Online I go by the alias of Shuuda. I am currently living North Yorkshire, England. In 2011 I graduated from the University of Hull with a first class degree in Design for Digital Media, where I studied both the creative and theoretical sides of the digital technology and the internet.
As someone who is passionate about about video games than the fantasy genre, I am highly interested in how stories can be told through interactive media. I concern myself with how the genre is portrayed within the medium and its implications. I give it both criticism and praise, but mostly criticism. Writing fiction has been my hobby for many years, and I feel that video games have influenced and inspired the content of my work in recent times.
For this week, I decided to take another look at a project that got funded through Kickstarter. Coincidently, it was a game I also pledged to. This time the title is Fortis Rex, a fantasy RPG being developed in the Unreal Engine by Ancient Realms Studios. The developers claim that you can travel through the land of Rex, command your own army and quest for fame and glory. The game might not have had the flashy attractions of some RPGs that popped up on Kickstarter, but it charmed me into taking an interest.
Right now the project is only in its very early alpha stage, with only backers like myself having access, but I though this title could use a bit of coverage. Everything here will be mostly critical, but done for the purpose of outlining what my hopes are for this game and how I think it could be improved upon in future development. Note, because of its early alpha status the game is clearly very unfinished. Please keep that in mind while reading.
Fortis Rex is a medieval army RPG very much in the same vein as Mount & Blade. You gather up a bunch of peasants, go fight some bandits, and eventually the peasants can be upgraded into bowmen or militia. Heck, even the menu screen for organising your troops looks just like the one from Mount & Blade. Unfortunately, the only enemies in this alpha were bandits, so there was no chance to check out what the game is like when going up against more advanced forces with greater weapons.
Unlike Mount & Blade, your character does not travel around the land of Rex on a world map. The world so far is persistent. My character wandered around the lush forest alone. It did seem rather odd that the army I gathered conveniently disappeared whenever I leave a battle. However, the persistent nature could help me feel more connected to the world. I hope Fortix Rex adds some of the more traditional aspects of old open world RPGs to help flesh out the world more than Mount & Blade did. This was the one of the prospects that attracted me to the game in the first place. When I saw the stylised map on the Kickstarter page I got the sense that Fortis Rex was going to be its own world, not simple a clone of various historical armies with little background.
Perhaps my biggest criticism is the combat in Fortis Rex. It feels very floaty in its current form. The sword I used felt like it had no weight and the movement seemed unnatural for a combat setting. Enemies just stood there when taking attacks. For a game that could be easily compared to Mount & Blade in many aspects this is quite an issue. The latter is well known for its excellent fighting, and that is not to mention the horse riding. It was difficult to tell when I had landed a good hit or when the enemy has in turn struck me, or even if they were attacking me. The attack animations need to be more pronounced and noticeable. The potential for an enjoyable combat system is certainly there however. When it comes to one on one fighting it simply feels like it needs refinement.
The clashes I experienced with the bandits felt like it was nothing more than two dumb parties charging at each other and hacking away for a minute before the bandits all died. The AI needs serious improvements if Fortis Rex is to provide engaging battles. This is something that an unmodded Mount & Blade could also be accused of, but in those instances the battles often spread out over the duration of the conflict. Horsemen would chase each other and pick off fleeing infantry, while infantry would break apart of form small battles within an area.
Even in these very early stages of development, the appearance of Fortis Rex does have some features that impressed me. That said, I am not the kind of person you should be asking when it comes to reviewing graphics. Some of the effects I encountered while playing, such as the god rays and cloud shadows made me stop and look for a moment. The trees sway in the wind and the little waterfall was a treat.
If I were to make visual comparisons between Fortis Rex and The Elder Scrolls: Oblivion most people would probably assume I was doing it to insult the game. However, I think that Fortis Rex has a nice, warm feel to it in the same way Oblivion had. Yes, it could be derided as being generic, but whenever I see my character armed in steel plate wandering around a lush, bright forest with the sun beaming through the branches I get some romantic notions of knightliness. I'm quite the sucker for that.
Of course, in these early stages of development Fortis Rex still has a lot of the features needed to make it feel like a complete world missing. Much of the collision between my character and certain objects was missing, and despite there being water in the alpha there is no swimming yet. However, the potential for something charming and easy on the eyes is very much there in my opinion.
One more concern I have for Fortix Rex is its voice acting. I do not know anything about being a voice actor or makes good acting for a game, but I suspect its either costly or done to low quality. The lines we are given in the alpha are fully voice acted. Hearing a exact same voice from very bandit with the same few lines carries less pleasant memory of Oblivion. A part of me wonders whether a small indie title trying to voice act a world full of character might be too ambitious.
In conclusion, I think Fortis Rex firstly needs to tighten up its combat, and bring it to a level where it feels more enjoyable. The first alpha shows a lush and potentially gorgeous world that I want to explore more of. For more information, you can check out the Kickstarter page for Fortis Rex, but do note that the campaign is already over. You can however pledge using Paypal by checking out their website.