Welcome to a lush landscape at the center of the known universe where heroes come to prove their worth—split from the rest of the world by floating islands, covered with lush landscape, rainbow bridges, floating stone lanterns. The Buddhists and Buddhas will welcome you with open arms and task you to prove your worth amid the trees. This is Talisman Online.
Published by Miracle Castle, Talisman Online is an East Asian-themed 3D fantasy MMORPG with all the elements you expect from an MMORPG in a very thin veneer of gameplay. The game developers appear to have spent a lot more time on developing the small world up for players to play in it rather than building to out to have breadth or depth—however, it does have PvP and a lot of different types of crafting.
Most of the classes are gender locked (except one) and while it looks a great deal like a standard MMORPG WoW-clone, it’s almost entirely mouse-centric. Fortunately, the UI design is familiar, and there’s an auto-run feature that makes it easy to get from place to place.
Just so that everyone else could see what I saw, should they choose to install Talisman Online, here’s my experience.
Graphics and Sound: Can you say rainbow bridge? That’s actually kinda cool!
When first run, Talisman Online will launch in a window (but it can run full-screen) and it’s immediately obvious it’s built for a 3D experience. Twirling and panning the camera gives me a good view of the scenery—and the scenery is one of the best parts of this game—in fact in the starting area, there’s a golden sparkle particle effect that’s quite enjoyable.
There’s even a rainbow bridge.
The graphics themselves feel a little bit low-fidelity 3D, taking advantage of a low polygon count. The textures are extremely nice and well done and there’s bushes, flowers, foliage, and other effects poking about that make the game stand out, but it feels like it’s back a generation. I expect this is because the makers want to be sure that the game can look as good as possible, but still run on older machines. I came across glistening water, fallen logs, cobblestone roads, red flowers. It’s not pretty, but it gets the job done.
In sound, Talisman Online falls a little bit short. There’s no real music to speak of, instead it’s a sort of extremely short atmospheric piece that is far too loud that plays at intervals (starting upon entering a zone) that lasts about a minute total. The music is pretty, and it’s interesting, but it’s not at all subdued and I had to turn it down with the options after hearing it trigger for the twentieth time.
The musical score that plays does differ zone-to-zone, but it quickly becomes extremely repetitive. Although, I still enjoy the sound of the one that plays in the caves (a sort of grim lullaby that makes me think of grottos and spiders.)
Attacks and getting hit all seem to have their own sounds, which is what I’d expect in this sort of a game, and they’re all cookie-cutter for the genre, so there’s no faulting them there. The bow attack with the Tamer has a proper twang-and-thud, the Fairy makes a zap noise when she activates her orbs-of-death. When I take hits I can hear the oof from my character yelping in pain that we’re all used to.
Gameplay: Click-to-move, a little grindy, but definitely an Asian-fantasy MMO
Whereupon entering the game, I was greeted with the screen for character creation. There are five character classes—most of which are gender locked: Wizard (the exception to the gender lock), Monk (male), Assassin (male), Fairy (female), Tame (female.) For my first run, I chose a Tamer as I enjoy pet classes and went on my journey to discover what Talisman Online is all about. The classes seem to run the gamut between ranged, magical, and melee—the Tamer has a bow, Fairy throws balls of orbiting light, Monk hits people with a staff.
The characters receive very few alterations to their initial forms, with only about eight hair styles and eight faces to choose from.
The first thing that I notice is that this game appears to be entirely click-to-move and there’s no WASD controls (and I couldn’t find a way to activate them in the options.) Fortunately, the game makes it clear how to move from place-to-place using the mouse cursor; and there’s also an autopilot function in the quest list. Just click on the target of the quest, or the name of the quest giver, and the game automatically ran me there.
I also quickly noticed that nothing seemed to be aggressive. So, having an autopilot didn’t endanger me and I could switch out to read game reviews in a browser window while running from quest-point to quest-point.
The camera is allows zoom in and out, but I’m trapped in this narrow pitch range between 30 and 60 degrees—it’s a strange sort of isometric effect that I’ve seen in other games such as Luvinia Online. It’s not that large of a problem, but I’ve gotten spoiled with being able to control my camera angle to extreme degrees. It is possible to be hidden behind objects, trees, etc. but the maps seem to be designed to limit losing sight of myself.
For the most part, the game is played out via questing and attacking monsters. In fact, the first few quests were all of the “go here, kill that” variety, either to collect items, or to kill 12 of something.
The game seems to revolve also around a special type of equipment called a talisman (my weapon in this case) that needs to be powered/leveled up as the character levels. For the Tamer it was my bow, and for my Fairy it was my orbiting-death-orbs. Each level I would expend some energy I got from questing and killing monsters to level it up—I believe at level 7 it gave me more than my light and hard attacks as a new weapon skill.
The localization of this game into English is a little bit odd; in fact, I don’t know that a single quest that I played has redeemable English in it. Perhaps they’re fixing that, but it reads like a bad translation—possibly from Chinese—all the words in most cases are in the proper places for the grammar but often the verb is incorrect. Such as the Buddha Slave that asked me to “perish” some boars and bring back their “knuckles.”
Freemium: A cash shop with a lot more than just cosmetic items and mounts
The game runs on an online cash shop with a microtransaction currency called T-Points. The lowest number of T-Points that can be bought is 90 for $7.99 (about 8.8¢ per T-Point) but they go as high as 4,000 for $296.00 (about 7.4¢ per T-Point.) I’ll use the higher price for pricing out items—most people probably don’t spend nearly $300 at a whack on a free-to-play game.
The shop if full of things such as experience boosters, items that increase the size of your inventory (temporarily), cosmetic items for changing colors, and a multitude of mounts. There’s also some items that look like non-combat pets that increase attributes such as the Moon Rabbit that increases mana recovery rate (an unknown amount) and movement speed by 5% for 249 T-Points ($22.09).
Also amid the items there’s also higher level equipment such as level 30 rings for each of the different classes around 150 ($13.31) and 179 T-Points ($15.87). Most of the rings confer resistances. I don’t know if they’re comparable to what you can get from drops at that level if they’re superior. There’s also gems that can be inlaid into armor and charms that randomly give goodies—it seems to be an extremely stacked cash shop with numerous items that confer direct benefits for their purchase and use.
Conclusion: Talisman Online has all the hallmarks of an East Asian game and the same charm
After playing, I’d say that as a player who prefers keyboard controls to point-and-click I felt a little bit hindered; but it otherwise plays like any other game that provides a lot of mouse-control. The environments are interesting and the character design is enjoyable; but the bad translations really made it difficult for me to immerse in the place. I couldn’t even tell where the story is going or why.
I found myself running from quest to quest, doing the objective because I was told to (barely reading the text sometimes because it didn’t always make sense) but at least objectives were clear, understandable, and the auto-navigation took me where I needed to go without any effort.
The elements from East Asian mythology and culturally and religiously significant symbols gave it a bit of a distance from Western-cultural MMOs. The number of elements from East Asian culture felt pretty interesting, although they mixed somewhat in weird ways with the English wording. Exploring the environment and speaking to the NPCs certainly made for a worthwhile experience.
There’s also a huge community in the game. I didn’t go a moment without seeing someone speaking in the chat and they were happy to answer questions when I felt the need to engage them. That’s a very important element of any free-to-play game. Although, I didn’t see many speaking in local. In fact, I got caught into a team pretty quickly with another newbie and we ploughed through a few quests together.
It’s got all the elements it needs to be a workable MMO, even if the sound and translation aren’t that great; I suspect that Talisman Online will work on these as they mature.