Encased - Review @ Kordanor's Gaming Lair

HiddenX

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Kordanor reviewed the sci-fi post-apocalyptic RPG Encased:

Encased - Review / Fazit [EN] by Kordanor



Conclusion:

Encased is promising much more than it can keep over the duration of the game, which in my case, with reading out all the texts was more than 120 hours. After 10 to 20 hours you can already see a clear drop in how thoroughly things have been designed, which is especially true for some zones and game balance.

The game is still fun, which is partly thanks to the great events and partly because of the zones and quests which are actually designed thoroughly. But you have to accept that every now and then you will be disappointed, which of course wouldn't have happened if it was really the "Fallout of our Dreams".

My personal rating of the game for that reason is a thumb barely reaching the three-quarter line. If you really like the setting and you want to sink yourself into the world, then you can definitely give it a try. But if you are rather skeptical or put a lot of emphasis on combat mechanics, then you should keep your distance. At least until new patches are being published which hopefully fix the problems and fill the game with additional content.
More information.
 

Redglyph

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Thanks for the review, @Kordanor;!

I was disappointed they didn't fill the later areas a little more with patch 3. That's what they led us to believe, but ultimately it was something completely different. It's not bare in the 2nd half, but it does feel like they ran out of time to keep the same rhythm as in the first.

Let's wait until the next patch to see how they balance the combat and character progression.

I still don't share all the concerns about the UI and a few other mechanics though, at some point in the video it seems like a long list of nitpicking for minor feature quirks that are typical in other RPGs as well. It never meant to be an AAA title, and some features like the UI are pretty well done for a game of this calibre, but it's certainly not perfect (like those hidden notifications..). It didn't bother me that much though. We all have our expectations I suppose. :)

I never played the original fallout games so I can't tell what was superior, but I've read a few other people commenting Encased wasn't a worthy "successor". What was a marking positive feature of the fallout 1 & 2 games? The story?
 

Giovanni1983

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Cheers for the review. I bought this game close to release but I did not have time to play it yet other than an hour or so. I will give it a go after a few more patches.
 

Carnifex

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Thanks for the review, Kordanor. I've still not gotten around to playing this one, when I do I hope the excitements are many and the lows are few.
 

JDR13

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I'm surprised you got 120 hours out of it. From what other people had said, I didn't think there was that much content.
 

Kordanor

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Thanks for the review, @Kordanor;!

I was disappointed they didn't fill the later areas a little more with patch 3. That's what they led us to believe, but ultimately it was something completely different. It's not bare in the 2nd half, but it does feel like they ran out of time to keep the same rhythm as in the first.

Let's wait until the next patch to see how they balance the combat and character progression.

I still don't share all the concerns about the UI and a few other mechanics though, at some point in the video it seems like a long list of nitpicking for minor feature quirks that are typical in other RPGs as well. It never meant to be an AAA title, and some features like the UI are pretty well done for a game of this calibre, but it's certainly not perfect (like those hidden notifications..). It didn't bother me that much though. We all have our expectations I suppose. :)

I never played the original fallout games so I can't tell what was superior, but I've read a few other people commenting Encased wasn't a worthy "successor". What was a marking positive feature of the fallout 1 & 2 games? The story?

The issue I always fight with in reviews is that making a statement on bad things usually requires more time to explain than when you make one on mechanics which are ok or good. If something is bad, you naturally want to know why something is bad.
But if you got equally many good and bad things, talking about the bad things takes more time, which is an issue.
But basically what you are commenting on, is basically the result I want to accomplish (well, in case you hadnt played the game): You should be able to tell from the review whether the points I mentioned are actually a problem for you, as you might have a different perspective. In the end, a lot of it is subjective.
But the "issues" with reloading weapons and splitting items are just two examples of things which would have been super easy to fix, and I think they are great example of little annoying things which wouldn't have appeared if the game received some more polish. The quest issues (quests just ending right at the climax) on the other hand is something which has a much more severe impact.

To me it makes no difference in rating the game if the game is a AAA game or a game by one person like Spiderweb. To me it's the result which counts. Ofc that only makes sense if you share my view in that a game doesnt need to be fully voiced to be good, have motion cap or have high end graphics. But a lack of polish because of being indie to me is an excuse which I wont let count. In addition there are indie games which are super polished.

