Salvation Through Villainy

These caves are treacherous! You could be looking for the quest marker for hours in here…

Not that I went the complete wrong way for an hour, cleared the rest of the cave, and then realised the objective was behind where I was standing. Never. That said, I feel the map(s) could stand to be a little clearer at times. Or that the game could explain certain features (like holding Tab to open a full area map) better to help you get through those confusing, embarrassing, silly times.

Sacred 2 inherits much from the original Sacred. It’s an open world fantasy ARPG with surprisingly deep and varied character development, featuring several different classes, and two distinct story choices (to either be good or evil). Many of the mechanics return with a little more polish alongside a full 3D presentation. Voice acting remains (for each of the classes, some of the quest NPCs, and general commentary) and helps to flesh out the world of Ancaria. The Gold Edition also features two expansion packs which bring all sorts of extra goodies along for the ride (like the carrier imp, a new character class, new regions, and more).

Overall it’s a pretty solid title that will likely net you several hours of enjoyment if you like ARPGs.

One of the most intriguing developments for me is how the character classes vary. I took the atypical fighter in the Shadow Warrior (following the evil story) the first time I played and after I finished the main campaign (on bronze) I explored the other choices. I was curious to see what they would do differently and it’s quite extensive.

I don't think he/she's very happy with me...
I don’t think he/she’s very happy with me…

For instance, the Skills you learn vary from class to class. I wasn’t really expecting to start with a Dragon Mage and see options the Shadow Warrior hadn’t been able to select, yet, likewise for the Dragon Mage, there were things the Shadow Warrior had that he didn’t. It’s a small change (and somewhat expected) but it’s nice to see that there are unique benefits for each of the classes. Many of the standard choices like Armor Lore, Shield Lore, Constitution, Toughness, and so on are present for all of the classes (as far as I’m aware).

The Attributes don’t vary between classes, however.

These are the pretty standard self-explanatory choices that you’ll find in nearly every other RPG. Yet, combined with the Skills, and the Combat Arts (covered below), you have the opportunity to create vastly different builds. The character classes do have specific roles, however. Or sets of roles. Like the Seraphim can fight in close quarters or at range depending on how you build her.

Combat Arts are your magical or physical attacks (also your buffs) and they follow suit from Sacred to be almost exactly the same. You find runes, use them, level up the skills, but face increasing cooldowns/penalties every time you do. In Sacred 2 after investing a number of points in certain Skills you can also upgrade Combat Arts to make them more powerful. Adding area damage, life stealing, armour penetration, and other benefits. These are specific to the Combat Arts and so each have six choices of which you can choose three before the Combat Art is mastered.

There are a whole heap of quests and locations to explore, too. This is something that’s quite difficult to summarise as there are so many things to talk about, but, for me, the above is what really stands out and makes Sacred 2 great. That flexibility, character depth, choice, and the chance to replay the story again on increasing difficulty levels.

Have a nice week, all!


“Logs, rocks, and a sense of dread.”

I’ve been here before. The good news is that I got my camp fire ready before night fell and the nasties came out…

While you may notice that I deeply enjoy RPGs there are other genres I will dip into every so often. It’s true that for many years on the PS1 I would enjoy racing games and action adventure games (mostly because they seemed to be available by the score) and on the Wii I did enjoy sports games. That said, my days of virtual tennis are behind me. I haven’t played in years and if I lose even one match against a highly skilled opponent my Pro status is gone! Y’hear me? Gone! I can’t have that.

I sometimes enjoy dropping into and out of a game of something without feeling the need to build, develop, or plan out a character. For senseless violence or racing. To play a virtual board game or try not to starve or get eaten.

Rogue Legacy is a pretty funny title and fits right in with that old SNES game feel. The visual style, the development, and the quirky nature of the environment and the enemies give it a long lasting appeal without bogging you down with all the customisation. That said, unlike most rogue-likes, death is not completely permanent as such. Your character dies but their gold allows you to develop the next in their legacy. By unlocking runes, upgrading their manor, buying equipment, and so on. Therefore the threat of death is very much real (and you can just pop into and out of it at will) but you still retain some development for the next character.

