Currently playing: Nox Archaist

April 20, 2012

Kickstarter - support what you believe in

I have recently discovered Kickstarter, the world's largest funding platform for creative projects according to themselves.

What is it then ?

Well, it is a place for entreprenours or other persons to raise funds for different projects by letting us, the community, pay for them. By presenting the project and what you get depending on how much you are willing to contribute, developers could do things they normally would not be able to. The project has a fixed raising fund goal and a day set for when it is due. If the project fails to raise the funds there is no obligations from either part. But if the requested amount is reached the actual payment by the community (called backers) are done through paypal or other means. 

Ok, so why is this interesting ?

For me personally I have discovered two interesting projects so far and I haven´t even looked through all of them. One of them is Wasteland 2. That is a real CRPG that was much appreciated in 1988. Brian Fargo, the creator is the man behind this new release as well. Other readers here might add that he also was the founder of Interplay and the man behind Bard´s Tale.

Wasteland 2 opted for $900.000 but has so far got well over $2.900.000. That means the project is secured and could be started. There are different grades of contributions you could choose. The more money the more extras you receive even up to meet the developers in person, be part of the release-party or having yourself as an NPC into the game.

Anyway, now when you know what it is, I wanted to tell you of a project that I would like to see happen. Chris Huelsbeck, the musician behind the Turrican series of music released for the Amiga in the beginning of the 90:s, have started a project to try to raise $75.000 to release a 3-cd exclusive set of remastered and redone music. Since Turrican hold such extroardinary good music I hope his goal will be reached (I own the CD released in the 1990:s). He has done a lot of other famous game music as well such as the music to R-Type and The Great Giana Sisters on the Amiga/C64 platform.

Here is some examples of the Turrican music:
There are dozens of tracks in each Turrican game and the exemplary thing about them was that you could listen to all tunes from the title screen. How many hours haven´t I listened to those in front of the computer while studying for school in the beginning of the 1990s.

There have been made a lot of remixes of these themes. Many of them could be found on youtube or at Remix64.

April 16, 2012

Legend of Grimrock - Highly recommended

I have to admit that I am totally hooked with the new game Legend of Grimrock that I mentioned in my previous post. The game plays out in the same genre as Dungeon Master and Black Crypt.

You create a group of four characters from four races and three classes (fighter, mage and rogue). You start out as prisoners that are sentenced down into the mountain of Grimrock. If you don´t want to die there you have to find a way out. Thats about it. From there on the game plays out like the classical dungeon crawler and I want to highlight a few points:

  • The graphics are very good and well into todays standard. Lightning sources from torches etc reflects very well. Enemies are well animated and the dungeon layout top notch.
  • Everything plays out in realtime. The front fighters hack with their melee weapons the second row throw objects, fire ranged weapons or spells.
  • Each character has his set of abilities like wisdom, strength, vitality and energy and a set of different skills. Each level up gives you four skill points to spend on the different skills.
  • Mages cast spells using a combination of runes that must be set in realtime in order to be cast.
  • You could either try out rune-combination your self to find new spells if you are of eligible spell level or hope to find scolls that tells you the combination.
  • You could use alchemy to create potions
You have an excellent automap to your help that are drawn much in resemblance to your own manual drawings once upon a time. The level designs are excellent with a lot of puzzles. The challenge is just about right. When coming down to level 3, 4 and 5 the difficulty increases gradually. Some puzzles are really tough. There are a lot of secret rooms and hidden treasures in the game. Don´t forget that your characters needs food to survive and regenerate health and energy. That will become a problem later on.

There are already a lot of reviews of this game around the net. If you want to know more check out one of these:

I am currently at level 5 and will be playing this for the time being. There will be no update on Anvil of Dawn for awhile. This new game comes highly recommended for old-school dungeon-crawler fans. For its price, its a bargain.

April 10, 2012

A new old-school CRPG will be released tomorrow

Thanks to Amy K @ I was told of a new release tomorrow of an old-school RPG much like Dungeon Master but done with todays graphical standard, yet trying to keep the charm of the oldies. The game is called Legend of Grimrock and is developed by a finnish team called Almost Human.

