Open Beta Preview
A school setting is nothing new for anime but for an MMO, it is rather unique. Yet with the anime style Remnant Knights employs the entire game feels strangely familiar. It's really hard to put the feel of the game into perspective. On the one hand I feel like as a viewer that I’ve been in enough anime schools that nothing will come as a surprise. On the other hand, this is the first time I’ve ever really been inside an anime school as a player. Flamboyant male teachers, emotionless class reps, a mystical power messing up everyone’s day. Every trope seems to be in check right from the moment you log in and get your first quest. It does feel strange to be told why you are in a school dedicated to fighting monsters, but I guess exposition has to come somehow and having it poured over your head the moment you walk up to your headmaster is as good as any.
Your goal in Remnant Knights is to become a ‘Knight’. A Knight is one who is trained in the art of hunting and dissolving the mysteries of the Skalari, incorporeal beings from another dimension that landed on this planet with falling asteroids. The Skalari however could not survive as formless ghosts and were forced to take on the shape of whatever they could fine nearby, plants, animals, garbage cans, and rumours say they have even possessed people! Their shape doesn't matter though as only a select few can see them, and most of these people are kids. And that is of course where the player comes in, a young boy or girl that has the ability to see the Skalari, and the willpower to train and help protect our planet from them.
As you level in the game you raise your Grade. Starting as a grade one and hitting the next grade every ten levels, each grade comes with a perk to keep you going. Grade two gets access to a dorm room that you are free to decorate as you wish. Grade three players can become a mentor to help first graders learn the ropes of the game. Grade four... well as of now grade four gets nothing, but at only three months into open beta (which may or may not be considered forever, depending on your personal level of cynicism regarding game development) that perk, like many other things, is in a patch to come. In fact, that pretty much sums up the current state of Remnant Knights quite well.
Bad translation, buggy cut scenes and a quest design that just doesn't make much sense. Everything about Remnant Knights still screams “beta”. That shouldn't be seen as a bad thing sense the game is still in beta, but in Free to Play MMO terminology “open beta” usually means “done but expect some growing pains.”
That said I have received confirmation that two big patches are in the works for the game. One due out late December and another sometime early in the New Year. With them will come an overhaul (though no word on how thorough) of the early levels as well as the perks for hitting grade four and five, and more stuff to do at higher levels as well.
The latter of those is the one that the game is the most in need of. Crafting is a wasted opportunity. You collect items from highlighted nodes on the ground and monster drops, as well as the occasional quest reward, and turn them into a vender who will put something together for you. The item you get usually has random stats. With its school-based style and dorm rooms to customize, the game screams for a fantastic crafting system, with crafting quests as “homework” and top level gear as “tests”. Sadly in its current form, the crafting is uninteresting, and even a little annoying with the random stats.
All these negatives point to a game that should get a ruler to the wrist, but there is one thing that currently stops Remnant Knights from obtaining a failing grade. The Combat. Fast, fluid and fun, the three F's to make any great MMO combat system, are all present in this game. While a little more control is desired for movement, many attacks have some sort of character movement built into them. Either by knocking enemies back or yourself away, expect there to be many bodies flying around as you spam buttons.
As a Gunslinger I would open with a rocket launcher shot, knocking the enemies down before laying a pit on mines in the path that they would follow to get to me. Between hitting those mines and reaching me I would give them a shotgun blast to the face and stun them for a few seconds before doing a back flip pumping them full of led as I soared through the air and putting distance between me and them again. Remnant Knights made grinding fun. While the quests were uninteresting, the flashy combat was enough to keep me playing. Along with the basics there is also the tension system. The more you fight, the more the tension gauge builds, allowing you to unleash devastating attacks, or heal yourself for 30% of your health and mana.
The single biggest thing about playing Remnant Knights that stood out though, were the GMs. Always in public chat being helpful or running GM events, these people made the game that much more fun to play. While what they did was nothing new, the fact that the game is in a school setting gives it a unique feel, as if the teachers or just older peers are always there to help you out.
Usually a game in the shape of Remnant Knights would leave a bad taste in my mouth, but with the combat and friendly GMs I am looking forward to coming back to the game down the line and doing a full review. If just a few things are ironed out in the next patches, I could see Remnant Knights being a sleeper F2P hit in the future.