First Gothic game of course I mean. Currently in process of playing second one and in the same time ELEX, which is another RPG from same devs that has completely different setting from Gothic, but a lot of similar vibes.
Not a very fresh review, since I finished first game quite some time ago, just didn’t have time to write a blog post with Boomerathon and holidays, but better late than never…
Gothic has somewhat legendary status among some gamers, I would probably compare it to Stalker cult status, bit more widespread due to game’s European origin, but balanced out by more niche genre. Eurojank term nowadays is being applied to many games, but for me it was always associated with RPGs and Gothic (still is btw), which is probably not the best achievement in the world, but honestly living in the world of soulless, but polished and beautiful (and not even always, far from it tbh) AAA games, being janky, but interesting is way better imo.
So I got into Gothic universe fresh with just some basic knowledge about the game that I got here and there throughout the years of witnessing some memes and hearing about it, no nostalgia glasses or any bias for me, just a guy who likes RPGs and played quite a bit of old and new ones, appreciating both. And what can I say now? In short – it was great! But now more detail.
First of all the jank is indeed there, it is everywhere, in every bit of the game. Is it annoying? Well it might be just me, but I had no issues with it really, as someone who played through loads of broken PC games in my years, I’m quite tolerant to some bugs and issues. Only things that are actually really bad kind of janky are controls and GUI – Bethesda was probably leading before for me, especially after F76, but Gothic devs decided to reinvent the bicycle with some controls and interface elements, but ended up making square wheels and dildo instead of a seat. What makes it worse is the fact that tutorial is kinda non-existent, so all those innovative controls and menus will require some learning and getting used to without any hints to assist you. Overall it wasn’t that bad using GUI and controls, at least was an interesting experience, but like banana pizza – quite good, but 95% of time I’d rather take some classic meaty one over it without even thinking. Amount of bugs wasn’t too bad and also whatever was happening ended up being perfect stream material for all the hilarious moments, so more funny rather than annoying.
Gameplay past the janky stuff is quite unique – combat system is not my favourite part, but honestly it’s not too bad, can be even better than some other RPGs where you get tired of it pretty fast, here it’s not getting old, but part of that might be progression system that I will talk about later. Main issue with melee combat is that your swings have no AoE, while frequently you end up in scenarios with multiple enemies, so your target sticks to one enemy, you hit it, enemy gets pushed back out of your range, you can’t reach and keep swinging in front of you while other enemies already hit you, switching targets is also quite painful, so you end up getting hit a lot in cases with many enemies while 1v1 is fine. Magic usage is quite complicated, because requires you to take quite specific “turn” in story and then it takes a while to build up for using it stat-wise, but then you also need a lot of money to get spells and mana restoration items, because outside of sleeping you won’t be able to restore it naturally. Ended up mostly killing people with melee until the end of the game, where magic becomes very strong and mana potions are not an issue.
Now progression is something Gothic did perfectly, I think it might be one of the best games in this sense even, out of games I played, especially out of RPGs. Every time you get better weapon – you feel it, every time you get better armor – you feel it even more, every upgrade you get makes you stronger and not just in character sheet. You actually want to go and find some random mobs to kill all the time, just to get XP and some meat, then you learn to get trophies from them and motivation increases even more – farming all the XP and money to get access to better gear and to be able to afford it, while also increasing your skills and stats to use that gear better. Really well-design system that in my opinion caries the game more than anything else, even though it might be not very obvious.
Story… Well initial set up is really cool and original for me (wouldn’t be surprised if inspired or already done before, but for me was original) – magical prison dome with all the prison usual stuff taking scale of factions and cities rather than cells, pretty nice. “Inmates” blazing some swampweed that is a core of one of the factions, trying to survive in this isolated ecosystem full of criminals and people who got stuck there with them, like mages. Development of that world is not super exciting and slowly ends up on somewhat “traditional” rails of unifying all factions around fighting ancient evil, getting help from some very strong character that wasn’t really present before. Choice doesn’t matter in the end either, so I’d say outside of initial setting story is not anything special, but not bad either, it’s interesting at least for the factions and some characters, some quests are also really nice and even if it’s not perfect – progression system makes you gladly go through anything to get that precious XP and move towards next step in your character improvement.
Overall Gothic was great, great game and perfect stream content too, also set me in the mood for more RPGs and got me excited to play a lot of them, what I’m doing right now and it’s great when you are excited to play something – both for me and for stream. So even if you never played Gothic before and afraid that you won’t like it without nostalgic connection – try it, it might be completely fine like in my case. I also tried remake teaser before playing OG and I have to say that it wasn’t too bad, but combat could use a rework – they made it different kind of jank, keeping all the negative sides from what I tried, hopefully this game will get a proper treatment with remake, I’m pretty sure fans will be very critical, but at least devs are collecting and listening to feedback, so there is hope.