Wednesday, June 15, 2011

MMO Tourist: Echo Bazaar

I may, at a later date, go back and discuss the phenomenon of flash/mobile "MMO's" since I tried out about 50 of them when I got my first smartphone, but for now, I just want to talk about the epitome of them: Echo Bazaar. Cleverly written, unique, entertaining . . . and ultimately the same old same old.

What I Liked
The game is set up, like most of these games are, to be played in short bursts. You play for 10-15 min then wait a few hours to recharge whatever resource you exhausted while playing, in this case it was candles that represented actions you could take. Most sessions left me wanting to play just a little bit longer, to do just one more thing. To be honest, this was the closest I've ever come to actually paying to play a Free-2-Play game. The world they have created for this game, though seen only through text and simple thumbnail graphics, is such an interesting one, I almost wished they had fleshed this out into a full-scale MMO. I could see myself spending a lot of time just walking around and exploring the world of Under-ground London.

What I Didn't Like
Even if I was paying for the maximum amount of actions per day, I still didn't think I would be advancing as fast as I would have liked in this game. Everything I really wanted to see or do seemed tantalizingly out of reach. Also, the tutorial could have been a little better. There were times when I didn't know what I was supposed to do next and had to visit forums to figure out things that should have been apparent.

Why I Stopped Playing
For a while, I was logging onto this game, both from my phone (which could just barely run it) and at home, but I just kind of ran out of steam. Again, I wasn't getting anywhere and there was such a bulk of unexplained items that were accumulating in my inventory that I had no idea what to do with or why I needed them or if I should sell them or what. Also, and this is a minor complaint, but I wish that there was more/easier to obtain gear. That probably would have kept me playing longer. As it was, not being able to equip every slot left me frustrated and was one of the reasons I quit.

I was almost willing to pay $5/month for this game, if that says anything. I would rate my experience at about $10 worth. Not bad, Echo Bazaar. If you're at the place in your gaming life where you're looking for a good pseudo-MMO, this is the best one I've seen.

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