Currently playing: 7 mages, Drive to Moscow, Ravenloft: Stone Prophet

April 25, 2017

Ravenloft: Strahd´s Possession - Promising

With this post I feel things are coming together with the game. Its true self are slowly showned and the more I see the more I like it. It sure have its irksome interface but I am slowly getting used to it and it works better and better.

I never gave up the Caverns west of Barovia. I just had to methodically write notes on the map and to find all teleporters and hidden doors. The graphics is so pixelated in large screen that it is hard to see what things really are. To find a hidden button is very hard and easy to miss. To find a secret passage is even harder. I have now started to strafe myself against the walls and have found several hidden doors that way. This cavern requires you to find four jade keys to open four special doors in order to proceed. I got stuck from time to time and to get myself going again I had to get some hints from an online map that pointed out something I had forgotten or missed totally. Like a secret door. That was the only way for me to proceed. It also turns out that I had to go back and recruit the priest in the entrance of the caves because she is the only one to open one of the last doors in this cavern.


My new system of just clicking on the enemies instead of my characters weapons have made combat much easier. The cavern was inhabited by skeletons and the occasional bone golem. Those golems are pretty tough but not with some magic missiles. I find that magic missiles feels quite overpowered. Most of the tougher enemies in the game could be taken out with only one missile if you´re lucky and at most two or three hits.

The cave hid some interesting stuff like some wands and a few magical weapons. At that time I didn´t have any of my mages with me but a low level spel is identify which I cast on every weapon/armour I find to know wether they are magical or now. If not, I will just drop them. There are also quite many potions littered around in the game and I have never used a single one of them because healing in this game is pretty easy. You could rest almost everywhere as long as you are not in vicinity of an enemy. That replenishes all your spells and also heals the party. It is fortunate this part of the game is pretty liberal since there are other areas that are hard with it.

One major item which is vital in the caves is a key that leads to the church northeast of the village.


Teleporter



Anyway, after some tough searching I finally came to the last door and then the priestess awakened and helped me to open it. Unfortunately those last stages of the game was filled with tough monsters. Just when we had found the portal which we believed was the only way to exit this land and entered it we found that we where teleported to the town again. The warrior that had joined us had disappeared and left us and we felt cheated. The priestess had fulfilled her mission too and abandoned us and we stood there with a huge pile of items they left behind. The only way to pick them up was to quickly recruit two other NPC:s. I returned back to the wilderness just before the caves and picked up the strange mage. Then we returned to the city and I picked up my old companion mage at the tavern. We then got all the equipment and I choosed a base for us. An empty house we used as a stockpile for all of the items we didn´t need for the time being. After this process we continued to explore the village.




Prayer sceen for priests
I found at least one other NPC, a female paladin but since my main character already was one I was content with my party as it was and we left the village to explore the northern parts. The grounds outside the church was filled with undead, mostly zombielike creatures that was easily disposed of. We entered the church with the key we found in the caves and soon discovered a paralysed priest in the main hall in front of an altar and a black mirror where it seemed his soul was trapped in. We spoke to him to learn from his terrible faith and continued to explore these halls. They consisted of two large levels filled with undead, traps and secret passages. 


Church



It took me a few hours to clean out the two levels. Early on I found a book that contained some sort of ritual where I needed four very specific items. I also found a book which I completed by finding missing pages that formed an important message. Together - I suspected - they hold the key to free the high priest in the mirror but those pieces were hard to find. Especially I had trouble open two doors opposide each other with no visible button, hidden door or secret passage nearby. I had to cheat on this one but the solution was not found because this wasn´t particular hard. I found out in a let´s play that the lever for these doors where behind a pillar in the neighbouring room which I had totally missed. The temple was filled with new potions, chests (which act as containers) and some weapons. now I had the mages with me and could both identify all items and also scribe every scroll we found down to the spellbook. One favourite item I found was a magical throwing daggar that returns to the throwers hand. This made it possible to fight with one of my mages to the right because they can only use ranged weapons.

