Anyway, I would guess I´ve played for around 25-30 hours. Here comes the review and in the end I will compare it with similar games.
Gameworld & Story
The game then begins and you are on your own. From then on the story is simple and the game very linear. You never need to know what you are actually doing. There are no choices you have to make. No dilemmas, morale decision or grayzones regarding your loyalties along the way. Everything is black & white.
The only thing I really miss is the lack of narratives, texts or interactions with more NPCs that give more flesh to the background and what is happening. As it is now, only a very few mission critical NPC:s might tell you something and here and there you can find some parchements that add to the story. If they would just put some more efforts into that part the game would feel more immersive and story driven. As it is now, they are all too few to keep you thinking of what you are actually doing. You just go from one complex to the other and clears them out. If you are lucky you stumble upon a parchment that adds some background information of what has happened.
This one is easy. There are no currency and no shops in the game so the economy doesn´t exist at all.
In the beginning I missed a shop to trade in for better weapons and armours but then I recognised there where no currency so....
NPC & Interactions
The dialogues are often short and quite frankly, a little bit naive. One thing which is a bit disappointing is that you will never, ever in the game (except for the endscene) have any choice in answering. You just click on words popping up that leads the dialogue forward. That is somewhat boring when you keep in mind that this game is made in 1995. If you think you can roleplay your character in any way. Forget it. To its defense though, that goes for most other dungeon crawlers.
Rating : 1.5
Monsters & Tactics
The problem is the lack of tactics used. Monsters never follow you around unless you are within a few hexes away. You could therefore always run away from your enemies if you wish.
Though you might be outnumbered, monsters does not try to surround you. It is more of a coincidence - like a lack of space for them to move - that makes you surrounded.
They never, ever retreats. Ok, this is very seldom in other games as well. They are quite slow so they are easily outrunned or outmanouvered. There are some that are a bit faster and more agile but the standard tactic of rushing forward, slash and retreat before they retaliates usually works for any monster.
The only exception if for those that hurl spells or other mundane objects. Other than that, all monsters attack at first sight when you come within a few hexes. They never try to circumvent you.
In the end you cannot compare the difficulty in battling monsters in Anvil of Dawn with Dungeon Master, Black Crypt, Crystal Dragon, Eye of the Beholder or Legend of Grimrock. The latter games are much harder.
The summary of all this is that combat quickly gets very repetitive and quite frankly...boring. There are no major bosses or end fights in Anvil of Dawn that makes up for this.
Having said all that, the game still delivers true hack´n slash combat without much thought. It works but is not very delicate. The only reason for you to actually kill them is that some of them drops keys that you must have in order to proceed. They don´t carry any loot.
Character generation and development
Each time you use a weapon or cast magic spells counts toward your next skill increase. You can see on red bars how far you are to reach the next level. At each new level you have the choice of putting one point into either a melee skill group like slash, thrust, hack or ranged. Or if it was an increase in your magical prowess it allows you to put one point in any of the magical schools. You will never be able to choose spells. You must find all somewhere in the game. Increasing you skillpoints is very satisfying but skill increases only triggers when you get above ground to the overland map.
You never get more hitpoints or magic points since there are no levels in this game. You have to find certain items to use for that. You also never increase your attributes unless you find the right items like amulets.
[Rating: 4 - does not count towards end score]
Graphics, Sound and Interface
The Interface in the game are good and easy to use and understand. Everything is accessible through your character sheet. It is simple and elegant and I give it above average rating. When attacking you could either click on the monster or on the weaponhand itself (which I prefer). All spells are visible on the mainscreen with their symbols and you just click on them to cast them.
So is Anvil of Dawn worth playing today ? Yes, definetely. Especially if you wan´t a more casual dungeon crawler with focus more on hack´n slash and loot gathering and less about pure survival and optimising your character. I enjoyed it for what it is.
The most crucial part is that it seems you might reach the end without having gathered all the ingredients. You will then probably have no idea of where to look but at least you could go back. And a good thing is that you could use your automap and go back through all maps in the game to look for areas you haven´t explored or overlooked.
The game is very linear. Not until midgame you are given the opportunity to choose between which places to go. From midgame somewhere the game begun to feel very repetitive. You practically repeat every pattern again in every new place. There is no variation to speak of. The only difference is the monsters or puzzles to solve. It the end I only wanted to finish it. Still, when this game arrived it competed with Stonekeep, another excellent game which will win the comparison in my view because of a much stronger story and narrative. Anvil of Dawns strength lies in the simplicity and linearity of the game. You wan´t to proceed in order to find better items and move on to new complexes to explore.
Crystal Dragon is much harder both in puzzles and combat than this game. You also need to keep track of your food in that game. You don´t need to worry about it here.
Total rating: 20.5