I played Fallout 1+2 back in the day, but don't have lots of memories. Fallout 1 was also quite a short game. Encased is likely much bigger than Fallout 1 and maybe even bigger than fallout 2, but it doesn't really come with the content to fill that size.
The one major flaw in the old fallout games is the bad companion AI which always comes up. But I can't say that the battles in Encased are much better. They are likely better thought out in terms of mechanics. But that doesnt matter much when in practice the mechanics dont matter due to bad balancing. So there was definitely more tension in Fallout Combat.
 

Kordanor

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I'm surprised you got 120 hours out of it. From what other people had said, I didn't think there was that much content.

Yeah, that's also why I mentioned that I am reading out all texts, which certainly bloats gametime a bit.

Encased is certainly not a small game though and there is a lot of content.
But sometimes it would be nicer if you had one well designed questline instead of 5 questlines which just end when they are getting interesting.
So the emphasis was put on having more content without "finishing" it if that makes sense.

Comparison of similar games I played:
Wasteland 2: ~120h
Wasteland 3: ~100h
Divinity OS 2: ~190h
Shadowrun Returns: ~58h
Geneforge 1 Mutagen: 87h
Avernum 3: 129h

Most of these games also used up more time on combat though, especially OS2, as I play all games on max difficulty, and I think Encased is likely the easiest of all of them (and DOS2 the hardest).
 

Redglyph

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The issue I always fight with in reviews is that making a statement on bad things usually requires more time to explain than when you make one on mechanics which are ok or good. If something is bad, you naturally want to know why something is bad.
That's a good point! :D
By the way, I meant nothing negative by "nitpicking", I'm nitpicking with game features all the time. It's our right to be demanding. ;) But I get it takes time to give examples.

But the "issues" with reloading weapons and splitting items are just two examples of things which would have been super easy to fix
Yes, there are a few things I noticed for which I was thinking exactly the same. Matter of priority I suppose. I'm not sure they'll get around to polishing everything, but I've seen a huge progress between the EA and the release, so there's still hope.

I have struggled with the relative rating of AAA vs indie several times, when reading reviews or with the very few I wrote here and there. My conclusion each time is that when I get a game, given its price and the maturity of its developer, I expect something at a given level. And that's what I'm using as a benchmark in the review. Otherwise, if you review a game like Mechajammer, for example, it will never get any chance in comparison with big titles, even though it's worth discovering. But it's only one point of view.

Thanks for the feedback on fallout!
 

Kordanor

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I have struggled with the relative rating of AAA vs indie several times, when reading reviews or with the very few I wrote here and there. My conclusion each time is that when I get a game, given its price and the maturity of its developer, I expect something at a given level. And that's what I'm using as a benchmark in the review. Otherwise, if you review a game like Mechajammer, for example, it will never get any chance in comparison with big titles, even though it's worth discovering. But it's only one point of view.

I go a different route there as the issue is also that the price isn't static.
And you can't really say that the game is "better" when it's in a sale, just because it's cheaper now. Also DOS1 doesnt become better than DOS2 just because less people worked on that game.

So most of the times I also say something about the price (I didn't do that here, but I don't feel that it's necessary here). So I might give a game a thumbs up as rating, but then still say that I don't recommend buying it for the normal price of 50€.
Or I say something like "The game is mediocre but if you can get it in sale for 5 bucks you might want to give it a chance".

Spiderweb games are also maybe a good example of Indie games which I reviewed and rated, which are pretty much as indie as it gets.

But they do have rather good balancing, good storytelling, good combat, and so on.
The graphics are bad but dont bother me. The missing music does bother me.
So I throw everything together. I would probably not give any spiderweb game without music my highest rating (basically reserved for near "perfect" games, rarely given to any RPGs) but I still give them a thumbs up.
For most of the games I felt like the great storytelling, exploration and combat outweighs the missing music and other issues, so they get a thumbs up from me.
Now if the storytelling/exploration/combat is also just mediocre, they will drop down more quickly as the music is also still weighting in. So for queens wish I only gave a 3/4 thumb. For geneforge, which had several significant issues I only gave a neutral rating.

