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Dragonfable: Critique on the Release of October 16, 2009 (and a special announcement)

Posted by perpetualenigma on October 19, 2009

Hello again, dear readers. Thank you for reading this blog on United Lore, and to those who’ve been with me since day one of my job, thank you for keeping up with me this far. You may probably be wondering what I’m doing addressing you all right now, instead of launching straight into the review, but that is because this week marks a special occasion on United Lore: I am officially stepping down from my post of main Dragonfable critic, and giving the mantle to our newest blogger who’s armed with a DA.

Just kidding.

No, Endon12 isn’t going to be UL’s main DF reviewer, but he does have a Dragon Amulet, something which I sorely lack thus far, and will be lacking for another few years. Thus, in order to bring you the most comprehensive Dragonfable critique on the internet, Endon and I have decided to join forces: I’ll be covering the free-player portions of every release, and he will be reviewing the DA-only aspects. However, I’ll still decide the final grade of the release, and in-between the Fridays (or Saturdays for those of you living in the Pacific, like me) I’ll still post the occasional rant on my favorite AE game which is purely Perpetual Enigma.

So without further ado, let’s get to this week’s release review.

The team has brought us the latest quest in 2009’s Mogloween chain, where the Cauldron Sister’s have been corrupted by the spirit of Greed, and have split up to work on their own confectionary. Tomix the Soulweaver, whom we had first met in the dungeons of Drakonnan during the Great Fire War, is back and on the hunt for Greed, who’s now slowly spreading his shadowy influence over the citizens of Falconreach. Would our character and the Soulweaver be able to stop the rogue spirit before it’s too late? Plus, the finale to the Aria in Wanderland chain is here; with the help of the Mad Haberdasher, it’s time for us to rescue Aria from the grasp of the Queen of Tarts. Hopefully the schnozzberries would do something.

As the Cauldron Boils

About:

We find the evil cauldron Myx standing in the middle of twilit Falconreach, and he needs our help. Ever since Cysero had sold him to the Cauldron Sisters, life has been wonderful for him. But now the sisters couldn’t even stand to look at one another; how would they conquer the wor- business world, when each wants it for herself? Perhaps our character could try talking to them and find out what’s wrong; they’ve split up to different ends of the town. We oblige the concerned cauldron, and speak to Bubble, Toil and Trouble in their personal corners of Falconreach, But each time, it is the same: each Cauldron Sister is hoarding her candy for herself, and focused on showing up her unappreciative sisters this year with their own fame and gold (and then we receive a flier). And funnily enough, it seems as though every single door in Falconreach is fastened shut, though we could sometimes hear some noises from within.

Upon returning to Myx with our disappointing observations, he suggests that we return to where the fight began to find some answers. With eerie music playing, we then meet a new friend in the grove: Tomix the Soulweaver. He is quite surprised when our character guesses that he has followed something evil to this place that endangers the town (like this is the first time that has happened). With the way people are acting now, something is definitely up. Tomix reveals that he has followed the thread left by the evil to this town, and that it is very important that we investigate together as soon as possible. As more people come under its influence, he will grow in strength. But there’s a catch: we have to die in order to follow him. Our character thinks the Soulweaver is joking at first, but Tomix explains that we have to enter the realm of the spirits in order to see them. (By the way, we could leave in our ghost form at anytime, but if we do so, we’ll have to start the investigation again.)

So… we die, and our invisible spirits begin running about Falconreach to find the source of all the evil, to some different spooky theme music as well. It turns out that the town is a host to several ghosts: wisps, spirits, and especially interesting, little Greedlings (dark wisps that wear fierce golden masks). With Tomix by our side, we battle through them, and find the source of the town’s plight on the cliff by the Guardian Tower. Greed tells us that we are too late: he has already grasped the threads of the town and woven himself amongst them. Tomix and our character joins forces to battle the evil spirit, but upon its defeat, Greed disappears. But according to the Soulweaver, he couldn’t have gone far, for his plan is not fully wrought here. But what could he want with Falconreach. Our ally tells us that he is the spirit of Greed; the more people hoard possessions, and desire immaterial things above family and friends, the stronger he grows. He is still trapped in the Spirit World, but if he continues to weave his thread and sow greed, he has a chance to break free into our world. For now, we must come with him and prepare for the battle ahead.

