Currently playing: The incredible adventures of Van Helsing, Ravenloft: Strahd´s Possession

July 28, 2011

Demon's Winter - Getting stronger

Since I have vacation I have been able to play for 5-6 hours since the last post. I was still then at level 1. I finally found the Guild where you can gain a level for free if you have enough XP. When you gain a level you always get more hitpoints, spellpoints and three new levels of some other skills. Everything seems to be random. But according to the manual the amount of hitpoints and spellpoints should be based on your endurance and intellect.

The funniest moment in any game...

So what about the main quest ? To tell you the truth, you get very little help. I know Malifur is in the volcano in the south east. He can not free himself so he hopes his minons will achieve their hideous goals. I am still looking for Xeres but have no clue of where he might be. There was a rumour about a hidden city somewhere which I will investigate.

After having gained one or two levels I felt I was getting to grip with my constant deaths and dared to venture further down in the dungeouns I had found.

The first dungeon I entered was a underground tunnel that led to an island with a temple. The temple seemed looked like any other temple from the outside but by using a password I found on a note somewhere else I managed to get in to its dungeons below. That was scary but exciting. The major rooms are described in the game to give you some atmosphere. It is not often so when you get some texts to read you know it must be important in some way.

The passage below the sea
It turned out the tunnels below the sacred Temple hosted cultists devoted to the evil Xerses. I even met their leader and slained her. That was quite an easy fight and she was alone. But to find her I had to zig-zack myself of a floor full of traps. That was the first time I decided to draw maps of where I am. Another difficult part of the complex was the paths that made you see only the hex you was in. So I had do map every single step on paper to get the maze in front of me. But the rewarding was well worth it. I got a few crystal magical weapons and armour somewhere deep within these halls. I didn´t know of their effect and I could´nt identify them because it said they already was identified. The only mark that showed them different from other items was a certain mark I now know symbolises they are magical. In combats I discovered that the short sword actually could chill your oppnonents but I am not sure of what that effect really mean. I suppose it works like a chill spell and can decrease the enemies fighting capabilities.

Things of interests only show up after you Inspect the room
It took me awhile to understand the difference between look, examine, view room and inspect. But now I know that Look only looks for traps, examine only take a closer look of something you have seen and inspect actually is the option to use to highlight interests in the room as shown above. You can then mover,examine or use objects against the thing you find. For example, I had to crush glass shield that imprisoned a man with a hammer I found elsewhere and then use a potion on him to get him to talk. He then revealed some hints...but not very much.

After the first dungeon my goal was to get more gold so I could better equip my group and also make some money to spend on skills. There are a lot of places where you can learn skills but I want to only let a character get a new skill if he absolutely need it or it will improve the groups chances of success. The games uses the value for the characters intellect to buy skills in the game. Skills have different prices depending on which class that tries to learn it. A wizard pays the least for magic skills and more for weapon skills for example. There is however full possibility of any character to get any skill. This kind of system is very appealing to me and I like that part in the game. What I don´t really understand is that if you buy to many skills so you reach you intellect level, then you cannot learn any more skills until you have risen enough levels and been fortunate to have been bestowed new intellect points. Something that can take a lot of time and efforts. So I am very pecky about who get which skill now in the beginning.

A boat is neccessary to travel between the islands
The world is quite large. The game says it is 32 times larger than ite predecessor Shards of Spring. Much of the world is water though. When I had enough money to buy a ship (costs around 600 gold) I started to explore other islands. I had no idea where to go. When travelling at sea you get into sea combats just as often as if you where travelling on land.

One huge advantage of travelling with boat is that the fights are much quicker and you get a lot of expericence points. But, you don´t get any gold. So by travelling around I quickly got enough experience to raise another two levels. But the fights forces me to go back and repair my ship and that is very expensive. Now I try to evade and run away from the battles since you don´t have docks in all cities and there is a risk that you reaches a continent without a dock with a ship that has so few hit points left that you cannot survive to come back again. That means you are stuck forever! I don´t want fall into that trap.

You always need more gold...
There are only a few different weapons and armours in the game but they could be varied by the endless amounts of magical properties. Magic items are extremely expensive. So much in fact that even if I am in level 7 right now, I cannot afford to buy any. Most of my money goes to reviving dead or binded characters or to repair my ship.

