My Beneath Cursed Tides review

Beneath Cursed Tides was the last runelabs suggestion to be polled in 2015 and winner of the medium quest competition. Now I have made my thoughts on how that competition was handled clear in the past - it was incredibly poorly organised and quite disrespectful to questers having been promised as something entirely different then having a bunch of restrictive, unannounced illogical criteria attached at the last minute to the detriment of suggestions.

Having said that, I was fairly happy when the quest won the poll. It was not my first choice but out of the poll options with a shot of winning, had solid story potential and a suggester keen to listen to the community.


The requirements for the quest include level 30 in several skills trained on the island. Thats fine but where the issue comes in is the lack of previously stated quest requirement. A Shadow over Ashdale was meant to be a requirement and should have been a requirement. With this omission, the ending of the quest comes off very illogical and messes up the timeline.


Now the ending has various issues I will go into later but without the requirement theres no explanation whether this was first and if so why we didn't recognise the crassians or if Shadow was first why we didn't react to them. There is a growing trend of simply not including appropriate novice level quests for content that justifies it.


First the ripper demons and now this. This is requirements that are appropriate for the content and we players want as requirements but isn't being added to content. I understand with grandmaster requirements as we cant have everything grandmaster but why omit novice requirements? It makes no sense.


We begin at Wizards Tower where we meet Myrtle, a hydromancer apprentice to the wizard tutor of Tutorial Island. This part is quite jarring. Myrtle has a solid introduction but then calls the quest Tutorial Island. It is a poor choice to keep the name as it completely contradicts the attempt just made to make it connected to the main game.


By not committing to a fourth wall breaking approach or a serious lore integrated way forward, the quest comes off weaker than committing to either would make it. Anyway we go to recruit Vanna*a which is a solid part of the quest then proceed to the island. A choice of diving is allowed which is good.


Then a major issue occurs - the island is not instanced. This completely shatters the immersion. We are lead to believe we are the only ones that can save tutorial island yet can see other people competing previous and upcoming tasks. This was a terrible decision and completely takes players out of the quest. 


Others issues include the message in the bottle exposition plot device and the lack of details on the tutorial island examine texts. These missed opportunities make the quest very weak - it isn't immersive, it isn't detailed and theres no hook to get us to continue. From here on, its just a not well thought out parody.


Outside of the main room, the fishing tutor is encountered. All the tutors are played purely one dimensional for jokes - no attempt to explore their experiences are made and the dark tale mentioned in the BTS just doesn’t exist. You complete each of the tutors tasks which gets an underwater twist. 


Really this quest does absolutely nothing to develop your feelings towards the island or the inhabitants. If you’ve always wanted to return to the island, well it does that so you might like the quest. New players will be completely indifferent to this place and random people. As a tutorial island starter, this just did nothing for me. Its like a clip show episode, there is little plot to this quest and it heavily relies on pointing to better things hoping for a smile from others work. 


The shrimp cooking is at least thoughtful but the cooking instructor section has a random aggressive jellyfish. Honestly nothing in this quest is explained or feels earned. It feels like a day two draft of a comedy quest where there is some ideas for jokes but no one has made a connection to them yet. 


Meeting with Vanna*a, who is really regulated to slightly larger role than a generic tutor, who sets his task. For some reason he chooses to make his quest harder even though completing it helps free the island so it makes little sense a coherent ally would increase the difficulty albeit very slightly. 


This follows a sound based puzzle which is similar to the Coedern puzzle from The Light Within. I’m unsure whether it was possible to fail this puzzle and again the logic was lacking in this part of the quest. The rats were simply changed to sea rats as an explanation of why they remained. On the more positive side, at least this explained one of the rewards in quest.


Onwards to the bank heist puzzle which needed knowledge of the year Gielinor was in which I liked. However again the logic was still lacking - the banker has apparently died something that wasn't addressed again, the diary survived perfectly and the financial adviser was so underdeveloped we still don't know their names. 


