2019 was sure an exciting year. Though, I’m not really sure while I’m writing about it in the past tense since we still have a couple of months left. I’ve played some great AAA releases, nice indie surprises and plowed through a lot of genres. Yet, there is one that eluded me up to this moment. Ever since Torchlight games, I haven’t been able to find one decent ARPG to properly suck me in. So when I was given a chance to dive deeper into the world of Pagan Online, I was very much interested. Let’s see what’s in the store for us.
The Gods are gone. That should be the tagline of Pagan Online. But really, you are thrown into this mythical and desolated realm where most of its creators are now nowhere to be seen. It’s up to you to ask questions and find out what happened through hordes of slain monsters. The developers say that a lot of the inspirations for the design and lore is drawn from Slavic mythology so expect occasional references to Perun and Czernobog. You have a starting choice between two melee fighters and one ranged caster, you’ve given some potions and off you go.
Right off the bat, I can say that the game is incredibly fluid and well optimized. I decided to go with ranged caster whip lady and I had no difficulties taking down the mobs of goblins. Every character has a decent number of attacks for dealing with lone enemies as well as mobs. Pagan Online is also fairly generous with drops so every hour of gameplay you’ll come across on a new favorite weapon. The formula is simple. Kill enemies, level up, unlock access to new abilities, take down bosses and unlock access to new areas. Rinse and repeat. It sounds (and looks) pretty bland on a surface, but Pagan Online hides so much more underneath After fiddling with options, you’ll find that the game offers an extensive customization feature for your character(s) and soon in the game, you’ll unlock the access to the weapon forge. Weapon forge offers a chance to morph your under-powered weapon into an improved one (at the cost of a crafting recipe). And you can also sell them to earn some quick gold. And of course, the most important feature of the game is that later you can team up with other players to clear difficult areas or finally take down that nasty boss.
If the game lore draws a lot from Slavic mythology, the visuals take a bit from Torchlight series. Not all though, since later on in the game, things get pretty grim, visually and storywise. You’ll go through the areas of scorched earth, monster-infested deserts, poisonous swamps, and desolated cities. In fact, everywhere you go, you get the feeling that the whole realm is abandoned by Gods and everyone else. It makes for an interesting atmosphere. There was one area later in the game that invoked the feeling of stumbling through the ruins of The Ringed City in Dark Souls 3.
While the audio segment doesn’t offer anything new or exciting, you can count on the whole soundtrack of Pagan Online to be constantly gloomy and ominous. There are strong orchestral themes that follow you everywhere you go. From murdering mobs of monsters to taking down bosses, the music always sets you in the anxious mood and gives you a feeling that the harder fight is just around the corner. Voice acting is also good although there are moments (well, buggy moments) where it can get a bit irritating. Whenever you die during a story quest near a talkative NPC, there is a good chance their voice their scripted lines can get three times louder, not to mention annoying. Who knows, maybe it’s a game’s subtle way of forcing us to die less and be better players.
Pagan Online is one of those tricky games that sucks you in before you notice. I find myself playing it on a daily basis and finding a new excuse every time to start it up. Sometimes it is to replay an area hoping for a new weapon/armor drop, to help someone in co-op and at the end of the day, it’s just a great game to lose a couple of hours when you’re not sure what else to play. Pretty soon every pondering leads to a couple of hours of Pagan Online. To be fair, the game also had excellent timing to come out during a dry season of this genre, so if you’re on a lookout for a decent ARPG, Pagan Online should be your first and safest choice.
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