Update: We are aware of the current issue where IGN received an outdated copy of Decay of Logos. We are attempting to get in touch with the publisher to verify if this was the case with our review. Until then, our review will remain as is. Thank you!
Update 2: We were made aware that the issue affecting the IGN review is isolated to the Xbox One version, not the PlayStation 4. However, there are some outstanding bugs that made their way into the review and retail versions. A patch is being worked on to help address some of the issues we’ve noticed in our review.
I have never been more frustrated by a virtual animal.
Decay of Logos is an action-RPG that takes its combat and storytelling methods from Dark Souls and sprinkles in the exploration and puzzle-solving from The Legend of Zelda, complete with a colorful art style reminiscent of Breath of the Wild. You’ll explore wide-open areas in between more linear Zelda style dungeons filled with challenging combat and bosses. You also have an elk companion that you can feed and cuddle. It all sounds great on paper, but in practice, Decay of Logos is anything but.
Game Name: Decay of Logos
Platform(s): PlayStation 4 (Reviewed), Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, PC
Publisher(s): Amplify Creations
Developer(s): Rising Star Games
Release Date: August 27, 2019 (PS4), August 29, 2019 (Switch), August 30, 2019 (Xbox/PC)
In Decay of Logos, you play as a white-haired girl named Ada. The game opens with her village being destroyed, and after some time has passed, she sets out on an adventure alongside her elk companion to seek revenge. There’s very little in the way of plot here, and the game does almost nothing to guide you. You’re left to your own devices to find your way through this world, and that lends itself to a very rough opening hour.
The beginning of Decay of Logos leans more into the Souls part of the game than the Zelda part of the game, although there is still a fair amount of exploration. Prior to reaching the game’s central hub, you’ll have to trek through a linear but open area inhabited by wooden men. I died more times than I’d like to admit during my Decay of Logos initiation, but it wasn’t strictly due to the game’s difficulty; the combat system in Decay of Logos has a ton of both technical and design issues that end up leading to more than a few frustrating moments.
The game’s combat is your typical Souls fare. Lock-ons, dodges, light and heavy attacks, a stamina meter, and all the trappings you’d expect with this sort of combat system. Unlike other games that attempt to recreate this kind of combat, Decay of Logos fumbles at the most fundamental level. Animations are stiff, weak, and lack any weight, making even heavy attacks on the weakest foes feel paltry. The lock-on camera hinders more than it helps, and it will often obscure the action and disorient you, especially when facing smaller enemies or flying foes. There are strange delays on dodging and sliding that make them incredibly difficult to pull off reliably. The same goes for initial attacks during combat. There is a frustratingly long delay between pressing the attack button and Ada unsheathing her weapon and attacking an enemy. There are magic spells you unlock over the course of the game, but they’re pretty much useless and they use some of your health to cast, which is never a worthwhile trade. In a game that has so much combat, it’s a shame that practically none of it feels good.
Enemy design is much worse. Each area of the game only has a select handful of generic enemies that you’ll battle over and over, and Ada can get overrun pretty quickly, so you’ll have to engage them alone or in small groups. This wouldn’t be a problem if the enemies in Decay of Logos weren’t such a chore to fight. Upon entering an area, each foe has a ridiculous amount of health, taking way too many hits to go down. This results in every encounter feeling like a slog, and each swing of your sword causes it to lose precious durability.
Like Breath of the Wild, your weapons in Decay of Logos aren’t permanent. They break quickly, but not so much as to happen constantly. It still happens just enough to be frustrating though, and it’s made worse by how rare weapons can be in some areas of the game. After my second attempt at the game’s first major boss, I found myself without any weapons. The sword and spear I had been using had both finally bitten the dust, so I was forced to use my bare hands to mindlessly farm the enemies outside the boss room, hoping they’d drop a weapon (there is a blacksmith, but you have to leave your weapons with him and wait until he’s done fixing them). None of them did, so I eventually decided to just fight the boss with my fists. It worked, mainly due to how uninspired and dull the boss battles in Decay of Logos are.
There aren’t a huge amount of traditional boss battles in Decay of Logos, but when you see a name and health bar show up onscreen, it’s go time just like in Dark Souls. The game’s bosses, however, are boring to fight. They each have only a small pool of predictable attacks, and their AI can be easily baited into whiffing an attack so you can let off a few counterattacks. Because of their large health pools, boss battles boil down to monotonous bouts of dodging and swinging, and taking down your opponent never once results in the highs you’d get from felling a difficult boss in other games.
Just because the bosses are pushovers doesn’t mean they can’t be frustrating. The bosses in Decay of Logos aren’t annoying because of their mechanics but rather as a result of the game itself. Decay of Logos suffers from a myriad of technical issues, and a lot of these rear their ugly heads during critical moments in boss battles. The first boss begins the fight with a cone-shaped area of effect attack that can easily be dodged with the appropriate timing, but the game stuttered almost every time this move came out, causing me to get hit and lose a ton of health. One boss, however, takes the cake when it comes to technical shortcomings. This particular boss has a shield so you can’t attack him from the front, but getting around him was easy and he posed almost no threat at all. The only time I felt any semblance of difficulty during this boss fight was during its second phase, where additional enemies were spawned and there was debris all over. At this point, I felt more threatened by the nearly single-digit framerate than any of the enemies onscreen.
