Review - posted by VentilatorOfDoom on Thu 30 June 2011, 19:27:09Tags: Din's Curse
Our own reviewing dude TNO decided to fire up Soldak Entertainment's Din's Curse including the expansion Demon War and now bestows judgement upon it.
Din's Curse is unique in how much of the game is procedurally generated, and how it evolves dynamically. In this game, being told that 'bad guys are starting an uprising' will mean bad guys will actually rise up into your town instead of obediently waiting to be stopped in the nick of time like almost every other RPG. It's fantastic: the 'Diablo with dungeons that fight back' moniker is wholly justified. It is not only the bad guys who get up to stuff (besides invasion, they also lay curses which give debuffs until you take the quest to solve it, produce machines to make dungeons harder, block the gates, fight amongst themselves, etc.) the good guys can also head off to do the quests themselves, turn on each other, or betray the town in any number of ways. Occasionally the system unfairly shafts you: once all three of my key NPCs killed each other whilst the last standing survivor turned rogue and left, losing me the map; another time one of nastier monsters was made a boss type, leading to a behemoth with a DPS almost two orders of magnitude higher than mine. Yet these cases are rare - for the other 30 ish hours of playtime, it worked perfectly. Although 'living world' is inaccurate for a game where the NPCs are primarily objects and quest-givers, it is definitely a 'living situation': there's considerable strategy as to how to prioritize the various quests, most of which are on a hidden timer.
Read the whole review here.
Visit our sponsors! (or click here and disable ads)
Preview - posted by VentilatorOfDoom on Fri 17 June 2011, 21:19:42
Dungeons of Dredmor, a comic fantasy roguelike dungeon crawler game from Gaslamp Games, is about to go gold. With the release being imminent, resident community member and valuable human resource MisterStone decided to reap all the fame and glory for himself by previewing the game.
As for game mechanics, DoD distinguishes itself from other roguelike games through its skill trees and crafting system. Although there are no named classes in the traditional sense, you essentially create your own class during character creation: you get to choose seven skill trees, and are not allowed to add new ones later in the game. The game boasts a total of thirty four skill trees (!), including five melee weapon proficiencies, two ranged weapon proficiencies, three defensive skills, and seven schools of magic. In addition there are skills that work in tandem with other skill trees, such as those that help you cast spells more efficiently, give you buffs or special attacks in combat, and so on. There are some rather unique miscellaneous trees such as the ‘fungal arts’ series (which lets you grow mushrooms for personal use and gives the ability summon fungal pets), a series of skills devoted to wand use, and the archeologist tree, which helps you avoid traps and allows you to do weird things with unique artifacts. Finally, there are the crafting skills: alchemy, smithing and tinkering- more on this later.
Each skill tree has between three and seven upgrades, and the player gets to upgrade a single tree each time they level up. For combat skills, an upgrade usually just means bonuses, but in some cases also usable powers. For the magical disciplines, each upgrade represents access to a new spell. I found that each magical discipline seems to have a fairly wide range of buffs, debuffs, attacks, summons and the like, although certain disciplines focus more heavily on one area over another- for instance, “promethean magic” is mostly about dealing damage with fire, whereas golemancy is almost entirely about summoning. Mathemagic is largely about debuffing and teleport spells. All in all, I found most of the disciplines pretty interesting, although I sometimes find myself wishing they were even more specialized than they are… it seems that in many cases choosing more than two or three magical disciplines gives you several redundant abilities.
Read the whole preview here.
