REVIEW – Operencia: The stolen sun

A couple of weeks ago, I got the chance to review another Dungeon Crawler called Vaporum. Which wasn’t a bad game. But it didn’t blow me away either. In that review, I covered the fact that the Dungeon Crawling genre is in desperate need of some love and could use a couple of decent games to bring back life into it. Fast forward a bit into the future, and in came Operencia: The Stolen Sun. A full 3D dungeon crawler that will take you all over the place in its fantasy world. You’ll battle skeletons, frogs, spiders, dragons,… Everything your darkest imagination can conceive will be found in this place. So put on your dungeoneering cap again guys, and get ready for some crawling. Bring some food, water and sharpen your blades. Because we’re going to explore Operencia!

It’s o so YELLOW
  • Looks amazing: Something that’ll become apparent almost instantaneously will be the fact that this game looks absolutely amazing. The surrounding areas look vibrant where color is abundant, and dreary where the mood needs to be dreary. The lighting is done superbly as well. One thing ‘s for certain, Operencia really has it in the bag when it comes down to graphical power and polish. Though this does have some drawbacks (more on this later).
  • Voice Acting: Give the people who voiced this game a medal! A standing ovation! Something! They really outshone themselves when it came down to bringing their characters to life and giving them their own personalities! Not one voice was unsuitable or sounded unbelievable. No one phoned their lines in or anything. These guys brought an extra layer to the game and some of their lines even drew a chuckle out of this gnarled soul. If only other games had such kind of passionate voice acting! The gaming world would’ve been a much nicer place!
  • Nice looking models: Sweet mother of all that’s holy, did Zen Studio outdo themselves when it came down to looks or what? Each different model is custom tailored towards the type of enemy you are facing. No generic placeholders in this castle, no sir! On top of that, they all ooze a sort of dread or danger. Heck, even the skeletons look menacing. My point here being is, no matter which kind of enemy is in front of you, they all warrant their own kind of respect and will beat you down if you don’t give it to them.
  • Sound: When it comes down to sound design, Zen Studios wasn’t slouching either. From the grumbly and guttural voices all the way to the ambient noises and beautiful soundtrack, Operencia really does deliver you a treat to the ears. So towards the sound and visuals department? An A+ in my book!
Look at that, as bald as Dae Jim! (Dae Jim edit: and as ugly as Alexis)
  • Uninteresting Characters: Although the voice actors do an amazing job bringing life and emotion into their characters, it still doesn’t take away the fact that all of them are your basic cookie cutter mindless drones. You’ve got for instance the suave rogue who is a skirt chaser and only does things for a huge paycheck. Or for instance the trusty and stalwart soldier who does his job and frowns upon anything that would seem unbefitting for someone. Like stealing. Big frowny mcfrownface! It felt like they had gotten their hands on the generic character creation box, drew out a few scraps of paper and VOILA. Ugh…
  • Frame drops: I think that the visuals department overdid it a bit with the effects of the game. More than once did I experience cringy FPS drops, most noticeable when moving along the paths. Especially so when there was a lot of movement in the surrounding area combined with lighting effects. Nothing game-breaking, but hugely fun shattering. This truly took away the immersion and I really hope this will get patched soon!
  • Puzzles: For some reason, although it does feel like they put some thought into their puzzles, I couldn’t shake the feeling that these felt tacked on in some occasions. Like, could brute force myself through a puzzle in the forest without even looking for the correct combination. Just trial and error. Another puzzle had me going from floor to floor just to backtrack again. Nor could I grasp the reason WHY a puzzle was there. In most occasions, you know that a puzzle is in its location for a certain reason. These felt uninspired and tacked on. Though not boring, I felt that it could have been better.
Strike a pose!
  • Boring as hell!: What… Is… This… Combat system! Where are my impactful abilities? Where is my damage? Not once did I experience a battle that got my adrenaline pumping. Not even once! The turn-based system is okay. But each battle felt like a boring slog to run through. You select your attack, a meaningless swing happens, they hit back. And that it. Every time. Your abilities don’t look like WOW! Now I did a lot of damage! No! Just a dumb flash or something like that, and then your pitiful damage meter shows up. I felt drained after a play session. Because it was just THAT BORING.
  • Highlighted items not highlighting: At times I would just pass pickups that are normally highlighted without even noticing! This was because they just weren’t highlighting! Sure when I picked them up, the highlighted area showed up and faded, just at when you pick up the highlighted equivalent. That, to me, gave me the assumption that I was playing a beta build instead of a fully fledged 1.0 version. I mean come on… If not for the mini-map showing spots where items of interest were? I would’ve just missed them entirely!
  • Digging: Talking about tacked on systems? This dig mechanic. Digging is used to find treasure chests which hold equipment, gold or other variable loot. But how it is implemented is what really irked me. You dig, and if you didn’t find anything in your surrounding area, it will give you an indication as to how far you are from a treasure chest. Then you get 3 free movements where the indicator lengthens or shortens depending on if you are moving towards the chest, or away from the said chest. Want another update? Then dig again! Which would be fine if it wasn’t so awfully time-consuming! Each time you dig, your screen fades to black and back again. Each. And every. TIME! Stop it!!!

CONCLUSION

โ˜… Score: 62%  
I was honestly really looking forward to playing Operencia. It looked clean and well put together. There were some nice music and editing done to the trailer. So it had everything running for it. Until I hit that plain and boring combat system. Although it does really look nice and has some sweet voice acting to go along with the looks, it falls short on the part that makes the Dungeon Crawling genre tick.

Developer: Zen Studios  Publisher: Zen Studios
Played on: Xbox One X Also available on: PC
Alexis spent almost 4 hours brainlessly mashing the A button on his controller… I think it broke
Achievement difficulty for 1000 Gamerscore: Give or take 20 hours
Perfect for: Dungeon Crawler Enthusiasts.
Xbox Game Store link: Click here