You know that feeling when you’re enjoying a really good book or TV series, thoroughly enjoying it, and it starts to come to an end and you want to draw it out as long as possible? That’s kind of how I felt wrapping up Shadowy Forest in Secret World Legends this week. Even though I had done it before, I was just reveling in this zone, its characters, and quests. I felt a reluctance to move on — not that Carpathian Fangs are bad, exactly, but they don’t have the warm, otherworldly charm that this zone does.
Out of all of the zones of this game, I feel that Shadowy Forest is the one that feels the most “fantasy” rather than contemporary, or horror, or sci-fi. It’s actually an exemplary fantasy zone that made me wistful more MMOs couldn’t embrace the weirdness and richness of the possibilities of this genre rather than fall back to tired and well-mined tropes.
There’s a man fishing here who used to be soil and rock in ages past. There’s a woman who talks to her wagon, which is apparently a “wikipedia made by fairies.” There is a camp of vampire-hunters who are holding the line against the darkness. There are disturbed farmers making sausages of cannibals. There’s a forest that’s alive, a city overrun by Deathless, a lady questgiver who does not speak at all, Dracula’s cemetery, and more.
It doesn’t mean that this zone is perfect. I do have two big gripes that I feel could be fixed if the developers gave some more attention to the region.
The first is that the investigation quests, what few of them there are here, are not that exciting. Sometimes you come off of investigation quests on a heady rush of accomplishment and appreciation for the ingenuity involved in the quest. Here they are a little too obscure, requiring jumps of logic and reasoning that aren’t always apparent (I’m looking at you, The Abandoned).
And while this zone brings out some great characters and sets up some interesting stories, it doesn’t always deliver satisfying conclusions to them. Secret World is forever doing this, giving us great beginnings and middles without much of an end, and the weirdness of this region and its characters requires more explanation than not.
All that’s left now is to go through the main story quest and move on to the mountains. I did note that the Nursery chain wasn’t available yet in Besieged Farmlands, so I was assuming that it might have been reworked into the main storyline. I’ll go back and check to see if it’s triggered before I go on to the Fangs, because I don’t want to miss it.