Sometimes reviews come too late. Deep Realms was a Facebook exclusive Social RPG that is now no longer available to play. The game has vanished and even the official Facebook page has been taken down. It’s a crying shame too because for a while there this was the pinnacle of RPGs on that medium.
DC Universe Online sets itself in the ‘old’ DCU as seen in the comics prior to Flashpoint and the advent of the New 52. If none of those things mean anything to you it summarises easily as ‘Superman wears his traditional costume and Wally West is still a red-headed Flash’. For people of my age that means a lot because ‘my’ DCU doesn’t exist anywhere else any more.
Once upon a time in-browser games were a rarity reserved for the occasional Adobe Flash game. RPGs were rare in this medium, in a landscape dominated by dating sims, puzzle games and platformers. Many people considered them too much of an investment and too broad in scale to work within the medium. Into this landscape came Adventure Quest, one of the earliest examples of a casual, social RPG.
Book of Heroes is a new wave of RPGs that have been coining the term ‘Social RPGs’. Essentially they are MMOs that function in a manner similarly to Facebook in that they are a single player experience that can be enjoyed and evolved with the addition of friends without having to form parties and being stuck out in the cold for content like a traditional MMO if you can’t get a group together. They’re lighter fare than most RPGs and have less of a focus on story, but dilute the fighting, questing, leveling and world saving down into a comfortably fun package that you can play casually. That’s not a dirty word by the way, casual gamers make up a huge portion of the market now and RPGs fit in wonderfully to that gimmick of pick up and put down gaming because the grind lends itself to exactly that kind of play.