To Brother Brace, who made a friends list reference and appropriate jokes connected to underwater humour. I admit Maggie Karp was the only part of the quest where I chuckled. This felt earned, appropriated references unlike our characters talking in memes for no reason all the sudden. Its a shame the quest didn't follow this theme embracing the underwater aspects and references. We had to collect the prayer book which was supposed to be near the abbey but was further behind it. 


The final tutor is Terrova. Again this section is just illogical and we don't even mention Myrtle or our intentions to free the tutors. Its just doesn’t make much sense and comes off as thin writing. It feels like at least half the writing that was meant to be in the quest was skipped leaving up with large jumps of logic. One positive is striking the chickens at least looks cool. After the task is complete, the ending begins. 


To get straight to the point, the villain in this quest is awful. The letter implies he was trapped on the island after using portal magic but now is suddenly a hydromancer because thats more convenient to the plot. It took Myrtle years to master her spell but this wizard apparently knew it already. Theres no indication the wizard was on the island or knew the curse was being lifted but he suddenly appears as the quest is ending so loose threads need to be resolved. He has crassians as minions because why not? Vanna*a is held hostage as the finale needs all key characters to play some role.


But it isn't just the villain that is bad. Myrtle suddenly appears having overcome her fear, not through any understanding or character developer of her own, but because the plot demands it. A stalemate power beam battle occurs where you have to click on crassains and support Myrtle to win. I’m conflicted on this. For once it was nice to see a quest without combat. 


On the other hand this is the second time in two quests a spam click boss exists and it isn't helpful for those with mouse pads which I don't think are taken into account when developed these puzzles. Honestly they come across more frustrating than challenging.


We return to the surface and the tutors also return to human form. After a small amount of dialogue the quest concludes. There is little post quest, the island has a monthly D&D but the tutors have disappeared again and there is little to no post quest dialogue to the other characters. 


Other noteworthy things about the quest. Normally whatever the content, I usually am supportive of the graphical and music departments. However here even those aspects seemed very weak and half hearted. The graphics seemed like a basic filter put over the island and the character models are very basic. The music also seems simplistic with little effort put it. This could purely be as the quest aimed to repeat existing music but even the updates seen very low effort. 


On the whole, Beneath Cursed Tides is the weakest quest of the year. The plot is weak and there is little to no character development. There is giant leaps in logic and the quest tried to coast by relying on references. Usually strong parts such as graphics and music come off very low effort. Attempts at comedy are misplaced and most of the developments feel unearned.


The problem is this is not a medium update. Even as a small update I would only consider it average at best but this is not a medium updates worth of content. You can see how it lacks development time and it shows, coming off as rushed. Maybe the timing meant people were on holiday or the team just rushed it out to move on. 


But the runelabs session pitched a medium sized quest and asked for a blank canvas the developers could build upon. But thats not what we got. Behind Cursed Tides is the basic pitch and a few references thrown together - it comes across extremely rushed and weak. I’d say we got more in the Call of the Ancestors bottle quest than this which is supposed to be a medium update. 


To describe the quest in one word - shortcut. In many ways its almost rather lazy. There is just jumping from one point to another - no natural flow, no building story, no earned pay off. Even the graphics and music come across thrown together at the last minute. The island itself is a copy and paste which would be fine if that was used to save development time to be used somewhere else. 


But it doesn’t feel like that. It feels like all the shortcuts available were taken to get this quest out with as little development or time as possible. Theres no sense this project was cared about, that the aim was to go beyond a standard slapping together of plot points, to give the quest the development time it won or has supposed to have.


I could be completely wrong - there could be coding difficulties and it might have been cared about. However the way it comes across is of something that is thrown together in a hurry, a project you have to finish but you just don’t care about and why bother putting any more effort in for questers than the bare minimum to scrap by. I’m aware I might be coming across negative and am optimistic about the updates in 2016 but this is the impression the end result gives off. Beneath Cursed Tides doesn’t try to be anything more than satisfactory but falls below the low standard it set itself. As the worst quest of the year, Beneath Cursed Tides is a 3/10. 

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