Indie Quickie: QuestRun

It takes a lot longer to fully review a game than it does to get a good sense of what a game is. Even with a full-time staff of writers it would be impossible to fully review the thousands of games that are released every year. Indie Quickie is our way to offer snap impressions of the countless indie titles small teams and one-man game studios are releasing literally every single day, and to help guide players to worthwhile games they may not have heard about before.

QuestRun_1.jpg

What is it? Take an old-school JRPG, strip away the storyline and world exploration, and make the battles the lone gameplay element, and QuestRun is what you get.

Who made it and where can you get it? The PC/Mac game was created by Cuve Games and published by Digerati Distribution. Buy it from Steam, Desura or Green Man Gaming for $8.99. For a limited time, you can also currently find the game discounted as part of the IndieGameStand “Staff Pick” sale ($4.50), the Humble Store Spring Sale ($3.59), or in The Intense Bundle from Bundle Stars ($3.99). You’ve got a lot of options.

How much did we play? I finished the two training quests, cleared one side quest, and attempted a few runs in one of the four main dungeons, all of them ending in death. In two hours, I killed over 400 enemies and survived more than 100 enemy waves.

Any technical concerns or hardware requirements you should know about? Unless it was hidden somewhere that I didn’t see, the game doesn’t offer an options menu of any kind, which means the game defaults to windowed view and lacks scalable resolution settings. You can expand/stretch the window to full screen size, but the resolution doesn’t change so the game’s lovely graphics just end up looking blurry.

QuestRun_2.jpg

Why should you play it?

    Imagine playing a JRPG in which the game is made up entirely of random encounters seamlessly stitched together like a wave survival runner. That’s pretty much what QuestRun is. The game is presented like any pre-PS2 Final Fantasy with an Active Time Battle system. Your party of heroes appears on one side of the battlefield and the enemies appear on the other side, each character’s actions set on a timer indicated by a gauge that constantly fills up and resets after each attack. The difference here — and it is a big one — is that the party’s basic actions are automated. When the action meters are full, each hero attacks the enemy directly opposite from them without the presence of that classic text pop-up menu listing out options to attack, defend, cast a spell, or use an item. This keeps the speed of the battles at a brisk pace while you sit back and manage the overall group strategy.

    As battles unfold, you will need to drag and drop party members to change their formations; activate/deactivate stances which provide temporary buffs or allow characters like the warrior to tank damage for the whole party by taunting all enemies to attack him cast hero-specific power-ups which activate after a certain number of turns go by(priests heal, sorcerers hurl fireballs, bards charm enemies, rogues steal items, etc.); decide which attribute to upgrade when a hero levels up; and swap out gear from a tiny four-slot inventory that deletes excess items as new loot drops. All in real-time. Time can be sped up with a mouse click, but there is no way to slow the pace down or change tactics while the game is paused. Random event choices can occur between waves as well. Some are beneficial, such as choosing to automatically level up your entire party or stock your inventory full of health potions, while others present unavoidable perils, such as your entire inventory being stolen or a hero getting shot with an arrow to the knee and becoming temporarily slowed.

    Roguelike and runner elements take this fast-paced, almost time management-style approach to JRPG battles further away from tradition. Instead of roaming an overworld and dealing with random encounters one at a time, dungeons and side quests are selected from a static world map menu, at which point a randomized party of heroes is generated for you. The mission of each level is to keep your party alive through waves of enemy spawns until a progression bar in the top-right corner of the screen fills and the subsequent end boss is defeated. Each run is self-contained, meaning level progress and loot drops do not carry over. However, regardless of success or failure, a stash of gold coins is awarded at the end of every run based on how well you did. These coins, as well as other currency rewards for actually completing quests, are then used to purchase persistent unlocks from the Meta Shop. Pre-battle setup options like manually choosing the class makeup of your party as well as a merchant to buy gear from before heading into a dungeon are of high priority early on. Additional class types and pets, which can be given an item from your inventory to exchange for potions, other items, or to activate spells, can also be purchased if the price is right.

Parting Thoughts: Like a runner, there is a die-and-retry reward structure to the game that becomes very addictive. You play a dungeon, die, play again, get a little further, die, play again, die again, and then just keep repeating the cycle, gradually improving each time while saving up gold to unlock perks that will increase your chances of success and make further advancement more achievable. Contrary to its bright colors and cheery art style, this game is quite challenging, and there is an element of luck that sometimes leads to unfair death. But if you enjoy the grind of old-school JRPGs and want a unique experience consisting of nothing but Active Time battles, QuestRun will be right in your wheelhouse.

Disclosure: A free Steam key for QuestRun was provided to VGBlogger.com by the developer.

About the Author

Matt Litten is the full-time editor and owner of VGBlogger.com. He is responsible for maintaining the day to day operation of the site, editing all staff content before it is published, and contributing regular news, reviews, previews and other articles. Matt landed his first gig in the video game review business writing for the now-defunct website BonusStage.com. After the sad and untimely close of BonusStage, the former staff went on to found VGBlogger.com. After a short stint as US Site Manager for AceGamez, Matt assumed full ownership over VGBlogger, and to this day he is dedicated to making it one of the top video game blogs in all the blogosphere. Matt is a fair-minded reviewer and lover of games of all platforms and types, big or small, hyped or niche, big-budget or indie. But that doesn't mean he will let poor games slide without a good thrashing when necessary!