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Inquisitor Review

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On 10/04/2012 at 10:51 PM by Julian Titus

Suffering from insomnia? Play Inquisitor for ten minutes before bed.

For hardcore, masochistic fans of old school PC RPGs.

One of the things I enjoy most about working for a gaming website is the way it’s helped me expand my horizons when it comes to genre. Here at PixlBit we don’t just get to review the games we already know we love; sometimes we’re assigned a game and other times we get reviews based on our available schedules. I’ve reviewed a ton of games I likely would never have even considered playing in the year I’ve been with PixlBit, and if I’ve only learned one thing in that time it would be this: I really am not cut out for the classic ‘90s-style PC RPG. These were games designed around a specific template of hardcore tabletop RPG rules. As I played Inquisitor by Cinemax I realized that these are games made for a very specific audience, and if you aren’t part of that audience you may as well run along, because this isn’t for you.

Inquisitor is an isometric action/RPG in the vein of Baldur’s Gate, and it wears that comparison on its chest as a badge of honor. While you can pick from three classes that fit snugly into the roles of paladin, rogue, and caster, your backstory remains the same: you’ve been tasked with the holy duty of bringing heretics and sinners to justice in an alternate version of the Middle Ages where the denizens of hell have crossed into the human world. Before you can put someone to the question you’ll need to gather evidence and information from various townspeople who of course have their own problems that need solutions. In a sense, this is almost like the gritty detective sim L.A. Noire in the guise of an RPG, and on paper that sounds delightful.

If only Inquisitor wasn’t so ponderously boring.

Inquisitor is a very self-serious game, with the dark and pseudo-Catholic background not allowing much room for levity. Like the aforementioned L.A. Noire the bulk of the quest involves interviewing people to try and get clues that can be used to build a case against possible heretics. This results in a great deal of walking around talking to NPCs that are all too happy to tell you their life’s story, the life story of their neighbors, and the rumors and legends surrounding the area.

That’s sure to please a certain type of player, and if your favorite part of your D & D campaign is the part where you walk around getting the story details this just may be the game for you. I love ample amounts of story in my games, but it needs to be presented in an entertaining way, and this is one of the many areas where Inquisitor fails. Ask an NPC a question and you’ll be held hostage through paragraph after paragraph of dry, droning backstory that is in serious need of editing for the sake of brevity. Most of the NPCs will comment on the same questions with basically the same answers, but there may be that one little tidbit that adds some vital information to your case. After talking to all the NPCs in the first town and asking the same questions my eyes had glassed over, as the writing was so stilted and needlessly wordy that I did something I never do in RPGs: I clicked through to skip to the end.

To be fair, the conversations in Inquisitor probably have the same word count as any conversation in a BioWare game, but without voice acting to bring life to the impossibly dry dialogue, the entire thing dissolved into a huge puddle of molasses, slowing the game to a crawl.

I might be able to stomach that if it wasn’t such a large part of the experience, especially if the game mechanics were good enough on their own, but that wasn’t the case for me. Combat is a matter of clicking on an enemy to initiate auto-attack, and after that it’s just a matter of clicking on abilities (if you have any) and downing healing and stamina potions like water. Battles quickly devolve into a “last man standing” affair, with little to do to make combat more interesting or tactical.

At least that was my experience with this title. There may be entire levels of depth that I couldn’t see, but like Avernum: Escape the Pit, this game does nothing to introduce new players to the intricacies of the gameplay. Tool tips do the bare minimum to explain where your skill points are going and what they do for your character. It’s a harsh environment that doesn’t pull any punches, even from the outset. Dated design elements, such as breakable weapons and items that can’t be used until they have been “discovered” add to the frustration for anyone outside of that hardcore PC RPG player that’s been playing games like this since the ‘90s.

To drive the point home about how negative my experience was with Inquisitor, let me tell you a little story. Exploring the first town, I happened on a little shack that I decided to enter. A rather bedraggled-looking man greeted me and said I was the one he was looking for. When I asked what he wanted he immediately attacked. It was obvious right away that he was far beyond my abilities, and I was quickly turned into a pool of blood at his feet. The game autosaved when I began this conversation, so reloading my save did no good, as I was a prisoner of this encounter. Choosing the other option resulted in the same outcome. After returning to an older save and vowing never to knock on that door again I discovered that simply walking by the house was enough to alert the brigand, heralding my imminent demise.

Moments like these made me throw my hands up in helplessness, and gave me the feeling that all of my actions were futile. I expect a nice buildup to the challenge in an RPG, with low-level enemies gradually scaling up to tougher foes as an indication that I’m progressing in the right direction. Inquisitor threw me into a world where one area may be a piece of cake while the one next to it is packed with bloodthirsty monsters capable of killing me in a couple of hits, with no rhyme or reason to it.

I gave Inquisitor many chances to let me like it, but in return I was given no chances by the game to understand it. I believe that the audience for this game—assuming they haven’t left PC gaming to raise families and pay their mortgages—will gobble up the “tough love” approach of Inquisitor. For me the boring dialogue, frustrating difficulty spikes, ugly pre-rendered graphics and a general lack of guidance into this genre just made me want to go to sleep. The next time I want to experience something about the Inquisition I’ll just rewatch Mel Brooks’ History of the World Part I.

Review Policy

In our reviews, we'll try not to bore you with minutiae of a game. Instead, we'll outline what makes the game good or bad, and focus on telling you whether or not it is worth your time as opposed to what button makes you jump.

We use a five-star rating system with intervals of .5. Below is an outline of what each score generally means:

All games that receive this score are standout games in their genre. All players should seek a way to play this game. While the score doesn't equate to perfection, it's the best any game could conceivably do.

These are above-average games that most players should consider purchasing. Nearly everyone will enjoy the game and given the proper audience, some may even love these games.

This is our middle-of-the-road ranking. Titles that receive three stars may not make a strong impression on the reviewer in either direction. These games may have some faults and some strong points but they average out to be a modest title that is at least worthy of rental for most.

Games that are awarded two stars are below average titles. Good ideas may be present, but execution is poor and many issues hinder the experience.

Though functional, a game that receives this score has major issues. There are little to no redeeming qualities and should be avoided by nearly all players.

A game that gets this score is fundamentally broken and should be avoided by everyone.



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