Loading...
Review

Review: Operencia: The Stolen Sun

For tho­se that have been fol­lo­wing our reviews over the past coup­le of years, you’ll likely know that I’m a big fan of dun­ge­on craw­lers. The gen­re still has a lot of poten­ti­al, and has led to some sur­pri­sin­gly good modern releases like Mary Skel­ter and Laby­rinth of Refrain. Ope­ren­cia: The Sto­len Sun is the latest DRPG to be released, offe­ring up its own uni­que set­ting and a few tweaks to the tra­di­tio­nal turn-based RPG for­mu­la.

After a brief ope­ning seg­ment that acts as both an intro­duc­tion to the histo­ry of Ope­ren­cia and as a simp­le tuto­ri­al, you’re able to crea­te the main cha­rac­ter that you’ll be using from then on. Your crea­ted cha­rac­ter is a hum­ble peasant, who is spur­red into adven­ture by a mys­te­rious dream. Their jour­ney, and the dream, quick­ly ends up having more impor­t­an­ce once the sun disap­pears and it’s clear that they are the only ones who can find out what hap­pen­ed.

As is the case with many dun­ge­on craw­lers we’ve cove­r­ed, Ope­ren­cia doesn’t put too much focus on its sto­ry, and ins­tead pla­ces more impor­t­an­ce on smal­ler cha­rac­ter inter­ac­tions and inte­res­ting envi­ron­ments. The main cha­rac­ter them­s­elf is ful­ly voi­ced and has a per­so­na­li­ty of their own, though this is only pos­si­b­ly by great­ly limi­t­ing the cha­rac­ter crea­ti­on opti­ons. They’re usual­ly posi­ti­ve, and like to crack a joke every now and then. Not the most inte­res­ting cha­rac­ter, but this gives some of the other cast mem­bers time to shi­ne. Well, more like a coup­le of the cast, sin­ce most of them don’t real­ly end up being par­ti­cu­lar­ly inte­res­ting or have that many lines out­si­de of when you first meet them.

The two cha­rac­ters that best show how varied the wri­ting can be can would be thief Jós­ka and blacks­mith Kela. Jós­ka is the very first com­pa­n­ion you meet, lying moti­on­less in under­wa­ter ruins at the bot­tom of a lake. Most inter­ac­tions with Jós­ka are humo­rous, and sin­ce he’s with you for near­ly the ent­i­re game you’ll end up get­ting to enjoy many of his gre­at one-liners. Mean­while Kela is a stoic cha­rac­ter who is haun­ted by her past. This makes for a good back­sto­ry to one of the are­as in Ope­ren­cia, but the cha­rac­ter them­s­elf is boring and has litt­le real impact on the sto­ry or even con­ver­sa­ti­ons while dun­ge­on craw­ling. She’s not the only cha­rac­ter that ends up being rather bland or incon­se­quen­ti­al, which is a shame sin­ce Jós­ka shows that the wri­ters can craft inte­res­ting cha­rac­ters.

This incon­sis­tent wri­ting also impac­ts the sto­ry, which ends up being bland at best and down­right boring at worst. The world of Ope­ren­cia has many varied pla­ces that you visit during your adven­ture, many of which also having inte­res­ting lore that makes them feel more real. But when it comes to the sto­ry, the way it’s pre­sen­ted often seems like an afterthought. Your cha­rac­ter finds out that the sun is gone after the first area and, ins­tead of see­ming like a big event, the sud­den reveal lacks any sort of impact. Having the main dri­ving force behind the adven­ture be hand­led this way real­ly lowers your expec­ta­ti­ons for the rest of the sto­ry, and it never beco­mes much more inte­res­ting later on. The ban­ter bet­ween your cha­rac­ter and Jós­ka is often what car­ri­es your inte­rest more than the over­all plot which, while enter­tai­ning, doesn’t make for a gre­at sto­ry in the long run.

