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Crossing Over: Gothic
November 2, 2014 | Justin Ancheta
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Sigh. Bagged again.

WOULD YOU LIKE AN EXTENDED WARRANTY FOR YOUR KEYBOARD?

Speaking of controls, in my initial experience, I did indeed find the controls incredibly clumsy and awkward. Your character takes times to swing his weapon, giving enemies ample opportunity to evade your attacks and respond with their own counters. Combat manoeuvers like sidestepping are not instantaneous (an arguably more authentic depiction of melee combat movement), making evasion of enemy attacks tricky. You can block with your own weapon, but these moves also take time, and if your enemy has flanked you, such moves are all but useless. It is very evident, especially at the start of the game, that you are not a whirling dervish of death and destruction. You won't be mowing down enemies the way you did in Diablo II. One of the first things that came to my mind was that I hadn't come across an RPG with combat and controls this non-intuitive since my time with Reality Bytes' Dark Vengeance.

And yet, after a couple of initial fights, the developers' intentions are made very clear to the player. This isn't an RPG where you can blindly rush into a battle, click 100,000,000 times on your mouse and expect to win. Patience, timing, and tactics are the key to winning; if you let your guard down even at the beginning, or rush blindly into combat, you can easily expect to get your behind handed to you by even the lowliest of enemies. Being smart about combat is the key to surviving and winning encounters: that means drawing enemies away from large groups so you can engage them one-on-one, rushing them from behind to get that critical first strike, or timing your sidesteps to evade their attacks. When the NPCs strongly caution you about fighting early on, they're not joking, and when you start to engage enemies it becomes very clear that their advice isnít just window dressing for casual players. Even for more experienced players, the combat can prove to be frustrating, as you find your attacks failing to hit, as your enemy deftly jumps out of your way to flank you with a vicious counter attack. After encounters where even a juvenile oversized chicken can kill you, you'd be forgiven if you were sent more than once into a fit of keyboard-pounding frustration.

LOSING CONTROL

The fact that you need to exercise some level of patience and self-restraint also comes across in your inventory controls, especially when you loot items in the world. Simply pressing your action button, or running over items, doesn't put them in your inventory. Instead, you have to do a (rather non-intuitive) key combination to signal your intent to pick something up (forward + action). Opening chests requires you to motion yourself forward while pressing your action key, and simple tasks like navigating your backpack and using items requires use of key combinations that aren't necessarily immediately obvious to the player. One could make the argument that the game's controls are unnecessarily hard, but it simply reinforces the message that this is a game where you have to take your time. Again, this isn't a game you rush though, with areas you breeze past to get to the next task or dungeon: it's game you have to take at a much slower, and arguably more thoughtful pace.

After all, you have a massive, beautiful world to explore and see, and an important role to play whose significance is left to you to discover. There's nothing wrong in stopping to smell the roses along the way. (Just make sure you've got your sword ready...)



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