I have now played long enough to better review this game.

What I like:

  • The skill system, where every skill is available to every class but at different costs. Also there are quite a few skills and five or so magic shools. Barbarians have shamanism.
  • The few but good descriptions of different locations. That´s what creates atmosphere and the feeling of you having stumbled into something important in contrast to the
  • Difficulty seems to be good balanced so far. Despite me being at level 7 I still have the same problem of too little gold and too much to spend it on. New skills (teachers could be expensive), better equipment or repairing your boat.
  • I like the randomness of the items available at the merchants, as well as their prices and their abilities to lie about items capabilities.
  • For some strange reason, I have played for 8 hours now and even temporarily halted Drakensang - River of Time because of this game which is over 20 years older.
  • Fights allows for some tactics used. You get bonuses to strike from behind and you can flee. You must also decide wether to save your move points to be able to defend better or to use them to attack more often.
What I don´t like so far:

  • Too many battles, almost always occuring after around 40 moves unless you stumble inte an important location. It could get a little tedious. I would rather have fewer but stronger opponents. I haven´t even fully utilised my single wizard because that takes time. I just want to get rid of the small battles to be able to move on to my greater goals.
  • Almost every item you find is accompanied by the? symbol which means it COULD have some special properties but i almost never has (at least not from random encounters). It costs a lot of gold (75) to have them identified.
  • Skills separate identification by types, like weapons, potions etc That is a waste of skill points in my opinion.
  • You could get stuck on an island with a boat of only 1 hp. If you have saved on that island without a dock you can´t buy a new boat or get away in any way and since there is only one save slot you could get stuck forever.
  • Only one save slot. They could at least have allowed for a few more. You never know when you save underground if you ever will get out alive. If you save by mistake in a very bad situation you have no way of managing to get out and continue the game.
  • Monsters, at least the ones to meet certain death by the group, should be able to flee if everything seems lost. Instead they fight to the death. It only gets frustrating trying to kill a few thugs when your powerful enough.
  • The A.I could have been better. Monsters don´t attack together and divide their numbers. They might go for the weak ones but often one at a time. You often win by concentrating all your characters at one enemy at a time. Something which is very common even in SSI:s goldbox games.
  • The cumbersome interface. It is quite horrible in the beginning. Why am I not able to sell severla items at once ? Now I have to repeat the whole sale process for every single item. SELL -- > Who --> Choose item --> Confirm price --> repeat....you get a loot of loot after a while and it is quite tedious to get rid of it.

3 comments:

  1. I'm surprised neither you nor the CRPG Addict, to my knowledge, had mentioned one thing missing from this game - ranged combat. There are no ranged weapons and no corresponding skill. For a game that tried to be tacical this omission is surprising.

    But what annoys me most with this game, is the way ID'ing items work. The only time you are actually told what a weapon does is when buying it from a merchant, so you need to write down what it does. Magic items that you loot OTHO seems to be already ID'ed. At least the one you find in the first dungeon, which you mentioned. So the only way to really gauge an item's worth is to see how much you can sell it for.

    The user interface is crude, but having recently played Star Command (another 1988 game) Demon's Winter was actually an improvement. :-)

    In general I like this game. I like the skills system, even though they are rather unbalanced. And combat was easier and quicker than I thought.

    There seems to be some difference between the Amiga version (which I'm playing) and the other versions. I couldn't pick Fencing for my Paladin, for example, and the game always starts my party at the ruins of Ildryn. The graphics are nearly as crude, though...

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  2. You are right. It is strange that ranged weapons doesn´t exist. I don´t remember if I even reflected over that or if I just forgot to mention it. There are so few item slots so with ranged weapons it will be hard to keep all strange items you find as well.

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  3. Heh, after posting my comment above I found out that you can see the proper name of a magical items by viewing it in the characters' possessions from the Camp menu. So now my wizard has a Crystal Dagger +1. But what is the property of "Crystal" (or "well made" for that matter)? The manual doesn't tell, but I suspect that "well made" just makes it more valuable.

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