Heroes III and IV were the main strategy games I've played when I was younger. I always preferred Heores IV because its implementation of RPG mechanics. I think Heroes III has better units. There are more variety and the fact that you can upgrade them makes it harder to find the optimal way to build my towns. I really enjoy skirmishes, but I have some huge problems playing through campains. They feel so uninteresting. Like the overarching plot is cool, but most of the maps are boring. Heroes aren't usually carried over to the next map, so I lost any motivation to make them perfect pretty quickly. And every other map told me that 8 heroes will be carried to the next. I barely needed 3 heroes to win all the maps. I had to spread my army too thin otherwise. Well, enemies usually had only few units, outside of scripted battles, anyway, so there wasn't many reasons to build ultimate army.
Well, I enjoyed my return to this game, but I think I'll rather play Heroes IV next time I want to play a Heroes game. It's still solid game, but I like Heroes IV more. 7/10.
Since it's almost the end of March, I didn't want to start any big games, so I can get to Game Along game straight away. So I checked my Humble Bundle account, since I have quite a few games to play there and picked some that take less than 5 hours to complete.
Path of Giants
In Path of Giants, you play as three explorers on a quest to get a treasure located high in mountains. To get the treasure, I had to finish a series of puzzles. These puzzles were pretty easy to be honest. I don't think I've been stucked on any puzzle for more than 5 minutes, aside from 2 levels, where I didn't realize how the mechanics of those levels work. Some puzzles had clever design, but once I figured out the basic algorithm behind majority of puzzles, it was a breeze.
Graphically speaking, explorers are adorable. Animations of them running and jumping is cute and I especially loved animations of them jumping on each other. That didn't got old at all. Each level looked the same, which is a shame.
Overall, it was fun way to kill few hours of my free time. It was short, easy and sometimes controls were going crazy, doing the exact opposite of what it was supposed to do. But it looked great, explorers were really adorable and it was fun to watch them interact with each other. 7/10.
The Haunted Island, a Frog Detective Game
Frog Detective is a franchise I had my eyes on for years. Basically from the moment it first appeared on a internet. But I never got around to play it, since it only takes few minutes to complete, so I always told myself I can get to it later. Well, now is the right time to do it!
In Frog Detective, you play as Frog Detective. Weird, I know. Anyway, Frog Detective is send to investigate a island that is allegedly haunted by a ghost. Sloth, an owner of the island, can't sleep because of it and ghost scientists didn't find anything.
The game is very simple. It's clear that it's aimed more at kids than a gaming veteran like myself. The graphics are very simplistic, to the point that the expressionless faces of some characters look creepy, dialogues are short and simple, but they still manage to sneak few jokes in them that once again a kid would probably find funny. Like one of the ghost scientists only finds out that they are ghost scientist during the game. Before that, they thought they were toast scientist. Music has a noir feel to it mixed with tropical beats and it fits the game perfectly.
Gameplay-wise, this is somewhere between PaC adventure and walking simulator. You talk to all other characters that are currently on a small island, find out they all have an item and are willing to trade it for another item. So all you have to do is to find the first item and start trading, until you have everything you need to finish the story. And that's it. The big reveal can be guessed right from the start of the game, but it was still fine reveal. The second game is even teased at the end.
Overall it was nice game, especially for the time it takes to finish it. 7/10.
Frog Detective 2: The Case of the Invisible Wizard
Speaking of the second game... This is basically Frog Detective 1, but Frog Detective now has a notebook, where it can write down everything it knows about a case. Dialogues are a little bit better here and you even have to put some effort into getting some items. The music is now eerie and graphics are a little bit darker, since this takes in place in a magical town in woods during the night. You even get a choice to make at the end of the case. And the third game is once again teased at the end. I'm looking forward to it. 7.5/10.
Next up I wanted to play Gothic 1. Not sure if you know it, but I'm an expert on Gothic. So it shouldn't take long to finish it.
New month, new updates. I finished Gothic faster than I thought, so I can now focus on Game Along game.
Gothic is one of the first RPG I've ever played and one of my most favourite games of all time. I've played it so many times and I'm still looking forward playing it more. But since I'm already familiar with almost everything this game has to offer, I decided to play an OLOG - One Life One Game. Basically I have to restart the game once I die.
Since I don't want to make this extremely long update, let's get the boring part out of the way. I died thrice. Once right at the start of the game against regular Scavengers near Old Camp, once while falling down from Gilbert's cave and once in Free Mine, where Gort decided I'm the enemy and killed me.
