, but I did play a MMO today that I know Colbert never would.

It's called The Chronicles of Spellborn.

You may be thinking why, probably not, but maybe. Why wouldn't Stephen Colbert play this game? I mean, it looks somewhat decent, right? Truth is, after seeing all those WoW commercials, I'm thoroughly convinced that Hollywood's top talent just wouldn't give a “freemium” (sub-if-you-REALLY-want-to) MMO a chance. Nay, these big names are too...big for that. That wasn't the reason why Stephen Colbert wouldn't play TCOS though...

The Chronicles of Spellborn also has bears...lots of bears.

Confused? Perplexed? Somewhat interested in the rest of this article? Read on about my first few hours in Acclaims next attempt in the MMO market as I lace up my boots, put on some camo, and knife me some four footed omnivorous grizzlies in my own The Chronicles of the Bear Slayer.

Creating my Bear Slayer took a little longer than expected; TCOS surprised me by having a somewhat deep-ish character creator. I've been playing quite a few of these free2play MMO's over the last few weeks, and this is the first time I was presented with more than two options for hair, three options for faces, and eyes ranging from absurdly big to looking like my toon was long overdue for his next “fix”. Don't get too excited though, this isn't City of Heroes. TCOS may have more than what you're used to, but it's nothing worthy of an award. Not that it matters much, as in most loot driven games, as you're initial look will only last until you find that next shiny piece of armor or helm.


Bears, bears, bears, bears, WHEEEEE!!


Interestingly enough, TCOS isn't a loot driven game. At least by standard comparisons; you choose your armor and weapons right from the get go.


Weapons and armor have absolutely no impact on your stats at all. Instead, you're to slot Sigils in them, almost like the materia system from Final Fantasy 7, only without the angst driven, spiky haired hero to wield them. These Sigils can be moved to other pieces of equipment any time you'd like, so you won't find yourself debating over whether or not you should take your new, crappy looking, but much more uber shiny over your cooler, more badassy, but shittier current equipment. This feature will at least ensure that while everyone will be running around with the same epic tier Sigils by end game, they at least won't all look the same.

As far as my weapons load out, prior experiences told me that not only is a knife the best tool for killing bears, it's also the manliest. Presented with the choice of becoming a Warrior, Spellcaster, or Rogue, I decided that Rogue would best fit my bear stalking nature. My eagerness to hop right into the bush and start my unadulterated massacre of the local bear population was waylaid by the token tutorial phase. To prove that I was strong enough, and a bit crazy enough, to kill bears with only a knife, I was tasked with aerating straw dummies and crates. After dispatching these inanimate objects with extreme prejudice only a Rogue can exhibit, I was told to meet the captain. After waiving off my roguish wit and charm, the kind female captain reminded me that the ship we were traveling through time and space with was currently under attack by some weird looking creatures. I passed her my digits and deftly leaped to the deck.


Bait...bear bait.


Showing off my combat skills, and almost getting killed in the process, I made quick work of these assailants. By chance, or fate if that's your thing, we arrived at our destination shortly after. The captain smiled and told me that we were not meant to be, and I should hurry ashore to get on with the damn game.

Calystix the Bear Slayer had made his arrival, and he was hungry...for blood.

Bear blood.

Turning down quest requests left and right, I finally met the person I had been looking for. This man had a problem, a bear problem, and was looking for someone to help out. I gave him a curt nod and, grasping my blade, leaped into the woods to track down these godless killing machines to make things just a little bit more right in this world.


The hibernating bear sleeps. I'll make him sleep...FOREVER!


Combat in TCOS, much like fighting bears in real life, is not a lazy mans game; you're without the option to simply click an enemy then grab a sandwich while your character happily swings away at whatever target you gave him. Combat in TCOS is more akin to First Person Shooters, or your somewhat average action game. You're given a reticule, to hit something your target must be in, or around, the reticule. Clever! An attempt to make all those hours of grinding a little bit more exciting! Unfortunately, that wasn't the case. My usual battles with bears usually started with me trotting up to a bear, alerting him to my presence (real men don't back stab their quarry, no matter how dangerous), closing the gap so we where more or less standing toe to paw, then exchanging blows how one normally would in most other MMO's.

In short, while the combat tries to be a bit different and intuitive, it ends up breaking down to the same old same old. Keep in mind I was playing the game for a relatively short amount of time, so end game bears might prove a bit more crafty and mobile. I think this system could really get the most out of itself if epic bosses actually moved around the combat area, instead of sauntering up like the big bags of hit points that they are and exchanging blows. I look forward to exploring this combat system a little bit more, and hope to find some hectic battles later on.

