The Secret World: Massively Multiplayer Online Adventure Game?

Silvertemplar posted a comment on this blog the other day that really resonated with me:

“Either way, I’ve realised due to the lack of levels and any clear “How far am I with my character?” ladder, I am actually playing this game like an ADVENTURE game and not like an MMO.”

And that clicked.  Yup, that’s pretty much what TSW is turning out to be: an adventure game with RPG/combat elements that’s played online with others.  And that’s so dang cool, I don’t know why Funcom didn’t market it as such.  Adventure games skew more toward story, puzzle-solving, and gradual exploration, and aren’t as focused on numbers and leveling up.  Maybe that’s the gift Funcom gave players; by removing the notion of overall levels, it’s helped us get over this mental rut where that’s all that matters.  Yes, you still gain new skills, increase in power and abilities, but it certainly doesn’t feel as much as the primary focus.

Having played through Gabriel Knight 1 a month or so back, I’m definitely feeling the same contemporary/horror adventure game vibe.  And it’s hard not to think of The Longest Journey when playing this Ragnar Tornquist title.

So I’m wondering how many people might be turned off coming into this expecting a traditional MMO but getting something different altogether.  Something that marries the MMORPG with the adventure genre.  That, I can get behind.  It really changes how I play the game, since I’m in it more for the experience and story now instead of advancement.  Plus, I don’t really want to out-pace the story and get to a point quickly where it’s done.

A few more updates from TSW.  I’ve taken some good advice, done some reading up on the game, and made sure to balance out my attacks with two weapons instead of one.  Apparently, if you’re just focusing on one weapon, you’re gimping yourself a bit (since you want two weapons for two powerful finishers).  The synergy between the weapons/magics will take some getting used to, but I’m already seeing a lot of variety there.

You know how I said that TSW wasn’t really that creepy?  Yeah, strike that.  It’s not pure Amnesia: The Dark Descent-levels of scary, but it has its moments.  The other day I died and was running back across a covered bridge I’d traveled many times.  The only thing was that it looked far different in the spirit world:

What is that thing?  WHAT IS THAT THING.

The tension and scare factor definitely goes up when the game separates me from everyone else in private instances.  I keep panning the camera around trying to make sure nothing’s sneaking up on me.  I’m probably doing a better job scaring myself than the game is, but that’s part of the fun.  I guess.

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20 thoughts on “The Secret World: Massively Multiplayer Online Adventure Game?

  1. Dude, wait till you get to the Savage Coast. The Black House scared the shit out of me, but the amusement park is so much more scarier!!
    Don’t play the game past midnight if you want to sleep.

  2. There’s a plaque on that bridge that talks about Hangman’s Canyon or some such, but I had no idea there was more to it than that. I should have guessed really, the game is full of superb little details like that. It’s without doubt one of the most immersive games I’ve played, and the quests are HANDS DOWN the best MMO quests I’ve ever experienced – just wait til you get to ‘Something Wicked’

    @00james – I found The Black House late last night. I was absolutely crapping bricks, it felt like I was playing through the final scenes of ‘The Blair Witch Project’. The best thing was, it wasn’t even a quest or anything (although I believe there is a quest that takes you there) – it’s just a location in the world you can stumble across at any time. Bloody fantastic!

  3. Yeah, you have some more scary moments ahead of you for sure.

    At first I was like, you seriously can’t be scared playing a MMO? Now, I just take it for granted that TSW is capable of making you feel things you normally don’t feel playing a MMO.

  4. Yeah it’s cool there really isn’t a level and just focus on enjoying the adventure and story and just improving on skills.

    However the only real character level I’ve found is your Character Faction lvl listed under Faction if you press ‘C’. It adv based on SP from quests and Mob kills at various SP intervals, so in a way it seems to represent some form of character lvl. Its what places the little stars next to your character on the page when you hit “C” or look at another character and see stars wondering what it means,

  5. The covered bridge in Kingsmouth is a great example of aspects of this game that players that approach it with the power leveling style will miss. I recall the other day one player on the forum complaining about the death system and how it serves now purpose… it turned out in the end that the player never even explored the town in spirit form.

    So many fundamental aspects of MMOs are being ignored by TSW and that will be its greatest drawing power.. it is different and unique.

  6. I had the same experience with the game – except it was early in Kingsmouth when I turned in a quest and accidentally took a second weapon instead of the minor upgrade to my first…and realized that I could equip it and buy skills. No trainer, no hoops to jump through. Just pick it up and go…I knew at that point that this was a different kind of game, and one that would definitely hook me. Grand Master Pack – hook, line, and sinker – after only a few hours playing.

    Been loving every minute so far and I’m pleased so far that Funcom seems to have rid itself of it’s Launch Day Curse.

  7. You’ve hit on the reasons why this game is resonating with me much more than I anticipated. I’m actually not a big fan of being scared (though I love mythology and other elements they use), so I went in unsure, but the forced slower pace and puzzle solving are an incredible lure to a too-experienced semi-burnt-out MMO player. I actually had to look things up on the Internet to solve puzzles. That’s just a serious level of cool that so few games even think to strive for.

    @Ardent Defender — Into the Darkness had me jumping every time a certain sound happened, even after I knew what it was. And I had all the lights on and my husband right next to me. Didn’t matter.

  8. Hah, I almost posted a Dead Like Me screenie too. It’s got creepy moments when you’re still alive, but running around dead (even if it’s just in Kingsmouth) reveals all manner of things you can’t see when alive. Pretty neat.

  9. What’s interesting and what people completely forget is the fact that two of the early MMO’s, UO and AC were much the same as TSW. It was only EQ that had levels and very clear progression. In fact, AC had some of the best puzzle quests and every changing world of any MMO. I’m glad Funcom went this route because people now can actually see and feel what it’s like to play a game in what might be the closest thing to a game world since UO and AC.

  10. The hanging ghosts in Langmore Bridge actually feature in a mission. You’re expected to learn about it via the plaques on the bridge, I expect, but visiting in spirit form works too. :)

    Even better… try exploring Franklin Mansion (in Blue Mountain) while dead. It is phenomenally creepy. It’s also a good way to find the lay of the spirit land, so to speak, if one wanted to learn about the place.

    I’ve been deeply impressed with TSW’s atmosphere. I also LOVE that the stories are so deep, with so much hidden. You can finish off the main storyline in Solomon Island without really knowing much about what’s going on there, for instance… or you can follow a myriad of clues and piece together the real truth behind the draugr and the fog and the sword and the Gaia engine and the dreams of the Wabanaki and the… well, you’ll see. ;)

  11. Yea, that faction quest “Into the Darkness” , actually have Alan Wake written all over it. Can’t ask for me adventure than that ;) .

  12. You have to do “Into the Darkness” for each faction as the story line is different for each. I have only done the Dragon version on Beta and Templar on Live but Dragon is hands down creepier!
    I am going to end up having to play all 3 factions to get all the different versions of quests.
    The Black House was the first time I was actually startled by something in game while doing the quest line.

  13. What is that thing? You’ll find out… *cue ominous music*

    I just hit the Black House last night too. Full of awesome scary, with and without quest.

    As for “Into the Darkness,” I ran most of it without any lights (hard to follow somebody stealthily with floodlights, wot?) which made for an awesome moment when it was finally established no one living was around any longer and I decided to finally throw a flare, to light up….you-know-what.

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