The Secret World Reflex Review: The Magnifying Glass is Mightier than the Assault Rifle

I think Funcom was really trying to specifically get my attention when they created The Secret World. I’m not sure whether they had a crush on me or felt that I was a member of a demographic that they hadn’t targeted for a while but regardless, their somewhat unconventional MMO had me at hello. I’m not ashamed to admit that I’ve been giggling like a school boy for the last few weeks, excited and a little scared about what a commitment to a genre that I’ve avoided like the plague could mean. TSW has some quirks and I’m not exactly sure how my parents are going to feel about what it can offer me down the road, but for the time being I’m content.

I’m a Sucker for the Supernatural

There are going to be threads of bias in terms of how I feel when it comes to The Secret World and that’s because I love all things paranormal. This will definitely aid you when playing through the game as The Secret World is unapologetic about being an homage to movies, books and legends that deal with the subject matter at hand. Whether it’s recognizing a street name as that of a favorite fiction writer or realizing the Wendigo you’re hunting comes straight from Native American mythology, smile inducing scenarios abound for the supernatural fan as you make your way through the menagerie of horror themed scenarios that make up the rich universe.

The Secret World

Pumpkinhead, er I mean Jack-o-Lantern turns up when you least expect it.

I’m not an MMO player, which I think has benefited me quite a bit in terms of seeing the merits of what The Secret World has to offer. I’m not burnt out on the hotkey bashing combat mechanics that seem to be a constant in MMOs, thus the weakest aspect of TSW isn’t as much of an obstacle as it may have been to people who were hoping for change not only in source material and theme but in how slaying hordes of creepy crawlers played out. In fact, I haven’t minded learning the ins-and-outs of MMO combat and actually kind of like the tactical approach to dispatching baddies. That being said, combat is a side note; The Secret World is about mysteries, stomping a mud hole in the butts of those mysteries and feeling super intellectual about doing it.

That’s Using your Head

Like most MMOs, The Secret World has quests, missions or chores for the more domestically minded to accomplish in order to progress the story and your character. While many of these stick are conventional (such as killing a certain number of monsters or the infamous fetch quest), there are a few exceptions added to the formula. An example of this is called an investigation, which tasks you with looking into events that range from current issues that local residents are having to mysteries that have confounded authorities for years.

While these sometimes involve a bit of combat (outside of the necessary navigational murders that occur) the meat and potatoes of the investigation mission is using deductive reasoning to follow clues that range from somewhat obvious to head scratch worthy. Your brain (or online walk-throughs) will definitely be getting a workout as you’ll need to be scouring in-game text as well as your favorite internet search engine (TSW offers you a convenient browser that can be brought up with a click of a button) to solve a majority of these mysteries. The very fact that you actually have to learn or already know Morse code in one of the investigations is one reason why I find myself neck deep in admiration for the game.

A Different Kind of Role

The Secret World Combat

Detective skills don’t always come in handy, which is why guns and sledge hammers were invented.

I play the game not in the role of the super human fighting force that my character actually is, but as the gritty detective I’ve always wanted to become. In fact, I even used some of the skills that I learned during the investigation missions to solve actual mysteries around my house (though the case of the missing remote control involved little more than lifting a couch cushion). I think this says a lot about the game because having a vast amount of trivial knowledge is as important of a role as being a tank or a healer. I’ve actually found myself getting invited on quests because I’ve given someone a helpful hint, despite the fact that I was an under powered character at the time and would have held back my team if survival was the only focus. Those taking part in RP (role-playing) servers will finally get a chance to step into the shoes of Kolchak, Mulder and Scully or the Winchester Boys if they so desire.

I’ve not found too much of a reason to join groups yet (outside of taking part in the Polaris Dungeon) because The Secret World seems to have solo play in mind. I’ve heard PvP is weak right now which doesn’t affect me too much as I’m too busy nosing around in the skeletons that Kingsmouth has in its closets.

Whether or not The Secret World can sustain itself with this type of gameplay is something I can’t say at this point as its unique qualities may or may not be enough to keep conventional MMO players on board indefinitely. I’m going to stick with it though, as those dusty tomes and autopsy reports aren’t going to research themselves.

Reflex Review – Like a memorable meal, some games make a big enough impression that you’ve got to tell other people about them before they’re fully digested.

Sources

Giant Bomb (Images)

2 Comments The Secret World Reflex Review: The Magnifying Glass is Mightier than the Assault Rifle

  1. Z3r0k3w1

    I’m really interested in this game. I haven’t played an MMORPG since Ultima Online. (How’s that for dated?) But this one got my attention for all the reasons you mentioned. I think the game industry has had very little vision when it comes to the potential of MMORPGS. It always pans out to PvP in the end. I liked how this one looked more like “Where in the world is Cthulhu” with action instead of trivia.

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