Requital (PC) review
"Requital finds itself more realised than Two Worlds, but simply not on the same tier as Oblivion."
The beginning: The Grey Dog clan is dead, slaughtered by a mysterious villain distinguished only by a wolf’s symbol on his hand. Of the entire clan only young Wolfhound (that’s his name, not his race) is spared for seemingly no reason whatsoever. While everyone around him is put to the sword, he’s captured and sent to work in an unspecified mine somewhere.
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The start: After years of toiling away in a sunlight choked mine, dreaming only for the chance to avenge his parent’s and friend’s bloody murder, Wolfhound is set free, again, for no reason whatsoever, to try and extract his vengeance. You have to stop and ask questions of the evil overlord of Requital at this point: it’s as if he wants to provide himself the most cliché nemesis he can and has gone to great lengths to do so.
Regardless, Wolfy wakes up in a forest (with, unsurprisingly, no reasons supplied as to why he is there) and is quickly accosted by a weird old man who hangs around in woods hoping for partially dressed young boys to come along. Worrying as this is, it turns out to only be the start of a tutorial, which itself turns out to be as half arsed as the dodgy plot that preceded it.
Rather then help you get to grips with aspects of the game like combat and inventory management you are instead shown the basic workings of the camera and asked to navigate around the small, closed-off section of woodland. Here you’ll find that there’s no WASD keyboard support included, but that you can only move yourself around by clicking the mouse cursor over the patch of land you wish to travel to. While the path finding skill employed are reliable and you’ll rarely get stuck behind the bits of scenery, this is an awkward and ham handed method of movement, making things like changing directions or hurried travel a nightmare.
After stumbling around and chatting to targeted NPCS, you’ll receive your first item as a reward, an atypical healing stone that will let you regain health so long as the c key is depressed. While this solves the immediate problem of your HP bar being mostly drained (which, unsurprisingly, has no explanation) it also makes you a shining totem of invincibility, one that can simply retreat from battles to find a bubble of safety to regenerate within before returning to the fray. These pretty much overwrite the usefulness of the more expected potions and draughts which are relegated to only being of use inside battles. The stone can be used within fights (which play out in a turn-based fashion similar to that of World of Warcraft), but downing a health drink is a much faster way of getting your HP back up.
Getting in to fights is commonplace, and in itself, contains a lot of clever little ideas such as being able to knock opponents out with your fists rather than run them through with your weapon of choice. And, even then, you can continue to pummel an KO’d foe should you wish. There’s also a decent amount of weapons Wolfhound can call upon, ranging from the expected bows, staves and swords and branching out into farming implements like pitchforks and scythes. Combining these with combat-oriented skills you can learn by investing skill points in helps you build a personalised battle plan that you can change on the fly. This is handy, seeing as the enemies you face come varied in form and style.
Human guards patrol forbidden areas and raise alarms when they spot you prowling in unwanted areas, then give chase, alerting other guards to your presence as you see them. Flee, and they’ll chase you off, pausing one you’ve been ejected to make obscene gestures and mock your cowardly retreat. This can be used to your advantage to break up groups and tackling them one by one. The more feral antics of the hostile wildlife leave you no such opportunities, and the hordes of zombies that can be easily distinguished by the swarm of flies gathering around their visibly rotting bodies prove hardest to defeat of all. You’ll need a specialist weapon made solely for killing off the undead to see them off ensuring that you don’t slaughter everything with a one tactic fits all mindset.
You’ll often find yourself fighting with your back against a wall, though. Requital has an unfortunate habit of boarding their landscapes with sheer drops, impassable undergrowth knotted together to form unbreakable walls or inclines impossible to pass. This approach may very well beat the age old ‘invisible walls’ treatment older games thrust upon us, but it not only puts an unwelcome halt to strategic retreats, but ensures that the oft-fantastic looking worlds cannot be fully explored as you are guided along narrow little paths that drag you by the hand to the next location you need to get to. With such a well-fashioned world complete with a night/day cycle, the forced limits can feel claustrophobic at times.
There’s also not much you can do to individualise Wolfhound: you can play around with the usual stats (strength, dexterity, speed and constitution) but you’re still stuck with a human warrior with a scruffy beard of manliness + 4. Some nice touches, like how every time Wolfhound picks up a sizeable object like a shield or piece of armour, it appears somewhere on his body do help you somewhat have some control over the appearance of your on-screen avatar. So, if you ever wanted to be covered in shields, now you can!
Requital makes for an unbalanced game; all the little errors play on the proceedings and negate from the things done right, like the fantastic world and the variety of enemies that ensure you don’t just spam the same attack patterns over and over again. But the game feels more like a long path than an adventure, one all too quick to throw you into a battle then give you a small rest bite before hurling you into another. There’s a fun game to be played with Requital, a title that finds itself more realised than Two Worlds, but simply not on the same tier as Oblivion.
All in all, that’s not an awful place to be.
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