This week's game is The Provinces of Midland - Argskin, a non-combat RPG that plays much like a 3D point-and-click adventure.
The game begins with a cutscene showing a gathering of cultists in search of a book and an artifact. The group's messenger brings some bad news, and the leader kills him. We then fly over the area where the game begins, the town of Deloras and are introduced to our hero who has returned after a long journey.
You quickly learn that things have changed while you were away - bandits have settled in the outlying wilderness, thieves have infiltrated town, and the king has docked a warship in the harbor in preparation for what might be the arrival of an enemy ship. In addition, you need to gain reputation with the townsfolk so you can become a captain of the guard and gain access to the harbor. If this sounds familiar, it's because this is almost the exact scenario you encounter early on in Gothic 2. A little later on I learn that criminals are sent to some nearby mines... I wonder if it's protected by a magic barrier?
Speaking of which, it seems Deloras itself has a magic barrier around it. While on a quest to pick up some wood from the forest, I'm stopped by an invisible wall. There's no explanation as to why I can't go past the river (which even has a bridge), but I simply can't cross it... at least for now. I assume that once you get farther into the story the area becomes accessible, but why a noob wall? Couldn't there at least be a fortification or something to show "hey, you can't go here yet"?
Inside town, there's dozens of NPCs that don't want to talk to you and buildings full of items you can't interact with. I'm all for open exploration, no quest markers and all that (remember, Gothic 2 fan here), but if you're going to go that route you need to do it right. Give more dialogue to the lesser NPCs, like name-dropping an important character you should go talk to. As for the items, allow players to take them (with consequences for getting caught).
Anyway, I'm not sure what to make of The Provinces of Midland - Argskin. Frankly, I'm curious to see a bit more of the story (mainly to find out if there's any more coincidences) and to find out if I'm ever allowed to cross that bridge!