Sometimes, it can be fun to review a bad game. When a game is good, you need to really throw yourself into deep analysis. When a game is bad, you can just run through it and revel in the mess. The worst type of game to play through is a good game which is completely and utterly broken. Enter stage right: Decay of Logos, an action-RPG described as Dark Souls meets Breath of the Wild. In reality, Decay of Logos comes out closer to baby's first Dark Souls than anything close to a winning combination.
In Decay of Logos, you play as a mysterious young girl. When horrible creatures destroy your village, you escape with the help of your companion, a pure white elk. After escaping, you must...do something? It's not immediately clear, but the best guess involves seeking revenge against those who destroyed your home. Throughout, Decay of Logos goes for a Dark Souls style of storytelling, effectively just filling the world with vague clues and letting the player run wild. The big issue here is that Dark Souls starts you out with a very clear picture of the world and of your role in it. Unfortunately, Logos completely fails to do so.
Gameplay And Narrative Woes In Decay of Logos
When first dumped into the tutorial area you learn the controls and run off into the wilderness. The first NPC you come across goes on about a prince or something, but realistically you have no objective beyond survival. Eventually, you do come across your first boss, the prince of something or other, and destroy him. It comes out that you seem to be hunting down the royal family, because they may, or may not, be responsible for the sorry state that the world is in. While the plot comes out in drips and drabs like any good Souls game, Logos fails to pull it off. You can't really pick up much info from the world design or the items you pick up, instead of relying on conversations with NPCs to discover all the available story beats.
Narrative aside, the gameplay fairs only slightly better. Combat works in a very similar manner to Dark Souls. For the most part, the combat works the way you would expect. You lock on to your enemy, dodge their attacks and chip away at their health until they die. This is the point at which the bugs and performance issues start to rear their ugly head. When dodging, Decay of Logos seems to struggle to keep a consistent framerate. What this effectively means is that it is near-impossible to reliably dodge enemy attacks since the sudden framerate change is jarring as hell.
Dodging Doldrums in Decay of Logos
This turns some overly simple, but otherwise enjoyable, Souls-like combat into a frigging nightmare. Even bigger enemies with hugely obvious telegraphs can hit you because when you dodge the entire game chugs. It happens at other times too. Simply running from one point to another causes anything from a framerate drop to a complete software crash. Certain areas don't load in properly at all leaving objects and enemies floating out of nowhere. Once or twice, I've had sections of the game completely closed off to me because a door glitched shut.
The worst culprit for glitches and poor design is the elk companion. Puzzles scattered across the land act as a barrier to your progress. Oftentimes, these puzzles require you to call your animal companion to come and stand on a platform while you perform another action. The issue is that both when riding and when simple whistling him for attention, your companion only responds about 20% of the time. One in-game tip says that you need to treat it like a real mount.
You just have to nudge it in the right direction and let him do the work. While this makes it sound like the tough controls are an intentional part of design it feels just more like they couldn't get the mount to work very well and decided to just leave it. If it is intentional then it's just a terrible idea. Trying to get him to stay still long enough to complete a puzzle is nearly impossible. For some reason, it keeps walking in circles aimlessly like a bored child.
The Wasted Potential Of Decay of Logos
The worst part of Decay of Logos is that it genuinely had some potential. Exploring the different areas is quite fun, and the combat wasn't horrible when it was working correctly. It feels like every change made to distance the game from Dark Souls just serves to make it a worse game. Weapons degrade but they're not as plentiful or as easily repairable as they should be. Health items don't refill after each death and are a finite resource. This wouldn't be so bad but they also seem to be far, far too scarce as well. Throughout my entire playthrough, I only had about 10 of these items in total. Most of the time, I forgot they even existed.
Shortcuts are a common theme in many Souls games and they show up here. They're usually a good feature, but the one massive one connecting a late-game area and an early-game area was completely broken. Using the giant lift device permanently tanked the frame-rate to about 10 at best. In general, getting around the world was too much of a hassle, even with the shortcuts that worked. If you're in an area with enemies who move quickly and need to change your weapon then you'll have to either find a bottomless well, which acts as infinite storage or carry weapons on your mount. The issue is that the mount also has limited storage, so if you find anything you want to keep you need the spots on the mount free. Really, this type of inventory management is the last thing you want in an intense, combat-focused game.
Decay of Logos Review | Final Thoughts
This could have been a simplified, shorter version of a Souls game, perfect for introductions to the style. Instead, Logos is a mess of bugs, performance problems, and bad design decisions. The bosses are the best way of showing this. Enemies can be a real challenge, but each boss went down on my first try. In any good Souls game that just wouldn't fly. You'd have to carefully examine the enemy and learn their pattern. Only after a few tries would you be able to take it down. Most of the time I just ran in spamming attack and circling behind them and they went down in minutes. The only time I had difficulty with a boss was when one had 3 of his mates join in halfway through. With five characters involved the frame-rate slowed to a crawl, and dodging was nearly impossible.
Overall, Decay of Logos has one or two good design decisions completely let down by literally everything else. The performance was bad, even after patching. Bosses were lackluster. The exploration was annoying thanks to crappy shortcuts. Inventory management added nothing to the game but tedium, and the mount brings much of the same. It feels like a game which people really put effort into. Unfortunately, that really only served to make the outcome more tragic. Maybe with some decent patches, the game could become more enjoyable. Realistically I don't think anything short of a complete re-design would make Logos worth most people's time.
Techraptor reviewed Decay of Logos on PlayStation 4 with a copy provided by the publisher.
- Exploration Is Alright
- Combat Has Some Potential
- Performance Is Terrible
- Filled With Glitches
- Mount Is Basically Uncontrollable
- Bosses Are Incredibly Underwhelming