Felspire is a free-to-play browser-based fantasy MMORPG which places you inside an epic drama involving the struggles of demons, men and even the gods themselves by 37 Games. The game is set in the world of Eremos and its premise centers around the titular massive, primordial obsidian spire which has managed to inspire both ennobling unity and destructive greed. Some believe the tower to be a source of unlimited energy, enough to satiate the needs of the entire world. Others think it to be a mystic gateway to the underworld and a means to unite human and underling kind.
Being a story based game there exist eleven primary campaign. Such campaigns include quests to repel recent incursions of monstrous demons, recover ancient magical artifacts, liberate the souls of corrupted heroes, and much, much more. While all of them are varied, each campaign builds around a large theme at the core of the Felspire plot: destiny. Specifically, following the fall of the gods from power, a man is prophesied to one day understand, then control the spire. The question for the player is: will it be you?
One of the hallmarks of modern fantasy video games including everything from Diablo to the Final Fantasy and Dragon Age franchise’s is the move by designers to develop ever original clothing, armor, and architecture, rather than simply use the tired armor and architectural designs of medieval Europe. Fortunately, Felspire is not an exception to this trend towards increased aesthetic creativity.
Everything from arms to combat togs possesses a breath of inspired artistic air, which is rather impressive considering you can customize both your characters stats and appearance with over one hundred thousand pieces of unique gear.
In addition the interactive visual elements, the backgrounds are (near) equally inspired and, fortunately, aren’t too bleached of color in lit areas or obnoxiously dark in dingier ones. The static character models look great, are drawn with extensive detail, and of course, definitely portray characters at the height of physical beauty which most players will appreciate. However, certain, say, politically correct players (read: radical feminists) may be triggered by the abundant prevalence of buxom female playable and NPC characters.
While the game looks like it uses 3-D characters on 2-D backgrounds, the in-combat character models are screenshot 3-D models which are then converted into sprites. This same technique was used in games like Donkey Kong Country and the original Diablo. Despite the fact that this is an old technique, it still works well and may give older gamers a pleasant feeling of nostalgia. Having said that, some of the character animations could be a bit smoother.
At the start you are asked to select from three distinct character class: a high damage takin’ an’ dealin’ Warrior, a fast ranged Archer, or a versatile AoE magic-wielding Mage, similar to the character selection of the original Gauntlet. A few words of warning: be sure that once you’ve selected your character’s class and name, that you are happy with them. Unlike other games, once those two traits have been selected you won’t be able to change them.
From there the general MMORPG level up system applies. You acquire EXP to improve your characters general stats, skill points to improve your characters passive skills, and gold to buy new gear.
Like most MMORPG’s you start out going it alone and engage in beginner quests and level grinding. Once you’ve stockpiled enough gold and weapons you may purchase new or upgrade existing equipment to take on tougher challenges and defeat bosses.
You can, of course, also mix things up by joining guilds and enter into team PvE or GvG combat. Granted the character improvement and combat isn’t terribly original for the genre but I think it’d be better to have a tried and true system, rather than something that simply doesn’t work.
In addition to collecting gold, you may also be awarded an occasional diamond. Once enough are attained these can be cashed out for VIP cards. Said cards reward the character with additional items, allows for more than normal attempts at certain feats, grants additional teleportations to certain locations and more perks not otherwise attainable.
37 Games should receive kudos for this since other studios might have been tempted to turn this component into a pay-to-play feature. Rather, the game offers you with this incentive for playing Felspire often and well.
With epic character designs and tons of armor, weapons, and accessories to locate and equip, Felspire is first of all a great game to watch. However, as previously mentioned the effort put into the visuals don’t quite translate as well into other aspects of the game.
The premise is interesting but the plot’s execution can come off as cliché. By that I mean, while the quests are extensive, this is yet another game whose storytelling theme centers around “the forces of overwhelming, evil evilness against the underdog, supporters of goodly goodliness”. As anyone who’s even casually played a few fantasy RPG’s knows, this is hardly original writing.
Along with commonly used plot themes, another problem I have with this game is the simplistic combat and I’m not alone. A term I’ve heard and seen written all over the internet, which initially turns people off about this game is that it is essentially an RPG which plays itself.
Of course, as with any RPG combat becomes more complex and you will have to mind your character’s combat stats, arms, armor, inventory, ext. Thus, I would suggest playing at least a few hours before making a final judgment on this game.
Even with some of the negative features of Felspire, 37 Games has since, August 2015 been opening up more and more servers to play on, as well as release new quests to engage in. And since this is a browser game with a growing fanbase, the Felspire home website also hosts a handy forum, full of advice as well as other Felspire-related discussion and news.
All in all, if you’re looking for a fantasy RPG with George R. R. Martin levels of plot originality and complexity, this game probably isn’t for you. However, if you are a casual MMORPG gamer looking for an easy-playing good time you should check this out.
Alternatively, if you are a retro gamer in the mood for something visually reminiscent to the original Diablo or looking for something with the same slash-and-dash fun as the arcade version of Gauntlet, this game is great for you. As for everyone else, Felspire is likely to be hit or miss but I’d recommend just trying it anyway. Who knows, perhaps you’ll be the one to solve the mystery of the spire.