Nadirim is the latest project from Digital Reality, Hungary’s oldest video game developer, and for the game that looks to mark the developer’s 20th anniversary, the company decided to abandon their PC game format and create a totally free browser-based MMO in a move that might startle and confound anyone who observes the business. Of course, in choosing to go with a simple, unassuming browser game, Digital Reality went all out to create one of the best browser-based experiences on the net -- or, perhaps, one of the best MMO experiences anyone can ask for. While the content is limited (at this time, at least), the core gameplay makes this game an immediate addicting classic, one that’s hard to put down even with only two small maps and a handful of quests.
Nadirim’s core gameplay is easily the game’s most appealing factor.
Nadirim is, in essence, the combination of the classic isometric RPG (think Diablo) and the traditional RPG (Final Fantasy, EarthBound/Mother 2, etc.), which makes for an awesome compound. Players travel the world in a top-down isometic board, clicking to go where they will, but moving along on an invisible hexagonal grid. Battle, however, switches to a combat screen with the combatants in a turn-based brawl that would give any old school gamer flashbacks to days of their youth, taking out imps and strange blobs in pursuit of that sweet, elusive level up -- except that you’re fighting jackals and bandits and such. The only thing missing from the battles is a twirl and a sweet fanfare; otherwise, the bulk of the game is like taking a trip down memory lane.
There are, of course, other elements to the gameplay, and not all of them are good. The good are the quests and skills systems, and the way they’re implemented in the game. The bad? The “energy meter”.
The game features a fusion of traditional RPG skill sets and the now-famous World of Warcraft skill tree. Every three levels, the player is awarded a class-specific skill that only has a default level. In addition, on every odd level, the player gets a point that can be invested on one of two skill trees which are meant to represent something between a specialty and a secondary class. Apart from the fact that players can distribute their skill points between each tree freely, these skill trees act exactly the way they should -- use a point, and either gain a new skill or upgrade it. Very simple, very friendly.
Quests are also simple and friendly. They tend to run as the standard-fare MMO quest -- find these items, kill these monsters, inspect this object, put a thing in water -- and Digital Reality was able to integrate a very convenient quest tracker that quite literally points players in the direction of at least 70% of the quests in the game (it tracks quests with specific destination, of which there are many, though not for mob hunting quests as the specified mobs can appear in various places). The best part about the game’s quests so far is that each of them is very easy to complete, they take almost no time at all to finish (so players can get on with exploring the world and such), and each one does an effective job at advancing the game’s story -- with just enough text to pull the player along for the ride without being excessive or boring. The game so far contains two daily quests which are also easy to complete and don’t take up a lot of the player’s precious time.
The only glaring flaw in Nadirim’s gameplay is Digital Reality’s implementation of an “Energy” system. Each character has a set of energy points which regenerate over time (approximately one point per minute), but virtually everything in the game costs energy. Players can talk to people and manage their inventory for free, but to want to start a quest -- and progress through quests, in many cases -- or fight some monsters, players have to shell out energy. And while a character’s max energy will go up with each level, this growth isn’t proportionate with the sudden and extreme climb in energy costs for later quests. The quests on the second map can deplete a player’s energy in just about an hour (depending on how quickly quests are taken and completed), making the fatigue system in Final Fantasy XIV look like a joke. The developers plan to introduce energy potions with the initial release of the game’s item mall, but for those gamers that either can’t afford to pay cash for gameplay or just don’t want to, they can expect a lot of hour+ gaps in gameplay, and often just to have maybe an hour or two of real gameplay.
The actual gameplay time, however, is incredibly enjoyable.
Ron Fair is a very passionate writer and scholar whose strong and sometimes unconventional opinions have stirred controversy -- though his arguments and logic are often stronger than one might suspect. He is very active on MMOsite as an Associate Writer for the blogs (LordYanLiang) and moderator on the forums.
Subscribe to Daily Browser Games Reviews!