Review - posted by VentilatorOfDoom on Mon 30 May 2011, 15:56:17Tags: Chuck Bueche; Forgotten Gems; Origin Systems
Esteemed community member Crooked Bee did not only finish [url="http://www.rpgcodex.net/phpBB/viewtopic.php?t=58900"]her LP[/url] of Origin System's [b]2400 A.D.[/b], she also decided to contribute to our popular [i]Forgotten Gems[/i] series by typing up a retrospective review. [indent]In 2400 A.D., everything is a puzzle. Many of the more important quests can only be solved if lined up in a puzzle-like chain. The absence of a quest journal or an automap only make that aspect of the game stronger. The closest you get to having a map is by acquiring a certain device that lets you survey your surroundings when used; it has a very limited scope, though, and leaves much for you to figure out by yourself. Finding your way into the underground is certainly one of the puzzles, with several solutions hidden around the city. Sometimes failing is the best option, and you can learn as much, if not more, from your failures as from your successes; being arrested, for example, is actually the quickest way to reach the underground, requiring, however, a bit of out of the box thinking. Getting to know where to find an item, who to ask about it and who to show it to, all belong to the game's most pleasant and challenging moments. Even locating the vendors to buy new items from or sell old ones to (and those are two different types of vendors) can be a problem if you don't look around or follow clues carefully enough, as the underground tunnels tend to be quite maze-like and hide many secrets. There are also other puzzles: a slidewalk maze, a maze of pushable crates, or a transporter maze. Writing down clues is a must, as is searching around for them. The controls are again Ultima-like, with the game utilizing almost the entire keyboard for issuing commands. You can't just see the items lying on the ground next to you, you must search around to uncover them. The game features some of Ultima V's future and much praised interactivity, which creates even more room for implementing puzzles. You can push around or climb over many of the furniture items surrounding you -- you can even climb over NPCs in your way! -- sometimes revealing well-hidden, and even plot-critical, passages. Climbing pipes to get to otherwise inaccessible areas is a must, too. Doors can be kicked out, consuming a good deal of your Energy, 20 or 40 points depending on the door type. And if you can find and repair (which is also done as a puzzle) the game's most powerful secret weapon, you'll be able to simply blow doors open like a real badass. The city of Metropolis features an extensive slidewalk system that can also provide some entertaining moments (try disabling a robot standing on a moving walkway!), as well as transporter and subway networks. Figuring out how to operate transporters, including the secret ones, is in fact one of this game's hardest puzzles. And as far as interactivity goes, you can even get run over by a subway train! Truly ground-breaking stuff.[/indent] [url=http://www.rpgcodex.net/content.php?id=231]Read the whole article here.[/url]
Review - posted by VentilatorOfDoom on Fri 13 May 2011, 20:33:54Tags: Academagia
Academagia: The Making of Mages is a whimsical fantasy life simulation and role-playing game created by Black Chicken Studios. Darth Roxor decided to have a look at it and now he shares his experience with us.
Negative relationships are pretty interesting. Some students will hate you ‘just because’, but you can just as well make them grow to hate you through your mischievous actions. Slandering someone, using offensive magic, will all lower your relationships with people. This can lead to a couple of fun things, as they shall often try to retaliate, spreading foul rumours about you among students, trying to put you into detention, sabotaging your actions, etc.
When your mutual hatred with a certain character reaches the epicentre, you may actually even be called to a magic duel. If you’ve really grown sick of someone, there you can go as far as unleashing eleven barrels of magic to put them into the infirmary right when they are supposed to take an exam. Through the usage of even more illegal magic, you may even attempt to gain control of your enemy, and have him do your bidding as a mindless puppet. Being an asshole has never been so amusing!
Interview - posted by VentilatorOfDoom on Fri 29 April 2011, 19:35:05Tags: CD Projekt; The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings
Tomasz Gop, Senior Producer at CD Projekt RED was kind enough to answer me a couple of questions regarding their upcoming action-Adventure cRPG The Witcher 2. I got these answers a month ago to be honest, but I had some follow-up questions and wanted to wait until I received those answers before I'd publish the interview. Unfortunately the CDProjekt guys seem to be too busy to respond and with the release date drawing near I decided to show you now what I have. I'll also take this opportunity to show off some huge ass screenshots which might or might not have been already shown elsewhere. I even created a Witcher 2 screenshot gallery. Of course I had to downsize those images because, frankly, the Codex is too l33t for images bigger than 1,444 444 bytes. The whole point of this screenshot business is obviously to make the interview appear more meaty than it actually is.
