Sunday, 16 April 2017

Seperated At Birth : Twin Saga, Dragomon Hunter

What I need is another MMO to play, right? Or how about a couple? I mean, according to my own account, I'm only playing five right now, with another dozen lined up, waiting to go. That can't be enough, right?

I didn't even mention Dragomon Hunter when I was counting down the possibles although last year I was playing it and enjoying it. I even blogged about it a few times. I took a break and the main reason I didn't go back was I lost my log in details, something I only found out when I tried to play another MMO in the Aeria Games stable, Twin Saga.

Quite a while ago someone - it might have been Kaozz at ECTMMO - wrote something about Twin Saga that made me think it might be worth a look. Then Syp at Bio Break wrote it up for one of his Try-Out Tuesday pieces and almost everything he said reminded me very strongly of Dragomon Hunter, which I took as a recommendation.

Wait a minute...I'm Level 2 and I haven't logged in yet.

So I downloaded it and installed the inevitable Aeria Games front end, which for some reason I'd never needed for DH. It was at that point that I realized I could use my existing Aeria Games account to play both games. Only, not having hunted any dragomons for quite a while, I couldn't remember the password. Or even which email account I'd used.

I searched around but I couldn't find the details. At that point I could have made a new account - they're free after all - but then I'd have had to start Dragomon Hunter over from scratch, which I really didn't want to do.

So I shelved the project and mostly forgot about it, except the Twin Saga icon stayed right there on my desktop, eying me balefully, which meant I could never completely forget about it after all. Then yesterday, when I was trying to find my Dragon Nest log in information (successfully, I might add, although my installed client is now so far behind the current version it won't even patch, so I have to download the whole thing again before I can play), what should I stumble across but the missing Aeria Games details!

Gatefold album sleeve c. 1973

A little window into the chaos and serendipity that I call a life, there. Anyway, with that incentive I opened up the Aeria patcher and patched both games. I tried to log into Dragomon Hunter but the servers were down for maintenance (at EU prime-time on a Saturday night on a holiday weekend if you  can believe it!).

Which is how I come to be playing Twin Saga. And guess what? Enjoying it, too. Probably more than I should.

Follow the yellow mud road

Couple of things to say about it up front. Twin Saga is hands down one of the most visually attractive MMOs I've ever played. The screenshots, for once, do it justice. It does look that good in game.

I realize you have to like the particular style, which won't be to everyone's taste, but as an example of that style I have never seen better. The colors are extraordinarily rich and the environments deliriously lush. I get the profound feeling this is a game that's been art designed to within an inch of its life and that's always a positive in my book.

And it wasn't even the most disturbing encounter I had that day...

Secondly, it's lubricious to a disturbing degree. No, perhaps "lubricious" doesn't quite catch the flavor. It's fleshy. There's a disturbing delight in sexual imagery that seems all the more inappropriate given the doll-like characters but the game doesn't rest at bawdy. Appetites in general are the focus here: from a delight in violence to an orgy of gluttony, character after character indulges in a frenzy of lust - for weapons, for pies, for defenceless elf girls.

It could be unpleasant.  It often is unsettling. Twin Saga is saved, just about, from outright creepiness by two things: the sheer gusto of the writing and the relatively demure visuals. The quest text isn't merely extensive and verbose, it's baroque and bizarre, while everyone dresses as though they're about to take a walk-on part in a restoration drama.

Okay, that's not at all inappropriate...

I haven't taken the trouble to determine whether Dragomon Hunter and Twin Saga share a developer but I'm all but certain they share a translator. TS's quest text is nowhere near as batshit insane as DH's, which may speak to an underlying difference in authorship, but tonally they're identical.

Syp was taken aback by the vocabulary, saying "listen, I write professionally, and this game is throwing words at me that I’ve never heard of before". He wondered whether Google translate might have had a hand but I think the explanation is much more likely to be one particular translator having the time of their life and getting away with it - possibly because they're the only one in the office who speaks both languages.

Flocculent? Flocculent?! "Bushy" wouldn't have done?

Whoever it is knows their way around both a thesaurus and a dictionary. Almost every arcane word that appears - and there are many - is used correctly. On the other hand someone did decide to render "curlicue" as "curly-Q" so who knows? Either way I love it. I read every word, which is why it took me nearly three hours to get to level 12. Syp estimated he spent 60% of his game-time talking to NPCs but I'd guess my tally came in closer to 75%.

What I certainly didn't spend much time doing was fighting. I think almost every single quest was either a fetch or kill, usually four, sometimes six, one time eight. The universal MMO gathering action is faster here than the average and combat at these levels consists literally of drumming your fingers as fast as you like on keys 1 and 2.

That's if you're in a hurry. Autoattack works just as well. It just takes a few seconds longer. Combine that with auto-find on the quest locations and auto-complete on the hand-ins and you have one very relaxing MMO.

I've seen a capybara. Trust me, they do not look like this.

And it very definitely is an MMO. You could assume that a game such as I'm describing would be indistinguishable from a solo RPG but these are precisely the kind of mechanics that attract what is probably the real global MMO audience.

The starting areas are heaving with players. I got two friend invites in a few minutes when I was hanging around the starting village - one in a pop-up and one in a whisper. All around you can see player characters standing in pairs or clusters talking to each other. It's like these are people who've come to an MMO because there are other people there to play with not in spite of it.

If I had unlimited time I would happily play Twin Saga for an hour or two every day. It's a bit of a sugar rush but it's bright and zippy and there seems to be plenty to do. What's more, the progression mechanics don't appear to be as abstruse as they often can be. I almost understood them right off the bat.

And so to bed.

If I can fit a few sessions in I'm going to try to get at least as far in the main quest line as it takes to unlock the housing option - The Terracottage. One of these stomped past me while I was out adventuring and it was quite something.

That means completing the main quest sequence as far as level 21, which sounds entirely doable. I think I got further than that in Dragomon Hunter. Speaking of which, I guess I should do some more there, too.

So many games...




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