I also had much help of my elven mage that has an innate ability to find secret doors. It helped out a lot in this place.



Eventually we completed the levels and returned to the trapped priest and read the ritual to free him.

As always lovely and helpful comments from the group from time to time

The next part was to explore the area east of the church grounds which was the cemetary. This place increased the difficulty a lot because it was filled with close to 100 undead of which a dozen vampires with draining level abilities. To fight them became my hardest part. Level draining is perhaps the worst thing in any RPG because every level lost could easily translates to several hours of gameplay in grinding. So naturally I saved before trying to confront any vampire and then immediately checked my level status after a fight before saving again.

This took time but even here the tactics is not to get in melee contact. Just shoot magic missiles, fireballs or ice storms and the vampires are quickly gone. It took some hours to clear the whole place including searching into every house in the cemetary. I found a locked grave of the person that murdered the jeweller in the village. I couldn´t open the door but by returning to the village and NOW accept the quest of possession I got the key from the jeweller and could open this tomb. And there he was, an undead lord that I did fight by hurling a few magic missiles at him and then it was over. By returning to the village afterwards I completed this quest and was given a few magical items.





After having reequipped ourselves we where ready to explore the last part of the cemetary...

So my reflections now is that the music had become a little better. I love the sudden screams, footsteps and echos in the environment and the music even picked up a little in the church. Fighting is relatively easy when not fighting level draining creatures. I feel that offensive spells are overpowered compared to similar AD&D games.

More about my adventures in the cemetary in my next post...







April 22, 2017

Ravenloft - Strahd´s Possession - Trying to like it

I continued my quest in them game Strahd´s Possession. I found the village Bovaria. It turned out to be quite large with many, many houses to search. I thought I could just do them systematically but the awkward interface and the terrible graphics in fullscreen mode made it easy to miss exploring some building. Therefore I used the automap which is fully acceptable and you can also make notes on it. I put a X-sign on every house explored and marked places of certain interests.



There are day/night cycles in the game and especially at night the streets are more dangerous. I was attacked by several brigands/thieves which I had to fight off. Fortunately you could rest quite liberally except when in immediate danger. I must tell you that the combat system is really awkward. It plays out in realtime but the steering is terrible which makes it hard to turn around to face the enemies when they also tries to circle you. The combat is a click fest. At least you get information if you miss or hit and what damage you inflict or receive but other than that it is slow and cumbersome. Enemies don´t reveal their health status so you have no idea which in a group have already injured. Also, my figher turns out to be the worst member of the group. He hardly hit but receives most of the damage. The only way effective way to fight is to use my mages magic missiles and my priests flame blade. Since you also don´t get any loot or any visible experience points (I am sure I get it. I would just like to see it like a reward) fightning feels quite unneccessary. It is just a hinder. Enemies seems to wander around by random until they see you and then swarm you. We are all starting on level 6 so any immediate level ups are also not on the table at this stage.

Ok, apart from the boring fights, what happened in the town ?



    Map from the old Paladin
  • I met an old Paladin that had lost his amulet of faith and couldn´t live or die with that shame. He gave me a map where I would find a tree stump and asked me to take a pick from him and dig just west of the tree. There I would find a key leading down to the catacombs under the village. Somewhere there lies the amulet. 


I did all of this and it was quite interesting. The underground catacombs was pretty large filled with fireball traps, living walls and its evil denizens. I could only fight them with magic because my melee weapons did only 1 or 2 points of damage. I had to rest and rememorize my spells a lot down here. Eventually I found two important keys that unlocked some doors. Behind this I found the amulet. I was very lucky because one of the keys was hidden in a room only accessible through an illusionary wall which I just stumbled into. They are very hard to spot with this bad graphics at the fullscreen resolution. It took me 1,5 hour to go through this catacomb.




