A burning village, a dark abomination harassing a noble looking elk, and a sword at your feet. These are the opening moments in Decay of Logos. No tutorial, no lengthy exposition of the world’s lore, just you and a sword. This opening is a sign of things to come. This is not a game that’s going to hold your hand. It’s not going to tell you where to go or what you should be doing next. Instead, it’s down to you to figure things out.
The opening means that you’ll instantly feel connected with the game’s silent protagonist, Ada, and her loyal elk companion. You’re learning things at the same time she is and so it’s easy to be swept up in her desire to track down those responsible for the destruction of her village.
The world that Ada lives in is one of high fantasy, with mythical creatures, a royal family in turmoil, and a land ravaged by war. As you venture through the world and explore its many ancient ruins and dungeons it’s hard not to just take a moment to stop and enjoy the views. The cel-shaded graphics are used to wonderfully capture the nature of each area that you’re in, whether it’s a vibrant open field with glorious views of nearby mountains or a dark and oppressive battlefield littered with the bodies of the dead.
There’s a strong focus on environmental storytelling so there isn’t a mini-map pointing you towards the nearest side quest or loads of long-winded interactions with non-playable characters s to tell you why you should care. It’s more subtle than that and instead requires you to pay attention to your surroundings and indulge in your own natural curiosity.
If you do prefer the more traditional kinds of storytelling then it’s worth seeking out the Echo Shells hidden in each area. These hold people’s memories and will elaborate on the lore in each area. They are presented as diary entries and will tell you more about some of the atrocities and betrayals that the locals have suffered through.
You won’t just be reading about atrocities - you'll have to deal with plenty of them yourself. The world is filled with deadly creatures and you’ll learn pretty quickly just how dangerous they are. One of the first enemies that you’ll come across is a cute monster that looks like an onion, but it becomes distinctly less cute once you realise that it can kill you in just a couple of chomps.
The combat system is simple but quite tough. You can use your weapon to hack away at an enemy with a mix or light and heavy attacks, and you’ll also be dodging and ducking out of the way of incoming blows. These vigorous actions will rapidly drain your stamina so you can’t just constantly go on the offensive. If you mess up your timing then your opponent will swiftly punish you.
When you die (which you will, a lot) you’ll be resurrected at the last checkpoint that you visited, but there are consequences to your death. Ada’s stats will be temporarily weakened and the only way to restore them is to rest at a camp. This can be a bit annoying, however, as not all checkpoints have camps. This can mean that you if you’re trying to get through an area without a camp nearby, you end up in a spiral of doom whereby you get weaker and weaker with every death until you either finally manage to push through to an area with a camp or give up and backtrack so that you can recover.
In the early parts of the game we definitely died more times than we’d care to admit, but things do start to get easier once you get some loot from monsters. On defeat they’ll occasionally drop pieces of their armour and you’ll be able to equip them. It’ll also has the added benefit of changing Ada’s physical appearance; it’s pretty awesome to get her dressed up like one of the mutated tree men or wear the tribal-style clothes of the creepy puppet children.
Over time weapons and armour will slowly degrade until they’re eventually at risk of breaking. Thankfully it does take quite a while to get to that stage so you don’t need to panic about it too much. You’ll also eventually come across a little village where a blacksmith will restore your weapons for free.
The village reminded us a little of the central hub in Demon’s Souls. You’ll be able to access different territories that all branch off from the village and many of the strange NPCs that you come across on your travels will eventually turn up here. They will give you little snippets of mysterious information as well as teach you things like magic spells.
Ada will gradually level up based on your playstyle. This means that if you’re fighting lots then you’ll get physically stronger, or if you spend lots of time exploring and solving puzzles then your intelligence and magic attacks will increase. Magic never really feels particularly useful, though. There are only a few spells to learn and as they use up some of your limited health to cast, you’ll only really use them when absolutely necessary.
The game does currently have a handful of teething issues, but many of these are fairly minor things like the game feeling a little unresponsive when you’re trying to exit out of any text. The most annoying issue is that the game really doesn’t like to be left paused. If you do it for any prolonged length of time then you’re at risk of the game freezing. This doesn’t happen every time and you can work around it by leaving Ada in a safe place, unpaused, if you need to take a break. Hopefully these problems will be patched out in the future.
Decay of Logos is a game that’s an absolute joy to get lost in. It’s not going to hold your hand, and it expects you to indulge your curiosity by exploring hidden pathways and seeking out the land's dark secrets. While the combat can be quite tough, it feels much more accessible than games like the Souls series - it won’t take too long before you’re ducking and dodging like a pro.