But again, I think the important part is to lay down the details so that viewers/readers can get their own impression and can form their own opinion. And usually you will have viewers/readers which are on a somewhat same level as you are. Someone who hates indie games because of their graphics will likely not even read/watch such a review.
 

henriquejr

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Great review, Kordanor! :thumbsup:

This is a game I'll eventually play :)
 

lackblogger

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I don't even like sci-fi/post apoc RPGs that much and you tempted me to play it even in its current weakened state, so yeah, nice vid.
 

SpoonFULL

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I think for a first time indie team to develop something like this (with back story, culture, world building, art, combat .. etc.) at the scale and reactivity of Fallout is magnificent.
 

Morrandir

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Yeah, but it seems like they bit off more than they could chew
 

vanedor

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I really like the first part of the game. Very well designed... until that big event occurs and the world gets a lot more open. I usually like open world games but for this one, I don't get it. It seems that wherever I go, I'm just faced against impossible odds.
 

Kordanor

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I really like the first part of the game. Very well designed… until that big event occurs and the world gets a lot more open. I usually like open world games but for this one, I don't get it. It seems that wherever I go, I'm just faced against impossible odds.

In that case its pretty clear though that you are doing something wrong, or lets say something not intended by the developers.

The first chapter is extremely linear and therefore balanced on the one character you have.
After that the game is balanced for having 3 characters. Now if you just ignore the story hints and set out to explore on your own, you will get destroyed with just one character at the start.
But if you get the two additional party members the game quickly becomes a walk in the park.
 

vanedor

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In that case its pretty clear though that you are doing something wrong, or lets say something not intended by the developers.

The first chapter is extremely linear and therefore balanced on the one character you have.
After that the game is balanced for having 3 characters. Now if you just ignore the story hints and set out to explore on your own, you will get destroyed with just one character at the start.
But if you get the two additional party members the game quickly becomes a walk in the park.

Well, I did get one party member but she left me after a short while when I reached the city just north. There is also this orange guy you meet at the tavern but I sided with the black wing guys. I guess I should just find other NPCs across the world…
 

Kordanor

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Well, I did get one party member but she left me after a short while when I reached the city just north. There is also this orange guy you meet at the tavern but I sided with the black wing guys. I guess I should just find other NPCs across the world…

Yeah, you can get the girl again in the same city I think, just few levels down. There is also another companion which you can get when you follow the instructions in the picknick, going to a specific zone. You can also fight in the arena in junktown (very easy), which I think will lead to another companion
 

Redglyph

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Well, I did get one party member but she left me after a short while when I reached the city just north. There is also this orange guy you meet at the tavern but I sided with the black wing guys. I guess I should just find other NPCs across the world…

It's easy to make a build that is difficult to start with, unless you are more familiar with the game. Later this should get easier though, even too easy past 2/3rd of the game.

Generally, identify which type of fight you want to start with: melee, psi, light weapons, and so on. Make sure your stats are in favour of that, take all the quests you can find in Picnic, Junktown and Magellan (that last one is rich in quests), so that you can get a good tier of skills in your combat style. Don't try to make a jack-of-all-trades, you'll get a chance to pick other specializations later.

The wing you choose gives a little boost at the start too, depending what you want to do, but it's not critical.

I find it easier to start with companions too, as said Kordanor. A little more on that in the spoiler:

The orange guy in Junktown Slums, Crump, is very handy for melee fights. He has a funny philosophy of life too. You may still get him but it depends where you sided with the blacks, only inside the bar or outside. If you actually fought against him, I'm not sure it's possible but it's worth a try.
If you are separated, you'll find him back in Beth's Shots, the bar. Later at another location.

Katarzyna, once you drop her at Magellan, leaves but can be brought back as permanent companion later in the game.

Still in Junktown is Fox, she's an odd one but a very good fighter. Since you must impress her by fighting in the arena (that you have to find), I'm not sure it's a good idea to do it too early. Save the game first and you'll see.

You should find Sparrow not far from Junktown Slums, he has his principles but he's very good with a gun. If you're separated, he'll reappear at Picnic Neutral Zone. He's usually the first companion I get, unless I take Crump first.

There are yet others, but you usually meet them later.
 
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