Monday, 14 April 2014

RPGs = Restricted Progress Gaming

I'm in the middle of three long RPGs at the moment, so there's not much instant gratification progress going on. First up is Excelsior: Book 2. I am making pretty good progress along the main story here. There aren't many side quests to speak of, just tonnes of back-and-forthing around the world map for the main quest. I ran into a bit of a roadblock at one point where I didn't have the necessary spell to talk to a cat, so had to level up a couple of times until I could cast 'Speak with Animals', which was a bit of a chore, but other than that things have been going well. I just traipsed halfway across the world to reach a tower I need to climb (of course) only to discover that I needed a ship to get there and the nearest town that sells them is right back on the other side of the world. At the last point I saved, I'd just walked all the way back and boarded a ship, so I have a long sail and tower fight ahead of me. I feel like I've made quite a bit of progress in the game, but I'm still quite a low level, so I'm not sure how much I've still got to go. The damsel in distress at the top of the tower is the person I was sent to the planet to find, so I'm hoping she'll let me know who the big bad is so I'll be able to start out trying to reach him. Like the first Excelsior game, it's a fun old-school RPG that I'm really enjoying. The only issue I have so far is that the day/night cycle is a bit too intrusive, meaning that most of the time you're wandering round with seriously reduced vision. It may not be realistic, but in terms of gameplay I'd have much preferred a longer period of daylight than night (it's the other way around in the game, which is super annoying). Let's face it, in the real world, my character would be sleeping at night, not traipsing along 24 hours a day, so the whole day/night modelling thing is a tad artificial anyway. Other than that, all good.

I get the feeling that Sacred is going to be a monster game. It's a standard Diablo-clone in lots of ways, but it's a good one. Plenty of quests, plenty of loot, and plenty of running around and clicking on things until they die. One unique aspect of it that I'm not yet sure of is that usually in these types of games, when you level up you get a point or two to add to your skills, so you can plan your character build the way you want to play. In Sacred, though, skill points are random drops from enemies, so you have no control over which skill you're going to level up, or when. Even weirder, you won't just find skill drops for your character, you'll find them for different classes which you can't use, which is a bit odd. I've been saving them in a chest in case you can transfer them to other characters, but I'm not really sure what the deal is. I've made a bit of progress in the game - just cleared out the second town/quest hub with my elf archer, but I haven't really given it a great deal of attention yet. Even though it's quite an old game, it doesn't run brilliantly on my ageing box, so it's a graphics to minimum affair, which doesn't look great. Still, it's good mindless fun, so I'll continue plodding along with it.

Finally, it's Mass Effect on the PS3. This is the first of a ridiculously massive trilogy of RPGs, so I may be stuck at it for a while. I think I'm making pretty good progress through it so far, I've cleared up all of the available side quests, and finished the first of the two-part main mission quest that's available to me at the moment. The load times are sucky, and Elevators!, but other than that the game is fantastic. I'm pretty rubbish at the combat, but me and my girls are slowly setting the galaxy to rights and I'm very much looking forward to seeing the story pan out.

UPDATE: Oooh, I just finished Excelsior! It turns out that not only was the damsel in distress at the top of the tower, but the big bad guy was, too. I wasn't expecting that, I thought there'd be loads more of the game to go. There were still a few levels of spells I hadn't reached yet, and places I hadn't visited. Obviously I'm not going to go back and grind them out, but it did feel a bit rushed there. Still, I very much enjoyed my time with both Excelsior games, great little surprises that I'd never heard of before, and wouldn't have tried if it wasn't for the crazy quest. Next up on the series list is yet another long old-school RPG series, Ishar. There are four games in the series, the three Ishar titles, and the prequel, Crystals of Arborea, which I'm starting up next.

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