One thing about really bad games is that you can usually tell they’re going to be awful with a quick look. Poorly-made graphics, clunky UIs with bad font choice, wonky movement and a host of other things make it pretty hard to be surprised by awfulness. Decay of Logos is the rare game that looks truly promising on the surface, only to have a rotten center that caught me completely off guard.
Made by a team of 4 over 3.5 years, it’s clear that a great degree of time, effort, and care went into making Decay of Logos. Unfortunately, the ideas and design philosophy the game rests upon make it clear that the time was spent doubling down on these bad decisions instead of improving them. It all leads to a game that’s such a bad experience that I could hardly believe my eyes.
Story? We don’t need no freakin’ story!
Decay of Logos begins with our heroine shoving a door open, only to find her village burning. She pulls a sword from the ground and cuts down her foe, only to realize that she’s too late – her family is beyond saving. She then meets a white elk and they begin their journey to, uh, walk randomly until they somehow find whoever was responsible. That opening I just described is very brief. While intros don’t need to be long, it’s very telling that the game gives the same amount of importance to the main character’s entire motivation as it does to a guy on a boat telling me about a cave he used to store wheat in.
The lack of character motivation also extends to the game’s forward momentum. At any given time, I had no idea what I was supposed to be doing or where I was going. Being cryptic and open is fine, but in Decay of Logos, everything just feels kind of meandering and lost. There are items all over to interact with for lore, but these aren’t interestingly written or compelling. There are also a few NPCs who show up for you to talk to from time-to-time, but they’re mostly just annoying. The first you find is a guy in a cage who you can choose to rescue. When you meet him, he’s wearing nothing but shorts and an ankle chain, as he’s a prisoner. Every other time you meet him, he has made no effort to not look like a starving prisoner. It’s weird.
Built on bad
Decay of Logos is very clearly a souls-like, but interestingly, it gets practically every last thing wrong. Let’s start with the level design. Good souls-likes tend to be similarly devoid of direction but use their areas and clever signposting to compensate. This game instead drops you in large, wide featureless areas and leaves you to your devices. It can take ages to walk from one place to another too. You’re frequently given a few different places you could go, but many of these lead to dead ends or have progression solutions so obtuse that they often require luck to discern.
For instance, upon entering the game’s town, there were three ways to go – a mini-dungeon, a big dungeon, or through a set of doors. The mini-dungeon mostly lead to a dead-end. The set of doors was locked and I had no clue how to open them. I knocked on the door of a nearby house and there was no answer, so I proceeded to the big dungeon. This dungeon was so horrible it made me want to quit the game then and there.
It was a five-story tall monstrosity filled with nearly-identical hallways that took some memorizing to get around. It was also filled with tiny enemies that could kill me in three hits and who attacked so fast I could barely fight them. I learned after a while that I could sneak past them, but this was something I had to discover accidentally, as there was no way of knowing and the game hadn’t required it before. My progress came to a screeching halt when I was faced with a “puzzle.” The first part of this puzzle required me to sneak through an area filled with those enemies, get pushed across a gap by air in the pit below, and then slide under a timed door to pull a lever.
However, the pit didn’t work right. Sometimes it would push me across partway and just drop me in, killing me. If enemies were waiting for me on the other side, I just fell straight in. And I had to redo this every time. After that, I had to coax the elk into standing on a pressure switch that only worked after pulling the lever for reasons that are beyond me. Only, the elk gets stuck on walls, requiring me to find him and then slowly lead him to the switch. He also won’t stand in the right place unless you specifically tell him to, which the game doesn’t teach you. Then, I needed to raise bridges to gain access to the lower levels. Oh and, If I died at any time during or after this, the entire thing reset and I had to do it all over again. Afterward, I was met with an identical switch, but this one didn’t require a lever. How arbitrary.