What is it then ?  From their own website they say:
  • Old-school dungeon crawling game inspired by Dungeon Master, Eye of the Beholder and Ultima Underworld.
  • Explore a vast dungeon riddled with hidden switches, pressure plates, sliding walls, trapdoors and more.
  • Discover secrets, cast spells with runes and craft potions with herbs.
  • Fight murderous monsters and seek lost artifacts in ancient tombs.
  • Create a party of four characters and customize them with different races, classes, skills and traits.
Check out the official trailer below.

Needless to say, the game cost only 12 dollar at so I ordered it today. Every effort to try to get hold of the charm of the classical CRPGs should be encouraged, especially from small companies like this. At least if the game is any good. Pre-reviews has given it good ratings so expect to hear more of this game from me in a further post..

April 9, 2012

Anvil of Dawn - A way to weaken the evil warlord

I just left the Dark Lantern for the Sunken Ship. But in order to get there the water elemental I could summon would only allow me passage to the Undersea labyrinth. From there I would be on my own. The only word of advise was to avoid the lady of the sea.

Some reflections of the game so far:

  • The game is very linear. So far there is no choice in which places you can visit first. I have had to plough through each place individually and in order.
  • I haven´t found any place in which to trade or buy items. I suspect I never will since there is no such things as gold or money in the game except for a few gold coins but they are used at specific places. This means that I could drop everything I don´t need.
  • The figthing is slow due to the animations involved. Everything moves very stepwise and while something is in movement it feels your character cannot move. For example. If you see your opponent begins an attack you cannot move until it is completed through several frames. That makes combat not as smooth as it could have been. When I cast a spell the game freezes until the spell animation is completed which takes at least 5 seconds. That type of delay is frustrating and actually stop me from using my spells as often as I wish.
  • The slowness hinders you from using tactics used in Dungeon Master II and Crystal Dragon when you constantsly sidetracked and moved around the target. Here you attack-retreat, attack-retreat in front of him and he will never catch up so you seldom have to move backwards.
  • I use the same tactics for all enemies. Freeze them and then hack them. Nothing else. Casting an offensive spell does no more damage than me hacking at a freezing opponent.
  • The game is so far a bit too easy. The opponents are not dangerous enough and could easily be defeated. The so-called puzzles are are also not very hard. Most of the time you just have to pull every lever and push every preassure plate you see in order to make progress in some way. 
  • You could rest anywhere by just staying around. After 5 minutes realtime you have recovered all health and spell points again.
  • There are no roleplaying options while interacting with NPCs. Every encounter is scripted. 
  • Illusionary walls are possible to detect if you move slowly. They shimmer. Very good. 
  • Here and there you could find scrolls that tell you some information about the place or what had happened. They are appreciated but too rare.

The underwater labyrinth turned out to be a huge 64*64 square map. It took some hours to finish. The goal was to find the way to the sunken ship. In order to succeed I had to find certain shells to feed lock mechanisms with in order to progress in the labyrinth. The inhabitants in the labyrinth was of two types. The humanioid crab-man and some poisonous plants. The latter was the real threat since up until now I had never found any cure poison. But as I found out there was a lot to be found in chests in that level.

The crabman is freezed by my spell

The Lady of the Sea however turned out to be a dissappointment. You could talk to her but have no way to affect the outcome which is that she will attack you and win automatically. She did offer to teach me a spell but I cannot escape her until she kills me. I do not know if there are any way to avoid this but as it is now this part feels unfinished. Since she is stationary I could just avoid talking to her and avoid all problems by that.

The charming lady herself!
Part of the the underwater labyrinth

It took a few hours but then I found the entrance to the Sunken Ship. The ship was of course inhabited by the drowned sailors that had been turned into zombies that attacked me on sight. As always, one freeze and some slashings and they where gone. After looking around for awhile I found a chained demon that more looked like an octopussy. He wanted me to free him and had important information how to contain the warlords source of magic. To tell me this he wanted the hearts of the drowned sailors. My mission therefore was too find eight pure hearts to feed this beast.

Here and there you can find new spells to add to your spellbook
The complex consisted of the usual mass of preassure plates and teleporters. At some points I thought I was stuck but by carefully study the automap you realize that there are either sections unexplored or places behind walls that must be reached eventually. Not to speak of the fact that after pulling a lever a previous locked door might have been removed.

