Video game adaptations of movies are a dime a dozen—you've got Transformers the Movie the game, E.T. the game. No matter the subject matter, very few of the games turn out as well-received as the films—not everyone can be a GoldenEye—oftentimes these "tie-in" games are just a repeat of the movie but with some interactive elements. In the case of Painted Skin 2: The Resurrection, the game adaptation is pretty much just that, a massively multiplayer online game with some interactive elements packaged with the story of the movie.
While Painted Skin 2 was a good movie, the same can't be said for the game. Before I break into details about the online game, let me first give a little back story about the world of Painted Skin.
Taking place in "ancient" China (China has, what, 5000 years of history?) between the Qin and Han dynasties (221 B.C - 220 A.D.), Painted Skin tells the story of a fox demon who masquerades as a human and her need to feast on human hearts to keep up her disguise. Long story short, said demon meets two lovers and falls in love with guy while attempting to take his heart. The girl dies and the guy, stricken with grief, asks the demon for her old lover's life. Having fallen for the human, the demon decides to give up her powers and becomes a regular fox.
The second movie, the one the MMO is based on, follows the original story with an added twist. The demon fox is looking for the right human heart to consume to become human. A similar love triangle is present in the story with an added element that if the demon fox doesn't find the right heart to consume, she would be jailed in ice. Keeping with the name and motif of wearing skins, the second movie actually has skin changing, something supposedly also found in the game.
Pretty much like a movie adaptation, the game starts just like the movie. The demon fox is frozen and the player character sets the demon free. The end goal of the game is supposedly to help the fox demon become human as well as fix the world and all its demonic wars. This game was slated by Chinese gaming press such as Tencent and Sina as one of the most anticipated of games of 2012. However, while the premise of the game sounds interesting, the game really doesn't feel like a game.
Like pretty much every other Chinese MMO, it relies on the fact that it's free, accessible, and that it has loads of micro-transactions to make money. The game is 100 precent free, but with that comes a loss of quality. With those same characteristics, Painted Skin 2 falters as a game.
The game is way too accessible. The awesome autorun function is pretty much now an auto play function. For the first 15 levels of the game all I had to do was click once every 5 minutes to confirm or deny an action. I don't even have to fight any monsters or use any skills. Even during boss fights, all I had to do was to sit there and watch. Although the game was on auto pilot, there was one element that was quite fun.
Every few clicks I was given a different mount from a crane to a blue jay, eventually to an oversized finch. It was quite fun to watch my large "human" character sit on the tiny neck of a super-sized crane. All of it felt way too easy—I'm baffled by the fact that people can spend actual money on this, especially since I was given a flying mount at LEVEL FOUR!
At some point in the game, I was also given a pet that looked like a nipple top for a baby bottle and a whole buttload of in game friends who tried to sell me odd services. Every now and again I would also get a prompt giving me a free item as well. It was almost like how I would be told my Zombies are ready in ZombieFarm.
This game was so simple that I was able to beat the first 4 bosses without using any skills. My left hand only ever touched the keyboard to type out questions to fellow gamers, most of which were once again trying to sell me odd services that I didn't need. Though arguably, one of the more fun moments of the game did come from the boss battles. At the end of every boss encounter, there is a screen citing how well you did. Followed by that screen, a mini roulette game starts giving away bonuses, and one can win a "rare" item from that roulette wheel—unfortunately I've only ever won potions.
Sadly for an autoplay game, the graphics and audio are poor. It isn't much to look at and the music isn't as soft and emotive as the movie's soundtrack.
Compounding the lack of polish, the game has a really, really odd style. Partway through, it feels like the designers wanted to incorporate some sci-fi elements into the Chinese martial arts fantasy. One of the mounts I was given halfway through was a spaceship—something out of Star Wars. Another mount that I was given was a ridiculous space rocket cycle kind of deal, which almost looked like it was lifted from the ever amazing BattleToads & Double Dragon beat-em up for the SNES.
With all of its faults and letdowns, Painted Skin 2 isn't completely terrible; I just wouldn't call it game. In fact, it's more like a glorified chatroom with the occasional questing. Sadly, I wasn't able to find out how to change the resolution of the game—if I could, I'd definitely run the game while say, playing a movie.