Hope you like walkin’
Decay of Logos uses two things in place of bonfires – monuments to pray at and camps to rest at. Every time you die, your stats decay a bit up to fifty percent. But you need to rest to recover them. In that big dungeon, you have to get to the lowest level before you can find a camp. So I had to do it with halved stats unless I wanted to walk back through town and then through the dungeon I used to get there. Oh, and then walk back the way I came. Also, you can get ambushed while resting. If you die, you go back to day time and then have to try resting again. This is pointless and only feels like a way to piss people off. And forget about other ways to get around quick. I probably spent hours simply walking to retry things that were either bugged or poorly-explained.
The reason the enemies in that dungeon were such a pain? It’s because I was likely supposed to go through those doors I mentioned instead. I was supposed to knock on the door of the nearby house and then walk up and talk to the window. At which point, the person in the house hands you a key through said closed window. I have no idea how I was supposed to know that. The blacksmith in town is the same. He runs inside when you get close and there’s no answer when you knock at the door. But he’s happy to help as long as you talk to the window.
All of the equipment in Decay of Logos breaks down over time and the blacksmith is the only way to fix your items up. But, once you deposit them, you then have to rest for them to get repaired. Naturally, there are no nearby camps, so you’ll have to drop all of your equipment off, walk to the camp, then walk back. But what about the elk? The elk is slow, borderline impossible to control, and throws you off if you ride him too long. You can use him as extra storage if you want, which is mostly the only thing he’s good for aside from the occasional command that the game doesn’t remotely explain beforehand. In that awful dungeon, there were doors that the elk was supposed to break, but I didn’t know he could even do that, as it hadn’t been conveyed previously. It just gives you a prompt with an elk icon that says “call for help”, which resulted in the elk never appearing because he probably got stuck trying to navigate a tricky corner. But I could have also just used a magic spell, which I had no way of knowing could be used to break these two specific doors.
The items are a whole ‘nother can of worms. You can carry five potions on your person at any given time. These come in the form of health potions, potions that give your weapons a buff, or weapons that cure status ailments. One of the first I ever found was a potion that stopped you from being on fire. However, I didn’t come across anything that could catch me on fire until over halfway through the game. And these don’t replenish when you rest, so if you use them, they’re gone forever.
Weapons and armor are found from beating enemies and in chests. Armor breaks so fast that I seldom bothered. The extra defense is so tiny that it doesn’t make much of a difference later anyway. and there’s no way I was going to walk back to that blacksmith, walk to a camp, and then walk back to the blacksmith every time my equipment got worn down. One really weird thing is that chests have random loot in the worst way possible. Opening a chest later in the game can net you a piece of armor dropped by the super weak enemies in the starting area.
Some chests also contain fixed weapons, but these were a crapshoot too. Sometimes I’d find a decent weapon and then open a chest way later and find a very similar weapon that was worse than the one I already had. And the enemies take a ton of damage, so you’re gonna want strong weapons. You can only carry three weapons at once and the way you use them is really weird. You can have two equipped at a single time that you can switch between, but if you want to use your third one, you need to swap it in the menu with one of your equipped ones. It’s never explained and doesn’t work well, as it made swapping for new weapons a giant pain.
It’s taken me a while to get to combat, but, oh boy. Each weapon comes with a light and strong attack, plus a parry. And no matter what kind of weapon you’re using, your attacks are slow and very unresponsive. Tapping the attack button sometimes results in waiting literal seconds before your character attacks. It feels like playing Dark Souls in slow motion. Most of the weapons also aren’t fun to use. My favorite weapon type is the broadsword, which your character uses at a weird angle that takes away a ton of your attack range. It defeats the entire purpose of using a broadsword really, which is almost funny when I’m not taking damage because my attacks aren’t connecting. You need to lock-on to enemies to hit them most of the time, but even this frequently doesn’t work as it should. The lock-on breaks really easily, which can make it basically impossible to lock-on while you’re cornered. Pressing the button sometimes didn’t lock-on to the nearest enemy either, requiring me to input the command over and over until it finally worked.
In Decay of Logos‘ starting area, the enemies are mostly really slow. I assumed this was a deliberate thing for the game’s enemies, as your character is too slow to deal with fast ones. You saw that bit about the fast enemies in that garbage dungeon, though, so you already know that isn’t the case. Enemies are often so hard to fight without taking damage. They can attack so much faster than you. Oh, and you can get stunlocked pretty easily. Some enemy attacks knock you down and you can get hit while you’re immobile during your wake-up animation. There were times where I got knocked down and started getting back up, only to get knocked down again. Rinse and repeat.