Zombie sailors
After four hours in this complex of two levels I gathered all eight hearts and fed the demon. He told me riddles of how to go about crafting a special chest that would contain the warlords magic. Ingredients was needed that would have to be gathered all around the world. I left the ship and returned to the overland map again.

This beast hungered for hearts...
I thought I could just choose which place to enter first but no, my step outside took me right in front of an underground city with no way of choosing another direction so it was down to the city I went....

I enjoy the game but it is becoming a little repetitive...

April 4, 2012

Anvil of Dawn - Revisited

For a time I have been thinking of starting up the first person RPG Anvil of Dawn released in 1995. It is a true Dungeon Master clone but more polished. I played it back then and actually completed it but my memories of it is extremely vague so I must have played it intensely for a short time.

The game was developed by DreamForge Intertainment that also produced other rpgs like the Ravenloft series and Menzoberranzan. It was published by New World Computing that we know did the Might & Magic series. Unfortunately DreamForge went into bancruptcy in the year 2000.

The story is short, simple and a real classic. An evil warlord has gathered all minions of devil under his banner and left their traditional land by going over the great chasm known as the scar. Nothing seems to be able to stop them. Every defence has proven fruitless in the region of Tempest. It is said the warlord has been gifted by mysterious magic emanated from the land of desolation, a place few men has ever seen.

The last hope stands with a few adventurers who has volunteered to do something to stop this flow of magic and finally stop the warlord. One of them must succeed....

The game begins with you waking up last of the adventurers. You find out that they have already left the castle. The queen and her advisors have sent them away. You however, hasn´t been mentioned to anyone but the advisor himself since there might be spies everywhere from the warlord.

You have a few pre-generated characters to choose from. Warrior, Thief, Ranger and Mage and two mixed of these. Or you could spend your attribute points as you prefer for any of them. I choose to become a mage for this playthrough.

The attributes are Strength, Agility and Power. Strength determines damage dealt in melee and carrying capacity. Agility determines the ability to hit with weapons and Power decided how much mana you have and the strength of your spells. Naturally I put almost everything into Power.

The queens advisor gives me the mission
After having been taught two spells (you could choose from which elementary school) from the court mage and selected a weapon type from the smith (I choose swords), I met the advisor who told me that the only way to defeat the warlord is to destroy his supply of this special magical pool he utilises. My first task therefore is to seek out help from the mage in the Dark Lantern.

But in order to get there I will be teleported to the Gryphon Keep which is now behind enemy lines and then try to make it for the Dark Lantern. I left the castle and found myself at the Keep in some basement. I have almost no equipment to start with except the sword I got.

Character screen with complete information
The character screen is the only screen in the game in which you could control everything. To the left you see your character and you will eventually equip armour and weapons on him. You have the eye icon that gives you more information about a weapon such as damage dealt (thank you!) and weight. The hands symbolises something you wish to use lika a portion or other item.

In the middle is your inventory. It is not structured in any way. You could put items on eachother and make it a mess. The cauldron to the right of the inventory gives access to your spellbook. Below the inventory you find several small icons. The first shows you your statistics.  The large Power symbol indicates I have put 10 points into it. The sword symbol will show how much progress I´ve done into my selected weapon skill (swords) and when I will reach the next advancement. The same goes for my spells. The shield will show on average how much damage will be reduced from enemies attacking you. The other symbols indicate if you have any afflictions or are overcumbered (which reduces the speed of  mana- and hitpoints recovery).

The guards of the Keep. Well looking!

Back to my mission. The keep was filled with guards in the lower levels. I started out in the wine cellar. Right from the beginning the classical dungeon crawler features turns up: preassure plates and levers. They were very straight forward though and not hard to use. While moving upwards more and more guards assembled. Many of them carrued keys which opens specific doors and not too seldom you find chests you could plunder. Most of them contains healing potions which increases your hitpoints or mana leaves that - surprise! - increase the mana. 

Combat is very simple and straight forward. You just click like a maniac. Monsters could be more agile than you and you have to hit, backstep, let-them-follow, hit, backstep etc. You could see the remaining strength of your enemies as a bar below them. There are no different attacks you could do as far as I know. What matters is type of weapon, your skill, agility and strength. And of course timing....

