Review by KillerCrono599

"The shrieker shrieks!"

It was some time ago, that I wondered into this game. Even though it looked simple, to say it played that way would be quite wrong. It's complex, hard, and fun. There are so many things to fight, and so many things that can be done compared to games today. Even realism plays a good role in this game, as “the DevTeam thinks of everything.”

Story: 7/10
You must retrieve the Amulet of Yendor from Gehennom to give it to the god of your class and alignment. It's quite simple, but your trip in the dungeon is far from it…

Graphics: 8/10
You can either play with tiles or with the standard ASCII characters. Personally, both work fine for me, but either way, you'll definitely have to recognize what's going on around you. However, for beginning players, I do recommend tiles as they can show you easy things like your pet's status. (is this my pet or not?) It can take away a bit of the imagination process, though. It's ultimately up to you which style you choose.

Gameplay: 10/10
"Once you start, you won't be able to stop" would be a short way to explain it, but:

You start off being able to choose 13 classes, whether you're a male or female, your alignment, and race of human/elf/gnome. Unlike most games where choosing between a male and female would mean nothing more than looks, it has interesting effects depending on the circumstances. Classes also have major differences between each other, even though there are that many. Races also have an effect on how you play, depending on how you use them.

For example, Barbarians are strong (obviously), and are poison-resistant, so they eating things that may kill an early character outright will have no effect on them. They also notice weapons and armor far better than some classes. Rogues start out with equipment that enables them to loot from containers and are able to lockpick doors without worrying about kicking them. They are also good with daggers. Priests come with their innate ability to tell if a item is cursed or blessed at a glance, not to mention that they can remove anything that's cursed at the very start, which is quite useful, but their stats do leave much to be desired. I leave the rest of the classes to you.

As for the things you can do in the dungeon… that's a short story in itself, but because of that, the learning curve is quite steep. A good amount of keys are required to be used in order to be able to do what you need to be done. However, once this is done, you can really start getting into the game. For example, pressing (z) will allow you to use a wand, if you have one. (,) will allow you to pick up items. (#) allows you to type several commands such as #name which allows you to name any object you haven't identified. The guidebook will explain the many keys much better than I can here.

For monsters, in order to ensure your survival, would be too long to list as well. For starters, some monsters are best left avoided when you meet them. The very first monster you'll meet like this would be a floating eye. They are harmless, but if you're within attacking range, they can freeze your player for several turns, effectively killing him/her if any monsters are around. Bees are equally deadly, as their poisonous sting can kill a player if they aren't poison-resistant. Then there's monsters that can attack repeatedly, or are just extremely strong. Ghosts can pass through walls, be wary of mind flayers, don't attack shopkeepers, etc.

As for items, those should be used… only if you have a general idea of what it is. See that amulet on the ground? “Hey this is a nice… URK!!” Amulet of Strangulation. You just died, yay. Of course, it could have been an Amulet of Reflection or the like, but you were just unlucky. Speaking of dying, you'll be doing quite a bit of that just getting used to your character and how to use him/her against the various obstacles you'll face.

There's also keeping yourself alive, you're going to have to fight your belly! Everyone goes hungry, and if not fed, well, you are responsible for your own body. If your character starts off with food, then you'll be content for some time. However, you will have to find food eventually, by either finding it on the ground, or eating that corpse of the monster you just killed. Eating corpses can have some effects though, both positive and negative. You have to be especially wary of the status of what you eat, as it could be poisonous to your health, or you may even start seeing things…

Speaking of that, status effects exist as well. When you're Confused, you can't recognize friend from foe, and will even attack your pet. In doing so, you could cause yourself to fall to an early grave. When you Hallucinate, nothing is recognizable to you anymore, and the strongest creatures could be easily mistaken for something such as a Newt. When you're Stunned, you can't think too well, and may attack things you normally wouldn't. If you're Blind, you won't be able to see anything on the screen, which makes it both easy for monsters to attack you and attacks of yours to miss. It's also possible to hit your pet like this as well. The last statuses, and most certainly one of the more deadly ones, is Food Poisoning and Illness. Having either of these, you'll only live for a few more moves before you die unless you have the means to cure them.

I've been talking about pets for quite a bit now, but haven't really explained it. Pets are quite useful for starting characters. Depending on your class, they often can help you live far more then you'll first think. At the beginning, you'll have a dog, cat, or horse. You can even name them if you feel like it, by pressing (C). A pet will help you live by just recognizing what they do. If a creature is too strong, you can use your pet to hold it off. If pets don't pick up items, or “moves reluctantly”, then it's a safe bet that the item is cursed. Also, if a pet won't eat something, then chances are, you might not want to either.

I could explain more things, but as you can tell, it's quite extensive.

Music/SE: None
None at all. This is the type of game that is left to your imagination. Whether you are wandering through the dungeons, shooting arrows at monsters, sacrificing at alters, finding traps, etc., it's all left up to you. However, there are text clues for sounds such as "You hear a chugging sound." which means somewhere on the level, a monster drunk a potion. Even though they don't make any sound on your speaker, it still helps you regardless.

Length: 10/10
I've been playing it for a few years, and have ascended quite a bit now, but it took me over eight months to ascend with my first character. It's one of those games that you know what killed you, or not, and how to prevent it. It's definitely a learning experience for anyone who plays.

If you're interested in playing, you can get it at: http://www.nethack.org/
By the way, it is free, and a great free game at that.


Reviewer's Rating:   5.0 - Flawless

Originally Posted: 01/30/07, Updated 03/21/07

Would you recommend this
Recommend this
Review? Yes No

Got Your Own Opinion?

Submit a review and let your voice be heard.