Waking up in the midst of an attack on her village, a white haired, elf-like young woman named Ada sets off on a quest for revenge. With a mythical white elk in tow, Decay of Logos presents a cross between open-world RPG mechanics and Souls-like combat in a fantasy setting.
Brought to us by Rising Star Games & Amplify Creations, Decay of Logos is very reminiscent of Link’s latest outing in Breath of the Wild and you’d be forgiven for drawing parallels to Ayonuma’s masterpiece. Tranquil, serene and almost hauntingly peaceful, you begin in a secluded wood trying to piece together what’s happening. The world design is very similar albeit less grand than its inspiration, and at times it’s quite beautiful.
Old ruins, caves and buildings are scattered throughout each area, each in their own state of disrepair, lit with torches or glowing runes for additional ambiance with great use of shadow. Crates, vases, chests and barrels are strewn around, sometimes holding precious items such as health potions, sometimes concealing mimic-like enemies which jump at the opportunity to cut your adventure short when you get within proximity.
Decay of Logos initially offers players very little in the way of a tutorial or any background on what is actually happening. Thrown straight in, I found myself wondering around for what seemed like the first hour, just trying to learn the mechanics and where I should actually go. Some of the story is presented through memory echoes located within the world, some with totems or rocks which offer some guidance on mechanics. The rest of the narrative seems to be explained through the NPCs you come across as you progress. These can be easily missed though, and some time exploring made things a little but not much clearer. The game reminds you at times to speak to the NPCs repeatedly to ensure you get the most information.
Even though combat is a core part of Decay of Logos it’s also quite simplistic, with a light and a heavy attack as your only options. Almost exactly like that of the Souls series, combat is tied directly to a stamina bar which depletes dependent on weapon size, shape and attack type. Although similar it lacks the tactical depth of that series and I reverted quite quickly to the same tactic for all enemies. The enemy difficulty curve is also quite high and some of the enemy attacks make it difficult to both dodge or counter due to a lack of defensive options for the player. The balance between stamina usage, weapon recovery and enemy speed is pretty uneven and even missing a single light swing can have dire consequences against even the first enemies you encounter.
Enemies can be locked onto through a click of the thumbstick. This offers a fixed combat camera and the added ability to strafe around your opponent as well as being paired to a dodge roll mechanic. Annoyingly, these are not available outside of combat which led to more than one death for me as I struggled to avoid random encounters in close quarters.
Character inventory is managed through two mechanics, your character’s equipped and stored items and that held on the back of the Elk. Armor and weapons degrade over time and can be repaired at the Blacksmith but there are also plenty available for those with keen eyes. After the first hour this became quite cumbersome, the Elk couldn’t travel into all the areas I could, but also, since the character inventory is extremely limited, I either had to backtrack extensively to find the Elk or choose to leave treasure on the ground and hope I had made the right decision.
As a companion, the Elk looks great, majestically proud and like it would do fairly well in a fight. The idea is sound, a helpful NPC who can store items, offer increased mobility and can be used to answer some of the environmental puzzles offered in the open world. After calming it to the point I could actually mount it, a series of challenges started to present themselves which have a fairly high impact on the experience.
Firstly, navigating once mounted on the Elk is a very frustrating affair, not only is the control haphazard but getting the Elk to cross certain terrains seems to be impossible. Secondly, actually getting the Elk to either come to you or stay put is a nightmare. Frequently the Elk would get stuck on scenery and I’d have to go to it and call it in the opposite direction to free it, sometimes it would get somewhere it shouldn’t and the only way to reset it would be to die or reload. The most frustrating however was getting it to stand still on a pressure plate needed to advance.
A lack of enemy variation sets in quite early with the same variations on a theme appearing in each area, with the same attacks and the same simplistic, proximity-based attack structure. Unfortunately these enemies can suddenly become extremely difficult based upon certain milestones within the world at large. Defeating a boss scales the enemy level in the area and although getting to the boss may have been a breeze and the boss itself a minor challenge; walking back to the camp (and the checkpoint) suddenly becomes a massive trial.
My ability to survive was often dependent on grinding after each boss to level up stats rather than my skill with a weapon or collected armour set. The lack of any information in the UI whatsoever around your current level, experience required to gain a level or experience gained from defeating enemies made it difficult to tell whether I was wasting my time on enemies who yielded low amounts of XP or if the level gaps were simply massive.
Decay of Logos also has some issues with optimization. The frame rate drops in large areas and issues with the Elk becoming stuck inside walls were the most frequent. Both would result, periodically, in a reload since the frame drop would sometimes not recover and the game would stagger on at a choppy pace — or the Elk would be stuck in an area where you needed it to progress.
All in all, it looks beautiful, with a well realised world that shows some great attention to detail. When the mechanics work it is a great game but it’s in heavy need of some extensive QA testing to compete against the A-List, as it stands today many players would be easily forgiven for letting Logos decay and giving up the fight due to numerous gameplay issues compounded by frustrating controls and mechanics, but those who persevere will enjoy the original world, design and puzzle elements of this RPG lite adventure.