The automaps for the game are quite good

When I returned to the Paladin he opened a room with my reward. A Paladins sword and some armour. None of them was any better than my starting equipment so I got very dissappointed. I don´t know if they have some special properties or are magical which I cannot detect but the descriptions of their damage or or my armour class was not affected at all.

What lies ahead of me is to explore the rest of the houses. It would take a few hours because I have only begun to explore a few of them. I have decided to take help from an online site with the town already mapped out just to save some time.

Right now I struggle with giving up this game because I don´t feel any progression with my characters, weapons or anything and the interface is really terrible. It is slow and clumsy. To use a potion or an item I have to go to the inventory, select the item put it in my hand and then return to the main screen and press the hand. Still, the free roaming movement in the 3D-world is slow by using the numeric keypad on my keyboard.

Inside a building in the village

The music is very simple but it tries to be atmospheric. I found the music in Ultima Underworld much better. The game's strongest part is the interactions with NPC:s and that your partymembers actually comment things they see from time to time. That is a very good thing and not very common. It reminds me of Realms of Arkania and games like Blade of Destiny and Shadows over Riva. This is probably Strahd´s possessions strongest part right now.



I probably did a mistake by visiting the jeweller in the village. I had already been warned in a comment of my first post but never understood that it was this encounter until it was too late. The jeweller was an undead that demanded that I would slain his murderer who stole things from him a long time ago. This murderer could be found in the cemetary and is now some sort of undead lord. Until I have fulfilled my promise my soul are now possessed by the jeweler. I didn´t acutally find out until an hour or two later when I checked the status of my paladin. He was possessed it said. But I never understood what it meant......Until just some moments later when the ghost of the jeweller haunted me impatiently and said the undead lord still lives and he demanded me to go there or he would squeeze the life out of me. It was then I understood I had some sort of time limit before my Paladin would be lost.

What would YOU have done ?

I had to google this part up and it was obvious this is one the worst things you could do early on in the game. It is way too hard to fulfill that quest at this stage so my paladin is lost. I thought about quitting the game right here but decided to do one more try by reloading an old save and avoid this jeweller for now. I am glad I did because the game started to grow on me afterwards.

My next exploration in the village was the mansion and the village mayor. He was obviously a puppet for Strahd himself (the ruler of this land) and told me that Strahd had invited me and gave me an introduction letter. In the room he already had an elven guest and after we had spoke for awhile I recruited her to my group. It turned out she was a mage as well. I have no clue wether experience points is divided between the parytmembers or not so until that is confirmed, the more the better. 

After I had explored the mansion and picked up some scrolls in the library I was ready to accept the invitation to visit Strahd Zarovich. Now a cutscene took over showing the carriage taking me to Strahds castle. This is a nice touch in the game and all texts are spoken as well which adds much to the atmosphere.





Suddenly I was inside the gates at the castle. I could not explore it since guards where everwhere. The only way forward was to the dining hall where I med Strahd Zarovich for the first time. He was polite and told me in no uncertain terms that there is no way to leave these lands. However there was rumoured to exists some teleporters which he wanted me to investigate in the caves west of Barovia village and since he hadn´t the time himself and trusted us he gave us a key to enter those.



Then he invited us to a splendid dinner with the best wine of the country before letting the driverless carriage return us to the village. And here I was again. At least with a clear goal again. Now things started to get more interesting and I decided to head for the caves so we left the village through the western gate and entered a wilderness. We where immediately attacked by skeleton bats but this time I found that the easiest thing to fight anything in the game is to just clicking on them and all available weapons will attack in their order of readiness. Now the combats actually was managable and I could get rid of dozens of skeleton bats withouth much trouble.

The only interesting place in the wilderness was a house with a mage that had made it to his permanent residence. He was interested in joining us but since I already had my party at full strength I declined. Instead I found the entrance to the caves to the west but also a new NPC woman who was also in search of those caverns. She could also join us but I refused this time as well and decided to enter the caves with the key Strahd had given us. 





