[Review] Decay of Logos – Nintendo Switch

Written by Richard Strachan
  • Developer: Amplify Creations
  • Publisher: Rising Star Games
  • Release date: 28/11/2019
  • Price: £17.99/$19.99
  • Review code provided by Rising Star Games

If I had to list my top 50 games of all time; Breath of the Wild, Dark Souls, Ico and Shadow of the Colossus would all feature pretty high on the list.They are all stone cold classics and a source of inspiration for many games since their individual releases. Decay of Logos seems to draw inspiration from each of these games in various ways. The big questions is, does it do them all justice? A pretty big ask admittedly!

Decay of Logos was initially scheduled to launch in August. A communication error between the developers and Nintendo lead to reviewers being sent a very early build of the game, which was basically unplayable. The developers admitted to their error and pushed back the launch to address the issues. Three and a bit months later, the final version is here. The improvements are immediately apparent, but it feels like this one could have done with some more time in the oven!

The Finest Ingredients

One look at Decay of Logos and the Breath of the Wild influence is pretty apparent. The game uses a similar graphics engine and can look gorgeous at times, at least in screenshots. In motion, things can be a bit less flattering. The visual comparisons with Ico and Shadow of the Colossus can be seen in the architecture of the abandoned world the game takes place in. The Dark Souls influence can be felt in the combat, with a very similar control layout, stamina system and combat engine focusing on basic light and heavy attacks.

You control a young girl on the path for revenge after the destruction of her village, accompanied by a mystical Elk which you meet at the outset. After the initial scene setting, there is very little in the way of hand holding or obvious story telling, much in the same vein as Dark Souls. You and the Elk travel across the land through a number of different areas solving puzzles and battling enemies, as well as taking part in some light platforming. Your companion acts as a mount and can also assist in passing some obstacles. In practice it’s usually much quicker to travel on foot, as the Elk can be difficult to control and is sometimes inexplicably slow.

Blight Town 2.0

Your adventure takes you through various ruins, mines, dungeons and bogs with elements of broken steampunk technology throughout. The world presented is one where some cataclysmic event has clearly taken place. The mechanisms which have not been completely destroyed require your attention to repair and get them back to full function, which will allow you to progress further in your adventure.

Like any game in style of Dark Souls, making progress can be difficult. Combat is unforgiving, with enemies doing heavy damage. The problem is the frame rate is all over the place, making parries very difficult. The game seems to lock up for a few frames intermittently, making it very difficult to read attacks and respond accordingly. The same applies to some of the platforming sections. I pulled my hair out on numerous occasions after falling into a bottomless pit due to the frame rate freaking out just before a critical jump.

You save your progress at shrines, the game’s bonfire analogue, which are spread through the game with long intervals between them. This made the deaths I experienced, during what should have been a relatively simple platforming section, even more infuriating.

Breath Of The Mild

In the latter stages of the game it can be very difficult to figure out where you are expected to go next. The devs provide tips during loading sequences which regularly refer to ancient mechanisms. The tips advise that should you come across any such mechanisms and they aren’t working, come back later and all will be apparent. I found that I hit a wall at a certain point in the game and after a lot of head scratching, realised this tip was the answer to my problems. Unfortunately this meant a lot of backtracking to various locations throughout the game that weren’t well signposted nor particularly memorable. 

I could see a lot of players giving up a this point. Some kind of waypoint system would be preferable at this point, even if it flies in the face of the Souls style game design. Those games work some well because of the natural way the levels twist, turn and wind back on themselves. The map design in Decay of Logos doesn’t have the same circuitous nature to it. Rather than naturally progressing through the areas I was eventually required to remember obscure side paths from several hours ago that I had only passed through briefly.

The combat feels like it could do with some fine tuning, as there is often a small delay between repeat attacks. I found this sometimes allowed an opening for enemies to capitalise on. I also found that my attack animations were slower than the attack animations of one boss character. This, combined with the short range of my weapon meant I had to stand and trade blows in this battle. I eventually had to resort to grinding for XP to strengthen my character so I was strong enough to survive the battle. 

The Dark Souls games are known for their difficulty in combat, but they are tuned so that skill will always prevail. Decay of Logos feels like the combat needs a good bit of refinement before it can function on the same level. This isn’t a case of me needing to “Git gud”, as I’ve managed to beat Dark Souls and have played a good chunk of all the other recent games that FROM Software have released.

I came across a regular issue where standing too close to an enemy during combat would lead to the lock on moving away from an enemy. This made is very difficult to attack and dodge, and only served to compound the problems I had with the speed of my attack animation.

Despite all the negatives, I still found myself admiring some of the areas in the game. I enjoyed some of the destroyed temples I explored and found the same simple beauty to some of them as I found in Ico and Shadow of the Colossus. The game doesn’t include a lot of music, instead relying on atmospheric ambient sounds, such as the whistling of the wind and creaking of wooden walkways to convey a sense of mystery. I wanted to see more of the world, but was often put off by the difficulties with combat, traversal and general navigation.

Final thoughts

Decay of Logos fails to live up to the heady heights of those that it takes inspiration from. The game is made by a very small indie studio, and it’s impressive in some sense to see what they have achieved. The game feels like it has some potential if some of these big issues were addressed. It has come a long way from that build in August, but still feels like it exists in a pre-release state.

The developers seem keen to build on their initial release, as they have supported the version on other platforms with various patches to address issues. It may well be that down the line the game can be polished into something a bit more presentable, but at this stage it is very difficult to recommend Decay of Logos.

Pros

  • Game can look lovely at times
  • Audio and lighting effects provide an eerie atmosphere

Cons

  • Frame rate causes big issues
  • Combat system can infuriate
  • Navigation can be difficult

Verdict

Following on from the initial blunder in August I was rooting for Amplify Creations, as I could see potential in Decay of Logos. The additional development time hasn’t been enough and the remaining issues make it impossible to recommend the game. I hope additional patches can address most of the issues, as it does provide an interesting world to explore.

2/5

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