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Inquisitor Impressions: Interrogating the Inquisitor

This week I decided to turn my attention to game no one was expecting, Inquisitor. Developed by Cinemax, originally released in Czech it was eventually translated into English. Inquisitor is a top down RPG in a similar vein to the classics such as Baldur's Gate. I had been interesting in getting a taste of this game for quite a while, so I finally took my took off my thumbscrews, got sat down on my Judas chair, and had a little play of Inquisitor.

Inquisitor is set in 1223, in the realm of Ultherst. The land had been ravaged for the past three years by famines, plagues, and meteor showers. The prophecy of Saint Ezekiel as written in the book of Revelation is being fulfilled and the end of the world is dawning. The gates of Hell have been opened the servants of Satan roam the world of the living. Faith is dwindling and heretics are hiding everywhere. From the start of your journey you are thrown into the turmoil of the land.

Inquisitor makes a poor first impression when your first task before entering the first village is to slay a load of bats. But this soon opens up into something more interesting than your generic fantasy RPG.

In Inquisitor you truly take on the role of the inquisition. Quest revolve around finding evidence to oust the wicked servants of Satan. These are stored in the journal as “proofs”. This means plenty of investigative work as you delve into the lives of the people around you, often becoming embroiled in their gossip and petty squabbles. Only when you have gathered enough proofs can you then request the authority to make an arrest. Later on you can torture your suspects for information.

One thing that impressed me was the way that quests eventually connected together. It is easy to pile on a bunch of quests that seem unrelated only to find that they are linked together, and that solving one can help aid you in solving the others. In a sense, it makes looking at the quests you can easily (torture)rack up less daunting.
However, this aspect of the game is also rather undeveloped and sometimes overly simple for what I feel should have been the main focus of Inquisitor. A character's skills have no real effect on evidence gathering. Just talking to NPCs can get tedious, especially when you keep going back and forth through the areas to get different dialogue options or to check and see if some character you overlooked has something to say. The appeal of being the inquisition can wear rather thin when I got stumped on the quests. The lack of given directions – I'm talking about actual directions, not a big glowing quest compass or anything – means finding important characters can take an annoying amount of time.

Inquisitor has a grim and foreboding atmosphere, conveying the sense of doom and despair of the people living in its world. The visuals are bleak, with death and decay from every cracked building, grave, and boil ridden peasant. The music and ambient sound effects are chilling and add a heavy air to the locations. The animations are much less impressive however. It certainly does not make the combat feel exciting.

Inquisitor is a game sorely in need of some kind of tutorial or beginner's quests. Those not well versed in your typical top down, dice rolling RPG will struggle to enjoy the game at the start. Upon entering the game for the first time I had no clue on what exactly to do in terms of mechanics. It took me a short while to realise that I needed to learn my spells from the inventory before I could use them on my hotbar. It is the same story when it comes to some of the key concepts such as proofs. When sent out to find evidence of heresy, there are no pointers as to where your proofs are stored or what exactly they are. I know the hardcore RPG playing crowd tends to spit upon the notion of hand holding and giving directions, but a compromise on the difficultly for the first few quests would not have been a negative. Putting tips in loading screens is not an acceptable way to teaching people the game.

The greatest downfall of the Inquisitor by far is the combat, which is like a pike up the arse at times. The fighting has a hack and slash feel to it and simply fails to fit into the game or entertain. At first, the holy whoosh noise made by the open wound spell was amusing, but this simple minded pleasure wore off when I ran into some enemies more powerful than giant bats. Magic then becomes a case of spamming spells and seals in the hopes that they hit and your magic bar holds up. The combat gets in the way of the more interesting elements of investigation. The thrill of searching for a clue is negated when you have to trudge through dozens of zombies and then get hacked to bit by skeletons you cannot kite from.

Unless you are a hardcore, supreme RPG veteran I would recommend playing the game on easy mode, just to try and tune down the awful combat. Even on this difficulty however it can be a chore. It really feels like there are no redeeming elements to Inquisitor’s combat system. It is almost enough to make me want to turn off the game burn it at the stake. At best the combat is your typical slog which you get through by guzzling potions.

There are three classes to choose from; the spell casting priest, the sword swinging paladin, or the thief... who is a thief. During the quests you can recruit henchmen to help make up in the area's your character is lacking. Naturally, these characters are also at the mercy of Inquisitor's poor combat system. Upon getting my first companion – a paladin – I was hoping for a tank to soak of the enemies so that my priest could attack safely from a distance. Instead what I got was someone who could not survive without nabbing a potion from my inventory every two seconds when against more than one enemy. The AI is poor and the options with which companions can be commanded are very limited.

In the end Inquisitor is a game with a very interesting premise and grim, well realised world, but it misses its potential greatness with a forced in combat that takes up far more space in the game than it should have. For that heresy I would throw Inquisitor into the iron maiden. However, for those die hard RPG fans who can endure the torturous combat Inquisitor will provide a unique experience.

Inquisitor is available for download on gog.com and Desura for the price of $14.99. You can get more information by checking out the official website at http://inquisitor-rpg.com/.
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About Shuudaone of us since 5:34 PM on 03.27.2012

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.


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