At least the dif­fe­rent are­as are actual­ly pret­ty good regard­less of how the main sto­ry is hand­led. While some are­as count as mul­ti­ple dun­ge­ons, most are visual­ly dis­tinct from one ano­t­her. Even the first area, which is most­ly just ruins and dun­ge­ons, looks uni­que thanks to the under­wa­ter set­ting. Get­ting to a new area feels exci­ting, not only becau­se of the chan­ge in the­me, but new cha­rac­ter inter­ac­tions and puz­zles as well. As men­tio­ned ear­lier the sto­ry and cha­rac­ter deve­lop­ment feels lacking, but at the very least the con­ver­sa­ti­ons while explo­ring are usual­ly inte­res­ting and can add some extra fla­vour to each area. It’s a sys­tem that should be used in more DRPGs, sin­ce the­se con­ver­sa­ti­ons make even wal­king down an other­wi­se plain cor­ri­dor more inte­res­ting

One aspect of explo­ra­ti­on that can occa­sio­nal­ly be hit or miss is the puz­zles, but even the worst ones are usual­ly bet­ter than most seen in other RPGs. The worst puz­zles usual­ly revol­ve around having to find items that are hid­den some­whe­re in the area, and only having a few hints to gui­de you. It can often be easy to miss cer­tain objec­ts due to how small some are, lea­ding to a lot of poten­ti­al back­tracking. This isn’t too com­mon howe­ver, and most puz­zles end up being self con­tai­ned and actual­ly pret­ty fun to sol­ve. The varie­ty is rather refres­hing, con­si­de­ring how some DRPGs just rely on using swit­ches and but­tons for puz­zles.

Batt­les have also recei­ved a few tweaks com­pa­red to regu­lar turn-based sys­tems, though the­se chan­ges don’t make a mas­si­ve amount of dif­fe­rence over­all. Each cha­rac­ter has access to a basic ran­ged and melee, as well as skill that requi­re ener­gy to use. Most skills are easy to under­stand, con­sis­ting of RPG stap­les like taunts and ele­men­tal attacks. Each par­ty member’s skills are based on one of the clas­ses the main cha­rac­ter can choo­se, but with their own uni­que skills added into the mix. In fact, the main cha­rac­ter ends up having the most boring skills of them all regard­less of the class or build you choo­se, sin­ce all of them are lacking the more inte­res­ting choices com­pa­red to the other cha­rac­ters.

As for the main chan­ges to batt­les, the row sys­tem deter­mi­nes how much dama­ge cer­tain attacks will do. Rows are not some­thing com­ple­te­ly new to DRPGs, but Ope­ren­cia does try to put more focus on them. For examp­le, ran­ged attacks do more dama­ge the fur­ther away enemies are, while many melee attacks requi­re enemies to be in the front row to be most effec­tive. In prac­tice this doesn’t end up being too important, and you can often just igno­re which row an ene­my is on out­si­de of a few har­der fights. This sys­tem would have been more inte­res­ting if the­re were ways to move enemies bet­ween rows, becau­se we never noti­ced an ene­my chan­ge rows during our play­th­rough. There’s also a set of extra skills that can be used once you’ve used enough regu­lar skills of a cer­tain type, though the­se take a long time to char­ge up and can often not seem very impac­t­ful. Batt­les are still decent, if a litt­le slow, but they don’t stand out that much com­pa­red to other RPGs.

We did men­ti­on that the envi­ron­ments are visual­ly dis­tinct, but this comes at a cost in regards to the PC ver­si­on. The detail­ed are­as have a mas­si­ve effect on per­for­mance, which is most nota­ble in open are­as. No mat­ter what set­tings we used, our frame­ra­te would drop con­si­der­a­b­ly in the­se are­as until we moved to a smal­ler map. The sys­tem we used for this review has specs com­pa­ra­ble to an Xbox One X, so the FPS drop­ping below 30 on even medi­um set­tings is unfor­tu­n­a­te. Whe­ther this is ano­t­her game that doesn’t play nice with AMD GPUs is anyo­ne guess but this, plus being unab­le to chan­ge reso­lu­ti­ons in full­screen mode, puts a dam­per on the game’s other­wi­se fan­tastic visu­als and area designs.

Conclusion

Ope­ren­cia is a com­pe­tent dun­ge­on craw­ler that doesn’t qui­te deli­ver on all of its pro­mi­ses. The­re are a lot of varied are­as with their own back­sto­ries, but the main plot line is not par­ti­cu­lar­ly inte­res­ting. Com­bat has a few uni­que mecha­nics, but can end up beco­m­ing sta­le later in the game. I still enjoy­ed most of my time with Ope­ren­cia regard­less of the­se issu­es, and I’d defi­ni­te­ly recom­mend this for tho­se loo­king for an RPG with a uni­que set­ting and some fun explo­ra­ti­on.

 

Twitch Live Stream is ONLINE
Twitch Live Stream is OFFLINE