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Too Interested in Your Money

Guest Writer Posted:
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If you have a few minutes to kill, there are only a few worse ways to kill them than by playing this game.  Yitien is a browser-based fighting game based on a true story sort of Chinese setting, where your character is fated to be an epic hero and spends his or her time learning various skills and acquiring items and upgrades.  It's a fairly generic storyline in that regard with a prettily-veneered game space.  The game itself is free, but you'll quickly find that R2 Games is very much interested in your money and has placed much of the best content behind a paywall, including the top-level gear.  While it may be possible to grind the virtual currency you'll need to buy that gear without spending real money, it will take enough time that World of Warcraft's vanilla version of the Winterspring Frostsaber grind looks like a summer afternoon in the park. 

Aesthetics – 7/10

In terms of appearance, the game does qualify for the term 'pretty'.  The colors on the screen are rich and vibrant and very much what you'd expect for a fantasy Chinese setting.  Everything is built in an isometric fashion, so you're moving along diagonals all the time even though your character is most commonly displayed in profile.  The overall background scenery is well-crafted and shows a certain artistry and a native's view of what a Chinese-style culture would look like.

The browser window is chock full of things to look at that overlay on the beautiful landscape.  These things range from buff timers, announcements of upcoming achievements, and multiple rows of shinies that encourage you to click on them.  In many ways, the animated glittering 'look at me!' swirls around many icons on the screen remind me very much of tricked-out backgrounds and wallpapers from MySpace back in the day. The game space is very busy, with too many icons cluttering up the window and repeated world announcements of more than just questing information.  For example, I was taken aback the first time the game announced that some random player had bought some exceedingly rare item from the shop.  I could understand some achievement spam if I was nearby in the game space, but I was seeing announcements for players whose characters were in completely different zones, and I'm not sure who would really care that I bought The Uber Epic Armor of Unstoppable Doom or whatever from an in-game cash shop.  The game also announces when someone buys VIP membership and for how long, and it also flags their avatars and comments in chat with a purple [VIP] tag, so it makes a point to ensure that everyone knows who's throwing money into the coffers. 

In terms of character styling, there is no customization at creation.  You can only choose male or female for each of the four classes, and you're given a generic avatar.  It comes as little surprise that the female avatars were created for the male gaze.  While one could say that their attire was tasteful and elegant, their posture and size of their torsos in most of the game art made it clear that their faces weren't intended to be the focus of attention.  Avatars and mounts in general shift through a few frames to simulate movement even at rest, much like your average MOBA, but there's no real sense of smooth frame-by-frame articulation. 

There is music to play in the background of the main overworld and in the cities, sounding to my American ears like what I'd expect to hear as traditional Chinese music.  However, the loops are fairly short and repetitious, and other than turning down your system volume or muting it, there was no way to lower the volume to be less intrusive.  Fight music sounds like fairly generic fight music, heavy on the cello and increased in tempo.

Gameplay 2/10

Quite frankly, the game can almost be played on autopilot.  With the use of auto-pathing, all you have to do is click on a quest and your character will move to the destination and initiate some action against an NPC or an item or whatever.  As your character levels, you gain abilities to put on your action bar.  Once you get into a fight, it acts like your standard turn-based adventure, except you can't choose what action to take each turn.  The fight proceeds based on how you've ordered your action bar and set up your formation in advance, so you can start the fight and go get a drink and come back to see if you won or lost.

Leveling is shockingly swift especially at the lower levels.  With very little effort, I found my character at level 20 with only a couple of hours of gameplay and it almost felt as if I was gaining a level every other quest.  The quest line is fairly straightforward with the first side quests appearing only once you got to the Royal City in the mid-twenties.  There really wasn't much by way of exploring the game world and seeing what the other sections of the world map contained. 

In terms of the various features of the game, it often seems too complex.  You have so many things to keep track of, so many gems and scrolls and crystals and orbs and potions and upgrades you can apply to your character, that it would take a hardcore theory crafter to sort out the best options by exploring all of the choices.  The vast downside to all of this is that so many of the upgrades require ingots, and it doesn't appear that you can get ingots without simply buying them.  This means that this game is decidedly pay-to-win.  One of the earliest examples you see of this is that your character unlocks the ability to get married at level 33.  Being married grants your character some pretty sweet stat bonuses.  In order to marry someone, however, you have to buy one of three rings which are purchased by... you guessed it!... ingots.  There is an in-game ad for free ingots but it seems to be tied into some kind of adware spawning into another tab, but there's no up-front mechanic to earn them in-game.  About the only thing you get for in-game silver rather than pointers and hints to ingots and rare drops are your character's basic attacks.  You can increase your abilities by buying skill books for silver or by trading Honor for them in the shop, but even by leveling to 37, I only had enough Honor for the cheapest book.  

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4.3 Poor
  • Gorgeous art style
  • Swift initial leveling
  • Autopath & click is boring
  • Mindless combat
  • No tutorial to explain upgrade options & stats
  • Very much pay-to-win
  • Very thin plot/story line

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Guest Writer