This underground cavern turned out to be huge and hard to navigate. Not only because it was filled will teleporters and disorienting squares but it was also filled of skeletons. Those where, however, easily disposed of but before I entered the main area yet another NPC showed up. A strong warrior who I decided to replace my first multiclass fighter/thief/mage aquaintance. If not only because I now didn´t have as much strugge in combat as before when I had to rely almost solely on magic. He was a fighter at level 7 and quite competent so he is with me for the time being.



Death comes often in this game
Attacking skeleton

I have to say that I end this post with a better understanding and a more positive view of the game than after my last post. Combat is more managable now and the story have developed. I also love the cutscenes and the dialogues with the NPC:s and from the group members. Those texts are really well written, like reading a fantasy book. 

This cave however is hard to navigate and all teleporters are not activated or functional while othere require keys. I haven´t found a single key yet and I have searched everywhere. My worst nightmare is if there are illusionary walls here because frankly, in a free roaming, slow moving game like this it would take ages to search the walls and that is just too boring and tedious with the little time I have to spare. I might look up a map of this place to help me out if I don´t find anything soon.

I would imagine that at the time in 1994 this game would be a really good RPG. Too bad the graphics is not coming to its best to be played in fullscreen. I sometimes play it in a very small window just to try to understand what I actually see on the screen.

I was very near to quit this game when I found out about the irreversible possession you get from the jeweller ghost. I had no motivation to reload an old save game. I even let my possessed character be killed in order to use a scroll of raise dead to see if I could get rid of the possession but with no success. Anyway, I am glad I did give it another chance so I could progress a little more in the story. Let´s see if the labyrinths and dungeons of the game will be the irritating part that will destory my progress.....

 


April 19, 2017

Revisited: Ravenloft - Strahd's Possession




GOG recently had a sale of old SSI games and I couldn´t resist buying a dozen old titles. Among them was Ravenloft: Strahds Possession. A game from 1994 which I had never played. At that time I still had my Amiga 1200 and so I missed out these great RPG titles that where released for the PC platform in the beginning of the 1990s.

Since it was a long time I revisited a real old-school RPG I thought this could be the moment for a comeback. I have no experience of the Ravenloft world at all. But it seems based on the AD&D rules of which I am very familiar with. 

The game begins with an introduction of a king that is robbed of an amulet and me and a companion are sent after the fleeing thief. But before that I have to create the two characters which is played out by a gypsie giving me cards with choices of gender, race and class. I can then reroll my stats until I am satisfied but to my astonishment I could also edit them to set any value I like. That seems very strange and it feels strange to spend time re-rolling (one of the traits we old gamers have) when I just could cheat. I will try to re-roll the best results I could get and I chooses a warrior and a priest. 

Character generation



I created a human figher and a human priest. I rerolled for 10 minutes until I got satisfied with the results. It turns out you start at level 6 already. That was a dissappointment because this is the first in the Ravenloft series and it will take them to raise a level. 

Now, we started just outside a wood and in the far distance we could see the thief. First I checked that all my weapons and armours were properly weared and the we run to the thief and a fight begun which we won quite easily. He dropped a few items, amongst them the amulet but also a parchment.


 The parchment suggested that the amulet was vital in order to defeat the vampire Strahd that seems to live in the castle Ravenloft. Just after reading this a mist formed around us and we were suddenly brought to another part of the world. There we could never leave the boundaries of the mist so we had to explore the way forward and soon came to small walled compound. In there we found another document but also a ladder leading down to an underground cellar. It was empy of denizens and we found a few healing potions and an armour. I never found any hidden passages so we had to return above again and leave this walled place. It was then we where attacked by worgs. 

