It was only the other day I was thinking back to how monster taming games took the world by storm, thanks to the ever popular Pokemon series. As a result of the wonders of augmented reality, Pokemon Go also brought back the hype for a while, tempting people to head out and explore the real world for those elusive creatures. Adore leans into the genre somewhat, but with a streamlined approach to the catch ‘em and battle ‘em setup.
In Adore you play as a young chap called Lukha who has the handy ability to summon and control creatures to aid him on his quest. Rather unsurprisingly in this world, such individuals are called adorers. Draknar, the god of creatures is weak and a curse is turning them against him. He teams up Lukha as they set out on a quest to restore him, whilst learning about the wild world of Gaterdrik.
Quests are presented in the common objective ticking fashion and are very straightforward on the whole. It’s usually a case of ‘find this’, or ‘kill so and so’ and rarely deviates from that pattern. The quest chain is linear too, meaning you simply complete your current objective to unlock the next, there are no side quests here. However, you can head out at any time to try and bag yourself some loot, or key items for upgrading your build.
There is a rather ominous portal which allows access to the world map, offering different challenges, expeditions and more to tackle. You get advance notice of the loot and rewards up for grabs on each run, so if you’re after something in particular you can head straight for it.
There are a few regions to unlock as you play, and each will have a number of different options available with differing exit objectives. This may be defeating the native adorer in battle, tackling a legendary creature or activating some ancient mechanisms. You will reveal the area as you explore each segment, slowly discovering the entire map as you do.
With the right equipment, you’ll be able to catch monsters in the wild. You simply need to cast and remain within the capture area for long enough to bag yourself a new pet. Some are easier than others as you can imagine, with tougher beasts requiring you to repeat the process.
It’s probably best to label these as runs because Adore is indeed a roguelite game. This means that if you die, you will lose a fair bit of loot but not your overall progress. You will have the opportunity to try again, and recover your lost loot for a short time at least.
If your creatures run out of health during combat they will become cursed. This means you can still summon them, but it comes at the cost of your own health, which means you’ll only hold out for so long.
There were a couple of occasions where I was happily plodding along with my objectives, only to enter a battle which I felt wholly unprepared for. In this instance, I had to complete a few supplementary runs to gear up so I was in a position to take on my enemy without being utterly humiliated. Occasionally, the difficulty curve feels a little jagged and can spike in instances such as this.
Although very rare, there were also one or two times where Lukha got stuck by the exit portal upon completion of a run. There was no way out, so I had to reboot the game and start my run again. Thankfully you can save and quit after each run, so I didn’t lose too much progress.
Battling plays out in real time as you explore the biomes, and each creature you take with you will be assigned to the A, B, X and Y buttons. Pressing any of these will summon your monster, and they will automatically start scrapping with any enemies in the immediate area. They also have a special move, which is charged through combat; your monsters will use it when the ability has charged.
Stamina means summoning is limited, but your monsters can be returned at any time. They will need to retreat after a short while too. This means you can’t just spam your way to victory. However, in short you basically choose which monster to use and when – they will take care of the rest.
This, along with other ways Adore is structured, make for a streamlined, quickfire playthrough experience. Each run will only take a few minutes depending on if you are a keen explorer, or just want to head straight for your objective.
Lukha’s home constitutes a small area of refuge from the dangers of the outside world, which is populated by a band of key allies. It’s a small community, but has everything the budding adventurer needs. It’s here where you can organise several aspects of your build, as well as rest cursed creatures back to full health.
Adore offers many ways for you to buff Lukha, helping him to survive the dangerous lands of Gaterdrik. You will find many items as you play, but runes and artefacts can be equipped to offer different kinds of boosts. These help in all sorts of ways, from offering increased healing to increasing damage dealt by your monsters. Experimenting with them according to your foe is key to success.
Your monsters themselves will level up as they battle, and will also earn skill points when you worship at shrines which can be found dotted around Gaterdrik. These can be used to add and strengthen some interesting skills, such as the ability to drop health pickups during battle.
When you capture a monster, you will also pick up essences. These can be attached to your monsters, and come in various different types. The trick here is to compliment them to create synergies, which will provide a further boost to your party’s skillset.
Items found can be used in other ways too, such as improving the strength of your artefacts and cooking. Making meals is a really effective way of healing significant amounts of health if you run into trouble whilst out in the wild. Certain berries and foods can also lift a curse from your monster during a run, which can prove to be very important indeed.
I’m a fan of the cel-shaded style that Adore adopts, but the lack of variety in the biomes is disappointing. There are lots of repeated segments (sometimes in the same run) despite the areas being randomly generated. It’s like a jigsaw puzzle which has too few pieces to warrant tackling over and over again. It also kills the illusion of a wide and vibrant world a little because the repetition is easy to spot.
I can see what Adore is trying to achieve by stripping the gameplay back, making it accessible and uncomplicated. However, it feels a little too basic at times which begins to outweigh the enjoyment after a few hours of playing. I did have fun with Adore however, but that feeling began to dissipate as I put more hours in. There is enough to like, but sadly not adore.
Adore is simple by design but this means enjoyment is spread more thinly the longer you play. Its depth of customisation options and range of items to acquire will keep your interest for a while, but before long Adore can feel like a little bit of a grind.