Remember those free Cracker Jack prizes, like the magnifying glass too crappy to fry ants with, and the rub-on tattoos that became ugly smudges? Downloading Requiem: Bloodymare (from www.playrequiem.com) is like finding a five-dollar bill in your Cracker Jack box - quite a pleasant surprise!
Despite being free to download and play, Requiem is fully featured, and arguably better than many subscription-based MMOs out there. Quest-driven leveling? Check. PvP battlegrounds with victory points and rewards? Check. Instanced dungeons? Check. Auction house, bank, and mail? Check. Flightpaths (for steampunk biplanes!)? Check. And maybe best of all, the artwork is stylized, thematically consistent, and high-quality. Don%26rsquo;t worry about its Korean origins - Requiem%26rsquo;s English translation is excellent, and the gameplay is surprisingly Western in its approach. Although billed as %26ldquo;horror%26rdquo; and rated M, Requiem isn%26rsquo;t substantially different from fantasy MMOs. Instead of orcs marching up to poke you with spears, you get mutant walruses galumphing over to gnaw on you with big tusks. The one standout difference are the %26ldquo;nightmare%26rdquo; creatures that appear once a day and require groups to slay. Just ignore the backstory; it%26rsquo;s a best-forgotten mishmash that could have been concocted by 14-year-olds working on a D%26amp;D campaign over a bag of Cheetos.
A dozen character classes (spread out over only three humanoid races) cover the MMO archetypes: warriors, sneaky back-stabbers, and magic casters - nothing out of the ordinary. Taking them into combat is a gory good time, though - your screen will shake with the impacts of special attacks, and brutal kills reduce monsters to meaty gibs. The new twist is an option to temporarily morph into a beast after level 25, so your glass cannon caster might morph into a behemoth that can absorb punishment and fight like a warrior, adding a lot of interesting possibilities to character development. The developer has bills to pay, so Requiem offers subscription services of $7.99 and $14.99 per month that grant more XP per kill and extra loot, and unlock zone-wide chat. You can also buy temporary boosts and pay for mounted travel. For players who get invested time-wise, the benefits of a subscription would be well worth the cost. Leveling does get grindy as you reach higher levels, and the quests are unimaginative, but I still want to keep playing, try new classes, and get new beasts to possess. And why not? The price is right.
PC Gamer scores games on a percentage scale, which is rounded to the closest whole number to determine the GamesRadar score.
PCG Final Verdict: 70% (good)
Jul 29, 2008