Pascal's Wager, the review

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Valery Aloyants
@valeryaloyants
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Try your hand at Pascal's Wager review it was nothing short of enlightening. The title developed by the Chinese team Tipsworks, which had made so much talk about itself after the publication of the debut trailer at E3 2019, is in fact a real soulslike for devices iOS e Android.

Mind you: we are not talking about an action RPG adapted to the mobile context, like the excellent Animus - Stand Alone released in 2017, with reduced levels and an essential outline, but a product that structurally would not disfigure on PC and consoles, and that does not compromise except as regards the management of the difficulty, actually calmed for the use of the touch controls although the game perfectly supports the controller Bluetooth.



Does this detail make Pascal's Wager campaign easy? Absolutely no. Using the controls physical, obviously the best option in terms of precision and reactivity of the inputs, you will be able to face opponents with greater awareness of your skills and the repertoire of moves available, but in any case you will have to deal with enemies capable of inflicting damage on you huge, as well as frightening and powerful bosses, who will often and willingly push you to resort to the expedient of grinding.

The level design, which is also distinctly soulslike, will support you in this age-old practice thanks to the inevitable "watertight compartments" of the map, which gradually opens its doors by creating quick passages towards one area or the other, and which through the use of altars allows you to recover energy, pour the accumulated money in order to obtain upgrades, create objects and obviously rest, thus restoring the health of the characters but at the same time accepting that all hostile creatures already eliminated come back to life.



Setting

Before going into the details of Pascal's Wager gameplay it is definitely worth spending something onsetting of the game, which is closer to the sick one of Soul Sacrifice than to the series From Software. We are in fact in a kingdom cursed by an eternal night and a permanent haze, illuminated only by the light of a globe that is on the head of a dead Colossus.

The image itself is disturbing and helps to create a truly peculiar atmosphere, in combination with some artistic choices made by the authors regarding the characters playable and what revolves around it. There are four warriors at our disposal, with the possibility of selecting two to alternate in each mission, by simply pressing a button or by the death of one of them.

Characters

The protagonist of Pascal's Wager is Terrence, a knight who has been banished from the Church for breaking its rules, engaged in the search for his lost wife, Teresa, but also in discovering the truth about the curse surrounding the Colossus. He wields two swords: one allows him to quickly enter the enemy's guard, the other to sink powerful blows to kill him.



Then, there is Viola, a guide apparently still under the orders of the Cult, who decides to accompany Terrence on his journey, no one knows why. Surrounded by an aura of mystery, the silver-haired woman wields a rifle with a bayonet with which she can target infernal creatures in various ways and hit them even from a short distance, without however the ability to parry their attacks but only to dodge them.

Norwood he is also a knight, but with a truly disturbing appearance: his face is covered by a golden mask and he has no left arm, which does not prevent him from dispensing death by throwing his armored fist and brandishing a heavy iron grave tied to a chain, an object that he also uses as a shield when parrying and that can be spun when its gauge is full.

Finally there is Benita, an inquisitor with an even more disturbing design than Norwood: we are talking about a blind fighter, dressed in a red and blue tunic to which a sort of halo is connected that holds bags of blood and liquid. The woman, determined to chase away the evil that afflicts the kingdom, fights holding a monstrance whose end is extended thanks to a cable, becoming a sort of elaborate whip.

Gameplay

As mentioned at the beginning, Pascal's Wager does not address the problem of the platform on which it runs, trying to capture the key elements of the soulslike genre to offer users a gameplay solid, mature and convincing in almost all respects. Characters are naturally equipped with an indicator of bunting which limits their moves and even the use of parrying and lateral sprinting, requiring great attention in managing movements during clashes also due to the effectiveness of enemy attacks.



We will be able to defend ourselves by resorting to light and heavy attacks, increasingly devastating combinations that can be unlocked over time and finishers that become accessible when certain opponents are in difficulty, for example the boss. The latter interpret the general artistic direction very well, showing themselves as creepy creatures, able to literally make us waver with their mere presence.

In fact, an unprecedented element is present in the experience, that of sanity. If we fail to control the relative indicator through the traditional flasks, letting it drop below the guard level, we will be catapulted into a sort of nightmare and our opponent will become stronger, as in a sort of second form, enriching his repertoire with adding devastating maneuvers.

Memorizing the patterns is therefore also in this title a fundamental element for survival: you have to understand when to sink the blows and when to withdraw, carefully controlling the movements of the enemy to avoid suffering damage. This applies to all creatures in the game and to all chapters of a campaign that can offer one duration considerable for a mobile game, ranging from fifteen to twenty hours depending on the case.

Technical realization

If it is true that in terms of difficulty Pascal's Wager is unable to be truly ruthless due to the touch controls, which must necessarily be "protected", while presenting a considerable degree of challenge, there is another aspect of the branded production. Tipsworks that does not fully convince and is the technical realization.

Here too we try to understand each other: aiming for console quality graphics in the mobile environment is not easy, but there are some useful tricks to "mask" the limits of the hardware in some way. Well, the developers weren't always smart enough to use it and that, coupled with the project's great ambitions, resulted in a presentation that visually sobbed a bit.

We found ourselves trying the game on a Samsung Galaxy Tab S5e, setting all the graphic adjustments to the maximum and encountering many uncertainties, but that is not the problem. The cutscenes make excessive use of bloom and are "dirty" compared to the in-game sequences, giving the feeling of an experience that in the console environment could be defined as dated. Nothing to say about the colonna sonora orchestral, excellent, while the dialogues in English we found them lacking in intensity, a little pulled away.

The hope is therefore that the authors will be able to further refine their title, also because otherwise there is very little to complain about: Pascal's Wager is sold in premium format at a price of only 3,59 euros on the Google Play Store and 4,49 euros on the App Store, without focusing on microtransactions (we have not paid any attention to it, specifically): a splendid exception these days, which deserves all possible success.

Comment

Tested version Android Digital Delivery App Store, Google Play Price 3,59 € / 4,49 € Resources4Gaming.com

9.0

Readers (9)

7.7

Your vote

Pascal's Wager is a soulslike proper, which tries to offer this type of experience also on iOS and Android devices without caring too much about aspects such as portability needs, which often require the presence of levels that can be completed in a few minutes or of a not excessive difficulty. . None of this: net of a slightly calmed challenge for touch controls, although the title is playable without problems with a Bluetooth controller, the authors have not compromised and have created a fascinating and disturbing lore, great beautiful characters, bosses monsters and solid, multifaceted and addicting gameplay.

PRO

  • A true soulslike, challenging and engaging
  • Notable characters, enemies and scenarios
  • Very charming setting
AGAINST
  • Needs refinement and optimization
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