Review - posted by Elwro on Mon 4 April 2011, 14:32:40Tags: OlderBytes; Swords and Sorcery: Underworld
Every step outside of a tavern is a risk, and don't be surprised if your freshly created party is reduced to 1 barely standing, 5 unconscious after a stroll around a corner of the starting town. (...) later on, in true oldschool tradition you're fighting varieties of dragons every second step.
Review - posted by VentilatorOfDoom on Thu 24 March 2011, 20:23:08Tags: BioWare; Dragon Age 2; Vault Dweller
Resident Ubersturmfuhrer Vault Dweller, mostly known for his involvement in making this [URL='http://www.irontowerstudio.com/']indie vaporware cRPG[/URL] and his love for [URL='http://rpgcodex.net/content.php?id=195']Dragon Age: Origins[/URL], fearlessly approached BioWare's latest masterpiece [B]Dragon Age II[/B], despite all the dark foreboding. [INDENT=1]Back to the story, mages draw power from a “metaphysical” realm, the Warp, I mean the Fade, which exposes them to the dangerous emo spirits populating it. These emo spirits, called demons in the game, try to possess mages and wreak havoc in the real world. So, if a mage isn’t strong enough to resist, Bad Things Happen.[/INDENT] [INDENT=1]Since relying on mages to be strong enough to resist is kind of like relying on EA to resist the temptation to shut down studios, the Circle of Magi was created to train mages properly in the arts of self control and meek obedience. When a mage in training completes the program, he or she takes a test where they attempt to fight that demonic possession in a “controlled environment”. Meaning that the Templars hack anyone who fails the test to abomination-bits.[/INDENT] [INDENT=1]So, while in Kirkwall, you’ll constantly run into Templars, Circle mages, apostates (renegade mages), and new mages who are just discovering their powers and trying to work out what to do about them. The conflict is fairly well presented – it’s one of the few strengths of the game - and many characters you’ll meet will help you look at the situation from different points of view.[/INDENT] [INDENT=1]As you’d expect, some Templars are just doing their jobs in a difficult situation, convinced that they are protecting the public. Other Templars sympathize and are willing to help mages, while still other Templar are convinced that mages are dangerous abominations who should be killed or neutered (a mage’s connection to the Fade can be forcefully cut via a lobotomy-like procedure which turns them into vegetables) outright.[/INDENT] [INDENT=1]Similarly, there are mages who are “normal people” like your sister and other party members (probably because you keep them on a tighter leash than the Circle), mages who truly need help controlling their powers, and mages who are angry and willing to fight back, rightfully seeing the templars, the Circle, and the Chantry as their enemies.[/INDENT] [INDENT=1]I’d say it’s one of the more interesting settings for an RPG and it does manage to raise interesting questions, questions without an easy answer. The potential is there, but it’s wasted on an action RPG where you kill bad guys and monsters instead of exploring the ethics of the society Bioware created.[/INDENT] [URL='http://rpgcodex.net/content.php?id=224']Read the full review here.[/URL]
Review - posted by Elwro on Sun 13 March 2011, 19:27:43Tags: Drakensang
Since the dawn of humanity Man has wondered upon the nature of time. Is the experience of its passage indicative of a real process? Is it a form of Anschauung, constitutive of our everyday experience, but not per se a part of it? The RPG developers from Radon Labs attempted a metaphorical analysis of the subject in Drakensang 2: The River of Time, partly based on Cratylus and Heraclitus. Still, a long-standing tenet of RPG Codex has been that the passage of time does not apply to good games; they don't age. (Well, bad old games continue to be bad, too). That's why, even though the game is already a few years old, we bring you Jools' review of Drakensang: The Dark Eye.