My 4th attempt went really well. I quickly got best digger armor from Frisk and then Axe from somewhere I can't remember now, which was enough to kill every Scavenger, Molerat, Bloodfly, Wolf and Waran. After I got enough levels to level up my 1h weapons to expert level and had around 60 points in strength, I went to New Camp and beat Lares to get his Axe. With it, I was able to kill Shadowbeasts, Lurkers, Biters, Black Goblins, Snappers, Orcdogs and could probably also take down Orcs, but I didn't want to risk it.
So after getting my strength to 100, it was time for me to join one camp. I've never joined Brotherhood before, because I find their camp unfinished. Like Novices can't get their best armor and you can't take magic-only path in this camp. After joining Brotherhood, I was granted a passage to Old Camp's main building, where I beat Scar and took his sword.
Now that I got the best sword in the game, there was nothing to stop me. I quickly finished all main and side quests. I even got some items for main quests prior, since I cleared the whole map, which made the whole game even faster. And when I say quickly, I mean it. My plan was to finish just first two chapters and then write it down here, but I got so sucked in the game that I continued and finished the game three sittings, where two of them took place in chapter 1. I spent around 6 hours in chapter 1 and then around 5 hours in the remaining chapters combined. Since I'm fairly familiar with the game, its secrets and mechanics, I had no problem with getting what I needed or wanted. I beat most merchants and took their stuff each chapter, mostly because of potions. Not that it would help me with the final showdown at Sleeper's Temple, since I was forced to use Uriziel anyway. I hate that part so much. It took so many hits to take down templars and demons with Uriziel.
It's not that long since my last playthrough, but I got so involved in Czech Gothic community in a last 2 years, that I return to Gothic every few months. Which means this playthrough wasn't that special. I've joined Brotherhood for the first time and could finally finish some exclusive side quests, but it also proved what I was thinking about Brotherhood for a long time. It's not finished. Not that the game itself would be finished, but when I compare Old or New Camp with Brotherhood, there are some problems with the latter. You can't get the best Novice armor and it's not intentional like with Old Camp's Guards and there really isn't any reason to return here after getting the best Templar armor. Brotherhood isn't even involved in or even affected by Old and New Camps war, which is a shame. Since I know everything about this game, I got to maximum strength and Scar's sword by the end of chapter 1. And it was easy even with OLOG rules.
The story of G1 is a lot better than G2. I like the mystery about Sleeper and dark and unwelcoming atmosphere of the Colony. The music is memorable. Controls are a little bit junky nowadays, but since I'm already used to them, I had no problem with them. The world of the Colony is really well crafted. NPCs feel alive. They have their own daily routines and react to the player's actions. I think the only game that was able to surpass this feeling of "alive world" was Kingdom Come that I've played last month. Overall, I love this game and prefer it over G2. I'm not sure if I should rate it, since you can probably see I have a huge bias towards it. So, let's say 8/10.
The Stillness of the Wind
I've been looking forward this game, because it looked like cool atmospheric that could deliver a WOW effect like The Longing or There Is No Game earlier this year. And I got one. Sadly, it was: "Wow, this was a waste of time."
You play as Talma, last resident on a farm. Her family left for a world, but keep in touch with Talma via letters. You can take care of her chickens and goats, which give you eggs and cheese you can either eat or trade with a merchant for other items. You can also plant your own seeds and grow some plants. But here comes the huge problem with the game. There is no substance to any of those activities. Talma will get tired only if she is working and few eggs will give her enough energy to work for several days. You start with 6 chickens, which is more than enough for Talma. You can buy more chickens, but what is the point, when they just disappear one day? You can make cheese from goat milk, but you will most likely just buy hay for goats. You can buy books or other trinkets, but they are useless, usually don't even show anywhere in the house and are overpriced. You can buy shotgun shells, but the wolves will still kill your goats even when you shoot at them. You can sometimes buy billy-goat, but it will only lead into you making more cheese and buying more hay for it. Speaking of making cheese, it was just so boring. You just click a mouse three times when the game tells you and that's it. And don't even let me start on growing your own plants, because there was barely anything interesting in that.
As far as the story goes, it has interesting premise, but sadly the whole story takes place outside the area you can play and is told in like 10 short letters in total. Which isn't enough to make me invested in characters (which there are many) or events taking place in the world. And there was no conclusion. The game just ended out of nowhere and then crashed on desktop. At least the it has nice atmosphere that changes between days and fine aesthetic. But even here is a problem. While the game aims at being relaxing experience, I found myself in rush to do everything, since days were so short and since I had to click multiple times to get something done, I didn't feel relaxed at all. Quite the opposite actually.
