Courtesy of Valiant Game Studios comes Pendula Swing. Described as Tolkien meets the Great Gatsby. The opening honestly exited me, as I thought I was about to play a game like Cuphead. The intro is very reminiscent of Cuphead, with the old style animation, which doubles as your history lesson of the game world. The game plays more like a Diablo clone without the combat. Pendula Swing is an “action” game with RPG elements. Action seems like a misnomer, because there was no action, just exploration and talking. So. Much. Talking. You play as Brialynne Donu Tenum, a dwarf hero who was part of a great adventure centuries ago who must now leave her home in search of something that was stolen.
The game starts with your character waking up and getting dressed. The missions/quests you start out with include collecting dishes that are all over the house, and feeding the chickens. You meet your cat who it turns out was turned into a cat by your wife who dies years ago. During your search for dishes through the house, you find footprints, and see that your axe was stolen. The cat can accompany you on your adventure if you want. The game gets a little bogged down in the minutiae of searching for clues. You can find small details about Brialynne’s life and past with her wife and as an adventurer, which helps to fill in the narrative.
Your search takes you outside, and you run into a traveling salesman. You converse with him briefly, then head into Duberdon in search of your axe. Along the way, you will talk to interesting characters, and have some unique conversations. This game looks really nice, and has an intriguing premise; but it just didn’t hook me like I wanted. Games have to “grab” you immediately, otherwise (in my opinion), playing them becomes a chore.
The graphics and art are a mixed bag. The intro cartoon is cool and very retro looking. The in- game art looks hand painted. The character models, however, are non-exceptional. The dialogue options are varied enough; but if you don’t use certain lines, they aren’t available later. However, this doesn’t seem to affect the story much at all. Also, you cannot skip some exploration duties. I was going back and forth between a few different characters, and if I skipped any dialogue with them, I couldn’t progress. There are multiple paths to choose to make your story larger and deeper if you want.
They really tied a lot of societal examples into the game, for example, same sex marriage. Your primary character is mourning her dead wife. They never make a big deal of it; but it’s in there. There is a class system between elves, orcs, trolls, and goblins. There’s even an immigration station at the town gate. They really went for it with the story, it’s progressive, but not beating you over the head with that. Props to the writers for that one.
In closing, Pendula Swing has real potential; but it’s not currently a “Must Have.” I would have enjoyed more combat, maybe making the adventure more action than RPG. The game seems to take parts from so many other good games, just not the best parts.
Pendula Swing is available on STEAM for 4.99 per episode. There are currently 7 planned episodes. This review was based on a free copy provided by the publisher for review purposes. That did not influence this review in any way.
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