Review by Rosewood
"A Dungeon Slogging Yawner"
The story, such as it is, is presented in info-dump form by friendly providers at the level recoup center/shop. In the meantime you whale through dungeons. The last, biggest plot point is handed to you in the rule book so you don't even have to sit through all that anyway. Disappointing.
Characterization is non-existent. I can't imagine that the game would play out differently for any of the characters, except for a line of dialogue or two. Not worth playing through the whole thing again to discover!
The character buildup aspect had a lot of potential--you are given a suite of abilities you use your experience points to bring up, thus allowing you to personalize your character. But after a certain point the choice was: level up a spell that causes 15 points of damage per second and requires you to be right up in the monsters' faces to be effective, or level up the spell that will cause 104 points of damage per use, to every monster within eyesight (and even off screen)? Tough call. Equipment choices worked just about exactly the same way-- straightforward. At times you come across a piece of equipment your character can't use, but there's always a choice item intended for you right around the corner.
Weapon and spell effect differences were non-existent as far as I could tell. You don't do more damage to an ice creature with a fire spell, you don't electrocute yourself by standing in water and shooting a lightning bolt. So again, just choose whatever causes the most damage at the greatest distance and you can nuke the bad guys at your leisure, or (most frustrating) spend hours running away from monsters to get in a good position to blow them away. No worries about strategy or character balance here.
At least as I ended up playing it, the second-last and last bosses were way too easy to dispose of. Maybe for the dwarf and archer characters they would provide more gameplay challenge but the sorceress on medium difficulty was a cakewalk.
Every level in the game is an easily negotiable maze. With the option of having a map available in the top right corner, there's no question of being lost (not a bad thing in my opinion). But aside from the visuals, which are quite nice and made me say ''Cool'' at least once, there's no real variety to the environments--ice is not slippery, swamps do not catch you in muck, etc.
There is one area of platformer-type maneuvering you have to do. The game designers must have realized the engine they use is not well suited to platform jumping so it is mercifully very short. Otherwise the ''puzzles'' don't even merit the name. Gather an item and bring it back to the checkpoint. Gather 3 items and bring them back to the checkpoint. That kind of thing.
(Not my area of expertise so no number rating ^_^)
The graphics were attractive and varied. Having a character depiction in your inventory choice screen was fun, because whenever you change out your equipment it shows on the character. For those in the audience who like to look at gals in their underwear, switching out the sorceress' armor could provide some entertainment, I guess...
Music was suited to the game--with a nice orchestral feel--but wasn't what I'd call breathtaking.
I don't see any possible enjoyment from playing this game twice. There's a ''gauntlet'' section that opens up when you've completed the game, but I'm in no hurry to try it out.
Buy or Rent?
For those who enjoy the ''wandering around slaughtering monsters'' aspects of RPGs this could provide some amusement for a short period of time but even that doesn't have enough variety. The ''info-dump'' nature of the plot points makes them seem unconnected to any of the dungeon crawls---I could have just looked at the plot points of the game as a cinema and gotten as much out of it as I did with the hours and hours spent leveling up.
A severe disappointment. Not challenging, not interesting, and--worst of all--not fun.
Reviewer's Score: 3/10 | Originally Posted: 04/17/02, Updated 04/17/02
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