What surprised me was an amount of bugs I encountered in 2.6 hours I've played this game. Talma sometimes stopped or decided to do something completely different than what I told her to do, dropped held item or just bugged in the ground. Goats were probably even worse. They loved fences and got stucked in them all the time.
So, this was first unpleasant experience this year. I only sticked with it until the end because I knew it was short. 4/10.
Now, I'm going back to dungeon crawlers and play Eye of the Beholder.
Eye of the Beholder
It's another dungeon crawler, so I had to create a party first. I had a room for 4 adventures, which meant I had to plan my characters carefully. I checked official cluebook for help and ended up with Jonathan - Male Human Paladin, Atti - Dwarven Male Fighter, Denise - Female Human Cleric/Thief and Ivy - Female Elven Cleric/Mage.
At first, I had a problem with the controls. Moving with arrows didn't really work, since my party didn't turn. I quickly found out that using numerical keyboard works just fine for moving, but since I'm playing on notebook, I have a hard time moving and performing actions with touchpad. So far it wasn't really a gamechanging problem, since I didn't really need to move during combat, but I heard there are enemies that require moving around them, which means I'll have to change the controls soon. I should also mention that I'm using an addon called All-Seeing Eye, which works as a minimap, so I don't have to draw my own maps or check cluebook all the time.
First two levels were easy. I only encountered small goblins and worms on level 1 and since there wasn't any puzzle to be solved, I quickly made it to the second level. That one was huge, but thanks to the All-Seeing Eye, I didn't get lost. But I have to say that bigger groups of skeletons really made me afraid of wiping, especially in one section, where you have to open several cells full of skeletons. I also got stucked here after exploring whole level, because I didn't notice a keyhole that would open the passage to the next level.
I'm enjoying this game a lot and will probably also try the next two installments.
While it's already May here, I did finish Eye of the Beholder few hours ago when it was still April, so I'll count it in the April games. Here's what I have to say about it:
Eye of the Beholder
Level 3 was the last sewer level and it was full of Kuo-toa, fish-like creatures that could cast the Lightning Bolt. I found out the hard way. I was stepping back, hoping to heal a little bit, when a freaking lighting bolt comes chasing me down. The gimmick on this floor was picking up gems and putting them in the right sockets. But I did clear this one pretty quickly.
Next level started a dwarven section and I found a wounded dwarf Taghor, who joined my party after I healed him. This level was annoying. It was full of spiders that could inflict poison on hit. I had to save after few steps and had to learn how to take care of them from distance, using only daggers and Denise's bow. Well, and magic, but I forgot about that all the way until level 10. And after spending an eternity clearing up this floor, I found 4 potions of poison healing. Great.
There was a dwarven camp on level 5. Their leader revealed a little bit of the game's story. Basically, dwarves wanted to find their ancestor's home under the city, but got ambushed by drows, who poisoned their king and kidnapped their prince. They ask me to help. The leader gave me a stone necklace that can activate a portal to level 7. There was also a dwarven cleric that can bring dead back to life. I revived one of the bones I picked up on previous levels and a thief joined my party.
Next, I cleared level 6 without any problems, got some Kenku eggs there and got to drow territory on level 7. I used Kenku eggs to bribe few drows, but I still had to fight through majority of them. They could paralyze my team with each hit, so I once again used Denise as my main way of dealing with them. I also got some cool spells like Fireball and Create Food on this level, which made huge difference. I was slowly running out of rations on this level, so Create Food was a livesaver. I also think it was this level, where I found a mage that told me more lore. The huge evil I'm looking for is a Beholder called Xanathar. It wants to take control of the city above and his agents were behind the attack on dwarves, because they possess the Wand of Silvias, which is the only artifact strong enough to seriously hurt Xanathar. The mage then attacked me and wiped my whole party, so I had to load up my game and dodge him next time.
I did skip majority of level 8 and 9, because I accidentally dropped down few holes all the way to level 10. Level 10 is the start of Xanathar's lair. This was a home to Mantis Warriors, who once again could paralyze my party, so I had to kill them from a safe distance. One of Xanathar's agents found me here and told me about a potion that could heal dwarven king. That's cool. Another good thing was that I found prince Keirgar and freed him. He joined my party, but since I can only have 6 adventures at the time, I had to drop one. I decided to drop the thief, since he didn't really do much so far.
I had to climb all the way back to level 5, which meant I could return to levels 8 and 9 and clear them. This was the time I cleared a prison on level 7, full of Skeletal Lords, which were powerful warriors, and opened up the room with portals to several different levels (basically room of fast travel). I got to dwarven camp, but prince was like: "You know what? I'll go with you and kill Xanathar."