Review - posted by DarkUnderlord on Tue 1 March 2011, 06:43:59Tags: Might and Magic VI: The Mandate of Heaven; New World Computing
[URL='http://www.rpgcodex.net/content.php?id=220']Varn reviews Might & Magic VI[/URL], one of those old game from the days when RPGs didn't allow you to respec at the sign of a tough battle: [INDENT] [I]I have been told by a townsperson whose name I cannot recall, that the Dark Magic master can be found in a small town called Sweetwater. What at first seemed an absurdly easy task for the power it would grant my party has quickly turned into a nightmare. Over the hill near Sweetwater are swarms of Titans and there is no other way in to the town. I cast the “fly” spell, nervously hover over the beasts while taking massive damage, and drop down to the ground to cross to the next zone. Once it loads, my party survives for about 3 seconds before being obliterated by the giants’ shock attacks. My last save was 3 hours ago and I think I’ve been playing for 6 hours straight, but I can’t be sure. The only indication is the slight ray of light coming through a crack between the blinds. Fighting off sleep, I reload, and try again.[/I][/INDENT] What? Reloading in my RPG?
Editorial - posted by DarkUnderlord on Thu 27 January 2011, 01:09:34Tags: The Year in Review
If 2009 was the year stuff didn't happen, then 2010 is perhaps as good as it gets to the year stuff did happen. Sort-of. The year opened with a bang as BioWare released Mass Effect 2, the sequel to their previous space romance simulator Mass Effect. It was a design goal right from the start for you to be able to continue with your Mass Effect save games into Mass Effect 2. What remained to be seen was how BioWare would overcome the problem of finishing the first game with an awesome character capable of kicking ass and chewing space-gum - and yet still allow you to level-up your stats in the sequel. The answer of course, was an ingenious and revolutionary system that...
Until next year.
Information - posted by JarlFrank on Thu 23 December 2010, 01:42:44
JarlFrank takes a nostalgic look at the early games created by Event Horizon Software, that is, the years before they became DreamForge Intertainment (that "I" is not a typo - God only knows why they picked that monicker):
While their earlier works were much more obscure than the EoB-style games they made later on, they were very interesting and, at the time, unique experiences that can be put into the same sub-genre as Diablo, but with much more depth than either Diablo or any of its clones would ever achieve. If they had continued to develop games in the style of Dusk, Summoning and VoD, maybe the sub-genre of the Action-RPG would look vastly different today, with more dialogues, non-linear stories and puzzles than Diablo’s simple kill-and-loot gameplay.
This is what happens when you change your company's name to some kind of popamole bullshit.
Review - posted by DarkUnderlord on Sun 5 December 2010, 02:03:14Tags: Fallout: New Vegas; Obsidian Entertainment
Fallout: New Vegas is an RPG made by the same company that brought you Alpha Turd, that slightly unpolished spy thing. Did they do better with Fallout: New Vegas? Find out as[URL='http://www.rpgcodex.net/content.php?id=215'] TNO reviews fellates New Vegas[/URL]. I could say it's an in-depth and comprehensive analysis of one of the most important RPGs of the century but that'd just be lying. Nope, TNO pretty much just sticks to the fellatio with this one: [INDENT] Fallout: New Vegas is one of the best RPGs of all time. A masterpiece, although not an unblemished one - the Obsidian trademarks of beta-as-release candidate, consolized interface and badly optimized graphics are there. But so is a cracking story, clever, intricate quest/C&C design, and the wasteland brought back to life in the same blackly jaunty way Fallout did. If you've been after a proper successor to Fallout, or simply something to redeem the genre after several years in the doldrums, look no further. Welcome back, MCA: all is forgiven.[/INDENT] Agree / Disagree? More importantly, what does this mean for Dungeon Siege 3?
Competition - posted by DarkUnderlord on Sat 4 December 2010, 11:29:21
Well, it's time we announced the winners for The 2010 Codex Top 5 RPGs Short Story Contest. From all the stunning entries we received (of which you may inflict the pain of reading them upon yourself by turning here), the judges spent some considerable time in deliberation and, after much debate, have chosen the following winners:
Notable mentions but ultimately deemed unworthy were:
- Zed's graphic rape story that might've worked better if it had pictures.
- zelda64whatagreatgame for his tale of a new 'artistic' approach to a store.
- Callaxes', who tried to grab our attention, did so mildly successfully at one point but then didn't go anywhere with it. Also "burrowing" ladders lulz.
