Review: Misfortune (PC)

Misfortune
Developer: Loadingames
Publisher: Loadingames
Genre: RPG
Release Date: 06/09/2011

I’ve been slowly weaning myself off of Facebook games, and casual games, mainly because they were taking up way too much of my time and were never ending. Build this new building here, farm this land over there, you’re being invaded over here, new cards for your deck there. It was driving me up a wall and I wanted to get back to playing RPGs and action games and less of the drive my friends insane with requests variety. In comes Misfortune to not only break my rule on casual games, but also to break some of the rules and give us a casual RPG that’s actually fun to play.

Misfortune starts off with your character, (No, you can’t customize who you are), trying to woo someone on a ship rather unsuccessfully. While you are out moping around on deck, you’re pushed over the side. I’m still not entirely positive this wasn’t your “one true love” that does it, but you end up washing ashore on a pirate run island called Rodnia, with no money and no place to stay. Fortunately, or unfortunately depending on how you look at it, there are tons of people here willing to give you menial tasks that they don’t want to do to help you get back on your feet again.

As you play there’s an over-arcing story developing as you uncover more about the island you’re stuck on and what’s going on that you have to worry about, but the little side quests and crazy people you run into while you’re on quests makes the game even more fun. Misfortune is what I imagine Monkey Island would be like as a more straight up casual style rpg. The humor is right on track and really fits the situations you get yourself into. Like trying to help a totally clueless guy find the right way to express his love for a girl when he keeps trying to do some really insane things to woo her. The dialogue options can be quite hysterical as well.

Visually, the game has a unique art style to it that instantly sets it apart from other browser games out there. While it can be relatively simple, it both fits the crazy story and cast you’re dealing with while you play. My one complaint while I was playing is not in the exploring of levels by itself, but more in the position of enemies. Misfortune relies on the faux-3D approach the old SSI Dungeons & Dragons titles they used to have on PC, where you have a first person view of the world as you move through it. This is great for exploring around, but enemies move on the map, which wouldn’t normally be a problem, but they don’t always show up where you can actually attack them. As an example, I’m in an open space and I can see the enemies up ahead on the right. I turn right and move forward to then turn left but the enemies aren’t there until I move forward one more step and then they’re already on me. I’m not sure it’s a graphical glitch or because of them moving around so much but it happens at least once a play session. Not a game breaker but it can be frustrating when all you want to do is pummel a squirrel or pirate.

Most of the sounds are pretty generic for the game. It does what it needs to do to convey a steam-punk pirate city and that’s about it. The themes themselves aren’t as grating as most browser-based games can be which I think is a big bonus. I just wish it had more to set it apart.

Like the RPGs of old, you move around a map walking up and down corridors using the directional keys. You have a top down map that you can use as well to help on the bigger maps. There are locked gates to find the keys for as well as hidden doors you need to get the switches on. While there isn’t a huge variety of enemies to fight, they are pretty comical, starting with rabid squirrels and dogs and moving up to pirates and then automatons as well as unique bosses. One of the things I loved was the random story encounters within quests themselves that often had little to do with the quest but advanced your other stories, like the guy trying to woo his first true love, or the resistance movement trying to do an end run around the pirates, or the one that’s worst of all, your land lady demanding more rent.

You do have some say in what equipment you use and your stats as well which can either help you fight or give you an edge in conversations. The equipment is very limited to start with. I fought initially with a stick and tattered clothing to move up to slightly better clothing, a frying pan for a weapon and a pot for a helmet. It looks ridiculous, but like I said it all ends up fitting with the theme of the game and the ridiculous things going on.

While the bulk of the game is unlocked, there are some premium areas and storylines you have to pay to unlock with credits and like most browser-games you’re limited by your energy for how much you can do, but the game is designed to be played in roughly half-hour chunks and not rule your evenings like most other casual titles. You unlock premium content with Fortune Points. You have to buy those or complete advertising offers to earn them, but you do start with a few. You can also convert Fortune Points into Mission Credits. Mission Credits are what you need to use to jump into a mission. You get so many of those a day, like you would in most other browser games. So if you’re really itching to do more you can blow some cash to do that as well.

Replaying the game isn’t so much an option unless you make a new account and start over again. So while you can do that I don’t see myself doing that personally. I’ve not hit the point where I want to go back and do that just yet. As far as things go though, as long as you’re doing missions that are around your level you won’t get pounded into the ground. If you want a higher challenge go for the higher level missions available. Just remember that pot on your head only holds back so much damage. After playing through some of the premium content, I found that to be a bit more involved than the standard missions as far as story-telling goes, but the mechanics are exactly the same. You shouldn’t feel gipped if you like the normal missions though and spring for some premium content. It was worth it.

I can honestly say I haven’t ever played an RPG quite like this one, and this is coming from a long time Rifts table-top player and GM who’s mixed genres and story-telling all over the place. Pirates and Automatons in a steam punk world with some crazy thrown into the mix really sets a mood. Every character you meet is fairly memorable, and some of them even made me groan when I realized they’d cornered me again, like the little old lady who likes to experiment on you with her latest concoctions that usually make you ill. I’d actually like to see more risk taking with RPGs like they’ve done here with Misfortune. RPGs don’t all have to be cookie-cutter fantasy and sci-fi to be fun and I think Misfortune delivers on that.

I’m actually really glad my iPhone can’t run this in its Safari browser, or rather the controls wouldn’t work well. I got really into this one a lot while I was playing it. I like steam punk and I like to be entertained, so the combination of memorable characters, hilarious things going on and a side of steam punk made me want to keep coming back to this one whenever I sat down with a browser and net access. So I may have used up my Mission Points quite a bit and gone for more. A few times. You know how that is.

Free to play browser games are on the rise, and this is another of those games looking to capitalize on that but at the same time, be different from the pack by offering up rewarding story-telling to go with your half-hour or more of play time per sit down with it. I like that part more than anything else, and I was actually not kicking myself for trying out another browser based game when I got sucked into it. It’s a fun and interesting experience, and while it has options to put some money into it, it’s not beating you over the head with it like some of the free to play titles out there which is something I think lots of gamers will like.

Overall I had a blast playing this game and will continue to do so. It’s a fun quirky title that I had very few issues with. It loaded on multiple machines of multiple generations and the only time I really had any issues was when my internet was screwy, which is hardly the games fault. This is a title I’d recommend to classic RPG fans and adventure fans alike because of its style and gameplay as well as quirky characters and story.

The Scores
Story: Classic
Graphics: Good
Sound: Mediocre
Control and Gameplay: Good
Replayability: Bad
Balance: Great
Originality: Amazing
Addictiveness: Incredible
Appeal Factor: Very Good
Miscellaneous: Classic
FINAL SCORE: VERY GOOD GAME

Short Attention Span Summary
asheresizeI’d been trying to get away from browser-based casual gaming for awhile now, and here comes Misfortune to suck me back in at least a little bit. The game has some neat throwback RPG elements to it as well as an engaging story and setting and highly memorable characters and situations. This is one of those games where you’ll take an instant liking to the very different approach or hate it, but I think everyone should give it a try as it’ll probably charm the pants off of you. I just don’t want to see many people running around my neighborhood with pots on their heads. I really enjoyed this title and will continue enjoying it as long as I have a web browser and an internet connection.

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