Friday 24 October 2014

Qora Review (PC)

Written by - Thomas G.J Sharpe

It sounds like a popular meat substitute brand, Qora, and after the two hours it took me to complete, I am none-the-wiser as to the reason for it. I’ll tell you something from the off, though, Qora is a superb example of what can get lost in the (for want of a better made-up word) cinematographising of video games (yeah, that's right, use that one on your grandmother); writer's voice.

As Qora is a interactive story/adventure, with a dusting of light platforming, the dialogue, pacing and overall narrative should be the most developed. Further than that, the now familiar home-spun pixel vibe, will serve the usual love-it-hate-it division, so the cracking writing from Holden Boyles is thankfully present and correct. On your curious adventure, from a village to a mysterious temple and to more abstract settings, the characters you meet are snappy and exciting. At times it reminded me of the great old point-and-click dialogue from Simon The Sorcerer or the usual Lucasarts suspects. Though not a long experience, Qora is worth the purchase for this aspect alone.

The game centres around a silent protagonist, who has moved to a quaint mountain village. Strange events occur leading you to discover the secrets of the temple nearby, all the while meeting bizarre characters, using a sort of past-vision to catch glimpses of history and a bunch of odd deities and ghosts. The backgrounds are incredible, especially in the darker settings. The situations of high contrast environments play to the strengths of the design, whereas sometimes the outside, daylight situations can fall a tad flat. I ached for a little more character-scenery interaction at times, dust or particles would have really made it sparkle, but the aesthetic ties itself together consistently and effectively. The sound design is at times clunky, but generally good - where as the music is nicely pitched and serves the entire experience well.

The gameplay itself will either numb and infuriate you into considering this “not a game” or an “interactive story”, a place filled with other such titles that confused consumers, or it will service a quaint story. I felt the latter, and never once felt like I was pushing a button for more narrative pellets, even though it is essentially what you do. The platforming is mild, the movement mechanics are primitive, yet the world created touched me in a way only great games can. Thoughtful, absurd and charming, Qora is soaked in one man's humour and occult-lite. One moment depicting an execution had me laughing out loud, the comic timing was spot on.

Don't be put off by what may seem yet another DIY pixel-art adventure, this feels more sincere than most. I'd expect to see this fitting very nicely in a Humble Bundle at some point, in the company of other games like this, perhaps Thirty Flights of Loving or To The Moon. If you are at all a fan of story heavy, pixel-art heavy or the absurd, then you could do several tonnes worse than pick up Qora, but the challenge may be convincing your friends when you excitedly recommend it. Its a personal, short, but pleasingly strange title.


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