Everyone likes to play games that remind them of the past. That’s why pixel-based platformers remain popular even on top-of-the-line systems like the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.
But remember that awkward growth spurt games went through in the transition from the PlayStation 2 era to the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3? Remember how high-definition TVs were still a relatively new thing, but games like Dead Rising weren’t engineered for standard-definition TVs, resulting in pinprick-sized text that was almost impossible to read on the ol’ CRT set?
Attempting to read text in Phoenix Online Studios’ QuestRun reminds me of that era. I can’t say I was ever eager to return to it.
QuestRun is an RPG that runs at an intentionally brisk pace. Your heroes (up to three) stand on one side of the screen and automatically attack the bad guys once their attack meter fills up. Of course, enemies can – and will – hit you right back. Your best chance for long-term survival is to switch your fighters from row-to-row, thus putting the character with the highest hit points (or best defense) against the hardest hitter.
You can also use skills, which charge up with every hit you take. These differ from class to class and include powerful attack magic and healing spells.
“Stances,” a secondary skill set, are another important key to survival. Stances may buff one stat (say, defense) while lowering another (speed).
The core mechanics of QuestRun are, for the most part, solid. Battles are a touch on the slow side, and while the option to speed things up is welcome, it causes the action to go a bit too fast. This is problematic because you collect weapons and loot as you fight, and you need to manage your inventory constantly. Loot scrolls off-screen very quickly, and once something is gone, it’s gone for good.
But two bigger issues cause QuestRun to slow to a walk: The aforementioned tiny text issue, and a general lack of polish.
It’s incredibly hard to see item and skill descriptions. And good luck when you level up and you’re called on to raise a fighter’s stats, since you’re supposed to choose from a list of icons that aren’t labelled. The sword obviously represents attack, and the shield obviously represents defense, but what does a giant “S” represent? Maybe it’s to increase your super-cool stat (which is already off the charts, we know).
Even with the small text, there’d probably be less confusion about QuestRun if the tutorials were better-labeled and not confined to optional battles that are, to be honest, kind of difficult for newcomers because they explain little. The more you play, the more everything makes sense. Eventually you begin to loosen up and have fun – except, again, for that darn text.
In its current form, QuestRun has significant problems. There’s still quite a bit of potential here, but some clean-up would benefit the game greatly.