The mist that surrounded us in the woods

Fights are done in realtime and I have to click on the weapons as quickly as they regain their coolness period. It was not too hard to kill a single worg but this place was full of them and also of goblinlike creatures which was very hard to kill. I had to reload at least once until switched tactic and decided to run through all encounters. That led us to some remain that we plundered of a few healing potions before coming to a walled maze of plants. Here I was overtaken by three brigands which I only hardly defeated before saving the game once again.


Exploring the underground cellar

Thank god there is an automap in the game
 The forested area I was in was called a road according to the sign. I explored this road southward and after having fighted some other bats, brigands and worgs - and rested in between. I came to some sort of fort or castle with double doors impossible to open. I had to explore the surroundings which was a forest but nothing of interst laid there. I returned to explore north and was ambushed by three brigands. After a tough fight where I was about to die the survivor yielded to me.


I let him go because i had so little health left and he told me how to get to their camp. When he was gone I continued my exploration northward. I had still to find any items. I have the same weapons and gold as in the start so it seems it will be hard to get items in this game. The creatures does not give you any loot, neither can you see their health bars when fightning.


After awhile I found a man who told med that Strahd is a good leader and that he is no king. He also sells a potion with which I could pass the inpenetrable mists at the borders. He would stay at a village farther north if I ever got the golds required. At least I had a goal. To reach the village and find out more. On my way there I walked upon a woman who clearly was only interested in gold or how to get it. I thought she was a thief first and after some conversation I recruited her to my group so we are three now. It turned out she was a thief/warrior/mage. Any help at this stage is good help. 



I reached the village and it turned out to bee quite large. I begun to explore house by house since  I didn´t find any visible inhabitants. I could enter any building but I never met anyone who wanted to speka to me. Meanwhile this background music is playing its horror themes in my earphones. The quality is what could be expected from this time but at least there are digitized voices of the NPC:s which is a nice touch. 




 I don´t know what to make of this game so far. I cannot say I am overwhelmed by the game, its graphics or interface (which is a bit clumsy to say the least). But I have read only good reviews of this game so I will give it a chance. What I do like is that you r characters are commenting on things seen or happening which adds to the story and atmosphere. I have no sense of progressiong right now. Since I am already at level 6 it feels quite unneccessary to combat these random encounters since I would need so much experience points to gain a level and they never carry any loot anyway.

Let´s see how this game evolved during the next hours....




April 18, 2017

Review: Avadon 2 - The Corruption




Game reviewed: Avadon 2 - The Corruption
Version: 1.0.1s
Created by: Spiderweb Software
Released: 2013
Formats: Pc
Difficulty: 7/10
Price$9.49

According to Steam I have played for 83 hours. That is not entirely true if the time counts when the game has been paused for long periods tough, but it give a hint of the size of this game.

I have reached what I believe to be the last part of the game. The problem is that it is just damned hard. Even when switching difficulty down to casual I am not able to defeat one of the major subcombats before the final one (don´t wan´t to spoil anything here). So I give up. I don´t have the time and patience to try to complete this when other games are knocking on my door. I do have a good grip of the game tough to make a review.

This game was much larger than anticipated. It has been a solid experience. The game has a good story and world going for it and the dialogues are well over average for this type of game, only superceded by Biowares and Bethesda games.

I´ve already told you about how the system works in previous posts so lets get down to business and see how it fares in each category.



Gameworld & Story

The gameworld is well defined with several countries and faunas with their own cultures and motivations. The Pact, Avadon and the borderlands are interesting places and the game is filled with references to them all the time. The story of the game is quite good. A rebellion is forming and a former highplaces Avadon Hand has became a traitor and must be tracked down. Everything is twinned together. The aging Avadon commander Redbeard tries to keep the alliance together but is tired and dizzy. Still he or his subordinates send you out on different missions which is important to restore the balance and stop the rebellion.

I would say these parts are one of Blackspider webs strongest parts.

