Terrence & Norwood In The Fog

HIGH Switching characters.

LOW Laggy combat.

WTF A talking egg?

Pascal’s Wager is a third-person action title from developer TipsWorks. It originally launched on iOS and Android devices last year but has now been ported to Steam with updated graphics and all of the DLC included.

In Pascal’s Wager, the player controls Terrence — a paladin of some kind who’s been banished by the church and now does courier work. From what I gather, Terrence is trying to atone for some sort of sin but is also looking for his long-lost wife who just so happens to be some type of witch. There’s also a lady who is trapped inside an egg at one point. It’s all very strange.

Mechanically, it’s hard to say that Pascal’s Wager wasn’t inspired by Dark Souls-type games. The control scheme is mapped the same way with shoulder buttons (on a controller) doing the attacks, players have stamina and health meters, and of course there’s an altar where Terrence levels up his attributes and rests to respawn enemies.

I’m a fan of these kinds of experiences even if I’m not the greatest at them, but the main problem with Pascal’s Wager is the lack of smoothness in combat. Attacks feel laggy and doing any sort of combo almost seems impossible, so resorting to a single swing of the sword and dodging out of the way ends up being the most reliable way to fight enemies.

Another area where Pascal’s Wager suffers in comparison is the environment. Instead of one big open world to explore, everything is cut up into different areas — there’s never the satisfaction of finding a ladder that leads up to a clever shortcut, nor any instances of reaching the top of a tower to see the areas I’ve already explored, or will. Instead, it’s largely a linear path of fighting monsters and not getting much exploration out of it.

On the other hand, having a story that unfolds via cutscenes and lots of voice acting is where Pascal’s Wager stands apart from most soulslikes in a good way. Instead of players having to glean interpretations from cryptic item text descriptions, the developers come right out and tell the player what’s going on. It’s a bit strange for the genre, but it’s welcome. That said, the voice acting is pretty subpar. I eventually muted the sound entirely because of how much talking there was — it didn’t worsen my experience, and simply reading the subtitles made things more enjoyable.

Another high note is that Pascal’s Wager offers the ability to swap between characters. I was already tired of Terrence about two hours into the campaign, so getting a new protagonist by the name of Norwood was nice, especially since the two differ in fighting styles. Norwood is a brawler so he’s quick with fists, but dodging is almost entirely pointless for him. While playing, switching between characters in the party is still possible. If Terrence happens to pass out, then Norwood will take over so the journey can continue.

In the end, Pascal’s Wager is just another entry in the ever-growing soulslike genre. It makes some smart choices by giving an upfront story and multiple characters, but my feeling is that starting life on mobile devices hampered what the developers could do, and the lack of exploration and cohesive map design is a definite weakness — perhaps a sequel built for console or PC could expand upon this foundation.

Rating: 4 out of 10

— Cody Bolster

Disclosures: This game is developed by TipsWorks and published by Giant Global. It is currently available on iOS, Android, and PC. This copy of the game was obtained via publisher and reviewed on the PC. Approximately 5 hours of play were devoted to the single-player mode, and the game was not completed. There are no multiplayer modes.

Parents: According to the ESRB, this game is rated T and contains Fantasy Violence and Blood. There is combat with monsters where the player will fight and kill. The monsters and characters do bleed in combat.

Colorblind Modes: There are no colorblind modes available.

Deaf & Hard of Hearing Gamers: This game offers subtitles that can be resized. With the poor voice acting, subtitles are recommended. There are no noticeable sound cues for enemies or items in the game. This game is fully accessible.

Remappable Controls: This game offers fully remappable controls on both controller or keyboard.

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