A dying guard is a good guard
After moving up one or two levels, here is what the automap looks like:

One of the best automaps I´ve seen

The automap is one of the best I´ve ever seen in a game. It is scrollable, you could access previous maps and all possible places like preassure plates, stairs etc are shown automatically. To be even more accessible, when you pull a lever or press a preassure plate and hear grinding noises you could immediately check the automap to see if a closed door is now removed. Compared to older games this feels almost like cheating but I think it is good. It lets you concentrate fully on the game which gets more streamlined.

After a while I found the prisons in which I found the Lord Gryphon himself dying. He tells me to find his friend and tell him what have happened. The keep was unable to resist the onslaught of the warlord. To prove we have a message from Lord Gryphon he gave me his signet ring.

Conversations in the game is done by selecting predefined dialogue words that opens up during conversation. If you get hold of the CD-version in Dosbox all speech is by recorded voices. I strongly recommend to get this version.

Lord Gryphon...inprisoned by the Warlords forces

The game is so far pretty easy. It cannot be compared to the difficulty level of Dungeon Master 2 or Crystal Dragon. But I won´t say it is so easy as not to give you any challenge. From time to time you meet stronger opponents or traps that will kill you. Puzzles also get gradually more refined.

After a few hours I was able to find the exit from Gryphon Keep which took me outside. The outside map and view is one of the few things I remember from my first playthrough in 1995. It was outstanding at that time. You have an overland map in which you could see different places but you walk in a prerendered world step by step and the graphics flows forward. My mission was to get to the Dark Lantern and try to get help of the mage there so that was what I did.

The entrance to Dark Lantern

Above is the entrance to the Dark Lantern. The path was destroyed when I first got there. But in Gryphon Keep I found a spell that was said to repair man-made objects so I tried this and - surprise - it repaired the bridge and I could move on.

The Dark Lantern met me with tougher opponents like the flying dragons that could fire bolts at you. The levels was pretty large and was filled with teleporters, preassure plates and levers. But also full of goodies.

A lot of unorganized items
This is my mage Waska somewhere in the Dark Lantern. I have yet to gain any level advance. As a mage I still find that using the sword is the best since I want to save my spell points for healing. I entered Dark Lantern with two spells. My firebased spell and healing. In Gryphon Keep I found one more spell. A whirlwind that could push opponents backwards.

When - after several hours - I reached the top of the Dark Lantern I found the mage dead already. I had found a seashell though and since it seemed to fit the mouth of the fish I placed it there. The mages' spirit begun to talk with me. He told me that he had tried to defeat the warlord but he was much stronger than anticipated. He didn´t see any way in which to destroy him but then he gave me some directions that I should seek out the sunken ship. He should have done that before confronting the warlord.

He also told me that in the basement, deep down in the Dark Lantern I should seek out something which might help me. Hmm...

After finding the way down I met a summoned gargoyle who refused to let me pass. He was summoned to guard the passageway. I could also not fight him since he would destroy me easily. He said that the only way was to unsummon him in some way. I returned to find out if I could find some items to help me with this. 

After mapping out a whole level I found a summon horn and some other items. A scroll told me how to use them and so I did in front of the Gargoyle and he dissappeared. I thought I now would reach something very valuable but no. In front of me lied several locked doors. Each required me to get the correct keys from small mazes filled with dangerous monsters or small puzzle games.

It was here I met a new death machine. A very tough fire breathing stone tabled that lashes me with a fire tongue. Fortunately I did have a freeze spell to use on it while I try to hack it to death. In the ned I found a few good items but nothing special. I did find some sort of summon horn and an exit leading to the outside. Since I´ve explored everything I had to get out of this place. I will now be heading for the sunken ship.

To be able to reach the sunken ship I used the horn to summon a water creature. It could take me to the Sunken ship but not directly. It would leave me in a underwater labyrinth in which I have to find my way to the sunken ship myself and at the same time trying to stay away for the danger that lurks there...

Last level of the Dark Lantern Catacombs

Finally I was allowed to increase my skills

The world map
This post become quite large. The game was so good that I virtually forgot to stop to write my progress of it. Right now I am just entering the underwater labyrinth....

To be continued...