|2012-03-04||PC||MMO||E10 (Everyone 10+)||st.koramgame.com/|
I actually forgot about Spirit Tales for a while, so I'm glad I received a memory refresher email from one of my contacts. I haven't had much time for games lately, let alone MMOs, but Spirit Tales caught my eye because of the art style. Yes, it seems too cute to even be enjoyable, but I'm glad I gave the game a chance. It turns out this oh-so-adorable MMORPG plays just like World of Warcraft, and it manages to be even easier and more casual to play.
After getting my beta press access and verifying that this could run on my laptop (which isn't really prone to gaming, so I'm glad Spirit Tales is easy on the system specs), I downloaded the client and installed. It didn't take an insane amount of time - as I expected - so I hopped right on it as soon as it was done.
As in every MMO, we begin by creating our characters. The Tribe you pick determines the available classes. Gold Kirim allows you to play as Shaman (long range and restorative magic) or Fighter (tank, melee); Maned Dragon offers Archers (long range damage) and Warriors (tank, melee); Lunar Fox specializes in Sorcerers (magic damage, healer) and Assassins (fast, close combat).
After picking the gender and class, you can customize your character's appearance: eye color, face, hair style and color, horns or ears and a tail. I was confused by the appearance of two characters on the screen, and thought it must be the respective class' pet... later on I discovered that after level 10 and completing a certain requirement, that would become my alternative Spirit Form (a very powerful alter-ego that last for a few seconds).
As the story goes, the evil Northern forces have taken over the world, and what is left of the three Tribes now takes refuge in the ancient Autumnal Grove. With your help, there is hope to bringing the world back to what it once was.
Little steps and plenty of help screens start you on your journey. Go here, talk to this person, deliver that to the other person over there. There is a helping hand every step of the way, making this a very welcoming experience for everyone who has never touched an MMO before. Most quests let you right-click to automatically run to the target area or NPC, while others (usually that you can't right-click to go to) give you a set of coordinates which you can check on the map.
You will learn that the medics in a given area are the ones to revive you when you die, so be sure to talk to the closest medic as soon as you change zones so you don't have to go for a long hike after dying. There is also a teleporting feature which I found next to the mini-map, and that involves finding the Divine Wind Guard in each city.
Killing certain creatures or completing certain quests rewards you with achievements and titles. Unlike other games, titles are not just to show off that you have accomplished something, but they also add bonuses to your character's stats.
You also eventually get a pet - up to three, actually. You can capture creatures when their HP are lower than 50% by using the respective item and taking the hits while you do a little dance. Pets gain experience and level up as you kill things, regardless of being in use or not. But there's a twist: you can merge your character with one of your pets, gaining extra attributes, and still have another one fight with you. Futhermore, the pets have their own equipment too.
Leveling up awards you with Skill Points, which you can use in your skill tree to customize your character's fighting style to your liking. If you're not happy with the way you used your points, you can reset your skills, for a price.
While at the moment it feels like the entire world is mine alone to defend (and this is why I like betas, since I can explore whatever I want without competing with others for a spot), there is plenty more to do, such as daily tasks, instances and some sort of PvP war going on that involves defending totems. This happened all of a sudden and I was caught in the middle of a bunch of NPCs fighting each other and me in the process. Major "WTF?!" moment, but I went back and picked them off one by one until I got the totem back!
For the most part, Spirit Tales takes familiar features and mechanics (or perhaps I've played too may MMOs and know them all too well) and applies them in-game, while adding a few new tricks. Yes, I am a sucker for the cuteness, and I must have melted a little in an ocean of "Awwww..." when I got a temporary adorable lion outfit (there are special collectible outfits to be found). But I find that the customization is really what got me going: skill trees, Spirit Form, armor dyes, gear boosts that you can apply yourself without the need for a trade skill, special outfits, titles with bonus stats, ability to capture creatures and have three active pets, plus their dual use.
Spirit Tales looks promising, and I hope it does well once it goes live. Oh, did I mention it's free to play? Yep. It is. Or will be. You can register now for the epically cute and massively fun Spirit Tales Closed Beta at http://st.koramgame.com/ and maybe I will see you in there soon... level 20 assassin LFG!