When a game bears a resemblance to Breath of the Wild and boasts combat that is Dark Souls-esque, the bar for success is going to be somewhat high. Unfortunately, Decay of Logos is unable to even reach the level of the bar, let alone climb above it. What makes this all the more frustrating is one can see what the developers wished to accomplish if their game actually worked.
Receiving review codes from developers is quite normal. What happened with Decay of Logos was quite strange and may never make sense. The original game code I received to review felt like a beta test or even worse, an alpha build, at times. Numerous sites reported that they were given a build from two months ago. Following this, Rising Star Games tweeted out that they were aware of the issues and patches were forthcoming. I decided to give them the benefit of the doubt and waited for the patches. In retrospect, I could have done the review pre-patch because the fixes and improvements did nothing to alter my opinion. In fact, they probably hurt them because the supposed fix fixed nothing and I had hoped it would. You be the judge.
Upon starting the game, you are immediately given control of the protagonist of this story, Ada. Your entire village is on fire and there is an imposing figure stalking around. Ada grabs a sword and you easily dispatch the enemy. After discovering slain bodies on the ground (her parents?), an Elk approaches Ada and nudges her. Queue title screen!
After the brief introduction to Ada and the mystical Elk, you come across “guide stones,” akin to the markings on the ground in Dark Souls that tell you what to do. I knew something was wrong when the game took several seconds to register the button input to read the tip and then another several seconds to close the tooltip text. Button inputs not registering immediately are the last thing you want in a game that has Souls-like combat. Lo and behold, the first enemy I encountered (a mutant radish?) killed me after I swung and missed my second and fourth swings—mind you, I was locked-on. After reviving, I went back and killed the creature with relative ease, although, it did get its revenge later on due to some questionable hitboxes. Enemies slightly down the road suffered from this same affliction. I was either too close or too far or never just right. I even died a few times but never saw the killing blow due to a severe framerate drop. What makes this even worse is that these are just your standard, run of the mill cannon fodder enemies. Do not even get me started on the boss…
The first boss-like character you approach is a giant goblin/ogre type creature wielding a massive club. Without fail, I died but only because I was “testing” his ability (read: he one-shot Ada but I figured out his attack or thought I did). Said ability was a stomp that appeared to do AOE damage. Being that Ada was in front of him, one can only assume that it was a frontal attack. Only through Sherlockian deduction, I realized that standing behind the boss, how could he hit Ada with this alleged frontal attack. Long story short, I was so very wrong and died again. Sure, the attack could just be an all-encompassing AOE attack that hits on all sides. Ada could also have a ranged attack (not at this point in the game) and I could take potshots and not worry about any attacks. I tried again and again and again. Between lagging button inputs and framerate drops, there was no way to get Ada out of the way in time.
Eventually, I bypassed this enemy only to have the game fail at what would seem to be a major feature for the remainder of the game. There was a mechanism on the ground that when stood on, would depress and open a door. If the Elk stands on the mechanism, Ada can freely walk through the door. That was a big IF because not only did the Elk clip every object like an elephant through a mouse hole, I had to ever so gently inch Ada several nose hairs forward until he stopped on the platform. The thought of repeating this painful process even just one more time, let alone several, was downright frightening.
For the average player, dying is inevitable in a Souls game. You get back up, hopefully, learn what you did wrong, and soldier on. Sometimes you get your souls (or echos or amrita, etc.) back, sometimes you do not. There are no souls to retrieve in Decay of Logos but, like a Souls game, Ada has to fight all those enemies she previously dispatched to reach where she was killed. Every single time Ada dies, her stats decrease (up to a 50% deduction). Getting back to where you died becomes even more of a burden because you are weaker and weaker. This is not even taking into account weapon and armor durability that diminishes every hit you take or make and every death you incur. Health potions are limited to what you find, and there is no refilling at a bonfire ala Dark Souls, Bloodborne, Remnant, etc. To restore your stats, Ada has to find and sleep at a camp. The catch, however, is that you can be ambushed, and, to sleep and restore those stats, you need to defeat the trio of attackers.
Remember those issues I mentioned before regarding combat? That was against a single enemy. Multiply that by three. Supposedly, the ambushes do not happen every time Ada sleeps. Well, at one point, I had a run of 9 attempts at sleep that were ambushed. My stats were as low as they could go and my weapons were completely busted. I guess 100% chance is a chance…
Eventually, I made some progress and moved on to a new area. I even spoke to an NPC and found another shrine to revive at, you know, for when I would inevitably die again. I also had leveled up several times, and this was noticeable as the enemies that would go down in 4 or 5 hits were now only taking 2-3 hits. Leveling in Decay of Logos is much more different than almost every game I have ever played. The more Ada does something—combat, puzzle-solving, etc.—the more powerful she becomes. If you kill a ton of enemies, her strength goes up. If you avoid combat and solve puzzles, her intelligence goes up. Things were looking up, or so I thought.
Up to this point in my journey, most of the time was spent in mostly open areas. Plenty of room to dodge (or attempt to dodge or tell the game to dodge but have the game not listen to the dodge input, yada yada) and plan out fights. This next area had Ada climbing up a mountainside as well as doing some minor spelunking within the mountain. At one point, a giant bee made its way through a wall to attack Ada. Yes, through a wall. I panicked and dodged away. Remember that I said I was on a mountain? Oh, I dodged that bee. I dodged that bee all the way off the mountain. Enemies clipping through terrain is not a new thing. Player character clipping the terrain is not unheard of either. The problem lies in the fact that this was not an isolated incident. I died to arrows shot through rocks but that same rock was able to block the path of an approaching enemy. I guess it is a speed thing where arrows move faster enough but enemies do not or something… I knocked an enemy through a wall once. Like that scene in Gone in 60 Seconds at the end where the car is plowed through the concrete wall by the wrecking ball. Except, in this case, the enemy was just buried and his arms were exposed. Exposed enough to swing and hit me but not enough to take damage.
Aside from the glaring graphical issues, the wacky enemy AI, hitbox issues and button inputs not registering, Decay of Logos is not a good game by any means. As impressive as the game looks, especially when you consider Amplify Creations is made up of 4 people, the game performs unbelievably poorly. Ada controls terribly, the Elk’s AI is noticeably missing the majority of the time, the camera has a mind of its own and misbehaves at the worst possible opportunities, and being difficult just to be difficult makes absolutely no sense. Even if the performance issues are patched at a later date, there are numerous gameplay issues that should have been addressed in a beta that makes Decay of Logos nearly unplayable. Time will tell if this could be revisited but, at this point, I cannot recommend this game at any price.
I tell Dad jokes much to my wife’s chagrin. Sometimes, I write movie reviews. I love all video games. I am really bad at fighting games. I co-host Nerds Gone Platinum every Tuesday night at 9PM EST on www.youtube.com/nerdsgoneplatinum. You can e-mail the show at firstname.lastname@example.org, tweet us at NG_Platinum, call into the show at (929) 333-5762 or join our Discord at https://discord.gg/y4585Rg . I can be found on PSN, Twitter, and Instagram at Gimpyjayy and emailed at email@example.com.