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

July 20, 2017

Action RPG Inquisitor on sale!

Right now the excellent action-rpg Inquisitor sells with 70 % discount at Steam. This games comes highly recommended. If you like a heavy story with much text, a lot of items, good feeling and atmosphere and a long game this is the one.


June 21, 2017

Ravenloft: Strahd´s Possession - Review




Game reviewed: Ravenloft: Strahd´s Possession
Version: 1.0.4
Created by: Dreamforge Intertainment / SSI
Released: 1994
Formats: Pc
Difficulty: 8/10
Price$8.89 (both Ravenloft games at gog.com)

Gameworld & Story

Storywise I think the writers succeeded in conveying a dark and sinister atmosphere throughout the whole game. The writing was really good. I can tell after all my games in this genre that it is well above average. While the main story per se - travelling to a new county surrounded with mists - might not be the most logical or original, it works out quite well. Right from the beginning where you get to hear about Strahd you know something is wrong but cannot point your finger at it. Then gradually you will get pieces of information from both living and dead about the true character of Strahd and the story behind it.

The world feels a little more living because of your characters comments about the environment and what they perceive. This was not that common for rpgs of this time and is still a fresh bit of content even today. I like when they remark about the deserted and almost dead village or about other places being visited.

Rating: 3

Economy

In short, there is no economy in the game. No shops and no currency. Everything you need you will find and you will have to stash away things in deserted houses because you will get overloaded very quickly with potions and scrolls. But as far as traditional economy goes this is a rating at the bottom.

Rating: 1

NPC & Interactions

There are a few NPC throughout the game. Mostly persons giving quests or followers you can pickup. They are all voiced in a pretty good manner and you have a few dialogue options to choose from even though it is a very simple system. Thanks to the voicing and the well written texts and dialogues the interactions are very interesting  in this game and definetely a highlight.

Too bad there are too few NPC out there though.

Interactions in the gameworld is done by pressing buttons, pulling levers, looking for secret doors or just use the ground to pile up on things. Nothing spectacular on this point.

Rating: 1.5

Monsters, tactics & combat system

Well, combatwise the game is a disaster. Even tough it relies on the AD&D ruleset you just click with your mouse on every monster or foe until they are dead. Add to that the free roaming 3D-world where monsters run around you and you have to fiddle with the slow keyboard to change your heading before striking and this system turns out to be really bad. A pure bottom low rating for the combat system. To cast spells is not easier. You have to press upp a menu of spells, choose spellevel and then click on the spell and then on the target. A slow and cumbersome system without any shortcuts.

Tactics ? What tactics! There are no tactics employed from the monsters at all. They fight to the death all the time. The only exploit I myself found - or I wouldn´t call it an exploit - is that magic missiles seems to be the most effective spell in the whole game. From the beginning of the game to the end of the game the magic missiles never failed to help me out on any foe. One or two hits and most enemies at my feet. They where even more effective than fireballs and ice storms whose radius of effect is impossible to calculate for in the game.

There are quite many monsters and many of them are atmospherically described in the manual. I never found much variance between them except for those that can inflict level drain. Such a terrible design of the developers to include that thing. Fortunately you have to save and reload a lot to progress in level-draining-infested-monster-places.


Rating: 1.5

Magic system

The magic system depends on the AD&D rules. If you have played the SSI Goldbox games you know that you have to memorize spells or pray to learn spells to cast. The same goes here. Fortunately the game allows you to rest almost anywhere in the game without any hinderance.

The game contains most spells that are found for wizards and clerics up to level 6. I never used healing spells or healing potions because it was so easy to rest between fights that this was unneccessary. 


Rating: 2

Character generation & development
I don´t remember now but I think you were allowed to roll up two characters in the beginning of the game and the famous re-roll was there. Bonus for that! The characters are also not starting at level 1 but several levels higher. I don´t remember know but I ended the game at level 9 for my characters.

When you do level up you are automatically given a random amount of HP (hitpoints). You will never get any skills or attribute points so the only advantage of levelling is that you might improve your THACO and get more and better spells. Therefore I wouldn´t say the game allows for much variety and flexibility here.

Rating: 2

Map design

Outdoor maps are in general quite irregular and indoor maps varies in size as well. I like that. You never know beforehand how large a complex will be. There are some thoughts behind the layout.


Rating: 3

Manual

As is often the case with these old games the manual is pretty well written and contains much interesting information on both enemies, rules and the setting.

Rating: 4

Graphics, Sound and Interface


The graphics in the game is poor. Especially today and without and good way to scale the windows down it looks terrible. I imagine it wasn´t that good for its time either. Even Ultima Underworld features at least as good graphics but was released two years earlier. It is almost impossible to see what enemies are trying to look like or what things are in the environment without much fantasy.


The sound is fortunately better fared. The voice acting is pretty good, there is new music for every place and though that music is not very good (except for a theme in the Catacombs) it still adds to the atmosphere. There are also digitized sound effects like screamings, door slamming and the like that those are really good and build upp the atmosphere.

The interface in the game is extremely clumsy and I was close to give up in the beginning because of it. To use items is clumsy, to read scroll, open containers etc. Everything requires to much micromanagement to succeed.

Rating: 1.5

Gameplay
This is a strange game. It is hard to get into but if you give it time and press yourself the first few hours you will see the game grow on you. The atmosphere is good and I can imagine how much better it was in its time. You will learn to handle the combat in a more smooth way but it will never be entertaining. It is the story, the hunt for items and treasure and the occasional level up you play for.

The middle game was perhaps the best part of the game and the last part when entering the castle was a tough and boring part and I was close to give up the game but I persevered. It has many problems going against it but at the same time I love the Ravenloft setting, the voice acting, the environmental texts and the curiosity of what comes next.

The final gameplay rating will be 3. It has some tough titles with the same rating like Dungeon Master II, Faery Tale 2 and Wizardry VII. Even tough those games are better in total I still had about as much fun with this as with them.

Rating: 3

Section
Rating
Gameworld & Story
3
Economy
1
NPC & Interactions
1.5
Monsters, tactics & combat system
1.5
Magic system
2
Character generation & development
2
Map design
3
Manual
4
Graphics, Sound and Interface
1.5
Summary CRPG value
19.5


Gameplay
3