By Blair Nishkian (Tagspeech)
I recently sat down with Founder and CEO of Artix Entertainment, Adam Bohn – though his players know him as a wide-eyed, brown-haired knight with a red cape named Artix. He told me that he actually had large anime eyes in real-life, and I believed him, as the man sounded like he was overflowing with energy and enthusiasm, not just for his product, which is AdventureQuest 3D, but for life itself. I respected that. Having never played or even heard of AdventureQuest up until this point, it was good to be given a tour of the phenomenon by the creator himself. Of course, there were many detours along the way, such as my need to have a mid-tour sex change since my avatar was a big, bulky man and that makes me feel weird. Artix was an accommodating host in that regard, and he lavished me with capes, hats, armors, and all sorts of treats – I settled on a tricorn hat and some rounded pauldrons with a red cape. I felt dapper as hell.
AdventureQuest is apparently an older game with a loyal following, and I saw that loyal following myself, by the sheer number of players that swarmed Artix and myself out of interest. It very much felt like a living world, not in the sense that I was unaware I was playing a video game (I’m far too jaded for that), but in the sense that the players themselves had a lot of energy and interest in what they were doing. They seemed to actually like the game they inhabited, which is a far cry from the usual joyless skinner boxes I’m asked to spend my time with in other online games. AdventureQuest has always gone out of its way to be weird, unique, and intriguing. They have an inn that has boasted actual live musical guests in the past. Perhaps you’ve heard of They Might be Giants? Yes? No? I’m old. Well, they had the Cruxshadows, too, believe it or not, and if you’ve heard of them, then you hung around the goth kids in high school, like I did.
While wandering through AdventureQuest 3D you might click on a painting and be sucked into a 2D world and have a little adventure there. You might fall into a cellar and adventure your way through some nasties to get out. You might adventure your way behind a bookcase into a secret room, or adventure the crap all over a forest area with rewards and quests that change every time. AdventureQuest isn’t just a name, apparently, they go out of their way to make the game chock full of strange, often surreal adventures that actually wake players up and go “what the hell is a Dricken?” It’s a dragon crossed with a chicken, obviously, and it’s going to kill you, so run.
But that’s all fun and games. The real question these days is ‘how do I share my fun and games with my friends as instantly and easily as possible?’ It seems harder than ever. You’ve got phone game people, you’ve got console people, you’ve got PC people, and nary the three shall meet. But AdventureQuest 3D has come up with a cunning plot to solve that problem. If you want to play with your friends, whether they enjoy the game on their phone or their 1337 GAMING RIG, all you have to do is generate a code, distribute it to them, and poof, they’re standing next to you in game, no matter what. Go on and adventure yourselves, you earned it.
Do you like goblins that try to kill you to the sounds of a polyrhythmic, disturbing music track while you run through a flying bacon citadel? No? Most people don’t. But if you do, AdventureQuest 3D has it. It has it all. Self-serious extermination adventures, goofy chicken adventures, slay the undead adventures, whatever your favorite kind of adventure, it’s probably here, somewhere. Personally I was struck by how nice the areas were. And how social it all seemed – I love socializing and roleplaying, and all that girly, stupid stuff nobody likes. The character models were also slick, and it’s all very well put-together, nice and stylized without being -too- absurd.
Of course, Artix described the whole game as being “a nostalgia shot to the groin” at which point I had to ask him if that was where he always had his shots. He declined to comment (good move). He also said that “3D is like 2D but with more D” and had to be told that the phrase was no longer appropriate for all audiences. Such innocence. AdventureQuest 3D might be one of the few games out there that isn’t completely cynical, and for that alone, I’m looking forward to its release in the coming months.