Relic Odyssey: Ruins of Xantao – Janky Crystal FPS

I wake up surrounded by a blazing inferno. An NPC called Sarah begins her expository dialogue. I ignore her and stumble my way towards the computer terminal, conveniently located right next to where we had crashed. After performing the painstaking task of pressing the E key, Sarah instructs me to head towards an archaeology site. These are my first moments in Relic Odyssey: Ruins of Xantao.

The first thing that stood out to me were the graphics. Granted, I have never cared for graphics; having grown up on seventh-generation consoles like the PS3 and having had more than my fair share of computers that could barely run Paint, I had grown accustomed to running games at their lowest settings and still expecting little. However, Relic Odyssey somehow called to me. The lighting was decent, with me never feeling like it was too bright or too dark, and the shadows (when they functioned) worked as expected. In fact, looking at it, I had expected it to have been the product of some Unreal 5 tech demo, yet the game is written in Unity. It’s certainly graphically impressive.

Running around towards the archaeology site, I tried out the shooting mechanics on some monsters and the mining on some crystal formations sprinkled all over the map. Both were to par. The mining, while a little janky, sounded very satisfying, something some games fail to account for, and the shooting was shooting; no frills, no over-the-top attempts to draw attention to itself. It is purely functional and more of a side-effect of its FPS nature, and that’s the way I like it.

Once I arrived at the archaeology site, I took care of some monsters and headed towards a building. A small robot called Clunky called towards me and asked me to repair him. Obliging, I began to search for crafting materials. Finding a nearby crafting bench, I made some ammo and realised that I’d run out of green crystals. Panicking slightly that I’d soft-locked myself, I searched around for some more crystals to mine. I found enough to repair Clunky and left Sarah behind for no apparent reason, heading towards an abandoned mining site.

Walking towards the site, I notice a pair of gloves on the floor. I picked it up; cool, a new weapon. Searching for a likely victim, I use the glove on Clunky. With a jolt, he flies across the field, cluttering pathetically nearby. One sarcastic remark from Clunky later and it had dawned on me that the glove felt fun to use. It also serves the purpose of “mining” some slime that sometimes finds its way onto the floor.

We repair the mining rig and dig down. This is the main gameplay loop of Relic Odyssey; find a place, dig down to the bottom, go up because you missed the tunnel, go in the tunnel, explore, fight the boss, repeat. Despite how involved it is, it does feel slightly repetitive after a while.

Digging down to some infested laboratory, I began to make use of my weapons. This, however, is when I noticed the first of this game’s several flaws — no indication is given for when your health is low. This leads to a lot of deaths that come from nowhere, with no chance to jump to cover or heal before I die. This was a common point of frustration with the game, because it’s fairly easy for the most part, meaning you typically don’t track how much health you have left while fighting. If you get swarmed, however, which isn’t uncommon, you die without even realising it.

Reaching the end of the lab, I face some kind of final boss. Defeating the boss was quite easy, as all I had to do was continually shoot at him while Clunky performed his energy attack or whatever, covering while reloading. He was dead within the space of a minute, and I grabbed the crystal he dropped and left the room. Expecting to have to walk all the way back to the start, I was greeted with a pleasant surprise; the game teleported me there with little more than a fade to black, vaguely hinting that I’d made the trek autonomously.

Another flaw of Relic Odyssey is that all of the voiceovers are performed by a text-to-speech synthesis program. While the results sound like they came from a human (vaguely at least), they lack any and all sense of tone or emotion, which became very irritating very quickly. That being said, I am willing to forgive the developers for this; the game is clearly not a generic cash-grab and it’s in Early Access. The choice to make the voices TTS is likely a holdover until they get voice actors, finalise the story, or both. If this were a full release, however, I would be a lot less flexible in brushing this aside.

In terms of bugs, I rarely encountered any for the core gameplay. Nothing didn’t work when I expected it to, and I never experienced any game-breaking issues like save game corruption or crashes. Most bugs I saw were with the lighting, with shadows randomly having seizures or the skybox looking rather inappropriate for a desert setting.

So, would I recommend Relic Odyssey: Ruins of Xantao? It’s hard to say. While I did enjoy my experience overall, I am certainly not representative of the majority of people.

Sure, the game was fun, but would I recommend it to most people? The game does have its flaws, but it’s Early Access and it’s Honour Bound Games’ first rodeo, and all the issues can be ironed out before release. Sure, the trailer sets expectations a little too high, but at £8.50 you can’t complain that the game offers too little. And while it’s likely to be enjoyed more by those who don’t regularly play FPS games, or more casual audiences, competitive players will likely be sorely disappointed.

But, if your PC can handle the game (it recommends an RTX 2000 series graphics card and an Intel i7 processor to go with it) and you like the idea of just shooting some enemies, it’s certainly a fun game with plenty of potential. Even just snagging a copy while it’s £8.50 may be a good way to get value for money once the game is released. It’s a well-rounded, graphically pleasing game that’ll keep more casual gamers engaged for a good chunk of time, with only a few issues that keep it from truly shining.

Relic Odyssey: Ruins of Xantao is available on Steam.

You might also like
Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published.