This past week, I was given the chance to check out a early build of action RPG Quote, ahead of its release via Steam's Early Access program. The build provided roughly two hours of content, taking me through the game's prologue and the first two chapters. Although clearly with a few things to iron out, entirely to be expected given its current stage of development, the time I spent with Quote provided positive indications for an enjoyable final product.
Quote is inspired by a mixture of surrealist art and classic literature. Players control Novella, a servant to the God of Ignorance, Bliss. Bliss has created a world in keeping with his belief that all unhappiness is caused by knowledge, encouraging his people to go about a mindless existence. However, it seems that knowledge is seeping back into the world so Bliss sends his newest recruit to stamp out any elements detrimental to Bliss' will, especially any remaining books that must be fed to the bizarre creature Tatters that follows Novella around to ensure she follows Bliss' will.
The game's story makes use of audiobook-style narration, providing a voiceover whenever Novella comes across anything noteworthy. The quality of the narration from the early parts is strong, particularly as the voiceover switches between the standard narration and the frequently annoyed comments from Bliss as he learns of people making use of forbidden knowledge in his absence (one wonders how many attempts it took to successfully pronounce Tatters' full name). It would be nice to see the literature itself given a bit more prevalence in things, right now it comes more off as just a simple acknowledgement that these were important pieces, though Bliss' comments about how new readers chose to categorise certain books provided amusement. However, the early portions of the tale were enough to pique considerable interest in what is to come in the full game and in the story behind the game's universe.
The bulk of the game sees Novella exploring some rather surreal locations (such as the ice cream factory supplied with milk from a fifty-foot cow), usually in the quest to find a particular book and stop it from spreading the heinous knowledge it contains. There is often a selection of buildings or other smaller locations within each chapter's map, many of which need an item to be found to grant entry. Some places do allow entry without an item, but first request that a quote is found by collecting letters scattered around the map. Novella will still be allowed in without it, but not finding the quote first substantially increases the difficulty of that area. The puzzle aspects are a mixture of simple pathfinding and sections where two items need to be combined. This can be solved either by figuring out which items make sense, but also by assembling a sentence that makes sense as each item comes with its own half of a sentence.
Combat is pretty standard as action RPGs go. Novella starts with a basic attack and a stun move that can be used to push enemies into environmental hazards. She is also able to unlock new skills, such as a powerful combo attack, and power up her abilities through Tatters' ability to digest the books he has eaten. While perhaps lacking depth in its early stages, the amount of combat in the first two chapters strikes a good balance with the exploration to provide enjoyable overall gameplay.
The biggest issue I've had with the early build of Quote is that progression through the main quests is unclear, though I have been assured that is something the developers are looking into. I managed to finish both the first and second chapters almost by accident, not realising that I was at the end. I didn't find it a huge issue, but it is likely annoy completionists who want to try and complete the sidequests. Another thing that it would be nice to see is full controller support. While the straightforward keyboard and mouse controls are perfectly functional, this feels like a game that I personally would much rather play with a controller. Again, this is more likely just a case of the game still being in development that any oversight on the part of the developers.
As long as the narrative and surrealist world manages to stand up for its duration, Quote should end up as a strong final product. Some work could be done providing a bit clearer direction in terms of progress, but otherwise I found the preview build to be a fun little experience that invites another look down the line. Quote is planned for a full release in late 2017, with the final game set to feature six chapters. Its Early Access version is available for $14.99/£11.99 with an initial 15% discount on that price.