Sadly, technical shortcomings were everpresent in my time with Decay of Logos. During multiple instances, the game would freeze for a short moment and the sound would cut out for a minute after I would regain control. Another time the game refused to let me pause or access my inventory. While tackling one of the game’s optional bosses, the prompt to pick up an item never went away which prevented me from dodging, which uses the same button. I’ve been launched into the air by large enemies just for touching their legs, killing me with fall damage. There are so many bugs and technical problems in Decay of Logos that it’s difficult to go more than ten minutes without something taking you out of the experience.
Don’t even get me started on the elk. This stupid elk has to be one of the worst animal companions I’ve ever had the displeasure of adventuring with. It never listens. Ever. There are multiple parts of the game where the elk is critical to solving puzzles, but it can’t even stand on a pressure plate for more than two seconds without wandering off. That’s if it can even make it to the pressure plate without getting stuck in a corner or on some other part of level geometry. This thing has abysmal pathfinding, and sometimes I’d call for it and wait only for it to never show up, undoubtedly stuck on a rock somewhere. Sometimes the elk would get stuck somewhere where I couldn’t get it out of its predicament, forcing me to quit to the main menu to fix the issue. It gets in the way of combat, too. Sometimes I’d try to dodge to the left only to be stopped dead in my tracks by a massive white elk. I hate this thing.
Outside of puzzle-solving, the elk is even more useless. You’re encouraged to ride it and feed it berries to bond with it, but wasting time doing any of that is utterly pointless. The elk is supposed to control like the horse in Shadow of the Colossus, meaning you’re not supposed to steer it like a car but rather nudge it and let the animal navigate itself. The problem is, it’s very difficult to navigate the elk in tight spaces, which you’ll be in a lot. Even in wide-open areas, Ada is faster, more agile, and easier to control than her companion, so there is zero incentive to ride the elk. It’s even more unresponsive than the deliberately unresponsive Trico from The Last Guardian. The elk adds nothing to the game but frustration.
The elk isn’t the only thing unique to Decay of Logos that made me want to tear my hair out. Decay of Logos has another unique feature that ultimately makes the experience more tedious. Ada needs to sleep every now and then at specific checkpoints because her stats diminish over time. Not only that, but every death also lowers your stats even further until you rest. You can’t rest at every checkpoint though, and having your stats at half of their maximum while already struggling through a lengthy area sucks. Every time you rest, you have a chance of being ambushed, requiring you to defeat some enemies before you can regain your stats. This gets really old really fast, and even this aspect of Decay of Logos isn’t safe from bugs. One resting places puts you so close to the enemies that they can get free hits on you while Ada is still waking up. It wasn’t fun having to dispatch those bad guys with half health on top of already lowered stats.
The leveling system doesn’t feel as fleshed out as it could be either. Leveling is handled automatically depending on what you do, so you can’t really build your character exactly how you want. The RPG mechanics are so far in the background of this action-RPG that they may as well not even exist. I paid no mind to any of my stats and got on just fine. What I did notice, however, were the enemies jumping in level every time I defeated a major boss.
As I mentioned before, the enemies in Decay of Logos have a lot of health, but as you level up as you explore an area, they’ll get easier and easier until they’re not as monotonous to fight. After defeating the area’s boss, all of that work is now nullified because every enemy in the game world gets buffed to be stronger than you. Setting out from the game’s hub village toward a new area, I killed a bee in maybe three or four slashes. On my way back, the same bee took ten slashes before killing me in two hits. It’s arbitrarily difficult, and it makes things feel way more grindy than they should be.
The only saving grace Decay of Logos has is its exploration. Searching every nook and cranny of each area is rewarding, and the open-ended nature of the game allows for a refreshing sense of freedom. Scouring the land for the items necessary to access the boss always provided a much-needed break from the game’s monotonous combat. Exploration is rewarded greatly, too. You’ll come across new weapons as well as echo shells that contain lore about the world of Decay of Logos. It’s just a shame that there are enemies everywhere, drawing me back into the boring combat and stealing me away from the exploration I want to do. Even when I would step into an arx or a sanctum (the game’s version of dungeons), I knew I was about to fight a gauntlet of enemies rather than explore and solve puzzles.
Decay of Logos focuses so much on its subpar combat that it ignores the one aspect of itself that actually shows promise. The brief moments where you’re left unbothered and able to explore are refreshing, but the game will quickly smack you back into reality by forcing you into slow, repetitive combat encounters. It sure doesn’t help that the game is riddled with technical issues, either. That, coupled with the braindead elk that follows you around, make it very hard for me to recommend Decay of Logos to anyone but Souls fans who are desperate for something to play. When it comes to Souls combat and Zelda exploration, there are countless games out there that do both better than Decay of Logos.
Decay of Logos is a chore to play ninety-nine percent of the time. The exploration comprises the other one percent, but you’re constantly shoved into slow, monotonous combat encounters that take you away from the awesome exploration. The dull combat, uninspired bosses, and several questionable design decisions make Decay of Logos a hard game to recommend. It also doesn’t help that the game is riddled with bugs and has what could be the dumbest companion I’ve ever had in a video game.
- Pretty visuals
- Rewarding exploration
- Countless technical issues
- Repetitive, dull combat
- Lame bosses
- Pointless RPG mechanics
- Odd design choices
- I’ve met rocks smarter than this elk