Support Sinan, click to buy via us...
Baroque for me signified a delve into the unknown, or at least, a type of game not very often played. How things have changed since Sphinx Adventure on the BBC Micro B.
Not sure why the title Baroque was picked for this game as there doesn't seem to be any relation to art movement of the same name. That aside, its release in April this year is a remake of the popular original version harkening back to 2002.
Forget about the game for a second, and have a look through the manual, ok ok I am one of a dying breed for doing this. The ensuing literature leaves one wondering what on Earth they are about to delve into. The controls are not particularly difficult but there is talk of meta-beings, protagonists, neophytes, false angels, collectors and of course God. By the time you put the manual down you realise that this is a futuristic 3D adventure game with manga overtones, comprising of various levels and an innumerate amount of items to locate and dabble with. Very little is mentioned of the actual story, as this is unraveled throughout the gameplay.
Dying is a process that is used to reveal more of the story i.e. you must die.
A bit about the background, to cut a long story short and to prevent me from ruining the game for you; something awful happened to the World. Various meta-beings now exist and you take control of a young man with amnesia who has committed unrecallable sins in a previous life. You are told where to go and what to do in order to find redemption for these sins. Anything further at this stage that I could add to the story just ventures into the absolutely ridiculous. Back in the old old days the closet we got to this sort of game would have been Valhalla - remember that one? Say a naughty word and someone walked on the screen and tapped you on the back of the hand.
Baroque differs from conventional role players in that usually if you die you need to find a suitable saved game and reload from a non-treacherous juncture. In Baroque, dying is a process that is used to reveal more of the story i.e. you must die. There are also various (high quality) movie like sequences that are also revealed through dying. Although a panning is usually dished out in reviews for this title, they deserve some credit for originality, and the music/sound in general also complements effectively. Any attempt at bringing originality to the stagnant classic RPG try/die/retry routine deserves a clap in my opinion.
One of the first things you have to do (don't laugh) is locate and shoot God on the bottom basement floor of a tower, after being provided with a rifle (by an archangel just in case you were wondering). I think it was at this point I had a vision of some poor chap unknowingly handing this game out at a Church in the American Midwest thinking he is doing everyone a favour. Don't worry though, the story is far too difficult for the human mind to grasp in order for this title to be considered intentionally blasphemous. It is so convoluted that no one would dare bring it into a debate. I can just see it now - 'after shooting God, don't forget to throw items into consciousness orbs so that they emerge back in the conscious realm'.
How many new-agey types out there own a games console and are willing to put 120 hours into a game?
It took a while to get used to the controls and the rather strange way you navigate through your items so it is fair to say that the gameplay needs improvement. The neon tower is traversed via randomly generated floors each time. Special items/beings on these floors will always appear on a relevant level though. Personally I'm not a fan of random generation for this kind of purpose. Inevitably you end up battling and fighting meaningless objects and it's all a bit of a waste of time.
To be honest, this is a not a game for me. The playability and boredom factor kicked in pretty early. Given that game makers are striving to get us to invest around 120 hours or so of our lives into a game before purchasing another, in my case it's just not gonna happen on this one.. That said, if you are a manga fan or a NAT (meaning 'new age type' i.e. homeopathy/tarot/acupuncture/yoga/reincarnation), you could potentially really enjoy this one. The problem is, how many new-agey types out there own a games console and are willing to put 120 hours into a game? Not many I suspect.
With so many different perspectives it can be hard to know where to start - a little like walking into a crowded pub. Sorry about that.
But so far we've not found a way to streamline our review output - there's basically too much of it. So, rather than dilute things for newcomers we have decided to live with the hubbub while helping new readers find the columnists they will enjoy.
Our columnists each focus on a particular perspective and fall into one of the following types of gamers: