My praise for The Bard's Tale over the last couple of posts may have been a bit too effusive. I was taken in by the graphics and character classes and other trappings of the game, but now that I'm a few hours into it, the gameplay is very repetitive and frankly not distinguishable from Wizardry.
Since I last posted, I finally advanced my conjurer high enough to obtain a healing spell, but it wasn't the breakthrough I had hoped for. Healing takes so many spell points, and spell points regenerate so slowly, that really the only way to survive in the game is to pay for frequent healing at the temples. This isn't that crippling because gold is plentiful and there's very little else to spend it on, but it makes dungeon-delving problematic. You can't risk going too deep lest you find yourself unable to make it out.
Things I've done and discovered since last night:
- You can't start the dungeons too early. The first dungeon to explore is the wine cellar (I'm blocked from the others for now). When you go from street to dungeon, you go from facing one party of monsters at a time to sometimes four or five parties at a time. It's a huge leap. After dying a couple of times, I decided I'd better stay in Skara Brae a little while longer and build up my characters.
- There's not much in Skara Brae. Most of it is marked on the map that comes with the game. The bulk of the city is composed of interchangeable houses which, when you kick in the door, sometimes offer up monsters. From a role-playing standpoint, it somehow seems wrong barging into houses and slaughtering the denizens, many of whom are innocuous-sounding creatures like hobbits and dwarves.
One of many interchangeable streets in Skara Brae
- One thing I did find: a temple of the "Mad God." Instead of healing me, the clerics ask for the name of the Mad God. There must be some adventure here later.
- Tougher critters come out when night falls.
- The Bard's Tale tried to catch me pirating. At one point when I leveled up, the Review Board asked me a question that I was only able to answer by looking at the game map.
- Since there seems to be an equal chance of encountering monsters every time you enter a house, there's no reason to march all over the city looking for battles. I set myself up near a temple and just went back and forth between two houses across the street from each other, killing monsters for hours. As you can imagine, it was a bit boring, so I watched an episode of Lost while I was doing it. Last night's episode was pretty good, incidentally.
"Death itself." From a zombie. Get it?
Once my characters were up to Level 7, I entered and mapped out the first level of the wine cellar. Not much here: one trap, one spinner (a square that when you land on it points you in a random direction, confusing your mapping), stairs down, and two doors marked "fine wines" and "rare wines" but which, as far as I could tell, had nothing but monsters in them. A lot of the squares aren't used, and I'm wondering if there isn't some other way of finding secret doors other than running headfirst into them the way you do in Wizardry. I didn't find any secret doors on Level 1, in any event.
I'll keep plugging away. In the meantime, I'm mulling over a comment that Gooberslot made on my first posting. He or she called me on only playing PC/DOS CRPGs, noting that not only am I missing games, in some cases I'm "missing out on playing the best version." Downloading Apple II, Atari, and C-64 emulators would mean going back to pick up Space, Space II, the Dunjonquest games, Ali Baba and the 40 Thieves, Return of Heracles, Questron, and SunDog: Frozen Legacy, and Adventure: Only the Fittest Shall Survive.
Should I do it? Or should I stick to my original plan and cover DOS/PC CRPGs only? Any fond memories of any of these games?