Two Worlds PDF Print E-mail
Written by bobdog   
Tuesday, 24 June 2008 22:12

TopWare Interactive
Publisher: SouthPeak Interactive
Price: $19.99 on Steam
Demo Download (from FileFront - 865 MB)

Rating: Mature 17+ (ESRB)

Yin and Yang
I'm a pretty avid Role-Playing Gamer (RPG), and as everyone who visits the Foxhole forums knows, a HUGE Gothic fan. The latest installment (Gothic 3) was not quite up to par with the first and second parts of the trilogy, but good nonetheless. So when I came across an RPG mentioned in the same breath as Gothic 3, I became interested. Especially when it was offered on Steam's Weekend Pass for only $10 (regularly $20). I figured at 10 bucks, I couldn't go too wrong, right?

Well ... mostly yes but a little no. Two Worlds is a mixed gem, which does some things really well and brings some cool innovations to the RPG genre. And then some things it just muddles up all to heck. So let's give it a quick visit, okay?

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What's the Story, Morning Glory?

In a bit of an interesting twist on the RPG story staple, you learn that your twin sister has been taken, and that you need to retrieve an old family heirloom to save her. The story gets a bit complicated when you learn that if you find all the pieces and bring them together at a certain magical forge, you will release an old god into the land. Along the way, you'll be asked to do work for various factions, although you never truly can join them, like with Gothic -- you're merely a mercenary and can get in good with the factions by tackling these tasks.

I regret that there is no starting cutscene to explain the backstory, and even worse, no ending cutscene. When you kill the final foe(s), depending on the final choice you make, the game immediately goes to the credits scene. This ... is unacceptable, in so many ways. I want some resolution to a game I just poured 60+ hours into.

The Daily Grind

Like all RPGs, you have to kill critters and carry out tasks to gain experience. In Two Worlds, your experience translates into points that you can put into four key areas: health, strength, agility and mana. You'll also gradually gain points that can be applied to about 20 different skills. You are fairly weak until about level 8,w ith beginning critters including wolves, goblins and bandits -- a bear would take about 20 minutes to whack at the start, but gradually gets easier. At the end, I was able to score up to 8,000 or more hit points of damage on enemies, but I still took more than 30 minutes to disable a huge lava dragon.

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Show Me Some Character
I think this is one area where Two Worlds falters. You can choose to go the paths of magic, melee, archery, thievery, or a mixture of them, but not all paths are really relatable as playable roles. For example, the assassin/thief never really has a place, because there's really no need to sneak around. You'll have to fight things to advance in HP, and no amount of sneakery will really assist in dispatching foes. Likewise, you'll make enough money from the loot you gain that you don't need to break into rooms. Now, I did upgrade my lockpicking skills, because I did need to get into every chest I found, but realistically, none of the other thief skills were necessary. Likewise the alchemy skill is not really well designed, although it's fun to mix potions.

On the other hand, the melee and archery skills are almost overkill. By level 30, I was slicing through most foes easily without a scratch. Finishing the game with a character leveled in the high 50s, you can see how it might get a bit boring toward the end (I actually stopped grabbing loot so I wouldn't have to go back to town). I did find some enemies that continued to give me a challenge into the later stages, so that was appreciated; much more so than if all enemies auto-level up with me -- I hate that in a game (Oblivion -- you listening?).

Another area I'm a bit hot and cold about is the regeneration system. When you die in Two Worlds, you are automatically regenerated at a health shrine -- no need to reload your game. I sort of like this, especially in the early leveling, but it does take a bit of the risk out of play. However, you retain all your supplies and enemies remain damaged when you return to them, so if it takes a couple times of "dying" to finish off a fight, then there you go.

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Show Me Dem Mad Skillz

I think the skill paths that Two Worlds offer are somewhat ingenious -- at least some of them. As mentioned, you can add points to skills (10 points to totally complete them) that are either passive (occur without any work on your part) or active (meaning you must activate them to work). They run the gamut of five magic paths (which I did not follow), swordsmanship, alchemy, bow skills, swimming, horsemanship, etc. Some of the innovative skills I really liked included Stone Skin (add more defense to your body), Extra Damage (melee hits damage more), Dirty Trick (kick dirt in your foes' eyes), Arrow Piercing (pierce multiple enemies with one arrow), Over Drawing (pull your bow farther and get more damage), Bow Speed (determines how fast bow can be drawn), Bow Auto-Draw (automatically starts the bow's pull at from 10-50 percent, meaning you can draw to full extent faster), and Multi-Arrows (shoot multiple arrows with varying levels of proficiency). My favorite skill was the Arrow Piercing, which I had up to about 8 enemies; I pulled back the arrow, let people come straight at me, and one arrow would go through all of them at once -- great for laughs!