After getting my ass handed to me by a pack of wild bears a few times, I decided it was time to look over my Skill Deck and make some adjust-

Oh, right. Instead of the commonplace skill bar you find in a lot of MMORPG's today, you're given one WITH AN AXIS! This bar rotates every time you use a skill, and is somewhat confusing and unwieldy at first. All skills are grouped into tiers and have to go to a corresponding “face” on your Skill Deck. This basically means that while you may have 300 skills at your disposal, you're limited to bringing only so many into combat. Using a skill rotates the Deck to the next face, presenting you with your next choices. You're free to configure your Skill Deck any time you wish, out of combat.


Ohgod ohgod ohgod ohgod!


The unwieldy part comes from the fact that left clicking will execute whatever skill you have highlighted. You have to use the number keys or the mouse wheel to change which attack you'll execute with the left mouse button. This takes some getting used to, and I found myself staring down at my Skill Deck 90% of the time during a fight. This would probably “fix itself” later on as you got used to your Deck's setup; eventually memorizing what skills you had where.

A quick reconfiguring of my Skill Deck and a short sprint later, I was destroying bears with a renewed fervor. It didn't look like I was alone; before I died it seemed that the bear population was somewhat scarce, as it took me almost ten minutes to kill five of them. After my respawn, I couldn't walk more than three feet without tripping over some bloody and still warm bear carcass. How wasteful! I suppose the low population of bears is reasonable; they don't exactly roam around in packs, especially when they know I'm on the prowl and have a quota to meet. For a largely non-loot driven game, I did seem to find lots of loot boxes popping up after downing a bear asking me if I wanted to take a “bear vertebrae” off the corpse. This lead me to believe that not only had I just killed this thing, I had LIQUIFIED it with my knife. A few pocket fulls of paws, spines, and other assorted bear parts later, I was stinking up the forest so damn bad that I was suddenly ambushed by a pack of boars that gored me but good. They would not have my bear parts, however. I cackled after looking back into my loot back after respawning, again, finding that the boars were the ones to come up short handed hoofed.


You will find me to be a sour meal, BEAR!


I decided ten bears were enough for the day, no need to cull the population too much and rob others of the satisfaction one can only get by slaughtering bears, and had a short talk with the man who gave me the task of killing these interlopers in the first place. He smiled, handed me some potions that would increase my maximum hit points for a while (would have come in useful while actually fighting the bears), and slipped some nasty looking coins into my pocket. Irked, I quickly looked around to see if anyone was looking and silently slit his throat and relived him of some money he was no doubt giving to other up and coming bear slayers, and quickly logged out.




Overall, The Chronicles of Spellborn is a decent looking game. It has some newfangled mechanics and controls which will appeal to some, but will probably drive off most. The targeting system, while interesting, didn't really do anything to make the game more exciting. I would say it would make PVP a bit more interesting, but I'm left to believe that most duals would quickly degenerate to your common knife duel, as seen in Counter-Strike:Source. The game is also psuedo-free: you're allowed to download the game at no charge and mess around in the world as you see fit until level seven. After you hit this lucky number, you won't gain anymore experience, and you'll have to pay for a subscription using Acclaims badly implemented “Coins Subscription”. Basically, you get a monthly subscription like any other pay to play, only every month you'll have to buy more coins instead of just the game automatically billing you. Bear slaying aside, a bear hunter has a lot of worries from day to day, and whether or not I have enough of these Acclaim Coins to keep playing should not be one of them. But hey, go ahead and give it whirl. You might like it...and you get to kill bears!



What dueling in The Chronicles of Spellborn probably looks like.


Sargoth writes:

Interesting read I'll give you that.  I have found that for combat, if you side step 1 and 1/2 to the left, swing, 1 and 1/2 to the right and swing you barely take any damage.  I'm a spell caster but once I found the proper rhythm I don't even bother casting spells as I lose too many hitpoints standing there casting spells.  That kinda turned me off but I think I might give it another go tonight.

Fri Mar 27 2009 11:36AM Report
biff10426 writes:

True enough, if they wanted to take this system THAT far, they should have addeds some sort of quick step/dodge/roll action, which I think they did sort of in D&D online...I forget if that actually did anything useful but, looks cool I guess.

Fri Mar 27 2009 12:12PM Report
mattic65 writes:

The skill bar and reticule take some getting used to, yes, but once you do it's a pretty refreshing experience. A lot of the skills you gain later will be marked as either combo starters, chain moves, or combo finishers. So with some clever skill deck manipulation, you can pull off strings of combos that will down your common mobs in no time.