Rating: 4

Economy

You have access to several shops around the world with different prices and inventories. In the beginning you lack gold (as always) and there is much you would like to buy in the shops but only after a third into the game I felt the shops never contained anything really powerful when it comes to weapons or armours. You will always find better equipment than what the shops are offering which means that all your gold could be spent on buying different kind of potions (health, speed, restoration etc) and scarabs (scarabs give permanent effects as long as you wear them in special character slots).

The variety of weapons and armours are also not very good with just a few different kind of wands, one-handed and two-handed weapons.

So I am disappointed because there are very few good items out there and the difference between them is slight. Still, lockpicks and potions cost quite much and you never really get rich. I think I had at the most 9.000 crowns in the game and a potion costs around 200. You need them to survive the harder and longer fights. For a game this modern and with all the experience back in the trilogy I would have expected more.

Rating: 2.5


NPC & Interactions

This is one of the games stronger points. There are a lot of NPC:s in the game. Both those that are part of the main missions and sidequests but also the ordinary people and shopkeepers. The dialogues are very well written most of the time and keep up the interest without wasting any valuable time with nonsense texts. Characters, their appearance as well as environments are well described.

The interactions of the game consists of pushing the occasional button or lever to open a secret passage or door but overall it is not much. You will find chests and containers and the world is filled with different kinds of tools and junk. Most of it is worthless though.

Rating: 3.5

Monsters, tactics and combat system

Magic system

The game has no specific magic mechanics. It works just like skills for other classes so there is no mana. You will drain your vitality points just like when using skills. The only difference is that you usually equip your mages with wizards staffs since they are ranged weapons.

So in total I can´t say there is a separate magic system in the game. The mage classes do have their own skill trees though and these are quite varied between the classes. The shaman can summon creatures for example but I found even the most powerful ones to be quite weak. The other magic classes might do more direct damage instead but never do you feel enough powerful.

My favourite spells was mass confusion and mass haste throughout the game. Most of my area effect spells was pretty weak.

Rating: 2



Character generation & development

At the start you can choose among the different classes that exists for your main character. You don´t have to feel you will miss something because you will get followers in each category but in certain places in the game you will be playing alone and then it can be more or less hard depending on the class you have chosen.

When you increase in level you will get a randomly selected increase in an attribute (Strength, Intelligence, Dexterity, Endurance) and will get one point to freely increase. Then you get two skill points to distribute in the skill tree. Skills requires two points to aquire and one to level up. They also get more and more powerful the more skillpoints you invest and consists of part upgrades so you get a special feature at level 3 and level 6 in each skill. You also get a bonus skillpoint in a treebransch every 5 levels or so. This system works very well and I even found one person whom you could retrain your characters with.

To increase in level is really a pleasure. This part of the game works pretty well.

Rating: 3


Map design

Maps are irregular. At least underground so you will never be sure of how large a place is. The design and level layout are generally quite good with underground rivers, lava streams and tunnels. The outdoor areas spans forests, desert like landscapes and mountains. It feel like a thought is behind it all.

Rating: 4

Manual

At least there is a manual for the game (these days you couldn´t be sure of anything). It explains the game mechanics in the end part which is very good but I never noticed it until writing this.

Rating: 3


Graphics, Sound and Interface

The graphics in the game is quite simple, yet functional and easy to grasp. Even though there are a lot of garbage littering around which you could pick up but never have any reason too. The interface is also quite nice and easy to understand. You have the usual quickslots, garbage collector area and can switch between the characters easily when you swap items or sell/buy things in a shop.

The sound of the game is perhaps its weakest part. There are only some ambient sounds and never any melodies played in the game except at the start menu. The soundeffects are ok but everything sound just like the Black Fortress sounded which was released a few years earlier.