Pros:

Well, it looks like I have to eat my own words from last week: Greed really is the villain for this Mogloween (then again, I shouldn’t have hoped otherwise; why else would the team have that little wisp buzzing around in the previous quest?). And shockingly enough, the development team have actually made this quest intriguing without much preaching either; that in itself is a big pro. The main reason behind this is of course the presence of Tomix the Soulweaver; rather than moralizing excessively, he provides just a little bit of background information to up the stakes, leaving plenty of room for speculation. Who is he, and what are his duties? What other unusual spiritual powers does he have and how does he use them? What plans does he have to combat Greed? All those are left unanswered at the end of the quest, leaving us players clamoring for more next week (and letting Tomix get away with his tiny speech on the influence of Greed). Also, the battle animation for his character is insanely-good; the sequences are very smooth and very creative, letting all players know just who is the fastest (and quite possibly the most powerful) NPC guest in the game. With that sort of ally by our side, it is practically forgivable that we must chase and defeat a spirit whom we could blame all our problems on; there’s bound to be plenty of slick action and spirit-bashing coming soon. The Tomix factor, as I would like to call it, wouldn’t have been as effective without the first part of the quest though; gathering information around the town is simple, but it subtly (or not-so-subtly, depending on which way you look at it) reveals the spread of the problem. We see just how avaricious the Cauldron Sisters have become, and what strange things are coming over the townspeople. And in order to investigate, we have to die to walk around as a spirit. Now that in itself is a very interesting aspect of the quest: it not only reveals more of Tomix’s powers, but gives us an idea of Greed’s power despite its current limitations, as well as a passing glimpse as to how Lore’s reality works. It also helps to have some spooky music playing in the background: a thumbs-up to Ghost for coming up with two different eerie scores, as well as a catchy rock number in the boss-fight against Greed. Finally, we come to the drops, of which no quest is complete without: it is about time that we received some belts with decent stats that are available for non-DAs, which should complement the helms from last week very well.

Cons:

Despite the fact that a sentient manifestation of mankind’s flaws is the main antagonist, this is actually a really good quest. There is hardly anything for me to complain about, except for the little bugs here and there that take away some of the realism. For one thing, our character slides into place instead of running like Tomix during all cutscenes, and even faces away from the Soulweaver after the defeat of Greed. Plus, as we ran through the town, the Greedlings change masks in-between battles; we may find them with a different face after we defeat a monster before it, and another mask during the actual battle against them. And… that’s about all the cons I could find for this quest. Not bad at all, DF.

Grade:

Could it be? A particularly good quest that is nearly flawless if one overlooks the minor bugs? A quest that isn’t the Great Fire War? It looks like such a thing is possible; ‘As the Cauldron Boils’ deserves an unprecedented 9/10.

And now we come to Endon12’s part of the release. Take it away, my fellow critic.

The Queen of Tarts

About:

This week we have the Wanderland finale: The Queen of Tarts! This quest starts with you taking a schnozzberry bush from Cysero as a gift to the Queen. You proceed to the palace and brawl your way past her guards. Along the way you find that the Kittypillar has been locked up for remaining silent when asked what he thought of the Queen’s tarts. You also find poor Aria sitting in a jail cell, forced to eat burnt tarts. She helpfully confirms for us that the Queen is not a good cook.

After several more rooms, we confront the Queen. We arrive to find her chewing out her guards for using her kitchens. After a signature “OFF WITH YOUR HEAD!!!!” , you enter and ask to speak with the queen. While arguing her two unfortunate minions make their escape.  She of course refuses to listen and attacks immediately. After her subsequent defeat, you ask to trade Aria for a new recipe. You rummage in you pack for a (very long) while for revealing the schnozzberry bush. She does not approve, but fortunately the Mad Haberdasher convinces her to try one. She is then knocked out be the smell of one. You immediately recognize this as a good time to rescue Aria, and leave the Mad Haberdasher to try a schnozzleberry.

Pros:

There is a large variety of monsters in this quest, though all of them have appeared in previous Wanderland quests. Most of them are mid-damage, two-hit-kill monsters. The Queen of Tarts herself was no disappointment, having mid-to-high damage, lots of health and a high immobility resist.

