Fictorum is an intriguing game, so much that I meticulously watched the past few months of development. Ever since playing the original Red Faction, I've found destroying buildings, and even environments a real blast. Getting a chance at being an all-powerful mage and taking down my foes (and their buildings) with fireballs seemed like a good way to spend an afternoon. The game presents you with a world owned by the Inquisition. As the last Fictorum, you are being hunted down, which is where your unique wizardry skills come in handy, as you set out for revenge amongst the mountaintops to face the Inquisition.
With that being said, this game is hard. After you finish customizing your character and giving yourself your starting spell - either fireball, lightning bolt, or ice spear - you set off on your quest for revenge. While the tutorial will quickly give you a rundown on how the game works, it doesn't adequately prepare you for just how hard it gets. Quick things to note include using LMB (left mouse button) to quick cast/charge a basic spell, while RMB (right mouse button) brings up runes you can use to boost your spell's power. While either is occurring, your mana pool continues to drain, and once it is empty, you'll start losing health.
As I noted, Fictorum is by no means an easy game, in fact, it's probably one of the more challenging games I've played this year. I'm surprised at how often I died, especially at my own hands, but that's another issue altogether. Dying, however, is not the end. As portions of the game are randomly generated, such as the overworld and the mountainous areas, each time you play feels slightly refreshing. I never once encountered the same plot of land or village. Each area, while not being necessarily massive by any means, still features more than enough enemies to blow up, freeze, or electrocute, buildings to destroy, and items to find. The maps vary in size, but one thing they all have in common is that they all take place on the side of a mountain. For this reason, the environments themselves tend to feel the same as you progress through the game.
I didn't expect the game to have such an interesting little collection of loot and other things to find. Hidden around maps are new pieces of equipment, spell books, scrolls, and essence (the currency) that is all lootable from houses. While you may have to force the door open and kill the poor bystander, it adds an extra layer to the game. Equipment comes in a large variety, and each piece will have its own specific stats and modifiers. Heavy armor pieces, like plate mail, will increase your defense while hampering your spell casting, while other lighter pieces of equipment boost your magical powers, but don't assist much in terms of protection. Not having the ability to cast magic fast enough is going to kill you, so be sure to understand exactly what type of gear you have equipped at all times. You're going to die a lot anyways, but why not go out like a badass mage, right?
Oddly enough, houses generally ended up being my greatest foe during my attempts. The game's physics are great, and it's deeply gratifying to blow up structures or send enemies flying across the map with your spells. However, blowing up buildings tends to cause a lot of flying debris. Flying debris kills, so try not to get hit with brick chimneys like I did. Or for your own safety, don't cast spells while inside buildings. However, with that, as you shift between indoors and outdoors, the game's camera focus will rapidly change from a third-person perspective while outside, to a first-person view while you are inside of buildings. It's a little off-putting the first couple of times you get stuck in a doorway during encounters.
The meat of Fictorum lies in the magic casting system and the game's ridiculously, dangerously fun physics. Blowing up buildings and bridges or sending enemies soaring into the sky is just an absolute treat. Throw in a fun story to follow along with on the map screen, and some crazy spells and the game can become quite enjoyable. The only huge concern I might have is the overall challenge of the game and how easy it can be to die. I've jumped onto house debris and managed to die before sliding off since the game interpreted it as me being hit by an object. It can get frustrating to die over and over, but thankfully the game experience is new each time.Note: The Fictorum review is based on a digital PC copy of the game, provided by the publisher.