Xbox One, PS4, PC, Nintendo Switch, PS5, Xbox Series X
August 3, 2023
QUByte Interactive, Cadabra Games
Adore brings a new and rather unique approach to the creature collecting genre popularised by Pokémon, having now released following a lengthy period in Steam Early Access. Set in a vibrant fantasy world, Adore’s Diablo-style ARPG approach to the game’s combat gives it a novel and intriguing flavour, which is unfortunately somewhat held back by a repetitive gameplay loop which causes the experience to run out of steam towards the end.
Adore is set in the world of Gaterdrik, which has fallen to chaos following the mysterious death of Draknar, the God of Creatures. Draknar’s Divine Essence has been stolen by the malevolent demigod of the End, Ixer. All that remains of the worship of Draknar are the Adorers, which is a community of monster tamers loyal to Draknar. You play as Lukha, a young apprentice Adorer, who is abruptly killed at the end of the tutorial. Lukha learns that Draknar is not dead at all, and the last spark of his Essence landed in Lukha’s body, bringing him back to life. Following this revelation, Lukha and the snarky God sharing his body are sent on a quest to defeat Ixer and retrieve Draknar’s Divine Essence to restore order to Gaterdrik.
It isn’t the deepest plot in the world, but it does a decent job of setting up the stakes and sketching out a fun little fantasy world. The interplay between the optimistic and helpful Lukha and the ill-tempered Draknar after each quest was often worth a chuckle, and the NPCs who inhabit the Refuge, which is the hub area that you return to after each quest, all have fun personalities and were enjoyable to interact with as the story progressed.
Adore separates itself from other creature collecting games through its action-focused gameplay which occurs in real time. You play as Lukha who cannot directly attack, but who can summon up to four of his creatures for a short while to damage enemies. You die if Lukha runs out of health, whereas your creatures have their own health bars. Once a creature’s health bar goes down to zero, they remain available to summon, however any further damage taken by them is inflicted on Lukha’s health bar instead. It’s a fun system which prioritises risk management and quick reflexes, with the player often having to quickly call back their creature just before an attack hits, or pick the right moment to unleash your creature’s special attack on your foe.
Recruiting new creatures is also a core part of any creature collection game, and that remains true of Adore. Creatures can be obtained one of two ways: unlocking them in chests, or purifying them in the field with a resource called Particles of Gaterdrik. The first method is very straightforward, however the second didn’t quite work as well; although you have a degree of control over your creatures in combat in terms of directing them towards a preferred target, the purifying mechanic is tied to a finicky auto-targeting system which becomes very unreliable when there are multiple enemy creatures on the field, which is most of the time. While it didn’t stop me from building up a mighty menagerie of monsters by the end of the game, it did make fulfilling some of the missions which require you to capture a specific creature more annoying than it needed to be.
“It’s a fun system which prioritises risk management and quick reflexes…”
Levels are procedurally-generated, with each room being filled with corrupted creatures and occasional sub-objectives that you must complete. Unfortunately, there just isn’t much variety in the potential objectives, with even most of the plot-critical missions sharing the same structure. These can include defeating a Legendary creature or rogue Adorer, eliminating all of the cursed creatures, or activating a series of mechanisms.
Isometric action games often don’t have the most varied gameplay, although many at least include randomised loot to add a sense of variety into otherwise samey missions. That isn’t the case with Adore. While the creature collecting could be seen as a stand-in for new loot, you can only hold up to three Particles of Gaterdrik at a time, so you aren’t going to be recruiting more than a handful of new creatures per outing.
Adore began its life in Early Access as a roguelike title, where you would start each run more-or-less from scratch and build up your arsenal of creatures while completing these randomised objectives. As the game has been developed, many of the roguelike elements have been stripped away following player feedback, save for what feels like a needlessly punishing failure state of losing all of your accumulated gold and Fragments, which can be spent on permanent enhancements, when you die.
It made stockpiling gold and other resources to spend on advanced upgrades or healing items needlessly cumbersome unless you want to reduce the level of risk by grinding easier levels. There is at least a Dark Souls-esque element of allowing the player to retrieve their dropped gold by reattempting the quest, but considering you cannot buy new healing items for the second attempt, I felt that this mechanic compounded the difficulty level without making the game more fun.
Despite this, I quite appreciated many of the ways that you can develop your party between quests. Creatures in Adore come in one of four varieties: Beast, Nature, Mystic and Arcane. One element which was quite interesting was being able to apply Synergies to your creatures, which give them special boosts, including increased resistances or more attacks, when summoned alongside a creature of a particular variety. It was a clever gameplay feature that didn’t totally dictate how the game needed to be played, but rewarded the player for carefully considering their party composition before attempting a tough challenge. Lukha can also equip and upgrade Runes and Artifacts, which provide the Adorer passive buffs and were worth investing in.
There’s also plenty of positive things to be said about Adore’s presentation. The game is very colourful and vibrant, with its selection of creatures ranging from adorable to appropriately menacing.
While the top-down perspective means that you aren’t getting a great look at the designs most of the time, they were at least distinct enough to tell apart during gameplay, with rare Blessed and Super Blessed varieties being distinguished with unique colour schemes. I also loved the game’s soundtrack, which did an excellent job of giving the world of Gaterdrik an adventurous ambiance.
- Gorgeously vibrant world and charming soundtrack
- Action gameplay which provided a fun risk/reward challenge
- Intricate Synergies and Adorer customisation systems allows the player to create their dream team
- Limited variety in quest objectives results in a fairly repetitive experience before long
- Creature recruitment system is unreliable and difficult to use
- Losing all of your gold and Fragments upon death feels quite frustrating
Adore is a rather good game that has a refreshing spin on the creature collection genre. The action-based isometric combat presents a unique take regarding controlling a team of creatures, and mastering when to summon them and customising a team made for a compelling experience. The gorgeous and charming art and soundtrack are also a pleasant inclusion. While the very limited variety in quest objectives starts to become an issue long before the credits roll, you can definitely still have a fun time with Adore’s new interpretation of isometric dungeon crawling and creature collecting.