Runes of Magic Review
Runes of Magic box art
System: PC Review Rating Legend
Dev: Runewaker 1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid 4.0 - 4.4 = Great
Pub: Frogster Interactive 2.0 - 2.4 = Poor 4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy
Release: Mar. 19, 2009 2.5 - 2.9 = Average 5.0 = The Best
Players: MMO 3.0 - 3.4 = Fair
ESRB Rating: Pending 3.5 - 3.9 = Good
Expectations Happily Exceeded
by Cole Smith

Sure it’s free, but what price must we pay for freedom? Well, in the case of Runes of Magic, that all depends on how much time you have on your hands. This massively multiplayer online RPG is available to players for free. That’s right; but there can be some costs involved. Notice that I said “can be.” You’re under no obligation to pay for anything in this game, but you’ll have to be prepared to spend a lot of time with it looking for things and acquiring skills, a process that could be truncated by purchasing various aids. And by “purchasing,” I mean with real money, not ivory skulls or floating bananas.

Runes of Magic screenshot

It’s always a great day when you get more than you expect, and such is the case with Runes of Magic. As a free download, my expectations were not high, and that just comes with experience. Typically, free games lack production values from the graphics to the storyline. Runes of Magic will change your perception of free games. It’s a damn good game from tip to stern and all points in between. The only real issues are the lack of promised content, since the game was officially released (as opposed to the beta version) as a pay-and-play concept. Let me remind you that the game is entirely free to play, if you want it that way.

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According to the developers, virtually everything that you can purchase can be found or acquired in-game for free. The items that are not available in-game are things such as furnishing for your crib and other accessories, which have no affect on the gameplay. There are those that are suspicious of this form of merchandising. Some think players will be able to buy their way to the top. The developers assure us that this feature is only to help level the playfield for weekend warriors that don’t have the time to devote to acquiring such elements in-game. Let’s face it; the developers have to be able to generate revenue to keep a game like this alive. That may explain why much the promised content was not available on the game’s release.

Runes of Magic screenshot

Ravenfall is a seaside port that was supposed to be unveiled during the worldwide release. It’s an area purported to be teeming with pirates and rife with high adventure. Perhaps the developers (Runewaker) need more capital, or it just wasn’t ready in time. The game is being translated and in the process of having the characters Western-ized from the original Asian version. It’s also promised that new content will be made available every four or five months. Only time will tell, but for the time being, you’ve got nothing to lose and everything to love about spending some time with Runes of Magic.

Runes of Magic is comprised of a series of quests, so far more than a thousand, with more to come. You choose a character and a class, along with a sub-class, and immerse yourself in the mystery surrounding a long-forgotten magical empire. In the process, you will do battle with various monsters, solve puzzles, locate items, dungeon-crawl, collect cards, and craft various items to enhance your abilities and weaponry. Comparisons to World of Warcraft are inevitable, and if you’re ever going to be compared to another game that would be the one. There is plenty to do in Runes, not just a lot of mindless grinding to level-up, and it all seems rather well balanced at this juncture. I hope that Runewaker can sustain this level of quality.

Runes of Magic screenshot

Screenshots / Images
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