Some things never change. The sky is blue – except at night. The grass is green – except in winter. And Paragon is dead – except when another studio is putting the pieces back together again. It’s fairly wild to think that a game that one company found to be unsustainable has been picked up and Frankenstein-ed back together by so many others. There must have been a certain amount of love out there for it, otherwise even with the assets, I don’t think we’d see companies really trying to make it work.
Of course I’m talking about Epic Games’ failed game of a similar name – simply Paragon. Paragon: The Overprime is Netmarble’s latest attempt to take advantage of the art and assets that were made available. Perhaps Netmarble discovered the AllSpark and was thus able to create The Overprime, as opposed to the Optimus Prime, with it. It’s actually a pretty unique thing to see a company as large as Epic Games actually do good by the community and make assets available for other companies to make use of them – not unheard of, but certainly rare.
In fact, this is actually the second game spun off from Paragon that I’ve taken a look at here in MOP’s Fight or Kite column. My previous foray was in Fault: Elder Orb, which I found to be a decent experience overall. Sadly, however, I’ve since learned that Fault: Elder Orb actually shut down last November. You never really want to see a game’s servers shut down, but I’m under the impression that Fault: Elder Orb was cobbled together primarily by an indie studio that did its level best with a limited budget. Similarly, Kingshunt, which I played during a brief beta one evening a couple of years ago, did not even last that long. It shuttered back in January of this year with hopes of returning again.
Paragon: The Overprime, on the other hand, has Netmarble, a big-name Korean publisher, in its corner. The game was released on December 7th of 2022, so only a little over a month after Fault: Elder Orb shut down. In other words, Fault’s toilet seat was still warm when Paragon: The Overprime sat down. In fact, it was only a month before Kingshunt died. Is that a coincidence? We may never know, largely because I doubt anyone else is asking. Oh well. With the ante upped, let’s find out if Netmarble is going to take the pot.
If you played Fault or even Paragon, you’ll already be right at home
From a gameplay perspective, I can’t see a lot of new things to write about here – at least not at a high level. In my discussion of the gameplay in Fault, I went into the details about the lanes and the maps and how combat plays out. In summary, it plays like most MOBAs with the added benefit of looking over your characters’ shoulders instead of at the top of their heads. Personally for me, that’s a big boon. Your mileage may vary.
Now, I couldn’t say that Paragon: The Overprime hasn’t improved upon anything from the original game because I honestly can’t speak to whether it has or not as I never played Epic Games’ version. However, between Fault and this one, there are certainly a number of improvements.
I think Netmarble’s edition has a better onramp for new players. I particularly like that each class gives you hints on whether or not that class should be played for a particular role or not. For example, each character has a role assigned to it – i.e., Support, Ranger, or Warrior. During character selection, the game will indicate whether that particular hero is designed for the middle lane or for one of the edges. It even goes so far as to point out which lane is typically designed for duos versus solo play.
I’m not super familiar with the intricacies of MOBAs and the optimal lane strategy, so it was beneficial for me to see that if I want to fight solo or mobs in the middle lane, I shouldn’t use the Ranger class first up. I don’t know how much debate there is in the MOBA community about that sort of thing, but I suspect there’s some – we’re gamers, after all, and who’s to tell us how to play our game?
Combat is just as slow and meticulous as in Fault. I’m so accustomed to super-fast burst combat in other games that the MOBA style sort of feels like it’s crawling. However, after playing Fault last year and now Paragon: The Overprime, I can begin to appreciate the speed of combat. It still feels slows to me, but it works. I’d need to play some of the other big MOBAs like SMITE to get a comparison from one of the bigger games in the genre.
Familiar – everything’s so familiar
So the idea in these spin-offs is to get a jump start on the game’s development by taking advantage of the assets provided at Paragon’s closure. I’m no developer, so I haven’t a clue what all is included in those assets. I simply know that they were provided at large, and it’s been enough for several companies to take a stab at the game with them. Whether it’s some underlying code for how characters move and interact in the world or just the art and character models. I just don’t know. However, it’s clear the bones are the same here.
Looking at characters, you can see some striking similarities – as in, the base heroes are the same – but Netmarble has certainly put a bit more polish on them in terms of how stiff they feel to play. I knew at the time that Fault was put together by an indie team, so I didn’t feel the need to drag them over it. But when you see how the characters and skills play out in Paragon: The Overprime, you can instantly tell it was done with a team that has some experience. I know some gamers don’t appreciate when I describe how combat or characters feel, but describing the weight of an attack or how stiff the characters move is difficult in a text-only medium.
Lastly, as with most or probably all games, we have a solid offering of cosmetics and skins to grab for each of the heroes. Honestly, though, I was pretty surprised by how few things there were to pay for in the shop – especially considering that the game’s been available as a free-to-play title for nearly a year now. I’m not complaining, but I am surprised.
Considering that new heroes are still being added to the game and the player count is sufficient enough for matches to pop, I’m hopeful we’ll see the game around for longer than its predecessors. Now, whether we have enough improvements to really make this version superior to those that came before – that’s going to take more examination.