Shaiya – Review
Shaiya is a free to play MMORPG originally developed by Sonov Entertainment, and released back in 2007. Since then Shaiya has enjoyed moderate success with a highly active player base and a number of content updates and expansions. Shaiya is now available worldwide thanks to the distribution expertise of the popular MMORPG portal, Aeria Games. Players can create their hero using 4 possible races, Human, Elves, Vail and Nordein, with each race being unique in appearance and background story. There are a total of 12 playable classes in Shaiya although they are race restricted, meaning any race you choose will automatically remove 9 classes from your options, leaving you 3 race specific classes to choose from. I’ve never been a fan of pointy ears, overly darkened purple skin or any other weird appearance trait so for the duration of this new player experience review, I’ll be using a Human Fighter.
Usually this is where I discuss the character creation process as it’s usually the first thing you experience in an MMORPG game, however the Shaiya game launcher caught my attention and I thought it was worth a mention. For all intents and purposes it’s a pretty standard launcher, featuring patch notes and other information but the advertisement I saw provided a bit of a giggle. Anyone familiar with Shaiya’s advertising campaign would have noticed they use high-quality images of loosely clothed women and the launcher is no different, there’s a picture of an attractive blonde character happily displaying her assets with the big text “For a good time, click here”, usually a phrase you would associate with a less than tasteful type of website. Curiosity got the better of me and I clicked it only to be shown the Shaiya forums, a harmless advertisement in the end but it was still a pretty funny slogan to use for a game. Anyway, onto the character creation part of the review.
Before creating your actual character you get to choose between the 2 factions available in game, The Alliance of Light and The Union of Fury, as I consider myself a good guy in the epic good versus evil struggle, I chose the Alliance of Light. After that, you have very basic character creation options choosing your race, face and hairstyle. The only real part of the character creation system that is unique is the option to select your difficulty. The options are Easy, Normal, Hard and Ultimate. Easy, Normal and Hard provide similar challenges but the experience curve is more severe the higher the difficulty setting, the really unique aspect is Ultimate mode. You must first reach maximum level on the Hard setting to unlock it, but once you do you can choose Ultimate which gives your character unique spells and abilities, as well as providing the highly controversial perm-death mechanic, meaning if you die, your character is deleted, gone, finito.
The tutorial is about as basic as you can get, featuring text prompts that teach you the basics of movement and collecting quests. I found the starting town to be a little larger than was necessary, it took 20-30 seconds to walk between the quest giver and the merchants, time that I would have preferred to have spent killing monsters. The monsters in Shaiya are one of the games strongest assets, with a large variety from evil demonic monsters, to nimble wolves and monkeys. Sadly you won’t experience any of the epic style monsters until later in the game as your first quest sends you out killing monkeys that have been stealing from the merchants in town. Combat is typical for an MMORPG game, you learn abilities and skills, place them on your hot-bar and then activate them by pressing the appropriate key. I did like the animations on my Warrior, I chose Charge as my first skill which sends you hurtling towards your target with a ferocious weapon slash upon contact.
From then on, the game doesn’t really provide anything special for the new player experience. The quests are the industry standard of killing X amount of monsters or relaying messages between NPC’s. The combat is fun and quite fast-paced and the character and monster designs are really interesting. Shaiya has a lot going for it but it doesn’t quite meet the mark of other popular Aeria Games titles.