by Quinn Levandoski
reviewed on PC
Don’t Fear the Reaper
Reaper- Tale of a Pale Swordsman, released by Hexage and popularized on mobile devices, has made its way onto PC. On paper, the premise of Reaper sounds like it could be a lot of fun. The game starts in the middle of a long-burning conflict between the medieval-European-like Imperium, and the magical voodoo-esque Wilderness tribesmen, though after years of fighting the war has largely come to a standstill with only extremists still duking it out. Logic would assume that players would choose a side and play as either a tribesman or an Imperium soldier, but the game takes a more interesting route and puts you into the body of a mysterious black-clad swordsman who’s kind of a mix between the grim reaper, a bounty hunter, and selfish desperado. Oh, and he’s a huge jerk. Like an “I’ll kill a nice old man because why not” level jerk.
In theory I like everything about this. The setting of the the waning years of war instead of the start or middle like most other games, the cool anti-hero, the monsters that start popping up throughout your adventure, it’s all potentially cool stuff. I say potentially because, to me at least, it just never did anything interesting with any of it. The backdrop of war, along with the other plotlines, never really go anywhere engaging, the monsters, while looking cool much of the time, mostly all require the same combat strategy to beat, and the humor of the main character didn’t work for me at all.
Hit and Miss
As an RPG, Reaper is hit and miss. On one hand, upgrading the swordsman’s gear is a satisfying mechanic filled with enough options and variation to keep me interested. The gear itself is pretty straightforward- you can collect different pieces of clothing and swords to boost different stats- but there was at least some element of being able to tailor my loadout to a certain strategy (I mostly just used more speed or more damage) depending on the situation. Unfortunately the same customization doesn’t actually apply to skills or abilities. It’s possible to make your avatar stronger or faster, but there isn’t a way to unlock attacks, magic, etc. For the most part, what you start with is what you get, which seems like a missed opportunity. Other elements were also a little disappointing.
I understand that making a funny game is hard, and I commend anyone willing to try, but despite the best intentions the dark humor in Reaper very rarely worked for me at all. Most of the humor is meant to be derived from the crassness and nonchalant-ness of the swordsman, who will often barely speak to someone before killing them just because he’s so evil like that, hahaha. The victim will normally give a last line or two before they die, telling the player what to do next. The first time was alright since it isn’t something one sees most of the time, but after that it just seemed forced. The missions themselves aren’t that satisfying in and of themselves either, and the game’s mobile roots really show here the most. Missions are short- very short- often times only lasting 30 seconds to a few minutes. It fits on-the-go gaming nicely when people want to rip out a level or two on their commute or in between classes, but it becomes repetitive and unrewarding after longer than a short session on the computer.
One of the bullet points on the Steam page that had me intrigued about the dialogue system was the ability to haggle to raise your reward after a quest, but all that boils down to is a dialogue option telling the person that their reward isn’t enough and that you need more gold, to which they’ll either say no or ok. There isn’t any strategy involved whatsoever.
Nice visuals, good music, and a variety of gear.
Humor that misses more than hits, short repetitive quests, boring combat.