Etrom: The Astral Essence
takes place in the future where people are forced to live in cramped cities. The governments of these cities have become corrupt dictatorships where only the rich and the soldiers protecting them are allowed any real freedoms. You are a foot solider who finds an artifact that bonds with you and opens your eyes to the true nature of things. Of course, this leads your character to question his loyalties, eventually causing him to leave his duty and live life as a fugitive outside the city walls.
If anything else, Etrom’s premise shows just how much potential the game has. Unfortunately, that potential never comes through. Everything about the game, from graphics right down to control, is a mess and lacking in polish. Even the story has its problems. The above summary sounds great, but I only got that after reading the game’s official website. The actual in-game intro is so convoluted at times that you have no idea what’s actually going on no matter how many times you watch it. After the introduction, it is hard to actually get a sense of what is going on. Much of what is going on is conveyed through text, however there’s so much of it that you’ll eventually grow tired of reading.
From a gameplay perspective, Etrom is aiming for a point-and-click RPG in the vein of Diablo. While the game makes a good attempt at emulating the hallowed series, it never comes close to reaching the same level of playability.
For starters, Etrom faces a host of balance issues. You begin the game with a super powerful weapon that destroys anything it touches. Eventually you unlock other weapons and spells, but by that time, your axe is so powerful that you’ll want to keep using it. It’s cool to start out as a powerful character, but there comes a point where you want some challenge.