As part of the #LoveYourBacklog week and the #MaybeInMarch event, I ended up saying that I’ll plan the oldest unplayed game in my backlog… as in… the game that has spent the most time in my backlog and hasn’t been played yet. I think the oldest game I own is probably some Leisure Suit Larry game… but this post is actually about Enclave. So, welcome in! Take a seat, grab something to drink, wear your mask if you’re outside… I’m sorry but I’m kinda late to this party.
I got Enclave for free on IndieGala, I think, in 2014, so, it’s been there for quite a while now. It’s an “incredibly atmospheric and intense medieval action combat experience” from 2002 where you enter an award-winning world and complete missions in an RPG-like manner. You got imprisoned but the castle is being attacked by the enemy forces. Your cell-mate is threatening to slice up your guts or something once her friends save her… but a catapult actually hits her by accident in an attempt to breach the walls. Kinda dumb. Anyways, you’re now on the loose and you’re defending the castle and get rewarded for that because you’re the good guy. From then on, you complete missions… for whatever reason… and there’s a campaign that poorly explains why you’re doing things.
Enclave has a Light campaign and a Darkness campaign. The only difference between the two is where you start off and what you do, essentially. In the light campaign, you play as warriors, archers, wizards and other characters… In the dark campaign, those classes get replaced with other class names that look different but have the exact same skills. In the light campaign, you’ll save people and stop the evil enemies… in the dark campaign, you’ll do the opposite. You’ll play the same missions, though, which is kind of annoying because you’re not allowed to choose between them. Instead, you have to complete the light campaign first and then you’ll complete the dark campaign. Fun and freedom of choice weren’t invented in 2002 after all… apparently, that came later.
Now, you may think that I’m overstating things here. It’s an old-ish game and it may not have aged too well… but certainly, it must have been fun to people back in the day and yeah, you could absolutely be right but I’m playing it right now and I found it very frustrating and annoying. Beyond Good and Evil came out in 2003 as well and was a lot better. I don’t get how Play Magazine described it as “illegally beautiful” when it couldn’t compare at all to much prettier games from the same time… and older games. Worthplaying says that it only fell “a few steps short of perfection” but more on that later. GameZone describes the enemies as “quirky” and the controls as “tight”…
Enemies in the game actually switch to ranged weapons when you’re far away and to melee weapons when you’re close by. They’ll also shoot you through walls and they won’t move closer if they can hit you from afar. If you move out of their range, they’ll stay where they are. Worthplaying.com described it as a “smart and challenging” A.I. when it’s basically the most frustrating thing in the world. With limited healing items and rather clunky controls, combat becomes a pain in the butt and the game becomes worse of an experience than the likes of Getting Over It and/or Dark Souls.
Enclave’s 26 missions repeat the same task over and over again, it seems… across two campaigns that basically do the same thing but with different enemies and different allies. The same story is told from two sides with no changes in the writing or perspective really. You’d imagine that the bad guys would experience the story as if they’re doing the right thing and as if the “good guys” are treating them badly… but it rather feels like you’re just playing the good campaign from the other side if that makes sense. Similarly, the game tries to add variety to the game by letting you equip different gear before every mission. Without any stats or other indicators, however, it seems to be purely cosmetical… Some of the animations change a little bit but usually melee combat consists of you spamming the attack button and your character swirling around your sword, mace or hammer in the most ridiculous motion ever. It’s clanky and annoying. Hitboxes vary a lot… Super frustrating.
And then there’re the deaths in the game that add a lot more pain to Enclave. When you die, you respawn at a checkpoint at the cost of gold… that is when there are actual checkpoints. In one of the missions that I played on stream, I had to find different items, solve a “puzzle” and then I needed to save someone and fight a bunch of enemies. Afterwards, I walked over a bridge that just collapsed out of nowhere, resulting in a scripted death… and suddenly I had to start from the beginning of the level again. Why? Well, there were no checkpoints in 10+ minutes, at all. The mission before that had a checkpoint every five or so minutes. I can’t remember if that mission, in particular, had any after that bridge part but it was then that I decided to quit the game (yup, that’s a ragequit) and to raid someone instead of continuing the stream.
Enclave is frustrating in a lot of ways and has a bunch of “mechanics” that didn’t age well at all. There are games older and newer than Enclave that had a lot better combat and RPG mechanics… and while the soundtrack of Enclave is quite good, it is also the only good thing about the game. I noticed that some of the female characters are protected by plot armour that is very skimpy and sexualised… So that’s something in the game… that people may have liked a lot.
If you somehow end up pulling through the game and if you somehow find all the gold coins in all the levels, you’ll unlock the OP characters that let you have a bit of fun as a robot with a gun… or as a fetishized female character with a gun… it’s weird. I don’t get the appeal really…
Oh well,… if you own it, I’d recommend playing this game to appreciate newer games more. If you don’t own it, buy a different game or pizza or donate to charity instead because there’re better uses for your five bucks.
Enclave was one of the first rage quits I had in ages. It just got super frustrating and while I’m kind of happy to write about a really old game that’s been in my library for ages now… I kind of regret having wasted nearly two hours of my time on this title in particular… “Maybe it gets better”, I thought… in #MaybeInMarch. I’m glad that Kim doesn’t force us to play through bad games… because I’m not sure if I’ll ever play through his shitshow of a title but I certainly played it for a while. As far as screenshots go, btw, Steam didn’t want to capture any, so I had to take some from the internet. Hope you don’t mind.
Do you like pain and frustration? Do you want to waste your time? No? Don’t play this game… Played It? Yeah? Let me know your opinions on it!