An old-school RPG for hardcore fans of the genre, it's not without its problems
Developer: Wooden Dragon
Publisher: Cinemax s.r.o. (No, not the cable company)
Genre: Action/Fantasy RPG
Release date: September 5, 2012 (English-language version)
Let’s get something out of the way up front. When time permits, I try to play the games I review at least twice. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to get through Inquisitor even once.
This will be the first time I've reviewed a game without finishing it. However, this is definitely not due to lack of effort on my part. For details, read on. And please know that your experience could vary greatly from mine.
Set in a medieval fantasy world akin in many ways to the historical Middle Ages, Inquisitor is an old-school single-player 2D isometric RPG that, after nine years in development, was released in the Czech Republic in 2009. Three additional years were spent translating it into English and proofing the game's 5,000 pages (1.5 million words) of text.
Inquisitor is reminiscent of such RPGs as Diablo 2, Baldur's Gate and Arcanum. Its look and general gameplay are similar to these and other isometric RPGs of that era.
The game has over 200 weapons, 80 spells, 7 schools of magic, 90 monsters, 180 NPCs, 50,000 sprites, 34 ground locations (forests, cities, pastures) and 37 extensive dungeon complexes. Whew. It's a very lengthy game, billed as lasting up to 150 hours.
First, some words of caution: Inquisitor involves torture. The player is the one who does it (and who also facilitates the burning of characters at the stake). If you're averse to such things, this is not the game for you.
In addition, I suggest that players who are new to the genre avoid Inquisitor. It’s a difficult game that presumes some knowledge of the workings of older RPGs.
Movement (consisting of a choice between "slow walk" and "quick walk") and combat are both mouse-controlled. In-game animation can be somewhat choppy.
Keyboard controls are used for various actions and can't be remapped. There is no tutorial.
Inventory space is limited. Once the limit is reached, players must get rid of some items in order to pick up or buy others.
The game does come with a digital 67-page Game Companion (manual) as well as other digital goodies, among them an Arms and Weapons document and a Book of Magic. Despite this, the game's mechanics and controls (some representing rudimentary actions) along with other aspects of the game aren't explained very well, if at all.
For instance: I'd been playing a good ten hours or so before I discovered, quite by accident, that the game can be paused using the Pause/Break button, and that items on the ground in any location can be identified using F4. The Alt key identifies items as well (and also displays characters’ names), but you have to hold the key down for it to stay on. F4 can be toggled on and off. Neither Pause/Break nor F4 is mentioned anywhere.
Identified objects are highlighted, making them a lot easier to pick up. Before I knew this, I had considerable trouble clicking on the hotspots of most items, as they tend to be tiny and require precision. On the other hand, object names and highlighting, particularly if there are many identified objects in the area, can sometimes obscure things you need to see.
Despite these informational shortcomings, you’d be well-advised to read and refer to the aforementioned documents if you’re to stand a chance of succeeding in Inquisitor. You’re basically thrown into the game and left to manage as best you can on your own. And Inquisitor can be a tough game, even on its easiest setting.
Along with digging through the game's documents for answers to questions, I ended up using guesswork and trial-and-error. I also went scurrying around the Internet in search of additional information.
I did manage to come across some of the info I needed as I played the game. There are three questions for which I never did find answers.
Be that as it may, I did discover some online sources of potentially useful information that you might want to hunt down (keep in mind that you may encounter spoilers): (1) The official Inquisitor website; (2) Cinemax’s Inquisitor Forum; (3) GOG’s Inquisitor Forum - this tends to be the most helpful; it’s well-organized and could save you some grief.
Inquisitor has no spoken dialog. Instead, it has walls of text that the player must read. No conversations may be skipped. (And sometimes, they come back. I’ll be addressing this issue a little later).
There's a lot of dialog which, on its own, represents a lot of reading. Extend this to reading the text of accompanying documents and in-game descriptions of weapons, spells, magic etc. and there’s really a lot of reading to be done. So if you don’t enjoy reading, I doubt you’ll enjoy Inquisitor.
The English translation has been done fairly well but could have used a little polish. There are some grammatical/spelling errors; odd colloquialisms and slang words are used, and some things don’t exactly make sense. Nevertheless, I was usually able to get the gist of what was being said.
Engaging/fighting enemies is accomplished by clicking on them repeatedly until either you or they prevail. Or, if things are going really badly, you have the option of retreating if you can pull it off.
Want monsters? Inquisitor has plenty, among them scamps, demons, apparitions, orcs, giant bats, ogres, trolls and...oh crap...giant spiders "with mandibles as big as sickles." I haaaaate spiders, and this game has a lot of ‘em. Their poison, if it doesn’t kill you, can take up to five full minutes -- an eternity in this game -- to wear off. Also, some monsters respawn.
The game is presented in three Acts, and gameplay cycles between day and night. Act One begins after I choose a difficulty level (Easy, Medium, Hard, with no option to change to a different level mid-game) and character (Priest, Paladin or Thief; there is no customization); allocate stats, watch a cinematic and read an introduction to Act One.
I’m sent to the town of Hillbrandt in the realm of Ultherst to investigate a rather gruesome murder. This and all other locations come with automaps that expand as players explore.
I've been told in the introduction that I'll be going undercover as an errand boy, although this is never mentioned again. The NPCs refer to me as "knight." (I have no name other than the one I’ve given myself before starting gameplay, and it never appears in dialog.)
I may be wrong, but I don't think "knight" is synonymous with "errand boy" unless my activities, including questioning people, tracking down possible heretics, gathering evidence, and arresting and torturing suspects represent "errands." But I'm getting ahead of myself.
I start out on a road just outside Hillbrandt. Before I can gain access to the town, I must kill all of the giant bats lurking outside its walls. Thankfully, I'm okay with bats.
In all fairness, the game does offer an alternative to this. I could have forgotten about the bats and forced my way into Hillbrandt using threats.
I, however, want the experience points bat-killing will likely yield, and I figure there’s a chance of finding some loot out there. This will also give me a taste of the mechanics of killing something.
In order to locate the bats, I must repeatedly circle the town's outer walls and venture into some of the surrounding woods.
Okay. After killing every bat I'm able to find, I try to enter the town only to have a guard ask: Did you kill them ALL? (Meaning no, I hadn't.) So it's back to circling the town and slogging through woods. I find more bats, kill them, try to enter the town, but did you kill them ALL, I guess not, more circling and slogging, back-and-forth, back-and-forth.
This quest becomes so silly that I'm determined to get through it no matter what. I'm stubborn that way.
Four days later, I finally manage to kill all of the bats. Sure, I wasn't playing every minute of those four days, but still...
At this point I start wondering what the rest of the game has in store for me. Little do I know...