Decay of Logos is vast, optimized, and offers tight combat and fun exploration. While it’s inspired by legends, the game still manages to carve its own identity.
I’ve waited a long while to play the final version of Decay of Logos. It caught my eye as a hybrid between Dark Souls and The Legend of Zelda back when it was announced, and have followed it since.
I had the chance to play Decay of Logos at Gamescom last year, and I had high expectations. The final game does indeed match them and manages to step out of the shadow of the great games that inspired it.
Revenge With Dark Magic on the Side
The story of Decay of Logos begins when the Crimson Knights pillage Ada’s village and kill everyone but her. After Ada comes to her senses, she encounters a mysterious elk and trains it to be her companion as she sets out to seek vengeance.
As she sets into the dark world ahead of her, she discovers that dark magic has taken over the kingdom, transforming many of its inhabitants. Journal entries in the form of “Echoes” tell us the personal stories of different characters in the game, and we learn about the horrifying truths behind the dark magic at hand.
The game complements the Echoes with short cutscenes and dialog which create a world of magic, and those who wish to abuse it.
The story is very subtle, but it offers a look into a dark and eerie world and helps us understand why we are fighting for it. The atmosphere is just the right amount of creepy without becoming a horror story.
Just My Magical Elk and I
The gameplay in Decay of Logos stands on three pillars – exploration, combat, and elk. You’re probably intrigued by the latter so let’s elaborate. From the very beginning of the game, the elk accompanies you, and as you progress, you foster a relationship with it.
At the very start of the game, the elk serves as little more than a place to store your items. Our hero Ada can only carry a minimal amount of gear, and it all can be seen on her person, making the game very immersive. You store the rest of the items on the elk, which also has a limited inventory, making inventory management a significant challenge in the game.
The elk will also help you solve some puzzles, which usually require you to ride it. When you start the game, the elk can get stressed very easily and won’t let you ride it unless you feed it Lulberries. As your relationship strengthens, you’ll guide it onto floor panels and pressure plates to access new areas.
While the environmental puzzles don’t require the use of gadgets like in The Legend of Zelda, they still get increasingly complicated as you progress. At first, you will be pulling the levers next to the doors you need to open. As the game goes on, you will need to search for the levers and reattach them to the ancient mechanisms they operate, while coordinating your elk’s position on various floor panels.
My favorite part of Decay of Logos is the exploration, and the game lets you explore a much more vast world that you would expect. I was utterly stunned that the world of Decay of Logos was so big, especially considering its petite file size of just a little over 2GB.
As an indie game that somewhat resembles Dark Souls, I expected Decay of Logos to have some linearity to it. I was surprised to find out that it has many diverging paths. I kept discovering new routes as I was exploring; it felt like being a kid at Christmas. One of the many great things about Decay of Logos is that you can arrive at the same place from multiple directions.
Justice at the Tip of the Blade
Combat makes for the third ingredient of Decay of Logos, and once again plays a lot like a combination of Zelda and Dark Souls. You can lock onto enemies and dodge to the sides, while occasionally closing in to take a swing or two and step back. You can also slide and parry, but those are tricky to use, especially if you are not a Souls veteran.
The game also features magic in the form of Twines. You can cast Twines in battle or when solving environmental puzzles, but not without a cost. Every time you use a Twine, it takes some of your health points. As with the slides and parries, Twines take time to get used to.
Combat can start slow, but as you level up, it becomes quick and intense, which is excellent. It gets a little bit rough around the edges when you tackle more than one enemy at once, but the variety of weapons gives you plenty of options.
Unlike in other role-playing games, the main penalty of dying is a debuff to stats. This debuff only wears off once you sleep at a camp, which serves as one of the two kinds of checkpoints in the game. The other type, the shrine, heals you but does not remove the debuffs. If you start accumulating large debuffs to stats, you may need to backtrack to the previous camp to remove them. This backtracking can get very tiresome.
When you sleep at a camp, there’s a chance you will be ambushed at night. The initial review build I played had a high probability of that happening, which quickly made sleeping at camp annoying. Since then, the development team has lowered the chance, making it an interesting random occurrence.
Decay of Logos has classic boss battles, and to beat them, you need to figure out the attacks’ pattern and range. Since the enemies and the bosses move relatively slow, it is a fair learning curve. When you die, you know it was because you made a mistake, and not because the game was unfair.
Great Things Come in Small Packages
Decay of Logos has simplistic graphics, but it utilizes them to the fullest. I was particularly impressed with the various large structures that you can find in the many areas.
The small dev team is originally a design solutions team, and much of the game is exceptionally optimized thanks to their expertise in game development technology. I spoke with producer Ricardo Teixeira at Gamescom 2019, and he explained how many large buildings in the game could be seen from afar by modeling them in different ways.
The team made two-dimensional models to display buildings when they are very far, lower-resolution 3D models for when they are closer, and a fully detailed model for when the player is right next to them. The game also lets you walk seamlessly through the map, with no loading screens whatsoever.
Protagonist Ada looks terrific from any direction. With all her gear showing on her person, it gives you a lot of options to outfit her in any way you like. The work of Studio Ghibli inspired character and creature design, and each one looks unique and magical.
The game has a lot of ambient sounds that create a pleasant atmosphere, though I didn’t enjoy all of the voice-acting. While some characters were spot-on, others were a little bit annoying to hear. It’s also a bit odd that one of the basic enemies in the game lets out a Wilhelm Scream whenever it dies.
Decay of Logos offers a vast world for you to explore. It has a quick combat system and environmental puzzles, and if you are a fan of Dark Souls or The Legend of Zelda, you will quickly find yourself at home. However, the game finds its own unique identity and doesn’t feel like a clone of these two series.
It still amazes me that a team of four people made this game. It has an uncompromising quality that you wouldn’t think would have been possible to achieve with such a small group. They’re even planning on releasing DLC with a brand new area if the game does well.
So grab a sword and mount your magic elk – we have a village to avenge.Some of our posts include links to online retail stores. We get a small cut if you buy something through one of our links. Don't worry, it doesn't cost you anything extra.