Are you tired of bland color schemes? This gypsy themed fantasy free to play MMO offers the bright, colorful allure of anime and brings a welcome reprieve from the generic color schemes found in so many other MMORPGs. But don’t let the charismatic take on color fool you! And certainly don’t judge this game by its screenshot, there is more to Iris Online than meets the eye.
Iris Online was developed by Korean based Eyasoft and comes to the US via Gala-Net’s gPotato. Iris Online opened its beta test in Japan in May of 2010; and in the United States in November of 2010. So, it’s been around the block and had the chance to work through those inevitable kinks. Don’t write-off this FTPMMO because of the manic use of color in the graphics. Iris Online has the sincere depth of a genuine MMORPG at its core. The circus style look is really just curb appeal and gives way to less cartoonish graphics, although still utilizing the color palette that Iris Online is known for.
Personally, I find the graphics refreshing. I love the use of color and overall graphic creativity. Iris Online characters have an Alice in Wonderland meets Anime look that is very unique to Iris Online. You’ll find gameplay more relaxing as the developers took a more laid-back approach to the music scores. The formatting and layout make game navigation easy. All the information you need is displayed methodically in windows and makes managing your quests a breeze and eliminating confusion. Iris Online has proven itself very user friendly.
Iris Online, as I mentioned earlier, is very deeply rooted in its gypsy theme. Every aspect of this MMO revolves around the Gypsy culture and more specifically, Tarot cards. If you find fortune telling offensive, then this game is not for you. The use of Tarot cards in FTPMMOs is not a new concept, and really shouldn’t be shocking, especially given the anime style. With that being said, Tarot card reading is still a source of controversy for some. Your beliefs on this subject may very well determine whether or not you pursue this particular MMO.
Let’s Get Going
If you’re still reading, then you’ve decided to stick around! It was in the cards. (Hey come on, every good review includes at least one good pun!) Eyasoft made sure all its gamers are well grounded by providing a very effective, easy to follow tutorial. The controls are also very straight forward and to the point. The majority of controls are done using the keyboard; utilizing the function keys and a few various others. There is a control map that can be easily printed out for reference.
Who Are You?
Character creation is very straight forward as well. You have three races to choose from and each race is unique and has several ranks. Each class also has its own weaponry and the variety of weapons correspond with individual skill trees. Eventually you are given the option to join either Earth, Wind, Water or Fire forces.
The races are:
- Elves- Intelligent woodland creatures, they are the lovers and protectors of nature. The elf classes are Ranger and Shaman.
- Hybrids- These sassy half animal, half humans are endowed with incredible strength. They are quite the force to be reckoned with and make fantastic allies. Their classes are Warrior and Rogue.
- Humans- Equipped with intelligence, technology, magical strength and innate adaptability, they carry on the heritage of the “Tree Of Life.” The human classes are Fighter and Mage.
Tell Me a Story
It’s one thing to play a game, run quests and fight to win in PvP combats… But wouldn’t you be more passionate about your missions if you had a deeper purpose? Iris Online has a unique back story complete with a subsequent plot and story line that add substantial depth to the gameplay.
The story begins with “The Past” where you discover the creation of the cosmic world and the seeds of life. “The Genesis” tells of a mystical giant and his part in Arcana and the tree of life, Archelon. Reading on, you come to the conclusion of the back story with “The Sovereign Darkness” and you learn about Lord Archane. This story is filled with creation, good, evil, magic, as well as elves and elders. What happened; how did the story end? I’m not going to spoil the fun, so go read for yourself! I will tell you this; the developers took their time developing such an in-depth and creative storyline and plot. I was honestly surprised.
Iris Online’s developers have also made it possible to have several NPCs and run multiple quests simultaneously. Upon completing a quest, you are given the option to choose your own reward. There are several PvP modes: the Sham battle against Sahel, Death Match and Flag.
The Tarot system is referred to as the “mysterious Divination System.” There are 22 major and 56 minor Tarot cards that make for infinite card combinations which, in turn, result in limitless perks. In Iris Online, the Tarot cards serve two purposes. The first, most obvious use of the Tarot cards is fortune-telling, or divination. There are two ways within the game to have your cards read; you may read them yourself, or visit a NPC Fortune Teller. If you travel to the Gypsy Market in Terminus and locate a Fortune Teller to read your cards, that NPC may reward you with considerable boosts and buffs. Tarot cards are also a valuable asset for customizing weapons, enhancing items and obtaining special abilities.
Eyasoft claims that Iris Online’s dungeons are the most challenging and rewarding aspect of gameplay. I must agree! The Iris Online Dungeons come complete with Elite monsters, bad bosses and teamwork is necessary in defeating your assailants. Unfortunately, unless you purchase a Dungeon Restart Card from the cash shop, you will only be permitted to enter each dungeon every 12 hours. Is that a money making scheme? Probably, but it does offer more regulated gameplay.
Player versus player combat is really the meat-and-potatoes of this fanatical RPG. Initiating PvP combat and accepting duel requests are very simple. In following with Iris Online’s unique style, there are no computer controlled characters. Your nemeses are actual human players which make PvP play incredibly unpredictable and capricious. PvP combat is altogether about human aptitude which requires wit and determination. I think that distinguishing trait is what draws players in.
Cash Shop Robbery
If you join a conversation, anywhere, about FTPMMOs, usually the topic of discussion always turns to the game’s cash shop. Does the cash shop enable so called “Wallet Warriors” to unfairly rule gameplay? In this case, the cash shop, also called the Item Mall, provides the Iris Online game with a variety of items that compliment gameplay. Those categories are Item Enhancement, Experience Items, Convenience, and Potions. There is also a category called Expansion which allows you to purchase various additional spaces, including space for your inventory bag. The good news is, currently, the selection is balanced and holds the Wallet Warriors at bay! Iris Online’s cash shop also offers an extensive collection of costumes to further customize your character. I did find, however, that the prices were somewhat high in relation to Iris Online’s counterparts. So, if you intend to expand your inventory or purchase that snazzy Adventurer of the Woods costume, be prepared to shell out the dough.
The Final Word
Now it’s time to answer the ultimate question. Would I recommend this game?
The graphics are fantastic; the use of color and creativity are awesome. While I like the graphics, others may find them to be a bit too cartoony. The gameplay is fast paced and rewarding. The choice of a gypsy background and the use of the Tarot card system is different from anything else on the market. For some it will be intriguing and for others it will be something that does not interest them, and could alienate some avid FTP MMORPG gamers. Also, the inventory space is quite limited and for additional space, you must visit the cash shop; which as I mentioned before, is a bit pricey. Your decision whether or not to play this game is really one of personal preference. If you boil it down to gameplay, I say give it a go. If the gypsy culture bothers you, there are other FTPMMOs that will probably be more to your liking. Either way, with the gaming variety the Internet has brought to us, you’ll never be bored. Play on!