So, I picked up this game, and realized, that I have already played it!
Alright. A bit of history here. Few years ago I saw this, as a small beta at the time, on one of them flash games site. Kongregate, possibly. Not sure now. It pretty much consisted of the tutorial level, with a small boss fight at the end. Nothing special, but thing is, it felt pretty nice. So I definitely wouldn't have minded playing more. But as I said, it was just a beta. But since then they went through few years of development and early access of sorts, and now the game is properly released.
The game opens up with us controlling a girl who combats several weird looking enemies to reach and, supposedly, save someone. However, after she reaches that person, scene ends, and we start the game properly, as a different girl, blue-haired and with a scar on her face. Her name is Lea, she has complete amnesia, and she is mute. Not heroic mute, she literally cannot speak. Due to some bug.
More explanations are needed. As the people who help you explain (I still have no idea why they help and who they are really), you are a character in a MMO game. This is a sci-fi level of virtual reality, where the whole game is happening on a continent of a moon of some gas giant planet, and people control their avatars made, like other game-related things, from some specific material. Now, all other players can log in and out as they please, of course, but Lea is special for some reason, as she can only play, and for her logging out means a sort of a sleep. Oh, yeah, and due to some weird problem, she can't speak, other than few pre-coded words (list expands eventually), so most of the time she communicates with gestures and elaborate combinations of 'Hi', 'Lea' and 'Bye'.
All that may seem like a lot of stuff, but it's just exposition you get during the first game stage. After that you are entering the MMO for real, and start doing quests and communicating with other players. Or, rather, they communicate with you, and you nod, wave and smile. Or not.
The technical part of this is... well, it's basically a single-player game about MMO, if that makes any sense. You are on the way to perform a global story-line quest, while constantly being side-tracked by side-quests and exploration. Exploration is actually pretty big in this game - areas may look as jumbled mass of rocks and layers at first, but everything is elaborately crafted, making every area in the game into a jump puzzle. Sure, you can run through and kill a few monsters, but if you want to get that chest or those collectables, you better start thinking how to get to the high ground. It is challenging and at times frustrating, but is not tedious. Movement is very fluid, so you never feel controls problems when jumping around.
Other aspect is of course combat. You have melee attacks, you can throw spheres, either at machine-gun rate or overcharging them, which is slower, but breaks enemy concentration on hit, and your defensive options are dash to avoid damage or putting a stationary shield, protecting you from one side. As you level up, you gain skill points, eventually unlocking special moves for each 4 options - strong mass melee attack, more rapid firing, sphere, protecting you from all sides, pushing enemies away while you dodge... there are several variations for those, and as game progresses, you also unlock more skill trees, so to say, opening up more options. Naturally, as this is RPG, you gain experience and level up, raising your stats, and also get better and better gear. Gear is pretty bland - meaning, there are no icons or visuals for it, but it provides bonuses, and that's what counts.
Combat is hectic, often with many small enemies attacking you at once, or with huge boss attacking half the screen to get you. With just 4 basic actions to chose from you actually got a lot of variations of how you prefer to play, and you can spend your skill-points into preferred direction. And in addition to that, as part of the game story, you actually party up with people you met and befriended in game, and they provide combat support.
Except in dungeons. By the game rules, dungeons are instanced, meaning there's one for each player, and only one player can be in one instance. meaning, they have to solve puzzles and fight alone. That's where you also meet the biggest bosses, and while if sucks to not have your party with you, it's understandable - proper boss battle should be the test of your own skill without any outside help.
All this is good enough, but what I absolutely love about the game is that it is a story about MMO, that does MMO right. It may be hard to explain for non-MMO players, but... Low-level locations are overrun by newbies running around, there are people who are good at jump-puzzling who AFK at high places, there are AI-driven NPCs with scripted responses, there is dueling PvP mode, there are player guilds, contacts, parties, guild bases, loot grinding, raiding till morning... and you DIE AND RESPAWN IF YOU FALL IN WATER! This is as endearing MMO representation as single-player game can get.
And with all that, dialogues are great too. Mostly it's other characters doing the job, but in addition to words, characters got a decent amount of images during dialogues, making it easy to judge their emotions. And Lea, not able to speak, got the most of them all, of course. There are even images made for her showing 1, 2, 3 or 4 fingers, for answering multiple-choice questions, which is pretty nice attention to details.
I am still playing this game, and actually, I haven't gotten far, but I am already damn impressed with how much soul this game has. Good characters, easy controls, fast-paced combat and the small details that make an old MMO player smile.