Going back to level 10 and even 11, I encountered Mind Flayers there. I wiped few times on them, since they easily stun whole party and could take few hits. Denise once again shined against them. I solved the puzzle at this level and got the healing potion for the king. I returned back to level 5, saved the king and got the Wand of Silvias.
With it, I got to the final level of the game, which looked magnificent. Reminded me of WoW's Darkmoon Faire for some reason. There were few golems that I easily took care of and it didn't take me long to find Xanathar. He's almost unbeatable, but you can push it to a spike trap hidden in the throne room. After a short dialogue, he attacked my whole party and killed Ivonne. She was the only one who could use the wand. So I had to restart the encounter. Several times. But in the end, I got Xanathar right in front of the trap and pushed him there, finishing the game.
I wasn't sure what to expect when I started this game. I remember playing it when I was a kid, but I never got past the sewer levels. But I enjoyed this playthrough a lot. It has solid story for a D&D dungeon crawler, clever puzzles and fine difficulty curve. Each level feels unique and has its own gimmick like level 11, where I had to align buttons on a wall to open new sections of the level. There was a lot to explore and it was worth it. I got awesome equipment that was hidden behind fake walls or some hard puzzle/fight. Speaking of equipment, I have only one problem with it. There game or its manual doesn't have a table with weapon/armor stats, so I had to crosscheck with D&D player handbook to be sure I'm really using the best items I can. The same can be said about spells, but I'm kinda familiar with them, so I knew what to use. I also fought with controls for a few hours, before mapping my own, but it was still pretty clunky.
Overall I enjoyed it enough to try its sequel. 8/10.
This month, I'll probably only have time for two or three games, which will be Eye of the Beholder II, Game Along game and Siphon Filter, since I also want to start playing through PS1 era games.
Eye of the Beholder II: The Legend of Darkmoon
No time to waste, let's dive into Eye of the Beholder II.
It starts right after the first game. The party is celebrating their victory over Xanathar at Waterdeep's Inn, when they get a message from one of the Lords of Waterdeep (who hired them in the first game), Khelben. He senses something sinister is going on in temple Darkmoon and sends party there to investigate.
I imported my party from previous game. I could only import 4 characters, so I chose my initial party. It makes sense that dwarven prince and his companion that joined my party last time would stay with their folks. My characters even kept their items.
The game starts with the party in the forest, just outside Darkmoon. There were few wolves, but I was able to beat them with no problems with my magical weapons. When I was exploring, I noticed characters talk and comment on their surroundings. Like Denise comments on a hidden passages and traps since she is thief, Ivy reacts to enchanted items since she is mage and so on... I found a graveyard and when I attempted to dig one of the graves, Jonathan said he will leave if I do it.
There is more dialogue in the game. I found an old lady in the forest, who helped me get to the Darkmoon. Inside the temple were two weird clerics, but they didn't attack me. I found a female warrior inside, who was looking for her sister that got lost in the forest. She left before I could help her tho. When I tried to explore the temple more, clerics stopped me and told me I can't go anywhere except for the first chamber. Well, since there was no way in continuing, I had to fight and kill the two. Ivy then found a magical seal on the wall that will be probably important later.
I went in the lower floors of temple and found myself in the catacombs. First set of guards there used throwing daggers and it caught me completely unprepared. After a while, I found a locked up thief and released him. He wanted to join my party and I let him. But when I was resting, he took some of my items and run away. He took pretty good stuff, so I decided to load the game up and released him, but did not let him join my party. I found a magical horn on this level with instructions to blow it and 3 more horns in front of the magical seal above. So the quest for now is clear.
Second floor of catacombs was hard. It was full of skeletal lords acompanied by Darkmoon clerics that could use Hold Person spell. That's the spell that will paralyze the party. Skeletal lords were strong opponents last time, so I was glad I had my equipment from the first game. There was even a room where about 12 skeletal lords and 8 clerics attacked me at once. Ivy and Denise shined during this encounter, since they could attack from safe distance and heal my party at the same time.
I found another bunch of prisoners in this floor. One of them, female warrior, joined my party. And she was useful. She was about 2 levels stronger than my party and could tank like crazy. And it really helped on the third floor. Once I got there, the door shut behind me. And when I tried to rest, my party only got nightmares about a dragon. So I couldn't fully heal for free or regain my spells. And this floor introduced gargoyles, who not only could take a few hits, but also hit hard and usually were placed in such places that I got attacked by multiple gargoyles from multiple directions at once. And they loved to respawn. This floor was one huge struggle. But I made it without casualties, found the last 2 horns and got back to the first floor of the temple.