Sunday, January 5, 2014

Review - Driftmoon

  • 0:38 - Gameplay
  • 1:26 - Pros
  • 4:55 - Cons
  • 7:35 - Final Thoughts

In this episode, I am four hours into an RPG game called Driftmoon. This is a game that actually came out back in February 2013 for the PC but only now at the start of the new year has it landed on Steam.

In this series, you never have to wait for my opinion: in this case, I would consider Driftmoon to be an excellent game that combines some really funny humor with old-school top-down RPG mechanics.

But is it right for you? Well let's find out.


To begin, Driftmoon is a role-playing game where you play the role of Insert Name Here, a wayward village son who returns home in response to an urgent message from his father -- only to find the entire citizenry of his village petrified by mysterious magic.

You must then search the village and strike out on quests -- piecing together the clues while defending yourself from enemies like spiders, skeletons, and a passive-aggressive clown.

Along the way, you'll pick up multiple companions -- each of whom has a backstory. And should you return to places you've already been before, you'll occasionally find extra content and new jokes that reward you for your thoroughness.

This game is the first developed by the husband and wife team behind Instant Kingdom -- a brand new video game developer based out of Jyväskylä, Finland.


  • Without question, my favorite part of the game is the humor. The storyline is great, the conversations between NPCs are entertaining, there are several references to movies and other video games, and I always found myself wanting to know more about the characters and the events in the story. And in a lot of games, you'll find all the heroes and NPCs very one-note as they're usually written by one person. Clearly someone spent a lot of time giving each character their own take on the world. That's worth applauding.
  • While exploring, if you can see it, you can take it. If there's a pearl on the other side of a river, you simply click on it and you get it. The game doesn't force you to walk three minutes out of your way to a bridge just to pick up a pearl.
  • The game has rekeybinding. I always point that out whenever I see it and it's always a plus.
  • I enjoyed the music in this game. It reminds me of the music from Fable 2. It has a very Scottish/adventurer streak to it. I know musical taste is very subjective, but regardless it was well performed and nice.
  • There is TONS -- let me say that again, TONS -- of lore in this game. If you enjoy reading all about every human being and their lives and their diaries and their important political papers, then you should seriously consider this game.
  • Once you've been to a region, you can quick travel there in seconds using your world map -- even if you're just crossing from one side of the town you're in to the other. This cuts the amount of time you would normally have to play this game in half.
  • I LOVE secret passageways in video games and there are MANY places in Driftwood where you can tap on a wall or pull on a torch to get to new places. Sometimes they are quite noticeable and not-so-secret, but other times they are hidden in a dark corner and you only rewarded with their secrets if you're really searching the room thoroughly.
  • There are missions that can be won either by attacking the NPC directly or through dialog -- depending on how you want to play them. In fact, at the start of the game, you can choose your difficulty settings to alter whether you want the game as a whole to be more action-oriented or, conversely, more cerebral. Also, the higher you jack your intelligence rating, the more astute you become at winning through words.
  • I've played many RPGs; in fact, it's my favorite genre. Without spoiling it for you, there are several truly creative loot items you will find along the way and how you use them can really make your game unique.
  • When visiting a shopkeeper, he or she only has so much gold. Once the shopkeeper is poor, they can't buy anything else off of you. Little things like that make the story more real. Of course the shopkeeper doesn't have endless gold. If he did, he wouldn't be living in a dungeon, now would he?
  • Finally, I love the companions. They are funny and the AI performs pretty good in fights. You can talk to them to get their backstory and they have emotions and mood swings. Unlike in other RPGs I've played, when my companions take a hit in combat I find myself apologizing to them.


  • If story if my favorite part of the game, then one of the things that bothers me most is that, at times, there is a ton of text to read and some of it is useless adjectives that really don't need to be there.
  • If you click on something that makes a sound effect (for instance, dragging a chair) and then immediately launch a dialog screen, the whole time you're reading the text the sound effect you just heard continues to play in the background over and over again. Depending on the sound effect, that can be quite annoying.
  • One of the primary mechanics is that you have to move things to look under them to see if they are covering any cool loot -- a great mechanic. Some things (like petrified humans) are heavy and take a while to move and some things are light and can be hurled without a second thought. But there are a few things that take forever to move even though they are clearly lightweight -- specifically chairs. The developers need to find a chair and move it to the other side of the room, time themselves, and then incorporate that into their game.
  • The game never crashed and I never got stuck, but that's not to say this game is perfectly polished. There are times where lights will pass through walls if you're standing in just the right way and will send you into darkness while illuminating whatever is on the other side of the wall. Also, the animations in this game are stiff -- which is not something you notice when the camera is far away but when you zoom in it's plainly obvious. These are minor cosmetic issues.
  • Finally, when two people are talking, sometimes the dialog boxes -- which float above their heads -- will overlap making neither readable. So far, it's only prevented me from reading jokes, but I'm worried I might miss a plot point or side quest clue in the future because my companion and I are talking at the same time.

Final Thoughts

A lot of disappointing video game titles were launched in 2013 and even those that were the cream of the crop often times sacrificed a quality storyline in exchange for their experiments in game mechanics.

This game went the opposite direction, offering a simple and straight-forward, traditional RPG game with an engaging story and a sprinkling of quirky irreverence that makes this title a treat.

This one has me hooked and if you are the kind of person who loves to read lore in video games and fall in love with your characters, this title will not disappoint.

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