Fri Mar 27 2009 4:25PM Report
Embry77 writes:

There is a roll type action for people playing the rogue class. I feel you havent given this game enough of a chance seeing how you completed the first bear killing quest of which your entire post revolved around. Try the PvP moshpit in the first zone its basically a small ffa arena shit show but I found it suprisingly fun, combat is action packed and fast paced. This game has some depth belive it or not some quests will have diffrent outcomes depending on which dialogue choices you make. Hard to make a reveiw of the nub zone that is available for free and of which you barley scratched the surface.

Fri Mar 27 2009 4:28PM Report
biff10426 writes:

It was a light hearted review, christ.


I mentioned at the bottom that its worth a look, and is something a bit different at least.  Just that some might not be looking for something that is free, then turns into a pay to play game.

Fri Mar 27 2009 4:51PM Report
craynlon writes:

 hehe very nice read :)

as someone that plays the game for 3 month, now i have to clarify a bit wether the combat deck is just a hotbar with axis.

im playing 2 chars atm, a lvl 32 bloodwarrior (warrior) and a lvl 34 deathhand (rogue). i also toyed around with an ancestral mage up to lvl 25. on all these characters, as soon as i get a new skill and sometimes even mid level i find myselve rearranging my combat deck. one of the things i really like about tcos is that this "deckbuilding" is an essential part of the game. what you want is the perfect skill at the perfect time. some skills later on build combo schains, the longer the chain, the stronger the effect. others weaken the opponent an prepare it for just the right skill to be executed.
it isnt as challenging then lets say building a card deck for magic the gathering but it has a certain similarity to that.

for me beeing successfull in pvp/pve not only depends on ur skills to dodge and attack but it also has another strategic component to it when preparing for battle.

Sat Mar 28 2009 4:37AM Report
dcostello writes:

 At least it looks different.  It's nice to know that devs are actually trying to make their game more interesting, exciting, and at least their adding in some strategy.  

Sat Mar 28 2009 8:57AM Report
Inktomi writes:

 Very cute article, I gave it a bump and a thump. I've also recently started playing Tcos and can tell you that it is an interesting concept however I'm a little confused with the subscription plan.


I believe that no-klaim has you buy a subscription to no-klaim, then you also have to buy coins to pay for any game subscription. Correct me if Im wrong and If so please explain, I'd like to see how this game is going to play past 7 but I don't want to get hit over the head with double fees for it. I play a few games and I'm not bill gates.

Sat Mar 28 2009 11:43AM Report
craynlon writes:

 hmm while i do agree that they should show more levels i think the concept is still pretty fair. unlike some other games you dont have to buy a box for 40$ or something, you just pay 15$ or less to play it a month and see if its worth sticking with it...

Sat Mar 28 2009 1:46PM Report
biff10426 writes:

@Craynlon,: Yes the skill deck is interesting, I found myself having to rearrange it a few time after getting some skills, and I know combat will go faster after you get some more sides to it.


@Inktomi:  The game costs 1500 coins every 30 days.  This means you'll havet to spend 20 bucks to get 2000 coins your first month, then 10 bucks for 1000 coins + the 500 left over from the first month.


Acclaim also has a membership option, these last anywhere from 30, 90, and 365 days and wil give you discounts on coins and some free coins as well, depending.  These are entirely optional, and you do not need to buy one to play TCoS.

Sat Mar 28 2009 3:42PM Report
alakram writes:

Well they dont charge you for the client. Is a good thing in my book.

Nice review, at least was fun to read ;)

Thu Apr 02 2009 5:56AM Report
PRlNCE writes:

I love this game because of:

1) Amazing graphics if u can crank it to the max

2)Not boring on click combat

3) Unlike any other MMORPG

4)Quests are fun and not very repetive (im only lvl 10)

5) Not instant lvls

6) Each character unique- stat points + skills u choose

7) Not heavily dependant on gear but u can get gear upgrades

deffenatly keeping me entertained and first new game not following the typical combat system! More like Oblivian/Fable but online

Thu Apr 02 2009 10:23AM Report
Wharg0ul writes:

Fun review to read, but as others have pointed out, you really didn't seem to look past the surface.

I have to think that the reason you seem to have died a lot is because you simply stood there and got hit. One would normally assume that if the targeting system were akin to an FPS, then maybe active dodging might be a viable tactic...yet this logic seems to have escaped you. It's're new to the game, and are not used to needing to do more than click & drool in an MMO.

Mob AI was also not mentioned I see...but of course all you managed to kill was a few bears, so I have to say that I wish I could be there to see your reaction the first time you are kited by a goup of bandits, or thwarted by a combination of warrior and mage working together as a team.

All in all, I hope you decide to look deeper into the game, past the intentionally simple starter levels and into the wonderfully refreshing complexity that TCOS has to offer.

Thu Apr 02 2009 8:48PM Report
pqyrz writes:

Thank you.

Thu Apr 02 2009 11:18PM Report
biff10426 writes:

WharG0ul: Died a lot?  Maybe twice.  One would assume, I know I did, that since most of my at tacks are melee, I would have to get into melee range to use them.  Now, it seemed to me (I might've been high at the time) that whenever I did the bears, too, used their melee attacks.  Active dodging, as you suggest, didn't seem to help.


This isn't a console game where dodging an animation will save you, in MMO's, a check is made against your character right at the moment, if not before, the animation is made.  That's why in some games a schmuk can throw a fireball at you, you duck behind a wall and still get hit anyways.  The animations are for looks and flair.  I could swing my weapon and turn, and the attack would still hit.  Furhtermore, my reticule didn't even have to be ON the enemy, I could be off by a litlte bit and the hit would still go on through.


Mob AI?  Clever NPC's running away from me!  Perhaps that would work what, the first few times?  Yes, clever, perhaps in future encounters I let them run and wait for them to get back.  Then its a matter of seeing whether the AI is "truly" clever, or just stuck in the same loop of commands again.  That would involve aggro'ing, running behind an object like a LoS pull, waiting for them to go run off and seeing if they'd come running back to you.


If they didn't then its simply a non-intuitive script that they follow whenever somebody aggros them that they run to point X, and won't do anything besides that.


Thwarted by a combo of a mage  and warrior?  I can't see anything more than being hit by the warriors sword and pelted by mage fireballs...hows that any different than other MMO's I've played?

Fri Apr 03 2009 9:36AM Report
biff10426 writes:


1. Agreed, the game looks good, though the character models seem like everyones a starving Apocalypse scenario survivor.

2.  Not boring, at first.  Though it has the amazing tilt-a-bar, you still have to sit there and click.  Spin the mouse wheel, click, spin wheel, click, spin wheel, click.  I fail to see how this is refreshing and innovative, it's different, but at the core its the same.

3.  As far as?  You still gain levels and have to kill NPC's to win.  Genre wise, it's a bit different, but mechanic wise you can pick apart any game and say they're the same, so, meh.

4.  Perhaps, but as you said you're level 10.

5.  Can be good or bad.  Not getting to cap in one day is a plus, not getting to the cap after solidly playing the game for five months is not a plus.  Where this game falls, I don't know.

6. I saw you could dump stat points into a whole three stats.  Simple, but one only needs to look at your skills to decide where to dump them.

7. I wouldn't really know, but just because the game isn't dependant on gear doesn't mean it's not with the Sigils.  It's like flipping the scrip, Everquest didn't really depend on some clothing items because it didn't do anything to your sats, it was gear dependant because that helped improve yoru character.  So I would say that the game will be Sigil dependant, same thing.

Fri Apr 03 2009 9:42AM Report
Wharg0ul writes:

Biff, you just proved how very little you actually know about the game.

Active dodging is a VERY important part of TCOS. Try timing a sidestep just as that bear is about to swipe at you. With a bit of skill, you can kill a bear or two without getting hit more than once or twice.

In fact, when those adds come running, maybe try using the first mob as a shield from the rest...strafe as you fight so that the others are forced to try to run around the first one to hit you. This will save your life more often than not.

Once again, what we have here is someone assuming that TCOS is your standard MMO, and therefore standard MMO tactics are viable. This is not the case.

I invite you to read some of the combat guides either on the official forums or the fansite of your choosing. Learn to dodge, learn to counter the AI, learn to set up your deck so that you can pull off combos.

Your lack of experience and knowledge of the game you are "reviewing" is a bit shocking, really. I would have assumed that you would have at least done your homework beforehand. Thankfully most people don't put too much stock into reviews of the n00b levels anyway.

And yes...dying twice is a lot. I finally died for the first time last night, because I was running my mouth in chat to a team-mate, and failed to notice the mob sneaking up behind me for the back-stab.


Fri Apr 03 2009 1:44PM Report
biff10426 writes:

'Kay, active dodge, using mobs for shields and lolz@dying twice regardless, the game is like any other MMO, where you click ad infinitum until something is dead, just now you're forced to, oooo, take a step or two to the side every now and then?  Awesome.  You enjoy your game, and we'll see how well it's doing in a year.

Sat Apr 04 2009 11:48AM Report
biff10426 writes:

Viewed 514 times
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7 people rated this. 5 bumps / 2 buries!


Woot, for lack of experience and knowledge and n00b stock in reviews, doing pretty good, lawl.

Sat Apr 04 2009 11:50AM Report writes:
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