Today we’re taking a look at Shaiya Online. It’s a 3D Fantasy MMORPG and it’s absolutely free to download and play. This makes it an instant hit among frugal geeks, so we’re taking a close look as to how it compares to other MMOs of its class.
Download and sign up is forward and to the point. There isn’t a lot of hassle or unwanted hurdles to jump over to get your account set up. Once downloaded, the installation was smooth and somewhat time consuming, taking a half an hour to install. Once installed, the game failed to load completely. I tried running it in Vista using default and in compatibility mode using Windows XP SP2 settings. This did not work at all until a week after the installation. This might have been my machines, but with two Vista machines, having the same problem is unlikely to be on our end. When the game finally started properly, it started downloading updates. It failed updates twice halfway through the download and I was forced to start the download over each time. It finally passed and I was on my way to the world of Shaiya Online.
Character creation was limited but smooth. It wasn’t difficult to find out what you were choosing, and several “are you sure?” pop-ups appeared when it came time to chose whether you are with the light or the darkness. If you choose the light side, you have the options of being a Fighter, Defender, Ranger, Archer, Priest, and Mage. If you take the path of the dark side, you will have selections including an Assassin, Pagan, Orade, Warrior, Hunter and Guardian. There isn’t a lot in the way of customizing how your character looks. An interesting addition to their character creation process is the ability to select what difficulty mode you want to play at. This is a great way to greet new players and keep old ones interested.
This is where the game takes a unique turn, even for a free MMO. You start your life in this new world in front of a town surrounded by giant bugs. Your job, kill bugs until you level yourself up a bit. That’s right, no tutorial, no plot introduction, no helpful guide. You are in a field full of bugs and it’s time to play exterminator. There is a small tutorial-like function where a text box will pop up and tell you about how to use the mouse, and the various menus when you open them for the first time. It appears to be a rather lazy approach to helping new comers get adjusted to the game. Still, the game play is simple and controls are easy to figure out after a little practice. Credit should be given to the fact that Shaiya utilizes the WASD movement keys! This is a great bonus and one that more than made up for its shortfalls in tutorials.
Leveling is a simple concept, but don’t expect to hit top level in a few days as many WoW players have come to expect. Once you hit level 15, leveling becomes more of a challenge and less of an expected result of regular farming and questing. Speaking of Quests, they are fairly straightforward. They feel a lot like farming during the early levels, as most of them consist of things you would do while farming.
Money is a problem. You will find a constant struggle with getting enough gold to make the purchases you need to keep your inventory properly stocked. This is a problem at low levels which goes away slightly as you advance to more rewarding quests and enemies. Shaiya makes its money by selling you in-world items through their Aeria Points system. They call this process “Recharging”.
Overall it’s a good looking game that doesn’t have a lot in the way of attractiveness for new players that have seen other games out there. It has appeal to anyone that really likes the light versus darkness theme. It is worth passing up if you prefer a game that has basic or easy leveling and not a lot of pressure to spend real world dollars in order to have a decently equipped character.
Link: Shaiya Online
This post was originally written for "The Frugal Geek", my Lockergnome blog.