Spirit Tales Preview: Cuteness Overload!
By Michael Sagoe (Mikedot), OnRPG Journalist
I was completely on the fence about giving this game a try. The cuteness factor seemed to be the only thing going for it, but since I’m a complete sucker for cute things, I succumbed to my weakness and gave it a try.
From the character creation menu, players can select between a male or female character and two classes among different animal tribes: Gold Kirin, Maned Dragon and Lunar Fox. The character creation menu also displays the character’s spirit form. While males can transform into cute, but intimidating beasts, females on the other hand can transform into generic anime girls with animal ears & tails, which is kind of a safe, but fairly generic design choice.
I decided to go with a female assassin of the Lunar Fox tribe. Afterwards, more creation options were available. Several different eye, hair, ear, tail and color variations exist for each, allowing for some moderate personalization. Players can also try out different emotes for their characters and…
I had to turn away from my monitor for a brief moment because I thought I was about to puke a rainbow. That was just too cute for me! I decided to switch to a male assassin to see if I could make my character any less cute.
Nope. It was still pretty cute, but I did like the coy look on his face, so I decide to go with it.
After creating a character, the game opens with a brief cinematic, detailing the game’s backstory. Starting off in a place called Autumnal Grove; I was taken in by the game’s bright and colorful visuals. The world of Spirit Tales also had a “rolling ball” effect only seen in games like Animal Crossing, and it makes the game feel distinct.
The tutorial quest will set players off quickly by letting them right click on target enemies, items and NPCs in their quest log to set an auto-route to their next destination, making it literally impossible to get lost. The quests themselves, however, are typical of what you would expect from an MMORPG: Kill X/Bring Y/Go-to Z/etc. I was hoping quests would become more varied later on, but the game doesn’t even try to deviate from this boring old design.
Three kill & fetch quests later: I received another kill quest where I could earn a pet egg as a reward. Quickly after finishing the quest up, I hatched the egg and out came a tiny purple bird that was mine to train.
The pet system in this game was very interesting: Unlike most MMOs where pets only exist as vanity items or stat boosters, pets in Sprit Tales can act as stat boosters and as fighting companions. You can either merge with your pets to gain stats and passive abilities or have it fight alongside you with its own special attacks. Pets also level up with your character and can equip its own set of armor and accessories. It’s almost like having a second character.
Heading out from the Autumnal Grove and into the Jade Forest, I gained a key quest that would unlock my character’s spirit form. Quest requirements: head up to a special altar, activate my moonshade item and defeat a field boss.
Once completed, the power of the ninja fox was at my fingertips. Strangely enough, though, my fox spirit form didn’t look anything like the one from the character creation menu or during the brief transformation during the quest.
Getting a better feel for the combat, I was rather surprised by how fast paced it was. Perhaps maybe it was because I was playing the fastest melee DPS class available, but battling enemies was very quick and engaging. Instead of pressing a hotkey (1 through 9) to perform a skill, pressing a hotkey sets your skill to your right mouse button, which you can perform with your right mouse button once it has been set, so using skills did take a bit of getting used to. After level 15 or so, I was zipping around, stunning enemies and laying waste one after another in the blink of an eye.
One thing for sure is that Spirit Tales is at least trying not to waste a player’s time before they can get to the more enjoyable content like dungeons and instances. MP Skills are quick with very little cooldown time, and my assassin’s MP could regenerate almost as fast as I could churn them out. Attacks from enemies are also very quick with animation frames that are almost unnoticeable, making mob fights a bit stressful.
I spent some time searching around to find any signs of any non-cuteness…
…but I couldn’t! Just about everything in this game is made for cuteness. Even the manliest NPC I could find looked adorable.
A few more levels later: extra tutorial dialog opened up, informing me that along with receiving pet eggs as quests rewards, players can earn pets by catching common monsters that are under level 25. I spanned the last few areas looking for pets that I’d like to catch, and then I remembered the bug warriors back in the Jade Forest. I wanted to catch one of them, but the game wouldn’t let me. I guess human-like enemies aren’t considered monsters. Bummer.
No bug women slaves for you!
After that bit of disappointment: I decided to catch a wild boar instead. The pet system further reveals that players can further customize their experience by merging with one pet and fighting with another, allowing for some neat combinations.
I managed to hit level 20, which was halfway from the game’s level cap of 40. I decided that I wanted to try out a dungeon before calling it quits. There was already a dungeon quest on my list, and everything was a cakewalk up to that point, so I thought it would have been a breeze.
That was a big mistake.The first wave off monsters hit twice as hard as any field monsters would. Plus: they were using skills to stun me in place. I couldn’t help but watch my HP plummet. Unfortunately this was during the press preview event so I had no one to call for help in defeating the dungeon.
Overall: Despite the lack of innovation, my experience playing Sprit Tales turned out to be quite enjoyable. The combat is fast and engaging, while the cute visuals are so sweet and saccharine that it gave me diabetes.
Closed beta for Spirit Tales is set to begin March 15th. OnRPG has plenty of keys to get you and your friends into beta so be sure to drop by our Events Page to snag one!
Meanwhile, I’ll be taking my insulin medication.