Wednesday, January 27, 2016

The Other Side Of Steam : Otherland

Well it finally happened. I bought a game on Steam. I blame it on City of Steam and City of Steampuff. The rule of threes and all that.

I've had a Steam account for a long time. Years. I believe I used it to get a second pre-order  for an MMO once, when the provider I was using refused to accept more than a single purchase for the bizarre reason that no-one could possibly use two copies of an MMO.

Other than that the only time I used it was to authorize my physical copy of Broken Sword V, which I was given as a Christmas present last year and still haven't gotten around to playing. Occasionally I browse the Steam store in an idle moment but until now I've never seen anything that I both wanted to buy and couldn't get more easily and conveniently elsewhere (usually from Amazon).

Otherland is an MMO I've always kept an eye on. I read and enjoyed the Tad Williams novels that inspired it and I always meant to give it a try when it launched. Only it never did launch.

I even signed up for a beta at one point. Not sure what happened with that. I know I never played. Then the company making it went bust or gave up on it and that seemed to be that.

Except, of course, MMOs have more lives than a basket of cats. Otherland resurfaced in the hands of  Drago Entertainment, a Polish outfit, who proceeded to sand off the rough edges and polish the rusting hulk up a little until they had something presentable enough to commit to the the ever-open arms of Steam's Early Access section.

I'd been meaning to stump up the very reasonable $20 or so they were asking since I heard the news but it's one of those things you never quite seem to get around to doing. Finally Massively reported that the game was on a 75% off sale and that did it.

It's not that I bought it because it was super-cheap. I am not very price-sensitive. It was more that I knew I was definitely going to buy it at some point so the sale just acted as the final poke I needed to go through the unpleasant chore of filling out the forms. Also, since it was such a bargain, I bought the Deluxe edition, mainly for the extra character slot in case it turns out I like it.

And so far I do like it. Not that you can read much into an hour before bed hastily rushing through the tutorial and the first, post-tutorial but pre-real-game babies map.

It has the annoying center-screen cursor and mouse-button combat of supposed "action" MMOs but it falls solidly on the side of playable, giving me fair control over the mouse cursor when I need it and not demanding I play Finger-Twister every time I want to open my inventory.

The visuals are not bad. Hard to tell in the early stages, where we're supposed to be in areas of a graphical simulation that's breaking down, but I thought it felt promising. The quest text was moderately amusing in spots and at least it was all written in good, clear, grammatical English.

The problem for now is going to be finding time to play. All my bonus playtime after GW2 this week has to go to City of Steam, where I'm racing to get to level 40 and open The Gardenworks zone before the server shuts down. 38.3 as of this writing. Should make it, I hope.

Last night I stayed up later than I should have playing Otherland, though, and I'm keen to get back and see more, so that's an encouraging sign. Don't imagine for a second I'll stick around for any kind of long haul or serious progression but it looks ripe for some exploration and screenshotting at least.

More later. Maybe.

1 comment:

  1. I loved the novels to bits a decade ago and recall being very pleasurably surprised when this was first announced, after which it quickly fell off the radar. Look forward to reading more about it if you delve deeper!


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