Review by NDavidson
"Save, Fight, Rest, Load, Fight, Rest, Repeat"
Heart of Winter starts off being very good, but very quickly gets to be tedious and difficult. A terrible combination when put together.
The initial encounters are interesting, but then they repeat, over and over and over again. For instance, in the 'Ice Caves', you have to fight one or two Remoraz... then one or two more... then one or two more. The entire time you snake your party around a very uninspired level that seems designed JUST to make you fight more of the same creature - over and over again.
Not to mention that some of the critters you're face to fight on a constant basis are /very/ difficult. The undead on Burial Isle attack you en masse, and they're powerful. But, you don't get the impression of accomplishment when you beat them, because they're clearly just the 'wandering monsters' of the level. The difficulty of the module outpaces the ability of the character.
Despite this, there are a few parts that make it worth your time to play. The town of Lonelywood has a few interesting tidbits. Encounters with the barbarians are enjoyable for the most part. But these moments come only after hours of playing through poorly-designed and ill-conceived dungeon levels. I found myself pining to return to town - not to heal - but to actually do something remotely interesting.
Heart of Winter also suffers from 'D&D-itis', where higher levels means more instant deaths, saving, reloading, and desperate attempts to get the party some rest. Again, the Remoraz cave, easily the worst dungeon level in all of the Infinity Engine games, will have even die-hard players wondering if they shouldn't be playing a bad Unlimited Adventures module instead.
Lastly, it's short. It's as if the 'play time' was increased just by using more and more monster encounters instead of providing an interesting play experience. The moments of 'fun', where you interact in a way that doesn't use a sword, are few and far between. There are only a few points where you feel that you're in an RPG and not an episode of Diablo gone horribly wrong.
In short, if you're a AD&D purist, you'll find something here in the new items, and in a couple of the encounters provided. But most of us are going to find it frustrating and tedious, particularly in the uninspired dungeon levels. Stay clear of this one, the first real dissappointment that the Infinity Engine has succumbed under.
Reviewer's Rating: 1.5 - Bad
Originally Posted: 09/12/01, Updated 09/12/01
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