And enemies can come in packs where they can just annihilate you with no chance of recourse on your end. Those tiny enemies I mentioned before can come in packs of as many as four. They run up to you, slash you and you’ll just take all the damage at once. The parry is also really kind of useless, as it can deflect a blow but uses up a ton of stamina which often results in you having to back off anyway. Your character has a dodge, thankfully, but, just like everything else in Decay of Logos, it sucks. It doesn’t let you cover much ground and to call the hit detection wonky is being generous.
Right through me
I very frequently noticed that enemy attacks tended to miss me even though they touched my character model. This comes in handy during the horrible first boss fight. This boss is rarely safe to hit. Going up to hit him after his attack would see him frequently interrupt my attack with another of his. You can’t dodge in the middle of your extremely long attack animations, so you have to just tank the hit. So I hope you farmed for potions. Boss fights are supposed to have skippable cutscenes, but I had to wait 15 seconds before the button prompt would allow me to. It got pretty old.
Aside from that, the combat balance is just totally off. I mentioned how I went the way through that dungeon with the stronger enemies only to find the way I was supposed to go later. But by the time I got there, I’d leveled up so much that those enemies barely put a dent in my health. It was surreal going from getting killed in three hits to being able to take a ton. Some enemies could still kill me easily, though, such as these black slugs that paralyze you and can attack much faster than you can move. I got caught in a corner by three of them and had to wait over a minute while they slowly bashed me to death without me being able to move. I also fought a giant version of this slug that, instead of attacking me, just jumped repeatedly into a wall while I attacked it from the rear.
Even those black slugs take a huge amount of damage. It takes a ridiculous amount of hits to put down your enemies. Decay of Logos doesn’t feel balanced in the least. Every aspect of the combat feels slapped together with no real effort. I’m not even sure how the leveling works, either. Sometimes I leveled up for taking damage. Other times I leveled up for no discernible reason at all. It’s a real mess. The enemy pathfinding is also as laughably bad as the elk’s. If you jump across a gap, the enemies will often just fall right in while pursuing you. I tricked a giant enemy into awkwardly falling into a pit and the top half of his body just kind of hung there. These gaps are bad news for you as well, though, as they’re often difficult to see. I died multiple times from just walking and, boom, the floor was just gone. In that dungeon I can’t seem to shut up about, for instance, one of the floors had a bottomless pit that I fell in because it was too dark to notice. But there was a room directly beneath it on the floor below that was solid, meaning that pit belonged to some kind of pocket dimension.
At least it’s okay to look at
One of the only things about Decay of Logos that isn’t horrible is the graphics. The game looks pretty decent a lot of the time, even if it looks just like most other fantasy games made in Unity. The areas are large, albeit devoid of interesting landmarks. They’re mostly just big swaths of nothing that you have to slowly walk past. This can make navigation more difficult as most parts of an area look the same., making it easy to get turned around. But I do have to say, sometimes the areas look lovely. A lot of the mini-dungeons not only re-use assets, which is fine but frequently re-use entire rooms, which is jarring. The game’s performance is really good, though. Even with maxed-out settings I generally averaged a smooth 60 FPS.
But the bugs. This review is already way too long without me getting into the bugs, so I’m just going to list some of them. The shoulder buttons stop working. Sometimes your inventory disappears and comes back again. Prompts can get stuck and you have to reset the game to unstick them. Level features fail to work and can get you killed. I opened a door and died to a bug and the door was then stuck shut when I got back to it.
In the end, though, the bugs aren’t even that important. Most of those will probably get patched out. But regardless of those, Decay of Logos is just terrible. This is not only one of the worst games I’ve played this year, but it’s one of the worst I’ve played in my life. The environments are bloated and dull, the combat is broken and frustrating, it’s extremely difficult to know how to progress, and the overall game design is just rancid. I can’t recommend that anyone play this game unless they just want to be truly surprised by how bad it is.