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Thanks for this game

PostPosted: Sun Feb 14, 2010 10:35 pm
by Phenig
I bought this game two weeks ago, and have really enjoyed it. All my attempts have been in Ironman mode, since I like having more of a challenge. Aside from some deaths in the first two fights, I have one play-through that ended with a death to the gnolls at the backdoor to the the orc/slaver fortress, and my last game made it all the way to level 20 before I died to the nasty undead ambush after that level 44 dragon.

It's been a while since I enjoyed anything as much as this. The combat system is fast and clean, with lots of options. The dungeon design is quite good, with plenty of nasty tricks - ambushes, wandering patrols, doors that shut behind you, and really smart AI. I was totally impressed when I saw a golem standing in the fire to heal, and then doubly impressed when, after try to block the brazier from another golem, it bull-rushed my wizard out of the way!

Roughly speaking, here's what I like about the game:
* Ironman mode, just like the old roguelike games
* Lots of detailed tactical options (grapple, 5' steps)
* Feels "clean and simple" like classic OD&D modules, without all the abusable prestige classes
* Fairly high difficulty in the early battles (L1-8), and at the end (L19-20)
* Old-school graphics and music (I don't care for the 3D rendering style or GUIs of NWN and other newer games)

Here's what I don't like:
* Quest rewards can't compete with crafted items
* Many buff spells become useless (e.g. Stoneskin, Blur), as they are replaced by permanent items
* Very late battles start to feel luck-dependent, depending a lot on saving throws
* Fighters are a little too weak relative to other classes at the end ("I can't touch this dragon, arghh!")
* Too much money floating around in the game after the slaver city

I also wish there were a few "hardcore" features/options to play the game closer to old 1980's games (memorized spells, need to bandage unconscious characters, more descriptive text to read, etc), but I realize I'm probably in a small minority of people who want all that.

I think for my next play-through, I'm going to try avoiding taking any crafting feats until I hit level 20. That should make the giant-based stages of the game a bit harder, and make quest rewards feel more exciting. Alas, I don't think I'm good enough to beat the final few encounters without a full arsenal of crafted items. :oops:

Re: Thanks for this game

PostPosted: Sun Feb 14, 2010 10:46 pm
by BlueSalamander
Hello Phenig, thank you for this thoughtful post!

Re: Thanks for this game

PostPosted: Wed Mar 10, 2010 4:03 pm
by Phenig
By the way, I'm really enjoying playing through in Ironman mode, but with crafting skills disabled. I've also turned off overland encounters (for reasons mentioned in the other thread) which definitely cuts down on the amount of excess gold floating around. With no overland encounters I'm being forced to fight at lower levels, which makes everything very tense and exciting. So far I've made it as far as level 7 (when I was killed by a Vrock, a little much for a party at that level to handle!)

Alas, I think the last few encounters in the game might be too difficult to clear without crafted items. But everything else is much more fun. The giants were far too easy the first time through, with all my cloaks of displacement shutting down their melee, and I want them to present a better challenge.

I feel like the encounters require a lot more finesse, rather than just brute force. A good example is the early fight against the spider queen. In the first game, I just blew past her using fireball spells, without much thought or effort. The second time through, I was still level 4. I realized that the Arrows of Animal Slaying from the vampire on the other side of the cave were actually intended for this fight, to help a webbed fighter contribute in a big way.

Having only a small number of magic items available makes each one feel special and valuable.

I really like all the extra difficulty settings. It might be nice to add one that disables the "enchant" and "magic item" feats, which have such a huge effect on the game. Although it's also pretty simple to just avoid taking them!