Review | Adore

Originally published at: Review | Adore - XboxEra

The beginning of Adore made me feel a bit of glee—it’s GameCube-era intro setting up the world and the two gods that fought for it. The models and scene transition are not too out of the realm of 2003, this action role-playing, monster collecting, and roguelike plays out much more modern than the aforementioned era of gaming. Developed by Cadabra Games and published by QUByte Interactive, players take on the role of a little boy that finds himself imbued with the power of the god that fell and must work with said god and the village he finds himself in to defeat the evil Ixer.

Adore is all about collecting monsters and playing them out to defeat other creatures or bosses. Random generation and an occasionally punishing game can be found right here.

Adore takes a lot of genres under its wings. Most important is the monster aspect: collect creatures, battle other creatures against randomly generated levels pieced together, collect resources, and progress the story or your own interests (like finding resources to level up and whatnot). Playing from a top-down view akin to DOTA, your collected monsters are assigned to one of your main face buttons and then can be summoned out into the field. You can also adjust the angle of your creature’s approach as you summon them, giving you more flexibility on how you approach your targets.

Once your creatures have done your bidding, they’ll return right back to you and help you restore your stamina bar. You are limited to how many creatures you can put out because of it, but manually pulling back monsters in a proper cadence will keep your bar replenished as needed. Otherwise, you’ll be having the little ‘Adorer’ dodge rolling away from baddies until you can position yourself back into fighting on even ground.

I liked the concept of monster capturing and the ARPG gameplay. And at first, I was enjoying Adore’s combat. Summoning out creatures you’ve collected at the right time to finish off the cursed was satisfying and I was a fan of the game’s loot approach—limited in number but they were guaranteed as long as the map you chose said it had what you wanted. Over time the game would introduce stat-boosting artifacts, runes, and traits that would help you take on some of the later depths.

But Adore’s gameplay just isn’t as strong as I hoped it would be. About an hour in you’ll notice not much is changing in the way of how your core combat plays, which mostly involves dodging a lot and then putting out a monster of your own once the baddies have stopped swinging at you. The environments are beautiful and I love the Brasilian aesthetic and acoustic melodies, but aside from a few stages, all the maps are the same flat areas with some visibility issues. Monsters will jam-pack themselves into tight corners but can be easily dodged and then blown to bits with your team setups. It feels very static and repetitive, and I quickly began to grow bored of running these stages.

I also began to take issue with how Adore was distributing bonuses and loot. For starters, to collect creatures you need these particular orbs that you’ll need to go to specific maps to obtain. Obtaining these orbs also gives you the choice between stat bonuses such as stamina regeneration or health boosts. Typically in a roguelike, you’d tend to get these kinds of choices after clearing one room, maybe several. But in Adore, there are times you might not even run into these orbs at all. It just feels very unrewarding and particularly starts to feel grindy once you realise you need to hunt for food, scrolls for expeditions, level up totems, and other ingredients to prepare for boss fights or to heal your creatures.

One way I can best sum up all the artifacts and stat enhancing is that they don’t matter all that much. The way the maps are set up, you can quite literally run circles around your opponents and defeat them without much effort. Setting traits on your creatures can be useful, but it doesn’t make up for the game’s boring level design and in turn, uninteresting encounters. The combat doesn’t hold up for me, especially when I think of other roguelikes that offer environmental destruction that can be used to your advantage or on-the-fly weapon slash class changes that keep the pace of the game going.

On the bright side, Adore’s stages can be completed quickly. You’ll need to run a bunch of maps but at least they won’t take forever.

Now Adore does offer beautiful visuals, not much in the way of sound effects, however. I said I liked the music, and I do, but it overtakes just about every other sound in the game. And since the same songs loop over and over again without variation, I began tuning them out. The game also suffers from a rather wonky English script that affects both character dialogue and mechanic text. It’s not unplayable by any stretch of the mean, but my eyes began glossing over text fairly quickly.

Ultimately, Adore offers good ideas, trying to combine ARPG with monster collection, but ultimately doesn’t play them as well as I’d hoped especially as a roguelike. Still, there are a few reasons to like this game, just not enough to ‘Adore’ it.