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

December 18, 2014

Lords of Xulima - Their view on food and resting in RPGs

I want to share a very interesting post about how resting, healing and food is implemented in CRPG traditionally and which approach has been used and why in "Lords of Xulima". Personally I find the system used to be very good. It requires planning on part of the player when to actually rest and also to secure that you have reserves left to endure your way back to replenish them. Combined with skills such as hunting this is a very good approach. The advantage is that you will never run the risk of being interrupted in your resting by random encounters but your food supply is also consumed while you are moving and dependent on terrain factors.

December 15, 2014

Risen 3 - A true disappointment



Since Dragon Age Inquisition requires a quadcore processor I had to find another game to play this autumn. I bought Risen 3 for a good price and started up playing some weeks ago. I have ploughed around 12 hours into the game and I thought I should share my opinion of it.


I loved the first Risen. It was more like a game in a medieval setting. It was quite challenging and the balance and system felt fresh. It was a much better game from the developers of Gothic 3 than what Gothic - Acrania was. The gameplay was solid and both graphics and sound good. It was therefore not surprising that I looked forward to Risen 2.

Risen 2 turned out to be a disappointment though. There was quite a good gameplay system at its core but it was let down of poor voice acting, inmature dialogues and a caribbean setting. Still I played it to the bitter end and I enjoyed it, although never as good as Risen 1.

August 2014 was the release date for Risen 3. Has it become any better ?

No not at all. On the contrary it is even more dumbed down with horrible dialogues filled with curses everywhere and with the poorest voice acting of a main character I have ever encountered. The game is really horrible in that respect. I feel like a child when reading the simple dialogues. This game is meant for youngsters. Fem moments in the game is serious or eerie in any way. I cannot believe the developers are going this was. Sales must have fallen steadily since Risen 1 ? Their aim at a new generation seems to be a failure. 


The graphics is nothing to write home about. In par with the previous installment. Sure there are some nice views and environments but that´s all. The game feels empty. There is no reward for exploring even though you can practically go anywhere you like with few exceptions. When you find remote chests up in a ravine, mountain or whatever you expect some of them to contain valuable or important items like good weapons, armours or magical items. Not so here. They contain mostly mundane items which could be bought from any trader. There is no reward for exploring which for me is essential in any game roleplaying game.


Combat, while working, is tedious and quite boring. There are anmials and monsters to fight almost everywhere and unless you spend a lot of skill points into melee combat or get betters weapons somehow (which is hard) you will have quite long fights to dispose of even the simplest of enemies. Oh, and they almost always only drops food. There is no loot to talk about. They are just obstacles on your ways to or from something. My character is a melee-fighter so I haven´t used magic and only seldom ranged weapons so far in the game.


The gameworld is quite huge though. There are several Islands and each of them covers a lot of places and terrains. There are literally hundreds of quests. Many of them boring sidequests like fetching or delivering items. Like "Will you deliver this engaging ring to my fiance at this island ?"
Money is hard to get and you need it to pay your skill trainers. The problem is that there are so few weapons/armours in the game that it is hard to find any upgrades.

I am really worried about the turn Risen 3 has taken. The inmature dialogues are are appalling and the poor voice acting destroys any feeling of immersion. Either the developers change their course or let this be the last installment. They have destroyed a good original concept (I loved the Gothic series). Even the poor Gothic IV Arcania had better voiceacting and dialogues and that is not to say little.

Despite all this, there is still quite a solid skill/attribute/glory gathering engine in the bottom and monsters and environments are quite well-done. You can find teleporterstones (just like in Gothic 3) to use at teleporters which will help you travel quickly around the island you are at.

This game is only recommended if there are no other games out there or if you could get it heavily discounted.

I have just recently bought Lords of Xulima and I am totally hooked by that game. I strongly recommend that if you want a more true CRPG experience and not a casual action-RPG that Risen 3 offers. I will return to Lords of Xulima in a separate post. 

December 11, 2014

Lords of Xulima, balancing and autoscaling

I have just bought Lords of Xulima, a kickstarter funded old-school RPG which I am certain I will return to in a future posting. I was reading the developers blog about balancing in non-linear games and autoscaling and found it very good. Since it represents my view of the subject as well I recommend reading it here.

