Review – Decay of Logos

I’ve been keeping an eye on Decay of Logos ever since I found out about its announcement. It looked like a neat mix between the gameplay found in Dark Souls and the world and aesthetics from The Legend of Zelda, all wrapped up in a surprisingly affordable indie package. Knowing the curation skills of its publisher, the same one that brought us Deadly Premonition and Trailblazers, that made me look forward to it even more. Now that the game is finally out, I can’t help but feel a little bit disappointed with the end result, even though it had all of the potential in the world to succeed.

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What’s up, Groot?

Everything I said in the previous paragraph is most certainly present in here. Decay of Logos is, without a doubt, a “soulslike”. It borrows an excessive amount from that series’ gameplay, such as the combat, the lore being told through item descriptions, the checkpoint system that revives all enemies around you, the challenging difficulty, and the character interactions. It’s even entertaining at times, but there’s more to discuss about it later. Its Zelda influences can be seen with its heavy emphasis on exploration, an elk companion that acts as your Epona of sorts, puzzle-solving, dungeons to tackle, and its overall aesthetics. Some have claimed that the game reminded them of Breath of the Wild, but besides the color palette, and maybe the ridiculous weapon and equipment durability system, I see no similarities at all.

Other positive points worth mentioning are Decay of Logos‘ lighting effects and voice acting. The former impressed a lot given the title’s indie pedigree. The game might be running on Unity, but the developer, Amplify Creations, has implemented a ton of in-house tools to make the game stand out from the rest of the crowd, such as impressive lighting and shadow effects. The voice acting impressed me considering how underwhelming the rest of the sound design is. There aren’t many characters scattered throughout the game, but those who appear are really well-voiced. It’s not wrong to say that the voice performances in here are as good as the ones featured in Dark Souls, even if nobody features that same sadistic sense of humor.

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You can use these potions as medicine or as cool accessories for your next rave.

Sadly, that’s where the positives end. Decay of Logos is flawed. Really flawed. Extremely flawed. I need to point out that, even though the game is currently riddled with glitches, we’ve been informed that those won’t be present in the day-one patch, and we’re taking the publisher’s word on that. My biggest gripes with this game aren’t related to fixable bugs, they’re related to actual gameplay design choices that made me wonder who the hell approved them in the first place.

One of my main gripes lies on the difficulty. Sure, it’s inspired by Dark Souls, so it’s all about being challenged and “gitting gud” in order to succeed. Yeah yeah I’ve heard that a billion times before. There is a big difference between challenging and just throwing a ton of hindrances at the player, forcing them to figure things out without any guidance or initially clear objective.

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Who’s a good boy? Sure as hell ain’t you.

You start off ridiculously weak, even weaker than beginning a Dark Souls run with a naked build. Everything will kill you in one hit, while your pathetic sword won’t even manage to remove a dent of the enemies’ health bars. The checkpoint system is also equally ridiculous, as not all of them actually recover your health. Whenever you find a checkpoint that actually recovers your health, there’s also a randomized chance of you being ambushed at night by a group of enemies without being healed. Only after killing the mob you’ll be allowed to replenish your health.

The complete disdain for the player doesn’t stop there. The more you get hit by an enemy, the weaker you become and I don’t mean health-wise. Your character gets tired after being attacked, losing her overall strength and defense. That means that your already weak attacks will be even weaker. Even if you use a potion or find a mushroom on the map, that won’t heal your fatigue. You can only do that by resting at a checkpoint, and I’ve already talked about the chance of being ambushed by a mob. There’s a difference between challenging and overall unfair.

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Some people skip leg day. In this ogre’s case, it was head day.

But wait! There’s more! Not only does the game feature weapon durability, but it also features equipment durability. The more you get hit, the weaker your armor becomes, and that can’t be fixed at a tent. There’s also the issue regarding the level design. To be fair, the maps themselves are awesome, even if a bit repetitive in terms of overall aesthetics. There’s a lot of green in here. My issue lies in the fact that the game barely tells you what to do and where to go. To be fair, Dark Souls doesn’t do that either, but the level design was so impeccable that you never felt lost. You were always on the move, finding a new place to explore. Decay of Logos loves to make you feel like you’re lost, without any notion of where to go, even though it does feature some great secrets and passages for you to find.

Finally, there’s the damn elk; one of the supposed selling features of Decay of Logos. All I’ll say about it is the following: imagine having Epona from Ocarina of Time, but with the stubbornness and AI from that bird-dog-thing from The Last Guardian. Yeah. I ended up using the elk only when the game absolutely forced me to, like on a big switch or something similar.

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Hey, when did Hyrule become Lothric?

It’s almost heartbreaking to say that Decay of Logos disappointed me because I can clearly see a lot of potential in it, as well as the amount of passion the developers have put into this project. Sadly, even though its glitches can and will be fixed with patches, a lot of its questionable gameplay and overall design choices just can’t be fixed without revamping the game as a whole. Decay of Logos tries to be a lot of games at once, without properly committing to any gaming design in particular. It’s a clear case of biting off more than one can chew.

 

Graphics: 6.0

The visual aesthetics are actually good-looking, as are the lighting effects. Sadly, the game also features an inconsistent framerate, as well as repetitive environments.

Gameplay: 5.5

Dark Souls-esque controls are hindered by a faulty camera, framerate issues, and severe input lag. Controlling the elk is also an exercise of patience. The game also features some questionable gameplay design choices.

Sound: 5.0

While the voice acting is surprisingly very good, the overall score, sound effects, and sound mixing are way below average.

Fun Factor: 6.5

The game is challenging enough to entertain fans of the Dark Souls series, but it is severely hindered by really questionable design choices, as well as some glitches which can thankfully be patched. In sum, it tries to bite off more than it can chew.

Final Verdict: 6.0

Decay of Logos is available now on PS4, Xbox One, PC, and Switch.

Reviewed on PS4.

A copy of Decay of Logos was provided by the publisher.