Special thanks of course goes to all those who decided it'd be funny if they inflicted their crappy writing skills on us participated. Winners will be contacted with their prize details shortly (or should hassle VoD).
Interview - posted by VentilatorOfDoom on Tue 30 November 2010, 23:05:54Tags: Divinity 2; Larian Studios
Swen Vincke of Larian Studios took some time to answer our probing questions about Divinity 2: The Dragon Knight Saga and future Larian titles.
<blockquote>Another rather nifty idea in Divinity 2 was the mindreading. In my opinion the *thank god no one knows the location of mah trezure*-kind of application was a bit overused and in FoV it was a bit too expensive XP cost-wise but it was a nifty mechanic nontheless and enabled some nice unique quest solutions. Can we expect to see this or a similar mechanic in future games or was it an one time thing for Divinity 2 only?
I’m glad that one received so much positive attention. It was quite a lot of development work to put it in there, and I’m pretty sure many people in QA wished it wasn’t there. I remember when introducing it, the team looked at me as if I’d been taking drugs. Already they were overloaded with work to get all of the content in, and here was this madman telling them that every single dialog should get a mindread path because of this new cool skill. Considering the amount of dialogues in the game, that really added a lot of work to their plate, so you can understand that on occasion they took a shortcut, but there really are some very cool mindreads in there. And yes, we’re thinking of similar ”small” things when it comes to our next RPGs.</blockquote>
Review - posted by DarkUnderlord on Wed 17 November 2010, 15:33:10Tags: Ultima V: Warriors of Destiny
For those of you who don't know BLOBERT, he's a pretty cool BRO isn't afraid of anything. He also writes in ALL CAPS a lot. He also likes RPGs and in our ongoing serious of Forgotten Gems, takes a look back at Ultima V:
It only gets better from there.
Review - posted by DarkUnderlord on Sun 24 October 2010, 05:23:21Tags: Gothic 4: Arcania; JoWood Productions; Spellbound
Darth Roxor [URL='http://www.rpgcodex.net/content.php?id=211']tells us all how much he enjoyed Gothic: Arcanum IV[/URL] - Spellbound's Magical Scrotum. In his review he talks about the game' deep sense of immersion: [INDENT=1]That's right. The whole game is, basically, a linear progression through a handful of extremely small and hideously closed areas. Each time you want to advance from one section to another, you have to do all main quest-related tasks to remove the obstacles that block your path. These obstacles often feel half-arsed and could have been easily omitted, but alas. For instance, to travel from the city of Stewark to the Valley of Blood (bonus points for the very original name), you have to obtain permission from the duke. Okay, fine. But the whole checkpoint leading to the valley is just a shoddy wooden gate with a trapdoor and one guard. Why exactly can't I just knock the guard out and proceed anyway? Just because. There's no sense in asking yourself 'why?' while playing this game. In the magical, mystical lands of Argaan, things rarely make sense. And it wouldn't be so glaringly bad if it happened only once, but no, it's abused all the time. Also, there are so many artificial barriers blocking you from going further that it's ridiculous. Every section is surrounded by an impenetrable mountain range and some auxiliary roads leading out that are always blocked. Another funny thing is, you also never return to the sections you've previously unlocked. Just forget about them and move on, citizen.[/INDENT] ... improvements the game has made over Oblivion: [INDENT=1]I know it often seems far-fetched to call something 'worse than Oblivion', but I think this game has done it.[/INDENT] ... the highly enjoyable role-playing aspects: [INDENT=1]Thanks to the 'interface elements', you can make this game 100% idiot-friendly. Minimap? Check. Quest compass? Check. Flashing weapon telling you when to click? Check. Roleplay activities? Che... wait, what are roleplaying activities? These, gentle readers, are all sorts of things that you can use to LARP the night away, as they don't influence the game in any way.[/INDENT] ... and even the meaning behind the game's title itself, buried deep within the game's lore: [INDENT=1]And I still have no idea as to why, exactly, it's called 'Arcania'...[/INDENT] In the end he enjoyed it immensely and recommends you should all pick yourselves up a copy. 5 stars.
