Review by TChurch

Reviewed: 02/27/02 | Updated: 02/27/02

Perfection in its simplicity, really...

This is the hardest review I've ever had to write, simply because this game is simultaneously like everything and nothing you've ever played before. It simultaneously functions as a tremendously witty parody of all other online RPGs and at the same time is strangely enjoyable. Some people may immediately dismiss it as ''pointless'' or as ''a waste of time'', but there's something about this game that makes it more than that. Without further ado, let me proceed to the sections...although they mean perhaps less than they might for other games...

Plot:

The plot can either be regarded as infantile or genius. You proceed through a series of acts, each composed of a number of quests that you must perform. Usually, these quests will be composed of either: Seek (an Item), deliver (an item), fetch (an item), or Exterminate (some enemies). There is surprising variety in the names of these quests, and yet they will be immediately familiar to anyone who has played an RPG before. Throughout your journey, progress bars will document how far you have progressed through the act overall, and also through each individual quest. Since the quests are generated randomly, you'll never have the same game twice, and yours will always be different from your neighbor's. Almost infinite variety...

Character Creation:

From the moment you enter the character creation screen, you know you've got a gem in your hands. You have over 11,408,506,880 different characters possible on the first screen alone, not counting all of the different paths your character can take after you actually start the game. When selecting your race, you are greeted with a multitude of options, ranging from Dung Elf and Demicanadian to Enchanted Motorcycle and Double Wookie. The same goes for your class; choosing from Voodoo Princess, Fighter/Organist, Bastard Lunatic, and Ur-Paladin may be difficult. You can even check on the official website to see the most popular classes and races, to determine once and for all whether you're a sheep and a slave to conformity or a rebel who thinks he's better than the rest of us. Or both, as the case may be. Then there's the stat creation, which proceeds much like other RPG games. There's just one difference, another wonderful feature that you didn't know you needed until now; the Unroll button. Basically, it simply goes back through all of the rolls that you have gotten, so you can go back to a good roll that you had, or just settle for mediocre when you're too tired to keep rerolling. Also, for those of us who aren't smart enough to know whether we've gotten a good roll or not, it will tell you whether your stats are exceptionally good or exceptionally bad. Since they don't affect anything anyway, perhaps it doesn't matter, but that's beside the point.

Items:

The items in this game are perhaps its crowning glory, the pièce de résistance of this masterpiece. They are at the same time witty, satirical, and just hilarious to look at. They range from kobold penises and succubus bras to porn elemental lube, sprite cans and baluchitherium ears. These are just some of the ''common'' items, though; you can tell them from important, valuable items simply because they contain no capital letters. The importance of items in RPGs, as you may know, is related directly to the number of capital letters in their name, and this game is no different. You may receive valuables such as the Golden Hymnal of Acrimony, the Reverential Gammel of Suffering, or the Grandiose Bandolier of Petulance from defeating especially powerful enemies, or from completing quests. They add a touch of pomp and circumstance to an otherwise lighthearted and frivolous list of items; their gravity is a balancing influence on the game, and it is much the better for their inclusion. Of course, you can't hold your items indefinitely, and eventually you'll have to return to town and sell them for Gold. You then use this to buy equipment, which improves your stats and looks damn cool. No one's going to mess with you when confronted with your +15 Vicious Serrated Bandyclef, even if they wanted to. Of course, you'll start out wearing lace and macrame, but in no time you'll be progressing to Plasma, Titanium, and Mithril Mail. You best piece of equipment is even included in your description in the online hall of fame. It doesn't get much better than that.

Spells:

These are another great feature; the huge number of spells you have at your command is great. You will receive upgrades or new spells when you level up, and also when you complete a quest. These spells include Spectral Oyster, Animate Nightstand, Good Move, Grognor's Big Day Off, Tumor (Benign) and Holy Batpole. You can't use them, of course, but they look cool. Very cool. And having the levels in Roman numerals is somehow so much cooler than boring normal numbers.

Graphics:

The graphics in this game are...unique. They consist of a box, with text and 5 progress bars. They are very professionally done, and look as good as you could possibly expect...but it's a box with text and 5 progress bars. The color theme is well-executed, (and fits very well with Windows XP's Silver theme, incidentally) but there is still not much meat to the graphics. You're not going to see any difference between your Voodoo Banshee and your new GeForce 4 Ti; it's still a box with text and 5 progress bars. But, on the flip side, you're never going to see any jaggies, slowdown, bugs, or any of the other problems that plague other PC games. In the end, it's an acquired taste, really....

Sound/Music:

I have combined these categories, which are usually kept separate, for one simple reason; there is no sound in this game. None whatsoever. At first glance, you may think that this is a bad thing, and perhaps it is, but it fits perfectly with the style of this game. Any music would only detract from the experience. And sound effects would invariably end up sounding cheesy and dated.

Challenge:

None. None at all. You can't die, you'll never lose a battle, and you'll certainly never get lost. I leave it to you to decide whether this is a good or a bad thing.

Replay:

The replay in this game is literally infinite; the game never ends. Still, it can hardly be called ''replay'' since you're always doing something new, not replaying the same game over again. Still there is sufficient incentive to try again with a new class, race, and stats, that you might well decide to start over. With the unique way that the save system is set up, you'll be able to have as many characters going as you like.

Pros:

Takes less effort than any other RPG, ever.
Names for items, equipment, and enemies are some of the funniest ever created.
An immediate ranking among all other players is available at any time.
Any game that includes a quest called ''Fetch me a hoe.'' can't be all bad.
You can leave it running while you do other things, or even play other games, (although I don't know why you'd want to) and just check back in on your character periodically.

Cons:

Takes less effort than any other RPG, ever.
Challenge is nonexistent.

Final Thoughts:

Basically, this is the final step in RPG gaming. They've streamlined out all of the boring parts, leaving intact the core gameplay. The items alone are reason enough to download it, and when you factor in all of the spells, equipment, and quests, not to mention the races and classes, there's not much else that you could better spend your 346K of bandwidth on. Some people may say that it's pointless and stupid, or even go so far as to call it ''lame'' - but they're just jealous because it won't run on their Mac. Download and enjoy.

Buy/Rent: It's free. It's great. It's free. What more needs to be said?

This game is available for free download at: www.progressquest.com


Rating:   5.0 - Flawless

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