The power of role-playing games is to take us to fantastical new worlds, filled with visions that far exceed our own imagination. Take Skyrim for example, a game which is the epitome of a fantasy setting and allows us to live out our mystical fantasies how we see fit. On the other end of the spectrum, you have smaller, independent titles such as Bastion, which ooze with charm and personality through effective world-building. Games like Diablo merge exhilarating combat with thrilling exploration of strange new worlds. Quest Hunter on the Xbox One is heavily influenced by games of the same tempo, hoping to bring its own accessible take on the genre. As generic as the title suggests, the gameplay sadly matches that same beat.
Light is a primary resource in Quest Hunter, a world which is stripped of it and barren. Your quest starts crashing down into the land and pushes you on a journey through the harsh landscape, meeting new characters and investing your time into multiple questlines. It’s an intriguing premise that is unfortunately let down by uninspired writing. Interacting with NPCs serves as nothing more than either exposition dumps or a convoluted means to push you further through the world.
Quest Hunter’s main problem remains in that, even outside of the writing, everything feels so disconnected and uninteresting. The world is broken up into multiple, segregated zones and dungeons are procedurally generated affairs with very little variation in art direction. The idea of having this intriguing new world to explore should have you wanting to scour every corner for treasure and experience, but instead everything plays out with the same template, investing very little variation into proceedings.
The quests themselves never delve into anything more than simple fetch quests or killing a certain amount of enemies. This would be fine, but the combat itself is incredibly dull. Simple attacks are slow and clunky and the special moves you unlock offer very little to increase the excitement of combat. As you level up, you’ll have the ability to unlock and use new abilities, mapped to specific buttons on the controller. These power-ups offer more powerful attacks, but ultimately lack a punch.
Exploring dungeons should be one of the main draws, but with the unimaginative combat married with lackluster level design they offer very little incentive outside of new gear to outfit your character. Being heavily inspired by games such as Diablo, the grind for new loot is prevalent. An overly confusing menu system prevents this from being intuitive, with all items being bundled together. The gameplay loop of finding new gear becomes tedious when the reward is a struggle to manoeuvre.
When you’re not exploring dungeons, you’ll be at your home hub, which acts as a means to sell, buy and build new items. One of the main aspects of Quest Hunter is gathering. You’ll be dispelling trees and smashing rocks, all in the name of gathering materials for necessary upgrades and plot progression. The idea of building up your hub with materials is fun in theory, but is implemented to offer regular roadblocks. One certain requirement ensures a massive jump in materials is needed to progress, making for an uneventful slog of purging the land of its materials. The idea is there, but the execution feels underutilised and a hindrance.
Quest Hunter aims for accessibility, which is one element it absolutely thrives in. Adjustable difficulty options make this open for gamers of any age. Though Quest Hunter still isn’t afraid to punish players who delve into areas they’re ill-equipped for, regardless of their chosen difficulty. Co-op is also a noteworthy addition, with cross-play being supported. Quest Hunter is a lot more bearable in a multiplayer setting and speeds up some of the tedium single player brings. In fact, I’d go as far to say it’s a must when venturing into Quest Hunter on the Xbox One.
With its accessibility comes the idea that Quest Hunter is also intended for a smartphone audience. It becomes undoubtedly more apparent that this was always the pitch to begin with as its simplicity feels lost in translation across to a console setting. Quest Hunter isn’t a particularly pretty game either, and the lack of variation in the environments perfectly illustrates that through reused assets and a generic world setting.
With a more robust combat system, inventive quest design and more polish, Quest Hunter on the Xbox One could have been a true diving point for newcomers to the RPG genre. As it stands, it feels like a completely missed opportunity that’s inoffensive but lacks any degree of imagination, charm or gameplay hook. While infinitely more fun in multiplayer, it’s hard to recommend Quest Hunter, which consistently feels like a mix of good ideas, but sloppy execution.