Don’t Starve is a pretty odd title. I got this as a gift over the festive season, and, while I knew very little of it, it actually fit a particular type of game I wanted to buy. Something survival based. I like the mechanics behind this one as it is quite skill based. Once you have an idea of what you’re doing, what to avoid, what to collect, and how that character works there is a lot better chance of you making it through several days. It has a quirky art style and a generally interesting set of themes and development ideas. It’s also really good for killing some time here or there as you can create multiple save files.

Trine is certainly beautiful but also boasts a number of mechanics that are not readily apparent when you first pick up the game. Besides the choice of different characters with unique skills, puzzles, challenges, and bosses there are a number of RPG mechanics involved that allow you to develop each individual character. Not to mention loot to find, equip, and take advantage of along the way. Death is handled in a rather standard checkpoint fashion that once all of your available characters are down you respawn at the nearest checkpoint. From there you can either save your progress or push on further.

Dungeon Dashers is an Early Access title. This is one that could very well be dead at this moment in time (there haven’t been too many updates recently) but if you can pick it up cheaply, and/or it ever is finished, then it is certainly worth a look. It plays out a little like an old fantasy board game and combines classes with unique mechanics to solve problems within levels, defeat enemies in encounters, and offers the classes unique equipment and skills. It’s actually a pretty polished title thus far it just lacks content. Certainly has a lot of ambitions and great ideas fuelling it at the moment!

Have a nice week, all!


Games Like Those of Yesteryear

You ever get that nostalgic itch that you scratch and scratch but it never goes away? I do. Oh the itchiness.

Years ago, when I were a wee nipper, I made the discovery of a lifetime- gaming! Which in turn led to my creative pursuits. It’s a funny world when you consider everything is interconnected, or, if you will, tangled like a ball of twine.

Over the many years and the many systems I have played I have uncovered a number of gaming gems. Classic titles that boast mechanics and stories unequalled. However, these days, it seems to be hard to find a really good RPG experience like those of yesteryear.

So here are a few titles that offer those experiences of yesteryear without needing to be run in 800×600 resolution.

Legend of Grimrock was a rather spontaneous purchase late last year and if you can get past the grid based movement and combat system then you’ll probably enjoy it immensely if the above tickles you. Or if you enjoy grid based movement and combat systems you’ll probably enjoy it, too. One thing I really love about this title is, while there isn’t an open world, or any kind of world map for that matter, there are a number of things to explore and puzzles to solve. There is a lot of content and party management as each of your party members is required to successfully overcome the dangers you’ll face along the way.

The sequel Legend of Grimrock II takes an almost opposite approach to the basic elements. Now you have more classes, more races, an entire island to explore, lots more loot, lots more customisation, and more varied encounters. It’s an amazing step up from the first and will take you some time to work through the puzzles, traps, bosses, and the secrets hidden along the way. You will probably really enjoy it if you enjoyed the first- but there’s no requirement to play the first- save one achievement and secret found in the game. Really. It’s one of the best RPG experiences I’ve had in a good long while.

Lords of Xulima, an indie game, if I am correct, is a title that throws back to the days of Icewind Dale. You create your party of people, start with limited equipment, control each in turn in battle, and you explore the island you have sailed to. There is an enormous amount of content and the classes are quite interesting. There are many different takes on the development of each class and the battles are balanced but tough. You will get killed more than once and there is a little luck to it. However, for the price, you are getting an experience which boasts a number of developed systems and delivers on each one without fail.

Divinity: Original Sin is a game you have probably heard a lot about already if you’re following RPGs. If, however, you don’t like the Divinity series in general, or you live under a rock- this game is an absolutely stunning experience. The music, the visual style, the party banter, the questing, the exploration, the inventory management, the crafting system, the need to uncover every string of conversation, and to explore every last location is without equal. It starts a bit slow and features sometimes unforgiving combat but it also gives you a lot of freedom of choice and offers a lot of additional experiences if you explore.

