Scraping Bottom Games
Video games are often reflective of the times that they are created in. We live in some very, very tumultuous times right now, where not only do many folks feel that their ideas and concerns feel neglected, they feel downright ignored. There is also a ton of hostility permeating the world in these chaotic times, with this side vs. that side, and so on and so forth. You can see it every day in the news as little flare-ups erupt here and there that signal to everyone how much turmoil is present, and how difficult it can seem, just to live day in and day out.
Game developers aren’t immune to these factors. And as a reaction (usually subconsciously) to the perils and pitfalls that many people are faced with in their everyday lives, video games can, in some ways, help to circumvent or allay much of the anger that many feel.
While many people got their panties all up in a bunch about 2015’s Hatred, by indie game developer Destructive Creations, I thought that it was a harmless way to vent the hostility that people may be feeling. I mean, it’s a lot better to play a homicidal maniac waging war on just about anything that moves, in a game—rather than say, actually going out and committing criminal acts, right? In this regard, these sorts of power fantasy games seem to be on the rise.
Just recently, I reviewed another power-tripping game, Sobaka Studio’s Redeemer. Redeemer tells the tale of a dangerous assassin who ditched his prior life of killing people in order to become a monk. When all hell breaks loose and a large group of armed men storm the monastery he’s hiding out in, he takes action and retaliates with his considerable force—in fact much like Hatred’s nameless killer, he’s literally a one-man army.
What do these games have in common? Well, it’s as if they borrowed a few pages from some of the 70’s vigilante flicks from the 70’s and 80’s, such as the Deathwish series, or the classic film Taxi Driver. The common theme in these films is that they tell the tale of a loner who is reacting to some sort of dire situation that has transpired, which causes the main character to go out an enact some form of revenge.
Scraping Bottom Games’ new power fantasy/revenge tale, Fictorum, is the continuation of this increasingly popular subgenre. Fictorum actually has a fully developed backstory which seemed less hackneyed than most, and features a pretty intriguing premise. It takes place in a land known as the Realm, where at one time powerful wizards vied for control over territory and wealth—in other words, ultimate supremacy.
At some point in time, an elite cadre of wizards known as the Fictorum cast a virulent pox over most of the Realm known as the Miasma. The spell’s insanely potent effects killed the vast majority of the Realm’s inhabitants. Many of few remaining people who did survive were transformed into hideous creatures which had a penchant for drinking human blood.
In response to this, and organization known as the Inquisition rallied up with one mission in mind—to destroy the creators of all of this misery. They quickly formed highly lethal posses which tracked down and eliminated the wizards of the Fictorum. This in turn resulted in the utter annihilation of the Fictorum’s members. In fact, the main character that you play is the last Fictorum wizard alive.
It doesn’t take long for you to figure out the main objective of the game. Your character’s main purpose is to go out and find those responsible for the destruction of your order, and kill every last one of them. Sounds familiar, right?
Instead of playing a magic caster who has to slowly gain experience through completing various quests, as in many other fantasy games, in Fictorum your character is already at the height of his powers. In fact, you play as a wizard who is so mighty that he can alter the reality of his surroundings. He can also manipulate magic in almost god-like ways and create his own variations of existing spells.
At the start of each game, you to customize your character’s appearance as well as choose his set of starting spells. These spells may be combined to form unique magical abilities and you can also gain new ones while playing the main campaign.
Fictorum features a procedurally generated map each time you start a game, which contains the mountaintops of the Realm. Since the rest of the map (the lowlands) are completely enshrouded by the deadly Miasma plague, you can only travel between mountaintops via magical portals. Each of the eight main areas of the campaign contain various types of challenges which must be overcome in order to advance to the next one, much like many rogue-like games such as The Darkest Dungeon or Everspace.
One of Fictorum’s main selling points is that it features fully-destructible environments. This factor, combined with the fact that your wizard wields insanely ruinous powers, makes for a pretty fun-filled power trip. For instance, I’ve accidentally cast spells which destroyed the very bridge I was standing on. A couple of times I even blew apart a castle’s walls and had pieces of them slam me dead in my wizard’s head. You can also crush puny townsfolk and other annoyances like insects using any number of highly lethal spells, or combinations of spells.
Fictorum’s graphics are pretty good, especially for a crowd-funded indie title. The spell effects in particular are spectacular, and it’s hard to believe that the game was created by two guys in their spare time. The environments are also well done, with great textures and models present.
Some people may be put off by the fact that instead of slowly building your character up, you begin each game of Fictorum as an already uber-powerful wizard. However, I kind of liked the change of pace—it falls perfectly in line with the game’s backstory. It’s also a complete power fantasy which offers players a good deal of venting from their daily stresses.
Fictorum features great graphics that make its fantasy theme come alive. However, you want to have a pretty beefy gaming PC or gaming laptop in order to play it at a decent framerate. So, you may just want to invest in a decent gaming rig:
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