Review by skareglow
"A good console dungeon crawler and one of 3DO's gems."
I remember first playing this game when I was younger. I was the only person in my town with a 3DO, which was obscure. One of the games he brought home was Slayer. Slayer is a console-RPG dungeon crawler that featured a pretty complex character creation system for the time. Players were able to choose a hero and customize his or her class, race, alignment, and stats. Being an Advanced Dungeons and Dragons game, it followed D&D rules were certain player attributes were required in order to make a hero of a particular class. An example is the paladin class, that requires higher strength and a lawful good alignment.
After creating your character and choosing from a limited pool of portraits to give your hero a face, you get to build a dungeon based on your preferences. There are nine (!!!) total preferences including the amount of treasure to be found, amount of traps, level of combat difficulty, and amount of monsters you'll be facing. The game then sends you into the first level of the dungeon, which is randomly created based on a number-stringed seed. This way, if you find a certain dungeon you like, you'll be able to write down the seed number and recreate it later. It's also important to note that the randomly created dungeons will have different final bosses at the end level of the dungeon.
The graphics are pretty standard, not thrilling but they got the job done. It is a first-person view that plays similar to perhaps Elder Scrolls or Ultima Underworlds.The atmosphere of the dungeon is very dark and the sprites, though well drawn, have little animation to them. It feels a lot like Doom, especially with the minimap at the bottom. Despite the game not being an example of stunning 3d workmanship for its time, the graphics do give them game a good atmosphere and a brilliant frame rate for a 3d game on a console.
The sound is okay. Music is well-orchestrated but tends to be pretty repetitive. The sounds, like sword swings and weapon hits are boring and dry. Magical sound effects are far from magical. The songs fit the atmosphere well despite the repetitiveness, however. The boss fight music is brilliant. It submerses the player in a sense of doom and it made my blood start pumping. After the first one, however, it'll be commonplace.
Where this game really shines is its gameplay. You start out with a small, random group of items based on your class. As you venture into the dungeon, you'll find that items are the most important part of remaining alive and descending to the final boss. You'll find a variety of weapons along the way, normal ones and unique ones with extra attributes. You may find an unidentified sword which can be revealed to be a Longsword +2. You'll learn quickly that some weapons can't be equipped by some classes and you may be clumsy and slow with something you're not strong enough to wield. You swing your weapon by the hit of a button, but the only way to tell you have made contact is with a blood splatter on the monster you're facing as a graphical representation of the weapon is not present. Arrow shots and magic missiles are represented similar to a shooter fps. You see the arrow fly but not the bow drawing back the arrow prior to launch.
The fighting system is, in this case, standard fare and nothing too exciting but it gets the job done. Again, the real excitement comes from exploring the dungeons and finding new items that will give you an advantage. Some of the cooler items are ones that induce levitation, allowing the player to hover over chasms and give themselves an advantage if range fighting. Many times there are also items that are only accessible if flying, and after playing a bit you'll know that every single item helps. Spell-casting players also get an advantage in some areas, where they can use spells to damage or heal themselves, and in some cases unlock doors, whereas other characters would need a scroll or a lockpick and higher dexterity.
The fact that all the dungeons are randomly created gives this game an edge. The replay value is really great as you can go through several thousand different dungeons and use a different style of character every time. As if this wasn't enough customization for a console RPG, remember that there are nine other preferences you can set relating to the dungeon directly including amounts of treasure and traps and even difficulty. This can create a different experience every time and allow it to be enjoyable to beat the game several times.
One of the greatest features of this game is its boss battles. After you descend to the final floor of the dungeon, the atmosphere makes it completely obvious. You're in for some trouble. The music changes to deep, nausea-inducing panic and you stand in front of a huge door. There is a relief sculpture of one of the three bosses you have to face. Of the three bosses, the demon is the most impressive. When you enter the demon's lair, you'll notice it right away as it towers over you by 5 or 6 stories. This makes for a compelling boss fight where you feel like you don't stand a chance, especially against something so enormous. The sheer scale of the boss fights make the entire dungeon experience worth the effort, and once you finally beat it you feel like you've actually accomplished something awesome.
This game is one of the best you can experience on the 3DO game system. The downside is that it is truly a great game but it is ONLY available on 3DO, a rather rare console that few owned growing up because of its price. If you get a chance to play this game, you'll be surprised. Any dungeon-crawl or D&D fan owes it to themselves to find and play this game. If you are neither, like me, you'll enjoy this game still. The boss fights alone are worth it.
Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 06/22/10
Game Release: Advanced Dungeons & Dragons: Slayer (US, 12/31/94)
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