Review - posted by VentilatorOfDoom on Sat 2 October 2010, 11:42:38Tags: Strategic Simulations, Inc.
Local powergamer and pun aficionado VentilatorOfDoom loaded up DOSBox for another run at SSI's Dark Sun: Shattered Lands.
Other than completing the main plot there are a couple of areas to explore, many of which will have a subplot or a few interesting sidequests to do. Contrary to the “escape the arena” solution, the violent approach isn’t always the best. Sometimes settling a conflict peacefully gains you the best rewards. Of course, being an AD&D game, Dark Sun: Shattered Lands has no skills, as diplomacy and the like, so instead of skill checks in dialogues it’s generally up to you which course of action you choose when talking to NPCs. It’s most likely wise to be not overly hostile; sometimes you might find unexpected allies against the Drajian army.
Review - posted by DarkUnderlord on Sun 5 September 2010, 03:54:27Tags: Heroic Fantasy Games; Knights of the Chalice
[URL='http://www.rpgcodex.net/content.php?id=209']Darth Roxor takes a look at Knights of the Chalice[/URL], that turn-based indie D&D game which has been known to rape the less experienced: [INDENT]Next thing that deserves mentioning is the enemy AI, as it really is top notch. It adapts to your party tactics and line-up well, effectively uses spell combinations and abilities. For example, is everyone in your party engulfed in web? You’re bound to have a fireball going your way to achieve extra fire damage. Some of your party members are protected by death ward? Archers with slaying arrows will be less likely to target them. It’s also common for pretty much your whole party to be completely disabled, due to good choosing of priorities and abilities among the enemy. The knight? Grappled and pinned by a giant. Wizard? Counterspelled. Cleric? Three archers are ready against his casting of spells. Second knight? Charmed. Have fun, you’re doomed.[/INDENT] But is the game fun? [URL='http://www.rpgcodex.net/content.php?id=209']Read the rest[/URL] to find out.
Review - posted by Elwro on Wed 18 August 2010, 10:10:28Tags: Basilisk Games; Eschalon: Book II
While travelling through the world of [URL='http://basiliskgames.com/eschalon-book-ii'][B]Eschalon: Book II[/B][/URL], Elwro learned the hard way that if you love a puppy, you must let it go and not sell its pelt to unscrupulous shopkeepers. [INDENT] There are a few well done locations (Port Kuudad has its fair share of secrets) and quests. For example, to cut a long story short, a dwarf asks you to steal a puppy from a big wolf. You are told to bring exactly one puppy and leave the rest in the den. You will be tempted to take more than one, because they are valuable and you could certainly use the cash. You are told that something bad will happen if you take more than one puppy... and let me just tell you that it does happen. You have to weigh this consequence against your heavier purse. A real choice, a good quest. [/INDENT] [URL='http://www.rpgcodex.net/content.php?id=206']Read on for his full review.[/URL]
Review - posted by DarkUnderlord on Mon 19 July 2010, 09:13:03
TNO got bored of all the New Shit™ and decided to take a quick look at some Good Old Shit™ by reviewing Outcast. Outcast is more a puzzle-adventure-type-thing than an RPG-type-thing but here's a bit:
The dialogue is broadly good, and is also broadly well acted. The music is utterly sensational: well composed, well motifed, and well performed by the Moscow orchestra and chorus. Three examples although I really could have taken any of the tracks: 1 2 3. Also the incidental sounds (especially the beast calls) make the world of Outcast come alive.
Helping this is the careful scripting of the NPCs. Talanzaar, the bazaar-esque trading hub of Adelpha is a case in point. Dozens of NPCs carry loads, move to and from each other, go on set 'rounds' or patrols, go to their workshops to craft items for you and generally, well, make it look like the bustling bazaar. It simply beggars belief why games almost ten years later still can't do something similarly convincing. Similar sentiments apply to the fauna too.
If the game sounds mildly interesting, you can pick it up from GOG these days. /Shameless plug