Fictorum

Game review by
David Wolinsky, Common Sense Media
Fictorum Game Poster Image
Magic-focused adventure has simple goals, brutal difficulty.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this game.

Positive Messages

Being assertive about standing up for what's right. But an "eye for an eye" violent mission, as always, shows that everyone winds up blind. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

No positive role models.

Ease of Play

Some bugs aside, navigating combat and getting used to each spell takes some time.

Violence

Violently blasting enemies with elements produces no blood, gore, but does make for some grisly deaths as people are thrown into stratosphere.

Sex
Language
Consumerism

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Fictorum is a downloadable action/role-playing game that's also, in part, a board game. Players create a customizable mage character who then explores a map full of random events and randomly generated stages. The general flow of play is this: You make choices on the overhead map before being deployed to a village area, thereafter looting what you can and fighting all enemies. The game features fantasy violence, as you blast opponents with arcs of lightning or bursts of flame, causing them to suddenly fall limp where they once stood. Otherwise, there's no inappropriate content.

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What's it about?

FICTORUM casts you in the role of a wizard seeking revenge at all costs. You set out across multiple lands leveling up your spells and stealing better gear so that you're fully equipped for your final showdown against the Grand Inquisitor, who massacred your order of mages. The game places a greater emphasis on your decisions in mapping out an arsenal of spells than it does on character development, so it ultimately boils down to: Who will you kill and how? 

Is it any good?

Whether you dig what's on tap here depends entirely on your appetite for destruction. One of the biggest selling points of Fictorum is that every structure you run across -- bridges, buildings, towers -- can and usually must be decimated. There's a degree of freedom, since most games only let you go in certain buildings when visiting towns, but boredom can easily set in. To balance the freedom you have, each stage is noticeably linear -- usually as soon as you dive in. It's supposed to be a selling point of how unpredictable and unique each playthrough will be, but the randomly generated levels always have you doing the same things. You're free to loot every building for new gear and blow away guards, but really what you have to do is blast structures that are generating a shield around the portal to the next area. If you feel like it, you can run, blow these up, and move on.  

This is meant to let you make your own play strategies as you go. You're a fully established wizard with a wide assortment of spells available to you out of the gate. You can learn more as you go, and unlock runes and "shapes," which add new wrinkles to your spells: multi-shot, high-velocity impact, and so on. But typically, it's better to find what works for you and stick with it instead of spreading yourself too thin. You'll need a certain degree of proficiency with your preferred spells, because the game's difficulty ratchets up quickly, not in how the enemies attack, but in the sheer amount of them. The randomly generated levels can also make for some accidentally impossible encounters: One stage required dispatching a huge horde of soldiers by destroying the bridge they were camped out on, but you also needed to cross that (now destroyed) bridge afterwards. Weird hiccups like this happen, though the bigger problem is the game's bugginess. This results in clunky performance and a whole assortment of issues. If you're OK with that, though, there's some fun to be had in learning spells and watching the world bend to your will. Unfortunately, there's just not much else going on here beyond that. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about why games that emphasize strategy over action might be both appealing and also useful to one's personal development. Why is a balance of being reactive and proactive in how you deal with your surroundings and goals important? 

  • How can the hero of a story justify thieving from innocents if it serves the greater good? Is harming or violating someone really ever justified? 

Game details

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