Atlus’ NeoSteam: First Impressions

Tipa meets an evil chest in front of a mysterious door.

See, this is exactly why you can’t do “first impressions” on an MMO. What does my couple hours of time in Atlus’ newly relaunched MMO NeoSteam tell me about the rest of the game? Not a lot.

On the face of it, it’s nothing more than a reskinned fantasy MMO with an anime style similar to Dream of Mirror Online and other games of that ilk (though without, thus far, DOMO’s strong story). You have two nations at war, one with a technology bent and the other magical, though at first glance, this doesn’t lead to much difference in game. Six races (four human or human-like, two monster), four professions, and not much avatar customization.

I made a Lyrell twinblade. Um, scout. Lyrell are humans with cute animal ears and a special connection with nature. Scouts are your melee dps class. And though the twin blades have hoses and bright puffs of steam coming from them, they are blades nonetheless, and nothing about the names of the weapons (dirks, swords, sabers, broadswords, bows, etc) hint at any sort of Steampunk connection.

I don’t want to harp on this too much, but in my first nine levels, the only signs of a Steampunk nature to the game were the huffing and puffing engines at which you do crafting — exactly the same as a forge in any other fantasy MMO.

You start off with one weak combat art, which you train up by spending the skill points you get when you level, and training points you earn by using your skill. A Level 3 sword attack, for instance, might require one SP and 1600 TP — OR you could choose to learn a small radius AE attack instead.

The newbie fields are full of hopping little doughy critters called piyos and puyos (hey, I LOVED Puyo Puyo! Now THERE was a game! Why can’t Free Realms or some other minigame portal copy THAT! With the characters and everything!). Anyway, these exact same critters are in Dream of Mirror Online, and you do the same thing here you did with those — whack them until they die. Also similar to DOMO, killing enough of the critters summons larger versions who are after revenge and their own certain dooms.

Leveling is fairly quick and painless, you get a combination pet/minder who advises you about leveling, skill training and so on as you wander.

But that’s not the POINT, none of this is, and this is why first impressions, including this one, are worthless.

From the in-game broadcasts, it was clear that the real game lived at the higher levels. Our side (the “good guys”) would attack the other side (the “other good guys”), or they would attack us in what seemed like a constantly shifting battlefield. Or special high level dungeons would suddenly open, perhaps based on the realm battle.

And these broadcasts about the goings-on in the wider world made me want to whack another puyo, get to 11, choose a subclass (at 10), craft myself some armor, and head out looking for trouble.

The point of the game is not and never has been about adventuring in the Steampunk milieu — that will still have to wait on Gatheryn’s eventual release. It’s a re-skinned fantasy MMO with lots of levels that go fairly fast and an RMT store you’ll recognize from any Asian F2P game. The point is to meet on the battlefield and gain access (I believe) to high end dungeons, and if you ever read something that pretends to be a full review of this game without delving deeper into these aspects than I have, well, you’ll know what it’s worth.

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Web developer for a Connecticut-based insurance company that's over 200 years old! Also a bicycler, a blogger, a kayaker, and a hunter of bridges.

6 thoughts on “Atlus’ NeoSteam: First Impressions”

  1. I know this is a point you feel passionate about, but I think you are totally, absolutely wrong.

    It so happens I tried Neo Steam last night too. And if I’d been able to read this post first, I would’ve been able to spend an evening having more fun than I did. By playing something else.

    That fact that the game changes at higher levels means f-all to me. I refuse to put in a bunch of hours doing mindless grinding in order to get to the good stuff. There are plenty of other games that offer good stuff right from the start.

    You titled this post FIRST IMPRESSIONS and for many people, first impressions matter a lot. And Neo Steam makes a really bad first impression. That was my experience, and you conveyed the feel of the game very nicely.

    I don’t find posts like this worthless at all.

    Now if you’d titled it a *review* of Neo Steam, that’d be a totally different can of worms.

    If the whole point of the game is to meet on battlefields, that’s where the game should begin. Instead, it starts with a mind-numbly boring and cliched whack-a-mole mmo experience that isn’t worth playing, to me. I’m so, so disappointed in Atlus. I guess another case of publishing single player games being a totally different skill set from publishing online games.

  2. So first you can’t do a review on an MMORPG without playing all of it and now you can’t even do ‘first impressions’? You should just quit then.

  3. My next step is to reveal I can’t say anything about a game based on the box it comes in either. “Fantasy? SF? Horror? DON’T PIN ME DOWN! The font it’s written in could make it an ENTIRELY DIFFERENT GAME!!!!”

  4. Oh, Internet, how I hate thee. I don’t know whether to warn Tipa against devolving into self-pardoy or to congratulate her on the quality of her parody.

  5. Wow Tipa. Let the review issue die so I can start enjoying your blog again. It’s not interesting. You’re beating a horse you killed a long time ago. Just bury it already.

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