If you’re in the mood for something of an RPG nature and don’t know what to get- give these a try. You might be surprised!

Have a nice week, all!


The Adventures of Percival Meatshield

There’s a lot of monsters out there and someone’s got to slay them… why are you looking at me? Oh, all right then.

This is a title that you could say I’ve come to revisit in 2014, as I’d already played it many years ago when I had the boxed copy- but it was on sale on Steam and it had all these shiny new things (that I didn’t actually end up using) so I bought it again. For all of £1.49 so I wasn’t too concerned. However, the two extra classes look interesting and it plays for a good amount of time so one can hardly complain about having the shiny new version. Plus, I suppose it’s been patched and is fully up to date which my boxed copy wouldn’t be and then I’d have to find and download patches for it and such.

Just like the good old days of gaming. Where the first ten hours of gameplay was tracking down, installing, tweaking, and swearing at patches. When you didn’t have automatic updates for video drivers and spent hours carefully treading the official site to understand what you needed. Then hoping that the installation didn’t absolutely destroy your machine with a blue screen of death. Ah, sweet nostalgia!

…Those days sure were scary. Steam removes a lot of this and the NVIDIA update tool removes the rest of it.

So, what is Sacred? It’s an ARPG that comes in somewhere between Diablo and Diablo II in terms of functionality. You’ve got some advancements like being able to hold a button to continually perform an attack or the multiple slots to allow you to use one of several skills, but, rather oddly, you don’t have stackable items like potions or skill items. Yet you don’t need identify scrolls as everything you find is already identified. However, you also don’t have town portal scrolls but you do have horses. So there’s a lot of different ideas thrown in there and some of them are quite interesting (like horses) while others are standard fare.

I have many weapons- one for each of you.
I have many weapons- one for each of you.

There are five base classes and seven with the two extra in the Gold version. Each one comes in with a different flavour, story, starting location, voice actor, and lots of interesting skills to choose from and develop over the course of the game. Unlike other games in this genre your Combat Skills are acquired as items that drop. It can make the growth system a little random at times as you can’t focus fire all your points into one skill, but, at the same time, it also means you’re going to find/use a lot more skills. Like I would never have actually put points into the Gladiator’s Dagger Stare but it was actually kind of useful early in the game when you had a couple of free points.

Skills (not to be confused with Combat Skills as described above) come in the form of various aspects you can build up as you level up. They’re things like Concentration (that allows you to regenerate physical Combat Skills quicker) or Agility (which improves your offensive and defensive combat abilities) which allow you to patch up any holes in your build by improving the weak points.

I noticed early on that the Gladiator wasn’t hurting for any kind of damage and could reliably take down whole groups or singular enemies. So I decided to devote a lot of my Skills to things that improved his defence, his combat ability, his ability to resist magic, and so on. This way he was well rounded against many of the different threats in the world.

Speaking of threats (and there are many) they are varied and interesting challenges. You’re going to face a range of enemies that are going to do all manner of clever things, that are going to hurt you in so many ways, and that you are going to need to approach carefully to survive. There are few enemies that attempt to kill you through pure brute force and there are even less that just stand there and get pummelled endlessly. Much to the annoyance of any and every melee character. It’s a refreshing change to the usual “it’s end game so everything can kill you quite easily.” This is more a case that things can if you don’t pay too much attention to them.

Finally, the greatest, and most varied, aspect of this game is the massive world in which you play in. There are an amazing number of locations and so many different environments while having an open world feel allows you the ability to explore or not. If you want to go from quest to quest- feel free. If you want to explore- feel free. It’s all there if you want to take advantage of it and you’ll be surprised at how big the actual world is. There’s so much to see, do, find, kill, explore, discover, and generally observe that the world never feels dull or lifeless. Countless smaller towns and outposts litter the highways and give the world a truly living and breathing feel that is so rare in ARPGs (and just about any game really).

It’s a rare gem and one that is really worth your time if you like classic ARPGs.

Have a nice weekend, all!