Rating: 3

Gameplay

No matter what the CRPG summary value gets, the gameplay value is the single most important factor and this game gets a solid four. The story is good and engaging as well as the environmental descriptions and most of the NPC:s you meet are portrayed in a good way. Unfortunately I found I could never play for more than two hours at a time because of the constant fights everywhere which gets tiresome. If the designer would choose to add more tactics available during tactical combat like flanking, backstabbing, taking cover etc it would be much more interesting. For example, I never see any enemy spellcaster run out of vitality points which is a shame. They could bombard you forever. Also it would be nice to see sometimes in a game a wounded creature that actually gets its combat performance reduced.

I would also like to see a better use of the money gained. There where not enough good equipment to loot or buy and the later combats became harder and harder. Credit to the developer for actually making some combats require you to think because not in all of them you can just slaugher the enemies without first solving some things like finding a way to harm the leader by breaking a protective barrier for example.

The game is well worth its money and can you get it on sale at Steam or GoG it comes highly recommended.



Section
Rating
Gameworld & Story
4
Economy
2.5
NPC & Interactions
3.5
Monsters, tactics & combat system
3
Magic system
2
Character generation & development
3
Map design
4
Manual
3
Graphics, Sound and Interface
3
Summary CRPG value
28


Gameplay
4











April 2, 2017

The Keep - Review



Game reviewed: The Keep
Version: 1.0.6
Created by: Cinemax
Released: 2017
Formats: Pc
Difficulty: 6/10
Price$14.99


Another Dungeon crawler arrived just a few weeks ago and I bought it almost immediately having only read one or two Steam reviews of it. The game is very similar to last years dungeon crawlers. It is short, linear, limited character development but fun. So let´s dwelve a little deeper into it and see what it brings to the table. And can it compete with the previous ones ?





Gameworld & Story

The gameworld consists only of underground environments so there will be no score in that field. The story for being a dungeon crawler is above average. Between every level you get some new graphics and voices detailing what is happening and how you proceed in your quest. While it is short and have no bearing on the actual play it brings some atmosphere and immersion. Also add the readable plaques found in the mazes that you read out loud like in Stonekeep and that also adds to the atmosphere and feel of the place. The dungeons don´t feel som randomly built with those comments.

Rating 1.5

Economy

There is no money in the game and therefore no shops and no economy.

Rating: 1

NPC & Interactions

There are no NPC in the game at all. But some of the oppnonents you meet will say something to you in short dialogues which adds to the atmosphere. Interactions in the game consists of pulling levers, pushing buttons and weigh down preaussure plates. You can throw items short or long distances and often have to do that or put things behind bars to weigh down preaussure plates. You could also grab torches to light your way instead of using magic.

Rating: 1.5

Monsters, tactics & combat system

The game contains enough different monsters and humanoids to make it interesting. Many of the have their own strength and weaknesses. For example, the ghosts can move through walls which is very dangerous since they also can attack you by surprise. Some use long range magic even though there are very few magic users. Some could heal themselves which I had much problem with initially and had to save after every fight.

Monster never uses any particular tactics. They all fight to the death and will not try to surround you in any way. You could however use some tactics against them. Either by using square dance which works pretty well as long as you have room to manouver and no other monster joins the fray or by using a combination of your magic. I played a character where 2/3 of my skill points where put into melee attributes and the rest in magic abilities. I always used a combination in fights, often beginning with magic. My favourite the last half of the game was to freeze the opponent and then cast lightning on them for more damage. Then shift to melee and empty my stamina before going back to magic again.

Regeneration is slow for both stamina and mana but can be increased by increasing attributes like intelligence. You will need to use potions in tougher fights to be able to survive though.

I think the combat system worked pretty well. What I really liked was the fact that it was possible to use traps against the monsters. In some of the later levels there are some real tough fights but I were able to destroy a lot of enemies by luring them into rooms where I could open trapdoors and let them be spiked. Sometimes I just had to escape from them in order to proceed.

Rating 3

Magic system

By gathering runes - which are quite rare - and finding scrolls with spells you could learn how to arrange the runes on a grid to create the spell you want. When you want to cast the spell you swipe across the bord just like an attack. You have room for  around 4-5 spells at a single time but will seldom have the amount of runes to make so many spells at once.