The loot consisted of a pet Cheshire Twilly level 20, 40, and 50. He has a four-hit attack 25% attack and a chance to heal 10% of your health. He is a very powerful pet, on par with Spots and Greg.

Cons:

This was a good quest, but seemed unnecessary lengthy. You have to fight through at least 10 screens of monsters, most with two in each room. There was no gradual strengthening of monsters as you neared the queen, just an onslaught of Knaves and Flamingoes. The artwork was good, but the two screens were repeated for all the rooms.

Grade:

This was a nice quest, with lots of humor and good loot at the end. The only problem stems from the length. I give this quest a solid 8/10.

Final Grade of the Release:

Soulweavers clashing with humanity’s flaws, and Schnozzberries taking down tyrannical Queens of Tarts; this week has provided us players with some very fun and very funny quests. Thus, this release earns a decent 8.5/10.

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4 Responses to “Dragonfable: Critique on the Release of October 16, 2009 (and a special announcement)”

  1. Very nice, very nice indeed.

    A great post, I have to say, and having Endon do the DA aspects of the release is a splendid idea! You two will make a grand duo, I can already tell.

    As to the release: Very nice, I have to say. The detective-esque intro to the quest, as you said, gave people a scope of just how serious a problem Greed was to Falconreach. The enemies were rather interesting, and the entire aspect of dying to view the world in a different light was a very novel concept indeed. Makes me wonder what may be all around our character as we run around other places in the game.

    Tomix is.. Well, as many have said in the past “Just freakin’ awesome!” His addition to this quest was an automatic way to stir up popularity, especially since his appearance was so well-done. He’s a mysterious, powerful, and helpful being who also happens to have one of the coolest looks in the game.

    I completely agree with all that you had to say. Great job PE, and make sure to send Endon my welcome to the UL blogging team! 😀

  2. .Shadow// said

    Hi Endon! I’m glad to hear DA content will be reviewed now 🙂

    Now on to my thoughts of the release:

    While I think it’s really well done, I think this plot about Greed could perfectly just be a thing in Falconreach, except with the main heroes arguing instead of the sisters. This plot doesn’t exactly have the Mogloween-ish feel for me, escpecially with Tomix with us. Don’t get me wrong, I think he’s great, just it doesn’t feel the same as all the other Mogloweens to me.

    Also, this is certainly a major part in our relationship with Tomix, so when Mogloween goes rare for another year, I have the feeling new players or players that missed out on Mogloween will be missing a lot.

    Anyone else feel like this, or am I just rambling?

  3. perpetualenigma said

    @ Alabamapitty
    Thanks Pitty, and don’t worry, I will send your regards. Endon is already doing a great job, especially in covering the technical aspects of battles and such.
    As for dying to see the world of spirits, that only clashes with the two Zeuster quests where we travel to the underworld to visit Death. Just why exactly is the mysterious realm of Death open to humans anyway, when we have to travel through its territories on the surface of Lore as spirits? Or are Death and the Spirit Realm two different things?
    As for Tomix, it simply goes without saying that he is ‘freakin’ awesome’. He’s the glue that binds the quest together, and thus is the main reason why it received such a high rating.

    @ .Shadow//
    It’s true that for the moment, it seems as though the team is taking a radical new approach to Mogloween. This time, there actually is a scary conflict, instead of something cute. But I think that it’s a great change; at least there’s a chance that we don’t have to go Trick-or-Treating this year. 😛 It’s a good point that you brought up though; the Cauldron Sisters are sitting in the background for now, when Mogloween is usually all about them.
    You brought up another good point about Tomix as well; this is the real beginning of our alliance with him, and future players are going to miss out until next year. It might make things a little awkward for those players should the team introduce another quest separate from Mogloween that Tomix stars in. Let’s just hope the team adds a little dialogue then to explain away the inconsistencies.

  4. SorionHex said

    Well mate, the screen doesn’t “actually” repeat. If you notice the doors at the top. Walking into them reveals funny cut scenes featuring the Chesire Twilliy, and the Cat-erpillar thing, both having been captured by the queen.

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