The developers vision

Lords of Xulima was born from the dreams of developers who have been playing countless RPGs from the beginning of the genre. One day we asked ourselves:
"What would make the ideal RPG for us?"
In Lords of Xulima, we have set out to make a challenging, turn-based RPG in the vein of the old school classics. We're making a game filled with character development, puzzles and often difficult strategic combat. Our goal is to create an immersive environment and a challenging combat system; how you choose to play it will be entirely up to you.



Features



  • More than 60 hours of true role playing experience.
  • Create your party with up to six characters, choosing between 9 classes and more than 100 unique skills. Customize your companions for the best of both worlds: A story-driven, active main character and a party which suits your favorite playstyle!
  • Strategic turn-based combat in first person view: Battle more than 100 enemies with unique skills and powers. 16+ Epic bosses to test your mettle
  • A vast continent to explore, with different environments and climates: You are free to go anywhere you want from the beginning of the game, but take care; the lands of Xulima are extremely dangerous.
  • More than 30 dungeons: Castles, towers and temples await for you to discover their secrets.
  • The depth and challenge of old school RPG classics, but with a modern, intuitive interface. Non-linear progress, rewarding strategic play, various layers of character development & compelling story.
  • Enchanting hand-drawn 2D graphics for landscapes and maps, mixed with 3D, pre-rendered models to bring smooth animations for characters and creatures.
  • Available for Windows, MAC and Linux.
  • Languages: English, Spanish.

  • If you want to learn more, see CPRG Addicts tryout here.

    December 6, 2014

    Legend of Grimrock II - Rated


    A few weeks ago I completed Legend of Grimrock II. It held to the very end and is one of the best games in its genre. It is even better than the first installment because of its variety.

    It is not a roleplaying game but rather a realtime-action roleplaying game which derive from Dungeon Master in the 80s. You will never meet any NPC and there is no shop or economy. But what it offers is a truly amazing immersion and experience.

    I won´t give it a full review here since there are already so many high quality ones out there but what I like is the excellent difficulty balance regarding puzzles and combat. You really feel the progression after completing puzzles or obstacles and if you get stuck you could usually try to enter other areas and then return. There are probably hundreds of minor and major problems to overcome that is not combat oriented. 90% of them I managed to solve of my own. I have left some unsolved but the one I have got totally stuck one that are mandatory in completing the game I had to check out. Despite this I feel very comfortable knowing that I solved almost all of them on my own. A far better ratio than was the case with the first game to me which I found was harder (or I have got used to the type of problems).

    I thought it was a little easier to get hold of food in this sequel than in the first. There is a huge river where you could find a lot of food and there are a few places where enemies are spawned that generates food. Despite this, there where seldom ample amounts of food so I had to be careful.

    Combat is quite varied and while the traditional run-around-your-foe works for the most part here the enemies have their own attack speeds and abilities. Fire elementals was quite a nuiscance since they are fast and could only be killed by a distance with spells. The Air elementals was very tough until I discovered they could be killed with dispel spell and so on. There are a few major boss encounters. Most of them was not too hard but not too easy either. A perfect balance.

    The graphics are suberb in the game and the environments beautiful. Most monsters are very well done as well. Music and sound effects are top notch. I have already included the main theme on my youtube playlist (including the excellen credits/ending theme). It reminds me much of the main theme of Game of Thrones.

    If you are used to easy progress games with instant rewards, look somewhere else. This game rewards patience and problem solving, preservation of limited supplies and persistence. 

    I am already looking forward to a sequel. Meanwhile I suppose there are self-made scenarios out there. 

    Since I lack a quadcore processor I have had to skip Dragon Age Inquisition for now and instead bought Risen 3 which I am currently occupied with.

    My minireview - without going into details - is as follows.


    Section
    Rating
    Gameworld & Story
    1.5
    Economy
    1
    NPC & Interactions
    1
    Monsters, tactics & combat system
    3
    Magic system
    3
    Character generation & development
    2.5
    Map design
    4.5
    Manual
    3
    Graphics, Sound and Interface
    4
    Summary CRPG value
    23.5


    Gameplay
    5