Review: Sir Questionnaire12 Jun 2018 0
Review: Sir Questionnaire
Released 24 May 2018
Sir Questionnaire is on a quest, a quest that rather unsurprisingly, involves responding to questions. Don’t worry; you will not be needing a brain the size of a planet as each question only has two options. Run or fight? Head left, or right? Buy or don’t buy? Search or move on? Your answers will help determine your progress in this rapid roguelike adventure.
Sir Questionnaire himself is not your typical dungeon delver, being a rather elderly gent who sports a topper and monocle. However, do not let these cultured sensibilities fool you, since our hero is more than happy to exchange the posh surroundings of the Kit-Kat Club in favour of a dank dungeon. He swaps his dapper cane for a sword or spell-casting wand without so much as raising an eyebrow. Before entering the dungeon, Sir Q must first choose a quest. These are randomly generated and arranged into three levels of difficulty. An easy quest may have you searching for a couple of skulls, whilst a difficult one may require the demise of a handful of fearsome orcs. The advantage of completing a more difficult quest is that when you eventually die or actually defeat the final boss, you will start the next game with many more items already in your inventory.
Each level of the dungeon has a set of randomly generated rooms that Sir Q has to make his way through. He will be grabbing loot, killing monsters and, in a nod to the modern world, taking lots and lots of photographs. He may prefer a walking stick to a selfie-stick but there are plenty of photo opportunities here, enabling our hero to fill his albums with pictures of all of the monsters and items that he encounters during his journey. Indeed, completing the collection is a big incentive to repeatedly return to the dungeon’s depths.
Battles are turn-based and handled with the minimum amount of fuss. Most monsters only take a hit or two before exploding into a satisfying splatter of blood or goo. As well as equipping a weapon, Sir Q can also have a shield at the ready, alongside other items such as magical rings. During combat, you are free to swap and change items in your inventory or recover health without fear of being attacked. Sir Q has several characteristics that can help him defeat enemies. These can be improved as his experience grows. His attack ability will determine the damage he inflicts with melee weapons and increases the durability of an equipped shield. Meanwhile, his magic rating increases the damage inflicted by magic weapons and also the longevity and power of magic items. A high agility rating will increase his chance of hitting fast moving enemies such as spiders and also improves the likelihood of him fleeing combat without being hit. His luck level has an impact in numerous ways, such as improving the chance of finding rare items or of selecting the most favourable option. Finally, his craft skill increases the durability of equipped items and alchemy enhances the value of coins.
The graphics are displayed in a small window and the resolution is so low that at first glance they look a bit of a mess. However, much like those magic eye puzzles, once your eyes get accustomed to the style you begin to work out what is going on and realise that they do have a certain charm. I felt like I was playing an early Gameboy Color game. Sound consists of some dramatic battle music and a hilariously over the top booming voice that introduces you to some of the dungeon’s many denizens and events. The action can be viewed in both portrait and landscape modes. The portrait mode works best with phones whilst landscape is ideal for larger devices. Landscape mode does reduce the size of the already small action window, but this provides enough extra space to also include the inventory on just a single screen. This is quite handy as swapping between weapons and equipment is something that you will be doing on a regular basis. All equipment has a limited lifespan, so you don’t want to damage your best weapon taking out a weak enemy when a rap from your trusty walking stick would be just effective.
During the time that I have been playing the game, the designer has already added a load of new content. In fact, these updates have come so thick and fast that I feared I would never actually finish the review. Each one has ushered in significant improvements, resolving many of the game’s teething problems and added some impressive new features. There is now a range of achievements and additional objectives that will unlock new character classes. Some monsters are more sociable, sometimes showing up in groups, rather than just singularly. They also have different traits, such as being exhausted, or deadly. This really helps add some extra variety and interest, especially as the monsters themselves are a rather generic bunch of the usual dungeon inhabitants. In the first version, you could encounter and defeat the boss after only a few levels, which was all a bit of an anti-climax. Now, the boss tends to lurk on much deeper levels of the dungeon. I like the fact that you stand a good chance of actually winning - most roguelikes tend to be hard as nails, and your inevitable death is often down to running low on supplies and health, which is a pretty dreary way to go.
Even after a few successful runs, Sir Questionnaire maintains interest with both the photography task and several secrets to unearth. There are numerous special rooms such as altars and throne rooms, each with their own secrets. Also, some monsters will react if you drop specific items in their vicinity. These secrets can be discovered by experimentation and listening to the odd characters you encounter. The new additions really add to the game and with more updates on the horizon the future looks really promising.
For some, Sir Questionnaire will be just too casual and undemanding to maintain interest. The decisions are simple, and the constant switching of inventory items can also get a little tiresome. However, for the rest of us, this is without question a spiffing release. The developers, Orange Pixel, are making a name for themselves for producing condensed fast-paced roguelikes. In many ways, Sir Questionnaire feels even more stripped back than Pocket Tactics favourite, Space Grunts. They have again managed to capture that magic ingredient, producing a game that it is both quick and compulsive, as you rapidly move from room to room with the tap of a button or two. Sir Questionnaire serves up progress and rewards in a quick and addictive flurry of activity.