When I last wrote about The Bard's Tale II, I was "waiting for it to get difficult." My wait didn't last long. By the time I got to the third level of the Ephesus tombs, I was facing some pretty tough critters. Not tough enough to send me crying home to mama, but the game definitely notched it up. I expect it to get harder from hereon in.
My biggest problem now is fighting boredom. This game is an endless slog through dungeons and battles. The little obstacles in the dungeons--spinners, teleporters, anti-magic zones, zones of darkness--are more "annoyances" than challenges.
I managed to find the first segment of the Destiny Wand. The "snare" part of the dungeon was somewhat interesting. I assume the other segments involve something similar. Basically, I had to interpret a series of clues written on the dungeon walls to get through the maze and find the segment. The moment I entered the "snare," a voice told me that I had a limited amount of time, but it couldn't have been that limited, because it took me a while to bumble through it. Spells didn't work, and the "time out" function was disabled. The puzzle consisted of:
- A pool of water that poisoned my characters when I drank it
- An old warrior who offered to join my party
- A creature called a "toxic giant."
Clues from the walls suggested that I should put the old man first in my party and he should "light the way." Others informed me that only poisoned characters could defeat the toxic giant. So I put the old guy in the number one slot, poisoned everyone from the pool, killed the giant, and got a torch from it. I gave the torch to the old feller, which revealed a secret door, behind which I found the wand segment. Woo-hoo.
Earlier in the level, I solved a rhyming riddle to get a hint as to the next dungeon I should explore: Fanskar's Fortress. This was confirmed by the Sage, who for a bundle of gold told me where it was, which was nice except I already knew from having mapped the wilderness. That's where I am now.
The creators made the game a little more tactical by putting distance between your party and the enemies (check out the first screen shot above), forcing you (or the monsters) to "advance" towards each other before you can engage in melee combat. I keep getting into fights with liches and mages in which they repeatedly summon monsters, and I spend a combat round killing their summoned monsters. Then they summon more. Round and round we go, with spellcasters remaining outside melee range, and you can't "advance" towards them as long as there are other monsters closer than they are. My only options are to invest in ranged weapons, but these take precious spaces in your inventory slots, or to cast the MEME spell, which yanks them into melee range but costs a boatload of spell points.
Yeah, so even I'm going to vote "meh" on this posting, but that's really how I feel about the game. It's extremely linear and repetitive, and the endless combats are annoying. Character development is nil: my spellcasters already have all the spells and my other characters' stats are maxed. I get a few hit points and spell points for each level up, but that's it. I feel like I should be enjoying the tactical combat more, but I'm just not. I don't know whether it's me or the game, but I'll give it a few more days and move on if it still doesn't click.