Mana regenerates faster the more intelligence you have but it will never be fast enough and enemies are tough and require some time to defeat so you will have to learn ways to circumvent them, run around, using melee or whatever to let your mana regenerate enough for new attacks.

I haven´t kept count but believe there are a dozen or so spells in the game. From healing to freeze, lightning and different kinds of fire based attacks. I am not sure if different monsters have different resistances to them though.

In overall, while I am not fond of the swiping effect to attack and cast spells (probably because this is a mobile game in the first place) it did work out pretty well in the end.

Rating 2.5

Character generation & development

You start off with one pregenerated character so there is no character generation. You are a fixed person in the story. When you level up you get some attribute points to spend on strength (increase damage), intelligence (increase mana regeneration and mana points) or dexterity (to increase critical hits and stamina regeneration).

I do feel you have a balance and an interesting choice here but I also feel that it will be very hard to specialise in just a melee or mage way. At least I feel I won´t have come as far without the help of my magic event though I spent the most part on melee.

Rating 2

Map design

The maps are of no predetermined size in x and y widths which is good. You never know when or where it will end with the staircaise down to the next level. There are even maps that spans several levels. The design creates some variety. Especially those where you have to coordinate activities through several levels to succeed.

Rating 3.5

Manual

I was quite astonished to see a really well done manual to this game which was both colorful and with images. Really nice for a change.

Rating 4

Graphics, sound and interface

Graphics in the game are pretty simpel and not very detailed but it is very functional. The sound effects are good and there are some music but nothing that really stucks. The interface is large and clear and is quite easy to use but I don´t like the way you use runes and cast spells. It reminds me too much about Dungeon Master 2. I would prefer to just select a spell but I like the fact that you have to look for the ingredients in the form of runes.

Every three levels or so the style of the graphics in the dungeons change.

Rating 3


Gameplay

Since the game was so short - ten levels - it held my attention to the end and took me only around a dozen hours to complete. I like the game. I was hooked in the beginning when everything felt new and fresh and that feeling sustained for the coming levels. I felt the game was fairly easy combatwise until around level 7 when the difficulty was sharply increased. I had then only spent a fraction of the attribute points I earned when levelling so it wasn´t a surprise but at that point I had to invest all of my saved attribute points into melee in order to succeed in progressing. It was well worth it and I felt the balance in the game is very well made. I had some really tough fights but none that was impossible.

Each level have a few secrets and I managed to uncover most of them until the later levels where my only wish was to survive to the next level. The puzzles in the game was very well made. They are of the typical stuff found in all dungeon crawlers but what I found particular good in this game was that you could use traps against the enemies which is very seldom an option since Dungeon Master.

The fights was pretty nice too with the comboeffects building up after a few hits and which differs with different weapons.

If I compare this game with the other dungeon crawlers released and reviewed the past six months this game has the most simple graphics. Probably because it is ported from a mobile device. The soundeffects are ok and I really liked the digitized voices which reminded me of Stonekeep every time. There are no maintune which is strong enough that I will remember though.

I think it is extremely hard to compare this game with the other crawlers like Ruzar the lifestone, The Dark Path, Heroes of the Monkey Tavern. All are good but I would rank Ruzar, Dark Path and The Keep at around the same level of enjoyment even though they differ slightly in gameplay. If this game would have contained 20 levels I would surely tire before the end and the gameplay value would risk degrade by 0.5 point. I think the this game is a little pricey for the length of it. A better price would have been $9.99.

Anyway, this is a solid bug-free game (for me at least) and I recommend it.



Section
Rating
Gameworld & Story
1.5
Economy
1
NPC & Interactions
1.5
Monsters, tactics & combat system
3
Magic system
2.5
Character generation & development
2
Map design
3.5
Manual
4
Graphics, Sound and Interface
3
Summary CRPG value
22


Gameplay
4