I'm sure that many of you will agree that gaming is not just a hobby; it's a lifestyle choice. Even if it were just as meager as a hobby, there are always goals: To be the best of the best, to let off some steam, to play with friends, and, most importantly, to have the most fun you could ever have.
Yitien Chronicles, a browser MMO published by R2Games, gives absolutely none of that. Touting itself as the best Asian-themed MMO, Yitien fails all entirely in almost every aspect. I gave it a try due to it looking similar to other games like Myth War and had hearkened back to the familiar feels of old-school games like Icewind Dale and Baldur's Gate, hoping that it could replicate some of their aspects that I enjoyed the most like environment and combat. I'm not quite sure why I was so surprised that I was completely wrong about what I aspired it to be like.
Simplicity is Rarely Wrong
Just looking at the screens, the average reader may be inclined to think that I'm one of those reviewers that spout hatred at the first sight of, shall we say, less-than-modern visuals. I assure you that is not the case. In fact, I have to praise Yitien for its simplistic style and art, rendering it looking quite good for a browser game. Animations can be quite clunky, but it isn't necessarily a bad point either. The environments are decently crafted to a point where it isn't strange to find yourself being immersed in that sort of secondary world. It is definitely one of Yitien's strongest points.
As noted earlier, not only are the environments nice, the character design of your chose avatar's class, those of which are of the basic Tank, DPS, and Healer, and the NPCs they inevitably meet are quite good. But as arbitrary as the description "good" is, it is just that. There really isn't anything fancy or absolutely fantastic in this regard, with you only being able to say, in the most unbiased manner, it's good.
Now that we have the positive points out of the way, let's get down to what's wrong with Yitien. First of all, what surprised me the most was the afk/auto-pathing mode that simply led me from one NPC to another, and from place to place. I had first thought my character was uncontrollable and I was in a tutorial of sorts, but it turned out, I was already playing the game. The auto-pathing did everything for me and all that was left was just for me to confirm dialogue choices and equip gear I received as quest rewards, which were also automatically updated via a loot window with an instant equip option. The only time I ever got to see anything about my character was when some quests acted as tutorials and opened them up for me. Even then, there were arrows pointing to certain parts of the opened window that I should click, setting up everything from my stats to skills for me.
I even got into PvP and I didn't even know it. Combat, in the form of a turn-based gameplay, just initiated by itself and I had apparently won an arena match, and then the auto-pathing moved me on to my next destination, wherever that was. PvP is comprised of nothing more than the substitution of AI opponents for actual players, but that in itself isn't true either. More likely, my opponent was also just on the auto-combat mode and there really wasn't any actual PvP going on. There was no strategy or tactics, but I only won because I had a stronger character and RNG favored more criticial strikes for me.
[caption id="attachment_31066" align="aligncenter" width="554"] ...really!?[/caption]
I did not bother at all with controls or any of that sort as even combat ensued in the same way I "quested" around the map. The AI attacked for me, did all my supposed choices, and soundly defeated every single opponent without much intervention on my part. For a good few days, I did nothing but press the left click which was the only way to get from point A to point B via dialogue boxes and quest trackers. It was a game that played itself with only the player watching what was happening. It's like an advanced form of Tamagotchi, just needing to be checked up on from time to time. I got a panda pet, who is strangely familiar, and a talking wolf mount in the process of left clicking. Even the simple quests of gathering x items and handing it over to the quest giver is automated. You literally have nothing to think about.
[caption id="attachment_31063" align="aligncenter" width="640"] ...do I know you?[/caption]
There isn't even any semblance of a plot to speak of. No story to entice a player to keep going further, but just NPC with the mundane task or small sub-plot of poisoning royal courts or some such that felt very impersonal and is kept at that level for most of the game. It just continues on and on, facing down one randomly named opponent to another, seemingly impacting whatever world Yitien is based in.
I can't really play comfortably when my screen is just a mess of numbers, windows, and abstract spell effects. Here on Yitien, the interface is a cluttered mess. Icon after icon kept appearing whenever I progressed in something, adding more and more unnecessary detail to what was already a crap-filled screen. Cash shop prompts, free item packages, xp boosts; you name it, it's probably on the screen. Adding to the fact that I wasn't technically playing, the interface just made it even more unbearable to continue on with the game.
[caption id="attachment_31068" align="aligncenter" width="554"] WHAT IS ALL THIS CRAP!?[/caption]
It gets worse when you start to open up status screens of various import that have much to do with your character. However, due to how the game works, it makes the new and average player care little for the numbers and details to be found, becoming seemingly unimportant and ignored for the duration of your playtime. There are a lot of very unique ideas that might have been nice if implemented properly, but they all seem to be just after-thought elements that were rushed in just for the sake of having it. I don't even know what most of those do.
[caption id="attachment_31076" align="aligncenter" width="554"] You see those three guys? Yep, this is it.[/caption]
Dungeons are dead simple in Yitien. You go get a quest, get inside an instance with the quest active, and then kill everything inside. In the beginning, there really isn't much except for one group of enemies that needs to be dealt with. The automated combat will dispatch them, and when the battle is over, you click on the portal or on your quest log to head back and claim your reward. That's it. Game, set, match.
[caption id="attachment_31074" align="aligncenter" width="367"] Earth-shattering![/caption]
Eventually, dungeons started having more than one group at a time. But that isn't much either. You just continue on the automated questing and you won't even notice that you entered a dungeon. It seems more like you enter a different map. There is absolutely no redeeming quality in the dungeon crawling that it is sickening.
Well, I think I found Yitien's redeeming quality. Combat, as automized as it is, really does a great job portraying your avatar's awesomeness. The skills and animations are not as top notch compared to other f2p MMOs, but it does give a grand sense of cool and grit. The sound effects pair up nicely with combat and are definitely great to view. Because watching is all you'll be doing, really.
[caption id="attachment_31078" align="aligncenter" width="551"] Graarrgh! Psycho Chooop![/caption]
There is a tinge of pride whenever you'd see your character defeat a group of enemies with your panda pet, as if you have indeed achieved something. But sadly, the feel of it is the only thing Yitien has done right. There is nothing else to speak of but the glamour of looking on as the combat occurs and there really isn't anything that makes it truly a Yitien-only feature.
Now I understand that browser games mostly target those too busy to invest any time in MMOs, but Yitien just took that too far. There is no semblance of achievement, exploration, satisfaction, or just about anything. I can say that I absolutely had no idea why I was even bothering to play it further to make a good review. I wanted to review this game in the fairest possible way and trudged along further the mud that is called Yitien. Unfortunately, all I did find was mud.