Thirst of Night review
Thirst of Night review
My first reaction to Thirst of Night was something along the lines of “boy, another strategy game, huh?” Regular readers of DevilsMMO will know that I wasn’t especially impressed with 1100AD or 8Realms, both games that were very capable for what they were but that I felt would be a little underwhelming to MMO-exclusive players.
For social gaming, through Facebook for instance, both of those games would have been great but to put time and effort into them soon became something of a chore. So I went into Thirst of Night expecting more of the same; not a terrible game but not something that would especially appeal to the average MMO gamer.
Dark setting as expected
Graphically, Thirst of Night is something else entirely. The game has a very dark setting, to be expected from the content. You play as some sort of king of the vampires in your area (you must love underage human females the most or something…) and it’s your job to create a location suitable for your undead hoards. This sounds more interesting that it actually is: you’re basic quests are entirely like they would be in 1100AD or 8Realms; build a certain type of building, upgrade a certain type of building and so on and so forth. Even so, the more grungy dark setting will appeal to people who don’t enjoy the more cartoony graphics of 8realms or the rather dry visual style in 1100AD.
But more than that, Thirst of Night also boasts an actual social element – something that 8Realms at least lacked – in the guise of a constant server-wide chat box. From the little I’ve watched it, it seems mostly populated by people in their early to late teens and watching that is like watching any other chat for that age group. With that said, everybody seems really friendly and I’ve not yet seen a crossed word, certainly a much nicer bunch than I found last week in Heroes of Newerth. If you had any trouble and didn’t know what to do – I can’t imagine you would, but if you did – I don’t think they’d hesitate to help out. As it happens though, Thirst of Night is incredibly well built when it comes to what you have to do and how to do it.
I’m afraid another comparison is in order: 1100AD had very little going on. You’d have one objective at a time and would be forced to complete that objective or risk running out of resources. 8Realms improved on that somewhat, giving you options to choose from and giving you a unique way of handling your domain. Thirst of the Night gives you a set of five quests to do, and like MMORPGs, these take the form of quests. You check out which quests you must do and once one is completed, you can claim your reward (resources with which to complete more quests). Again, this seems hugely different from the competitors, but it’s not really, it just feels much, much more open to your choices and gives you the ability to do multiple things at once.
Patience or cash, your choice
Building buildings takes time and, as you upgrade to more and more impressive buildings or try to complete more complex tasks, the time needed for a building to complete construction increases. To begin with a resource-boosting building can take about 15 seconds to finish, the training of 50 troops, however, will take over twenty minutes. This time can be shortened considerably with the use of rubies, although those must be purchased with real money. For 6000 rubies and over 500 items, you must spend £359.99 – over $550 – and I just can’t imagine anybody bothering to do that. On the lower end of the scale, you can get 65 rubies for £8.99. Basically, if you want to get the most value out of the game, there are certainly options to do that but there’s no real reason to pay if you just want basic features and don’t mind waiting.
One of the early quests calls for you to join an alliance, and I think that highlights just how much the developers of Thirst of Night want you to be part of the community. Alliances are groups that have their own private chat box and other bonuses related to them (such as extra items and added defence). You can create or join a game right from the get go and doing so is definitely encouraged. There are the usual “we’re the best alliance ever!” sorts of groups, but also groups started for newbies and those less confident with what they’re doing. Joining is as easy as requesting to join and, then like much else in this game, waiting for a reply. Many groups promise entry, so don’t worry too much about being rejected.
Waiting is a pretty big deal, not only for Thirst of Night but for the genre as a whole. As I write this paragraph of the review, I’m waiting on an upgrade and a research task. The upgrade is going to take over 20 minutes and the research task has another couple of minutes left on it. In game, I have absolutely nothing to do, so I find my attention wandering. This is where the social game element comes in and I realise why it’s perfect for Facebook, but not for people who enjoy deeper MMOs. To be just getting into a game and then be told that I can’t do anything for another twenty minutes is hugely frustrating and actually makes me want to turn the whole thing off. This also bothered me in 1100AD and 8Realms, but knowing there’s so much I could be doing by checking the quests just punctuates my having to wait.
I should also mention how much the developers want you to buy those rubies. It goes without saying that a free to play game needs to be profitable, either through the use of advertisements or the sale of in-game currency. Perhaps I’m being naïve in saying that I believe I should want to buy that in-game currency because I’m enjoying my experience and want to extend it, not because every option has a free version and a paid-for version, the former which is painfully slow and the latter which is magically quick. Whether building a nightclub (actual building, by the way) or marching to war, you can buy boosters to make your life far easier. Not since the Facebook quest on Crystal Saga have I seen a more blatant attempt by the developer to boost their income.
Not really for the action fans
As per usual, you shouldn’t expect too much action in this game. Building your army, choosing your soldier types and choosing to train is probably about as much as you’re going to take part in battle. Going to the world map and choosing a place to attack can take two or three clicks and then, you guessed it, you’ll have to wait for your army to march to the destination and, after the result, you’ll need to wait for them to march back. It’s fine in short doses, but the strategy element of the game feels much less strategic when you have absolutely nothing to do with anything.
Good soundtrack and sfx
Something of a rarity for this genre, Thirst of Night also contains a soundtrack and sound effects. They’re not fantastic, but the fact they’re there is an advantage of other, similar games. Much of the music is overly dramatic, film score style music that would be enjoyable under other circumstances but, to have such dramatic music and have nothing going on isn’t great for the game: especially when you actually have to find better things to do and the music is still playing. Of course, all of this can be easily turned off via the options menu and, despite the fact that I quite like the effort put into putting music in, I think I mostly left it off throughout the time I played.
"Thirst of Night is perhaps my favourite example of this genre that I’ve seen". It still doesn’t overcome the endless waiting, but I don’t think it needs to especially. People that play this game are playing it through Facebook or playing it with friends. The game is a distraction between conversations, not the other way around and, for people who want that sort of game, that’s (and this is) perfectly fine. If you want something a little more interesting, and if you prefer a hands-on approach you definitely will, you’ll want to choose something else a little more your style.