ADORE (Nintendo Switch) Review

Easy to like, harder to adore

ADORE is an intriguing “hands-off” action-RPG from Brazilian developer Cadabra Games. The focus is on capturing, upgrading, and synergising creatures that function as your attack abilities – a feat you’ll achieve by grinding procedurally-generated maps for said creatures and a myriad of upgrade resources. With real-time, isometric combat exclusively using summons, it feels novel at first, but progression begins to feel repetitive, unrewarding, and even frustrating at times.

A novel combat system with tons of mechanical depth

Starting with the good, ADORE has an interesting premise. Your protagonist has been cohabited by the spirit of “Draknar”, the god of creatures, who was slain by his brother “Ixer”. Ixer’s betrayal has resulted in a curse spreading across the land, corrupting once-peaceful creatures, and leaving it up to Lukha and a hidden village of fellow Adorers to try to set things right.

ADORE gets off to a slow start but the combat and upgrade mechanics are surprisingly deep. At first, you only need to consider the type of creature – think beast, mystic, nature, or arcane – and their attack patterns.

Some dash forward for a flurry of quick attacks; some waddle along before dealing a sweeping AoE attack; others have to charge up for a few seconds before dealing a devastating high-damage attack. With up to four creatures assigned to the face buttons (or keys), picking the right attack behaviour is essential, and so too is using the correct damage type to counter armour. You also have a limited, recharging stamina pool to manage, so you can’t just spam all of them at once.

That’s only the basics, however. Creatures charge up special attacks you can selectively trigger; they can develop synergies with other creature types to unlock new abilities; they can gain experience from Shrines of Draknar to unlock new traits and level existing ones; upgradeable artefacts carried by Lukha add useful triggered abilities; while equipped runes provide him varying levels of passive buffs if you have the points to invest. On top of that, you can collect ingredients and cook meals to heal and buff your team mid-mission.

You set out from a central hub and slowly unlock five regions on a world map. There’s a string of plot-related missions – most of which are just item or creature hunts before a battle against another Adorer or puzzle-like encounter with Ixer – and there’s a constantly refreshing list of optional missions.

You jump through a portal in the Adorer village into simplistic maps made up of interconnected segments, each with a handful of hostile creatures to capture or defeat, a mini-mission or two –think activating switches or guiding floating orbs while under attack – and, hopefully, a useful item spawn like the “Particles of Gaterdrik” used to capture creatures, cooking or crafting materials, and upgrade shrines.

With 39 creatures to capture, managing their upgrades, synergies, and constantly shuffling them in and out of your active party can be fiddly with a gamepad, but there’s a lot of fun to be had in slowly creating a diverse and powerful menagerie. So too is mastering the deceptively simple-looking isometric combat, which forces Lukha to stay mobile and dodge attacks, summon creatures when you spot a gap or first-strike opportunity, and quickly recall them before enemies can land a counter – potentially knocking them out of action for a mission if their health hits zero.

ADORE Creature Traits

Increasingly grindy progression with added frustration

Unfortunately, moving the plot forward, capturing new creatures, and obtaining resources for upgrades involves grinding short missions and longer excursions; to the point progression feels repetitive and unrewarding, undermining the overall experience.

To ADORE’s credit, it always indicates what challenges you might face – like a legendary creature – and what resources are available on any given mission. The problem is how quickly the resource costs escalate. Activating one or two runes, levelling your creatures up two to three times, and enhancing an artefact once; are all manageable in the opening hours but as your roster grows, you’ll be forced to tackle the longest multi-map excursions or multiple short missions to achieve any significant progress.

ADORE Mission Map

As fun and tactical as the combat may be, and as stylish as the character designs and environment first appear, it doesn’t take long before your brain settles into a monotonous routine and both the vibrant backdrops – which already suffer from that “made in Unity” look – blur together.

Of course, grinding to upgrade your party is hardly a novel idea in video games, but the gameplay loop falls flat here due to a few annoying design choices. The first issue is that you have to manually pick up most rewards and they’re prone to falling out of the playable area or hidden behind chunks of the environment.

The second issue is how death results in dropping most of your currency and crystal shards – essential for purchasing and upgrading artefacts, or expanding rune slots and rune activation points. Both simply add a degree of frustration to an already grindy progression system.

Easy to like, harder to adore

Now ADORE should entertain those that love collecting and upgrading creatures for battles, with no shortage of upgrade mechanics to engage with and satisfyingly tactical real-time combat. It’s the mission and progression structure that leaves me conflicted. On one hand, it’s a smart way to get more mileage out of limited assets, gives you plenty of time to engage with the mechanics, and its a good fit for short sessions on the Switch or Steam Deck. On the other hand, the longer you play, the less rewarding the progression system feels, and the more formulaic and repetitive the gameplay loop feels.

ADORE was reviewed on Nintendo Switch using a code provided to gameblur by the publisher. It is also available on PC, Xbox One/Series S|X, and PlayStation 4/5.

ADORE (Nintendo Switch) Review

ADORE (Nintendo Switch) Review
7 10 0 1
7/10
Total Score

The Good

  • A novel, hands-off, summons-based combat system
  • Plenty of mechanical depth when it comes to upgrading and synergising your party
  • Perfect for shorter sessions on the Switch or Steam Deck

The Bad

  • The progression system feels increasingly unrewarding and repetitive
  • The rogue-like punishment for death adds nothing but frustration
Total
0
Shares
Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Previous Post
Video games of August 2023 Header

The video games of August 2023

Next Post

Nova Strike (Nintendo Switch) Review

Related Posts