Monday, March 25, 2013

Review: DLC Quest

Developer: Going Loud Studios

DLC Quest is commentary disguised as a game. The basic concept of the game is that DLC (downloadable content) is wrecking games. It's getting to the point that you practically need to pay the game company extra money in order to use a pause screen, or even to jump. That's the direction the industry is going, amirite? You may or may not agree with that assessment, but it's a pretty good hook for a game.

In DLC Quest, the only way to progress is by picking up coins in the game that you can use to "buy" the sections in the game that are missing from a shopkeeper who's all too eager to nickel-and-dime you to death. You can increase your health, get "game-breaking" weapons, and unlock "uncompleted" areas of the game.
For a while, DLC Quest is very, very funny and has some pretty pointed commentary. For example, you can get a sword, but the sword needs to be sharpened before it can be used. You can sit and sharpen it on a grinding wheel, but you'll have to press the "sharpen" button 10,000 times. Why not pay money to get it sharpened much quicker? You get the coins to pay for it, and now you only have to press the "sharpen" button 10 times. That's some pretty pointed commentary on the whole "freemium" way of playing games: "Sure, you can play our MMO for free, but unless you want the game to be a tedious grind, you should pay money."

But, when DLC Quest moves away from commentary and starts trying to be more of a "game," like in the bonus "Live Freemium Or Die" pack, it starts getting tedious. They start picking on some of the other dumb things that games do, like lock certain areas away for Day One DLC, or making you do silly fetch quests, but it doesn't really come together like it should. That's the problem with satire in games: Making a player run all around the world and do ridiculous fetch quests is funny in theory,  but take note: Making the player do something tedious isn't funny, just tedious.

Kurt Vonnegut had a quote that I think is applicable here: "Use the reader's time in a way in which they won't feel that it was wasted." Replace "reader" with "player," and that should give future gaming satirists something to chew on. Sure, you can make fun of fetch quests and annoying backtracking, but somehow you have to make it interesting. Lampshade it somehow, do something that will make the player laugh at it. Just don't waste their time.

However, for $2.99, DLC Quest is a fun little diversion. It could have been better, but then again, so could the majority of the video game industry.

Final Rating: C+

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