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I'll Take a Two-Hander Please
Speaking of weapons, you can choose to your heart's content for weapons (both standard and magical), armor for all body coverings head to feet, traps, and other supplies. Like in other games, you can enhance a weapon's damage properties through additional objects -- in this case, magical gems that imbue extra damage of poison, fire, ice, spirit and lightning. In this manner, I was able to upgrade my weapon damage to more than 200% the original damage.

Something brand new that Two Worlds offered was a way to "stack" items on each other to enhance their attributes. Let's say you had a specific axe -- a Barbarian Axe -- that does 840HP damage, and you found a similarly named axe that does 823HP damage, maybe with 220HP extra fire damage. By pulling the second on the first, you will have an enhanced axe that now does 951HP damage plus the 220HP fire damage. So you can level up your gear as well, be it swords, shields, bows, armor or rings. I think this is one of the coolest things about this game, and really allowed me to upgrade everything I had continuously if I found similar items.

Size Matters ...

The game could easily last a good 60+ hours if you really scoured the land and all its dungeons. I ended the main quest and probably 3/5ths of the ancillary tasks in right at 40 hours. So length-wise, it's a really good bargain, and a pretty rich experience overall.

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... No, It's All About Looks
Graphically, Two Worlds is pretty good, on a par with Gothic 3, certainly. Textures are sharp on enemies and NPCs, cities look believable and lived in, houses and inns are well-designed, dungeons look like rocks, etc. The terrain includes everything from deciduous to bamboo forests, beaches to snow fields, desert to desolate moonscapes. The cities have many people, including merchants, guards, citizens and mages (any of whom can issue you sub-quests). Dungeons, of which I visited 20-30, were all unique and individually designed, unlike some other RPGs that simply reuse the same materials over and over; my only complaint about the dungeons was that they did not REALLY have a core purpose (i.e. a "grand finale" of riches or enemies) but were simply stocked with various foes and treasure chests.

One successful element of the design was similar to what Gothic 3 did -- namely, to show far-off objects and destinations in a sort of fuzzy field of view. You could see a castle spire sticking out of the wilderness or a river in the distance, and as you got closer, the graphical texturing became sharper. Very nicely done.

Sounds Like....
The musical score of Two Worlds is very nice, with a mixture of haunting melodies and rousing fares, depending upon the mood. Because it loops fairly often, I turned it down very low so I wouldn't get nauseated with it.

The voicework, on the other hand ... well, let's just say it is good ... and not so good. I say it is good in that the voice actors have done an adequate job in their roles. The lead actor has some humorous lines, and when he pulls off a multi-kill, laughs just like I'm laughing (in my head, not out loud -- that would just be weird!). However, the linguistics that the characters use is this side of atrocious, with lots of thee's and thou's, prithee's and wouldst's. I suppose it is "somewhat" in character, and that's the only way I could get through it.

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From Here to Eternity
As all RPG-ers know, getting your loot from the field to a merchant is always a hassle, but there's no other way to make money and buy better equipment. Fortunately, this is something Two Worlds gets right in several ways. First, one of your first requested tasks will be to help a mage in opening some travel portals. After opening the specified portal, he'll then offer to make you some portable portals that you can drop anywhere and then travel throughout the realm. VERY handy, especially in dungeons. Just walk into a portal and a map comes up with previously unlocked portals that you can now visit.

The other mode of transportation comes in rideable creatures, including horses, undead horses (found at Necromancer hideouts), and lizard-horsey-thingies; these last are really cool looking, and there's nothing like scaring the bejeezus out of a bandit by attacking from horse(creature)-back. Oh, did I mention you can attack from your mount? Yes, with bows and one-handed weapons, but not with spears or other two-handed objects.

The End of the Line
So ... Two Worlds has some good elements to it, but it also has some negative drawbacks. My personal feeling is that, yes, it was definitely worth the $10 I paid for it on Steam, and probably worth up to $25 overall. I certainly enjoyed certain aspects and innovations, like the "stackable" gear, good graphics, overall storyline, travel options, and various skills. But I also didn't like the lack of a real conclusion to the game, the lack of a "finale" to the dungeons, and the over-simplification of the regeneration scheme (although I certainly took advantage of it on many occasions).

As an addendum, the developer will release an expansion in Fall 2008 called Two Worlds: The Temptation, which will expand the storyline and size; news here.

I can recommend Two Worlds, but not without some reservations.

Game Rated 7.8/10


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